February was not a hugely successful reading month for me, despite having a vacation and a few snow days tucked in there. I'm here to share my triumphs and failures around our February Picks.
EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon- I adored this cute YA pick. It only took me a few days to read and the fluffy plot was exactly the amount of tension that I needed (read: almost none). There were aspects that I found SLIGHTLY unbelievable, but I was 1000% willing to suspend disbelief because I enjoyed the characters and the romance so much. I'll definitely see this movie when it comes out. I've heard that Yoon's second book, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, is even better, so it's on the list!
HIDDEN FIGURES by Margot Lee Shetterly- I failed here. I tried to get into this book. I wanted to get into this book. When print didn't draw me in, I tried the audiobook, and in both formats, it just didn't grab my interest. I was supremely disappointed in myself for awhile, because I think this book is important and I'm proud of the conversation around it and I wanted to educate myself. Then I took a deep breath, recognized that it might just be the timing, and gave myself permission to put it back on my Want To Read shelf.
I think that's a pretty important message to stress for anyone trying to keep to a reading list or a reading habit or participate in a book club- it's okay to bail on a book. Sometimes it's an indication of the book being "good" (oh, the tangent I could get on about what that even means), but more often it's timing, your personal preferences, your stress level- anything can factor into why a book isn't a great fit for you at the moment. You don't need my permission, but if you're beating yourself up about, consider this your pass: you can put a book down at any moment with zero hard feelings.
One trick I use when I'm trying to get into a book that I think just needs a solid chance on my end is to start reading in a place where I can't stop. I'm in the middle of COME AS YOU ARE, an amazing nonfiction book about women's sexuality. I took it with me when I was going to get a pedicure- I couldn't very well leave and switch out the book if my mind wandered and I started craving some fiction. This trick also works if you read at the gym or on a commute. But then sometimes, all tricks aside, you need to put it down.
For March, I've stuck with the formula of picking one fiction and one nonfiction title.
Fiction- The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
From Goodreads: A dazzling, heartbreaking page-turner destined for breakout status: a novel that gives voice to millions of Americans as it tells the story of the love between a Panamanian boy and a Mexican girl: teenagers living in an apartment block of immigrant families like their own.
After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel's recovery--the piece of the American Dream on which they've pinned all their hopes--will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles.
At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamá fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she's sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America.
Peopled with deeply sympathetic characters, this poignant yet unsentimental tale of young love tells a riveting story of unflinching honesty and humanity that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be an American. An instant classic is born.
Nonfiction- Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
From Goodreads: In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it's falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you're constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
In "How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet's Confessions", Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, ("Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn't the land of appropriate-this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman s traditional hair color is honey blonde.") "Player" tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. ("I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.") In "Unlikely Leading Lady", she muses on America's fixation with the weight of actresses, ("Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they're walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.") And in "Soup Snakes", Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak ("I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.")
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who's ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who've never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.
I'd love to know how you're feeling about the book club picks. Is there something you'd like to see more or less of? Would you like more interaction, question style? I'm still triyng to find the best format for discussions during and after reading, and would love to hear your thoughts.
HAPPY READING! <3