What to say about February? Mostly that it felt like the only real month of winter and that’s here in Michigan. For those of you in the South and Pacific Northwest I’m sure it felt like hell.
As for reading, it was an interesting month. My reading felt oddly decisive—loved or hated books. There was no middle ground, I either loved or stopped reading a book. The good news is my nonfiction reading stayed strong with 3 great memoirs. Here’s my February:
We Can Only Save Ourselves serves as my last attempt in reading ‘misguided girls who fall in love with men in cults’ fiction. This time it’s a teen queen, blossom-bright, good girl who decides she wants to be bad. She runs off with a man who’s going to enlighten her. She discovers he’s also ‘enlightening’ four other young women, but it’s the 60s or 70s so it’s all right. Much of the book is written in the voice of Alice’s neighborhood, using “we”, which is a device I like in small doses only. Too much gets annoying. This, plus the increasing allusions to Manson and his girls meant I gave up. Actually, I did something I almost never do—I skipped ahead to the last chapter to see if the resolution meant I should keep going. It didn’t.
Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad: A memoir about a young woman who’s health crisis derails her life and how she fights to get it back. Review to follow.
I love Issa Rae for her humor and intelligence (her HBO show, Insecure, is wonderful) so listening to her memoir, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, was a no-brainer. A self-described “awkward black girl” because she can’t dance and has no fashion sense, she chronicles her childhood, teen, and college years with funny, but insightful stories. She also has how-to chapters on dealing with difficult people personally and professionally. Regarding throwing a lazy colleague under the bus to get promoted she says, “Yes, snitches get stitches, but you’ll have great healthcare so it won’t matter.” She may have felt awkward, but her calm self-confidence and wit made this perfect listening for the grey days of February.
The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan: Sprawling novel about one family’s divided past. Review to follow
Somehow, February turned into my month of listening to great memoirs. Elaine Welteroth is well-known to anyone who loves fashion. If you don’t: She’s the first Black editor at Teen Vogue. In her time at the magazine she turned it from the bubblegum, white-girls-only, dinosaur that it was into a diverse, socially aware, vibrant magazine that even adult women liked reading (including me). Bi-racial, she writes about occupying a space growing up that no one understood. She was too black for white friends and too white for black friends. Somehow, she never lets her loneliness hold her back, but is determined to succeed in the world of media and fashion. I listened to this to learn about Welteroth, but it’s also a great book for young women starting out their careers. She gives practical advice and positive reinforcement.
Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi: Review to follow
How was your February reading?
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*I received a free copy of this book from Harper Perennial in exchange for an honest review.*