I am quite impressed with myself, I must say. I read another eight books in February. It feels like I just had to get my act together and voilà, reading is part of my everyday life again. If I had known that it would be that easy, I would have tried it months ago. Ha. Without further ado, here are my February books:
The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon (★★★★☆) – I really really enjoyed this book. At first I thought I wouldn’t be a fan of the alternating chapters of multiple narrators but I ended up liking how Yoon weaved the different viewpoints together into this beautiful and hopeful story. I loved the different layers of the story – immigration, deportation, life choices, love – and the book ended on the perfect note.
I let you go by Clare Mackintosh (★★★★☆) – This was a gripping read. I am usually not much into mystery/crime stories, but this book definitely kept my attention. The story follows two parallel narratives – the hit and run accident of a young boy and the two cops trying to solve the case.
There were a few quite unexpected twist and turns in the story and the resolution left me a little speechless.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (★★★★☆) – The notion that someone was put into a mental hospital for 18 months because of (an initial diagnosis) of depression is unfathomable today. This is a fascinating read though. Susan describes her time at a mental hospital and the interaction with others in a straight-forward, no-sugar-coating manner. It’s hard to rate a book that is a memoir, because you can’t really rate somebody’s life story. These have been experiences that have shaped her life and she’s brave to share those unique experiences with us.
The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime by Mark Haddon (★★★☆☆) – This book was kinda meh for me. I know, maybe I was suppose to appreciate it more, because the story was told from the unique perspective of a kid on the autism spectrum and a glimpse into his intrinsic thought processes were supposed to be interesting and enlightening, but I found the narrator style exhausting and long-winded.
When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi (★★★★★) – What an amazing memoir. I think I first read about Paul Kalanithi’s fate in a news article written by his wife in the New York Times (this one) and it made me want to read this book. Paul, a neurosurgeon, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at the age of 36 and went from treating the dying to struggling with his own impending death. This books explores his early life and his path to becoming a neurosurgeon and his thoughts on the meaning of life and death from the time of his diagnosis to his death in March 2015. Raw, real, and heart-breaking.
Furiously happy: A funny book about terrible things by Jenny Lawson (★★★☆☆) – I really wanted to like this book. I know most people rave about Jenny and her blog (The bloggess). For me, there were only a couple of chapters in this book that really were meaningful and that were the intro and one or two chapters that really dealt with her mental illness. The other chapters were just random, sometimes bizarre stories strung together almost nonsensically. Were they funny in parts? Sure, but they were also distracting from a much more serious and important message IMHO.
A Heart of Stone by Renate Dorrestein (★★★★☆) – This was one of the books that I randomly picked up at a thrift store a long while ago and which was sitting on my bookshelf. I didn’t even realize it was a translated book from an originally Dutch author until I started reading it. The book tells the heart-wrenching story of Ellen and what happened to her and her family. Ellen buys back the home where her parents operated a news-clipping service when she was a child. Only gradually do the secrets unfold about what happened there, only gradually do we understand what she is struggling with. The seamless weaving together of the past and present, of 12-year old Ellen telling the story and 37-year old Ellen struggling with the tragic fate of her family, is very well done and made me not want to put the book down until I knew all that had happened.
Let’s pretend this never happened: a mostly true memoir by Jenny Lawson (★★★☆☆) – I realize I read Jenny’s second book first. I was hoping to understand her writing a bit more by reading her first book, but it left me with the same impression: a few meaningful paragraphs in between a lot of rambling. Maybe this works for a blog, but for a 300 page book it was just ‘too much’.
Which book did you really like this month?