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What I Read: February 2019

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Have you heard? I love to read.

When I was a kid, I thought I was getting away with something huge, reading by flashlight under the covers well past my bedtime — passing out from literary exhaustion at a time I would call “early” today. Over the summer, I’d read books in an entire day, prompting frequent trips to the library to get the next Animorphs book or the latest in The Baby-Sitters Club series.

I have a strong memory of the most primitive of blog posts, written for my eyes only: How to Finish a Library Book Before the Due Date. It was filled with little tidbits like “stay up past your bedtime” and “bring a book with you wherever you go.” Yeah. I was a little nerd. The piece was hand written, probably in pencil, and tucked into whatever installment of The Boxcar Children I was reading that moment — for safe keeping, of course. (Come to think of it, it wasn’t too far off from a blog post I wrote for Quirk Books in 2014.) I hope my kids or nieces and nephews discover it when my parents pass those books down.

These days, I’m still reading a ton. But it’s nowhere near my mid-90s intake. I’m never not reading something, but lately my bookish time has been limited to those moments right before bed. The bus here is too bumpy, my lunch breaks are short — and when I make my own, I’m tempted by TV or podcasts. I’ve been trying something new, something my 9-year-old self would roll her eyes at: early bedtimes. I’m getting in my pajamas at 8:30 or 9PM, bringing my book with me and reading until I fall asleep. (Which is, lately, well before 11PM.) I’m telling myself that books are way more entertaining than anything on my phone, which is infinitely true.

In January, I read one book. In February, I read eight.

Granted, the one book I did read that month was pretty long. And dense. And I’d abandoned three or four other books that just weren’t good or weren’t holding my attention or or or.

But I’m going to talk about what I loved reading this past month. Because there was just so much to love.

Hey folks: I’ll be using Amazon affiliate links for each of these books. I would absolutely be writing about these books either way, but this gives me a chance to monetize my blog a tiny bit. #capitalism #transparency

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I ended February on the highest of high notes with Becoming by Michelle Obama. I was carrying this book with me everywhere: to work, at coffee shops and plays, to my couch at the end of the day. I got more questions from strangers about this book than any other, most asking if it was worth the read. (Yes. Absolutely. Pick up a copy now!) Others — and this came up a lot — wanted to know if she’d received any help with the writing. Repeat that question back to yourself out loud. She’s a lawyer and a former first lady. She’s made more speeches in the last eight years than you ever will in your entire life. She’s the strongest person I know and I don’t even know her. Of course she wrote it herself. Of course she did.

This memoir took me a long time to get through. I’d started reading it in December and then had to return it to the library before it was due. A friend of mine loaned me her copy and then I booked my way through it. It’s dense and beautiful and so damn important.

I finally finished Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister which took me a while to finish because it kept making me, um, good and mad. I love Traister’s work and absolutely recommend this — though maybe in rotation with a series of fun pieces of fiction or in conversation with The Power by Naomi Alderman. And if you’re new to Rebecca Traister’s work, definitely give All the Single Ladies a read. I saw so much of myself in this book that I spent a lot of time talking with J about all the immature things grown married men do. Now he’s reading it and I’m getting to have those feminist conversations all over again. (And I love it.)

I read a ton of comics last month, which paired perfectly with the unexpected snow we received. I absolutely loved Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, a series of graphic short stories that were a mix of horror and literary. I joined a graphic novel book club and this was my selection, so I’m really glad that I loved it. I can’t wait to talk about it with the rest of the group on Sunday. I also really loved Saga, Volume 9 and Paper Girls, Volume 5. I’ve lived with these characters for a long time now and I’m holding them to an impossibly high standard. But both of these installments were perfect additions to the sweeping narratives they inhabit.

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne got me through the most cabin fever-y hours of the Seattle snow days, but I know I would have loved this novel no matter the weather. I’ve been a fan of Sally Thorne for several years now, ever since reading The Hating Game and falling in love with well-written romance novels. (Which are, sadly, rare and require a lot of work to find. But they do exist!) If you’re looking for something incredibly fun, readable in a weekend, and dreamily satisfying, this is the book for you.