Reading Recap: February 2020

Welcome back for another monthly recap!  It’s funny because February is the shortest month of the year… and I still managed to read over 4,000 pages of books.  What can I say?  I live a wild life.  (By wild, I refer to playing the dangerous game of “just one more chapter” and staying up way later than intended.)

During the first half of February, I pounded through several YA fantasy novels, including the first two installments of Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers series and the conclusion to Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology.  All were solid, 4-star reads, with great world-building.  YA fantasy is the genre of my heart and it was wonderful hanging out with so many good stories in a row.  Plus, there’s a special satisfaction that comes with finishing three 500-page long books back-to-back.

I also read this year’s recipient of the Newbury Award, which is given for outstanding writing in a children’s book.  New Kid by Jerry Craft made history because it’s the first graphic novel to receive the award–a huge step forward for the genre!  Naturally, I got myself on the holds list as soon as I could.  I really enjoyed Craft’s novel.  The characters were well-formed, the art easy to follow, and Craft handles the struggles of fitting in and racism very well.

On the topic of books about racism… I finally picked up Dread Nation by Justine Ireland and, DANG, why did it take me two years to read this book?  The book is, essentially, revisionist history where the Civil War was ended not because the North and South came to an agreement, but because the fallen soldiers rose again as zombies.  Reconstruction era plus zombies plus the Wild West plus a kick-ass protagonist?  YES, PLEASE.  Do yourself a favor and read this book.  I’m eagerly waiting for my e-book hold on the sequel to come through so I can continue the adventure.

As mentioned in my January recap, one of my reading goals this year is to immerse myself in Christian classics.  I started off with one of the most influential Christian thinkers, Saint Augustine, and ended up hanging out with him for most of January and February.  Confessions was a dense, rewarding read, that I’m sure I’ll return to down the road.  I followed it up with James K.A. Smith’s newest, On the Road With Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts.  This came highly recommended by several L’Abri workers whose projects I follow and it didn’t let me down.  Smith’s book does a fantastic job making Augustine’s wisdom and life experience accessible to those of us living in the 21st century.  As a non-seminary student, I appreciated the context Smith provided.

In a similar vein, I was reminded this month why I don’t read explicitly-Christian fiction.  We’re discussing The Reunion by Dan Walsh in one of my book clubs next month and I found the book predictable, sentimental, and preachy.  I’m not really looking forward to the discussion, as I will likely have to hold my tongue a bit as to not offend some of the newer book club members with my harsh assessment.

Finally, near the end of February I rediscovered my love of chick-lit, which are basically romantic comedies in book form.  Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters was charming and I want more fluffy, hapless, British love stories in my life.

Feb2020Collage

Book Club Discussions

  • Thursday Evening Group: I lead a conversation on Books for Living by Will Schwalbe.  Each chapter in this book centers on a different book that impacted Schwalbe in a different way.  For our discussion, we talked about what books have played similar roles in our own lives, which was great fun!
  • Teens: With my teens this month, we read the young reader’s edition of I Am Malala by Malala Yousafsai.  I absolutely adore this book.  I’ve used it before and it opens the door for so many interesting and important topics, namely Middle Eastern culture and women’s rights.  Malala is such an inspiring young woman.
  • Women in Leadership: I attend this through my work community’s Chamber of Commerce.  Currently, we’re making our way through Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.  I definitely have mixed feelings about Sandberg, but love gathering with other women in the community and talking about the struggles we face as female leaders.
  • Monday Small Group: In my church small group, we just wrapped up Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks by Priscilla Shirer.  I didn’t think this book was very insightful, but that’s how I feel about most books by evangelicals these days.  After a few chapters, I took to skimming.  I did, however, enjoy the group conversations that were sparked by this book.

Other Books Finished:

I didn’t write any formal book reviews because I’m lazy and life is full.

See you next month for another recap!

If you want more direct reading updates, feel free to add me on Goodreads.

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