February was a really good month for me, in terms of reading enjoyment. I read 6 books, half of which were 5 star reads.
I participated in Lauren And The Books Femmeuary challenge of reading only books by women or about women for the whole of February. What a brilliant idea from Lauren! I had such a blast choosing the books I wanted to read and then working my way through them. Unfortunately I didn’t get through all of the ones I picked at the start of February (9 books) but I had such a lovely time with the ones I did read, and I can’t wait to get round to the remaining 3 that were on my list!
Here’s what I read in February 2018.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (memoir), The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (fiction), Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest (poetry), The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (short stories), Pachinko (fiction) & The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark (modern classic).
Again, like last month, I have 2 books in the honourable mentions section. These books blew my mind. I gave both of them 5 stars on Goodreads.
First up is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. I can’t believe I’ve never read any Joan Didion before, she writes so clearly and so beautifully. This is a very sad memoir, detailing the year of Didion’s life after her husband died unexpectedly whilst her grown-up daughter was extremely ill in hospital. Make no bones about it, this book is harrowing, but it’s one of those books that makes you think of life differently. Similarly to Paul Kalanthi’s When Breath Becomes Air or Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, it alters your perspective on things. Highly recommend.
Next up is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a long historical novel that follows one family down generations as they move from Korea to Japan, and examines the discrimination they face. I admit I knew nothing of this part of history before reading Pachinko, nothing of the complex relationship between those two countries. I found it utterly fascinating, and really want to know more now!
One of the many reasons I loved this book is the family saga element. Lee moves from one generation to the next so seamlessly – part of the reason perhaps is how much time she spends with each generation, allowing us to get to know and love the characters before moving on to the next. This novel is vivid and completely immersive. I loved it so much.
This month I’d like to spotlight The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.
To begin with, I should probably point out that I adore Lahiri’s writing style. Honestly that woman could write a shopping list and I’d be on board. Sheer perfection.
Similarly to Pachinko, The Namesake is a family saga. It follows a young Indian couple, Ashoke and Ashima, who get an arranged marriage and move to America. It then follows their lives as Indian immigrants and their children’s lives as they settle in America. What Lahiri does so brilliantly is show the culture clash between the Indian parents and their Indian American children – the novel is a brilliant examination of that, as well as our ideas of identity. Also, for me, the characters are so rounded and truly feel like living, breathing people. Would highly recommend picking this one up!
That’s all for my February Wrap Up. Happy reading!