February was a month of firsts, though they may seem like small things in the grand scheme of things. I read my first Nick Hornby, and swiftly asked around to find out which of his books I should read next. And I read my first comic book, probably since I was about eight years old. I have one memory of going to Kroger with my mom and little brother and getting a comic book – I think it was Ninja Turtles – but I was never a comic book kid. I would tear through some Sweet Valley Kids, and later, Babysitters Club, but comics? Eh. So I can’t wait to share about that.
This month also saw a kick into high gear with the number of books I read, which makes me happy. It feels like I’m hitting my happy reading stride for the year, and I just want to keep up the momentum. So without further delay, let’s get to the books.
My Reading Month: February 2015
- Funny Girl by Nick Hornby. For years, friends have been recommending Nick Hornby to me. I saw the movies High Fidelity and About A Boy, so I just couldn’t make myself pick up those books. But when I got an eGalley for Funny Girl, I finally jumped in, and I’m so glad I did. This book was funny, but not frivolous. When a former beauty queen moves to London with the hopes of being the next Lucille Ball, she gets a big break that makes her a household name in England. But the fame, pressures, work, and tensions that come with it give this story grit and chew. I was surprised how poignant the book was, how it had me in tears at the end, but also how it honored the Work of being an artist, the trial and error, the faith. Highly recommend it.
- Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson. As I said, my first comic! I got this one from the Book Riot Quarterly Box in the fall, and I finally sat down with it this month. So much fun! Our heroine is a Pakistani girl who wishes she could be a superhero – someone important who can make changes. And when she gets her wish, things get real. But her family is strict, and her best friend is in love with her, and how do you juggle being a teenager AND a superhero? A fun comic, and a great one to start with.
- Bon Appetempt: A-Coming-of-Age Story by Amelia Morris. Morris’s debut, a food memoir that springs forth from her blog, Bon Appetempt, where she has attempted to make recipes covered in food magazines, came out this month. I had mixed feelings throughout – I wavered between thinking it was a bit slow (too many nonessential details) and thinking “yes, this!”. In the end, I laughed, I cried, it moved me. And the latter half of the book, when we get to Morris’s food writing and blogging and her time of becoming a writer, that’s where the story truly shines. A fun read for food lit lovers.
- Fidelity by Grace Paley. Holy crap. How did I not know about Grace Paley before? I heard her name mentioned so many times when I interned at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, but only this month did I read her final collection of poems, compiled just before her death. I’m writing a book about people entering old age, and these poems – written from her perspective, in her eighties – really made me pause and think.
- Imagine This: Creating the Work You Love by Maxine Clair: This book was a slow read, the kind you have to take manageable bites of and chew with care. Part spiritual guide, part creative guide, part memoir, the result was inspirational, affirmative, and ultimately reassuring. Clair resides in hope and love, and she communicates that throughout this book.
- Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian: This book was beautiful and brutal. I am still haunted by scenes contained inside. When Orhan’s grandfather is found dead, the will is read, and in a highly unusual (and possibly illegal) move, his grandfather has left his company to Orhan instead of to his son. But there’s a catch: he has left their family home, in their family for three generations, to a woman Orhan has never heard of, an old woman living in California. Orhan goes to California to meet this woman, and the story that unfolds is more than he ever could have expected: the story of the Armenian genocide, from her perspective, as one of the survivors. These revelations force Orhan to have a reckoning not only with his family and his culture and its history, but also with himself, his own interpretation of history. A gorgeously written novel.
- An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield. THIS BOOK IS AWESOME. I expected that I would learn stuff (I did) and that I would be inspired by Hadfield’s life and career as an astronaut (and I was), but I did not expect the extent to which this book would reach me on so many levels – as a Navy wife, as an artist, as a human on this planet. This is the story of how Hadfield became an astronaut, his stay on the International Space Station, and how he acclimated to life on Earth. Read it. It is so cool.
- The Fever by Megan Abbott. I read this book in a day. It was that good. I couldn’t put it down. I informed Amanda over dinner that I was making a sacrifice to be sitting at a restaurant with her instead of plowing through that book. (I’m a good wife.) This novel is one of those mysteries that has crazy twists, and the way Megan Abbott writes about teenage girlhood…. I am so grateful I’m not a teenage girl anymore.
Whisks & Words 2015 Reading Challenge
In this month’s reading, I’ve checked off the following items:
A book written by someone over age 65 (Fidelity by Grace Paley)
A self-improvement/personal growth book (Imagine This: Creating the Work You Love by Maxine Clair)
A book set in high school (The Fever by Megan Abbott)
A book by an author of the opposite sex (Funny Girl by Nick Hornby)
What about you? Read anything good this month?