Thursday, February 29, 2024

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 202141 books in 2022 and 98 books in 2023). The majority of my "reading" has been listening to audiobooks since I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books once I started working full time (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 dot com 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 short month of February:

  • Good for a Girl by Lauren Fleshman - I had traded some nutrition for this book at the beginning of the year and finally got around to picking it up. [Side note: I really love reading physical books, if only there were more hours in the day...] I will be honest, I was expecting more. The reviews make it seem part memoir, part manifesto, which I guess it is, but (and please do not take this the wrong way) the story has sort of been told before. I know that sounds terrible, but especially being a woman in the running world (whether professional or not), it is very obvious that this environment was not made for girls/ women to flourish. With all of the exposes about how runners (especially females) are treated by some coaches/ brands {cough cough... NIKE}, the lack of support or even penalty for life events such as pregnancy, etc, this felt a little more like I had heard this story before. I am in no way minimizing Lauren's story or trying to say she doesn't deserve to share her voice, but I guess I was just expecting a little more that would make it stand apart from some of the other professional runner's recent books. With that said, I'm stoked to hear about all of the mentoring and advocacy she's doing around females in sports. I would give it a 7 out of 10 (a good book on its own, but I was wanting more).

  • Black Girls Must Have It All by Jayne Allen - I came across this book under the "Black History Month" heading in my Hoopla app. As soon as I saw the cover and read the title of the book I remembered that I had already read the first two books in this trilogy. As with the first two books, I really enjoyed this one. The story from the first two (Tabitha Walker juggling life, relationships, work and the desire to have a baby - to have it all) continued right along in the final installment. At this point, Tabitha has had a baby and is struggling to do it all as a new mommy. I don't have children (nor do I want to), but I can only imagine how chaotic your life becomes once you bring a child into this world. I felt as though the author did a great job describing everything, seeing as when Tabby was overwhelmed, I felt it too. I really think these books could be made into movies or a series. The stories all touch on such important topics while feeling easy-breezy. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Glitterland by Alexis Hall - This popped up under the "new and trending" page of my Hoopla app and the name had me curious so I gave it a download (who doesn't love glitter and sparkles?!). Let me just start by saying, I had no idea what this book was about but did appreciate the trigger warnings given before diving in. The story was about a writer who was struggling with his mental health (manic depression) and a previous suicide attempt. During this time, he met someone in a club one night (when out for a friend's bachelor party) and they hit it off. What was supposed to be a fling turned into a lot more (and more than either bargained for). I'll be honest and say the plot was great (the characters were all well developed and I appreciate the representation of mental illness in mainstream media) and I felt like I could really picture everything (very vivid and colorful language), but it was a bit "too much" for me. I normally stick with the YA genre and this was EXTREMELY THE OPPOSITE. I may or may not be a prude, but I don't love hearing/ reading about extremely detailed sexual acts. Also, when the "f word" is used to describe sex, it's not my jam. Anywho, if you can overlook the vulgarity and tons of sex, you too may enjoy the underlying plot and characters. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride - This showed up in the Young Adult section of my Hoopla app and the cover caught my attention so I decided to try it out (normally I don't do super short books because I only get so many downloads a month and if I do short books I run out of audiobooks very quickly). Let me just say - WOW! This book is written a bit more like a poem than a traditional story and although that sometimes means having to read between the lines of metaphors, it was absolutely beautifully written. This is a story about depression and healing from trauma. Feelings like sorrow are personified and loss is a common thread, but weaved throughout is hope. Not only do I appreciate the author for writing about difficult subjects (such as clinical depression, cutting, suicidal thoughts, etc) but also including fairytales from different cultures. There were a few spots where I lost the link that tied the different levels of the forest or the different folklore together, but, in my opinion, the characters helped make up for those points of slower plot. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Only This Beautiful Moment by Abdi Nazemian - This book popped up in the "award" section of my Hoopla app and it caught my attention so I thought I'd let it be my final download of the month (somehow between January and February I went from eight checkouts a month down to five... BOO!). I love books that are told from different character's perspectives and this was exactly that. The story is about three generations of Iranian men - a grandfather, father and son. I really enjoy seeing how each person experienced things and how their stories may or may not overlap. The cool thing about this one was that the three different perspectives were all about the same timeframe in each one's life (somewhere between 17 and 20ish). Obviously exterior forces were different during the different times (I mean, we're talking about the 1930s vs 2017, Los Angeles vs Iran), but still the same. I can totally see why it won awards, I found it wonderfully written with amazing character development (and containing many more than just a single beautiful moment). I would give it a 10 out of 10.

With that, February is done-zo. If you have suggestions, let me know! I'm always looking to add to my "must read" list! 

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

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