Tuesday, February 28, 2023

February Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 201966 books in 202067 books in 2021 and 41 books in 2022). Recently, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks since I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have two-ish hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in February:

  • Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper - Since February is Black History Month, I decided that I wanted to be intentional about selecting books with black authors. I had this title in my "for later" list for a while and thought it was the perfect time to give it a download. I will be honest, I am probably not the market audience for this one. It felt as though the book was written to black women, so although I gleamed a lot of information from it, I didn't feel as though she was speaking to me (it was as though she was chatting with her girlfriends and I was eavesdropping on their conversation). I love how Brittney weaved her personal stories in with the political. It was perfect at showing intersectionality. Even though this book may not have been "meant" for me when it was being written, I believe feminism is for EVERYONE and we all have so much to learn from one another. PS I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook because it was actually read by the author and I felt as though I could hear the passion (and eloquent rage) in her voice the entire time. I would give it an 8.5 out of 10.

  • In Every Mirror She's Black by Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström - I noticed this title was highly rated on the Black History Tab of my Hoopla app so figured I'd try it. I really wanted to like it, but never fully got into it. It was a story of three Black women and how they were all connected to this one Swedish man. I like storylines that meld together, but, I'm not sure, this one just didn't draw me in. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the insight the women shared of their experiences, but none of the women felt relatable to me. The Swedish man that the story "revolves" around seems to be on the autistic spectrum (because he comes from a family of wealth and privilege, they never want to admit or address it so it was never discussed or diagnosed) and although I would normally be thrilled to have characters who are neurodivergent, I couldn't root for him. Also, although it was listed under the drama genre, it was a little sexier than I was expecting (ha, that's probably why I stick to the YA genre... less sex ;)). Not to mention, it would have been helpful to have trigger/ content warnings seeing as the themes of genocide, suicide, domestic violence, etc are all main focuses of the story. Maybe I just wasn't in the right headspace for this one, or maybe I'm just not the target audience... I would give it a 6 out of 10.

  • Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles - It was time to go back to the YA genre and this one popped up so I downloaded it. This was a coming of age story of a teen caught between church and culture. It felt a little corny at first, but I eventually got invested in the characters. Not many YA books are written from the perspective of a male teenager, so I enjoyed seeing things from his vantage point. I appreciated that it tackled serious topics such as misogyny, toxic church environments, sexual assault, etc. Although I'm not currently in that stage of life (wow, has it really been 20+ years now?!), everything rang genuine. I really enjoyed this one (and was trying to find extra time throughout the day to listen to more of the story). I would give it an 8 out of 10. 

  • My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King - I came across this memoir in the Black History Month section of my Hoopla app and knew I wanted to download it. I feel like a lot is known of Martin Luther King Jr., but I personally don't know much about Coretta as an individual. I really enjoyed this one. It gave me a lot of insight not only to her relationship as a wife (to MLK Jr) and mother (to their four children), but also as Coretta as a changemaker and influencer (before the term was trendy). Even though she was married to MLK in the 50s/ 60s when most women's worth was dependent on her relationship with a man, Coretta still had her own things and stood her grounds on how she believed she could make waves for the civil rights movement. She was a leader in her own right and I love that her story is being told. She was and is an inspiration and I hope more people take the time to learn about her dedication, her heart, her activism. I would give it a 9 out of 10. 

  • We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates - I had this book on my shelf for a while, but hadn't had time to pick it up until now. The hubby, pup and I went to Mammoth for a weekend (hubby was snowboarding during the day while the pup and I hung out in the truck pop-up and then we'd adventure together in the afternoons but a heater malfunction cut our trip short) so I thought it was the perfect time to start this one. This book is broken into eight chapters, each dedicated to a different year during Obama's presidency. The author wrote a different essay each year (first published in The Atlantic), which is the bulk of the chapters, but prior to the essay he shares where he was (physically, mentally, spiritually) as more of a blog post - a little less formal. I really appreciated this one. It was not easy, seeing as the story is technically a tragedy, but Coates shares from his own experiences and how the larger political world has impacted him and his community personally. Part of white privilege is the ability to not "have to" think about many of these topics or issues, so even though digging deep into history (far and near) is not easy - it's important and necessary. I would give it a 9 out of 10. 

With that, February has come to a close. My reading may have slowed down a bit (especially compared to years past), but I hope it never stops. If you have suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my "must read" list! 

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read so they're in one place. Feel free to check it out!

What's the best book you've read lately? 

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