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February Booklist

I thought January was a fluke, but ... maybe not. (Maybe I'm more goal oriented than I even realized?)

Without further comment, February's books:

1. Anthem, Ayn Rand

Very didactic, of course, and very ... well, the writing style is to Atlas Shrugged as the Silmarillion is to the Hobbit. But I liked it.

2. Jazz Notes, Don Miller

So good he had to write it twice? I liked Blue Like Jazz, and so I liked Jazz Notes, but it did seem odd that he wrote a second book riffing (his word, not mine) on his own earlier work.

3. Clockwork Prince, Cassandra Clare

I seem to have a habit of REALLY liking the first book in a Cassandra Clare series and then being less impressed with following titles. (Mortal Instruments: was all over the first book, but by the forth I was ready to pluck my eyes out). I was really into Clockwork Angels - Victorian England! Steampunk! Hilariously acerbic men! - but a bit less enthralled with Clockwork Prince. This may be partially the blame on the amount of time between my reading of the two books, though.

4. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Deep-thinking and slightly fey teens, plenty of witty dialog, and a cover that made me happy: I loved this book. (But see # 11.)

5. Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian, Jordan Bajis

Exactly what the title says. Nicely organized and written to explain Orthodoxy to those coming from a Protestant viewpoint.

6. Building the Great Cathedrals, Francois Icher

Continuing the architecture theme from last month. This left me with a feeling of amazement that any of these magnificent structures ever got built... and an even stronger desire to see some of them for myself.

7. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling

I've never been a big Office-watcher, so I had no clue who Mindy Kaling was and picked this up, let's be honest, just because I liked the cover. It didn't disappoint - light and funny and honest, just what a comedic memoir should be.

8. Elizabeth the Queen, Sally Bedell Smith

I've a long-standing interest in British royalty, and a great deal of respect for the Queen herself, so I've been looking forward to this new biography. It's written well, avoids sinking into gossip-magizine territory, and seems to grasp better than most what actually makes the royal family tick.

9. Country Driving, Peter Hessler

Peter Hessler is the Bill Bryson of China. No, wait, that's not quite right - but anyway, there were actually times I forgot who I was reading and thought it WAS Bill Bryson. Mr Hessler, you should consider this a complement.

10. Here Lies Arthur, Philip Reeve

Further adventures in my quest to read Every Book Ever Written About King Arthur. This one's from the point of view of a young girl befriended by Myrddin. It's not very sympathetic towards any of the usual heroes, but it's terribly well written, and the half the joy of reading a million and half versions of the same story is to marvel at the limitless imaginative power of the human mind.

11. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I love Dash & Lily so much I started hunting up other books by this pair of authors. I picked this one (over Naomi & Eli's No Kiss List) because I'd heard so many librarians on YALSA rave about it.

Well.

I'm no prude - I understand the power of a well-turned colorful metaphor as well as the next person. But this was every.other.word. There's been some arguments on YALSA about the language, and I fall in the minority camp: I DO think it's gratuitous. I DON'T think it adds anything to the story. It was excessive and off-putting and made it so that I didn't enjoy a story that might have very well been quite good otherwise.

12. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis

A reread, because it had been far too long. Victorian/scifi/time travel comedy, what would be better?

13. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

I avoided this one for a good month before I plucked up my courage and read it in (almost) one sitting. I don't like sad books, I don't like cancer, I don't like sad books where people have cancer.

This book is all that. But it's a lot more, too. And it neatly avoids most kids-with-cancer cliches. It is, above all else, very real. And it reinforced my belief that John Green has a special talent.

And just when you think you know where the book's going, it all changes. (I actually found out the ending before I read, and in this case I'm glad I did. Your mileage may vary.)

14. The Haves & the Have-nots, Branko Milanovic

I picked this up because I saw it described as "entertaining economics", with chapters about just how rich Mr. Darcy was and all that. Unfortunately, not so much. Bits of it were interesting, but the rest was more suited to an economics student and not the casually interested bystander. The best thing I can say about this is that it was short.

15. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling

Unlike the rest of the series, I had only read this once (the day it came out; most of it read while sipping margaritas with laraemily, as I recall!) It was amazing how much I'd forgotten, and I was impressed by Rowling's storytelling abilities all over again.

16. The Linen Queen, Patricia Falvey

One of the many things I love about reading: how something can suddenly make you realize there's a whole aspect to the world that you never bothered to think about before.

WWII is one of my pet eras of history - I can't give you dates for the battles or name all the generals or anything, but as far as history goes, it's the period I've done the most reading on, and I've got a pretty good handle on what it was like to live through the war - in America, in France, in England, Poland, Germany ...

But until I read The Linen Queen, I never thought about how the war affected Ireland. If anything, I probably thought something along the lines of Ireland...I mean, isn't that basically England?

No, it wasn't basically just England. For one thing, there was still enough antipathy towards England that a lot of men weren't that keen on fighting what they considered England's war.

Not to say that this is a World War Two Book - it's just the setting, a backdrop for the quietly moving transformation of Sheila, winner of the Linen Queen competition. When we meet her she's selfish and thoughtless, and she can't wait to rid herself of her burdensome mother and depressing town and move on to bigger and better things. She doesn't care about the bigger picture, just her own selfish desires.

This is quite possibly the best historical fiction I've read in ages.

17. The Pregnancy Project, Gaby Rodriguez

Gaby's mother and most of her many siblings were unwed mothers. Most of them dropped out of school, never finished their education, and never got out of the cycle of poverty. Gaby was the family's hope: the responsible one, the good girl, the one expected to be the first of the siblings to make it to college.

And then, in her senior year, she got pregnant.

Only she didn't - the whole thing was an elaborate hoax, a senior project examining stereotypes and the hardships faced by teen mothers. Despite the premise, Gaby doesn't make excuses for teen moms, and she remains staunchly pro-life - but she does approach the subject with a lot of love and compassion.

18. Paris, My Sweet, Amy Thomas

Yet another blogger-turned-author travel+food mashup, with predictable results. Nothing amazing, but worth a read if you 1) particularly like Paris, or 2) have a passion for chocolate.

19. Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that won't stop talking, Susan Cain

Just like the "optimists are not always stupid, pessimists are not always deep" thing, there are a lot of stereotypes made on both sides, and it's good to be reminded that stereotypes often don't reflect reality. Introverts are not always shy; extroverts don't always make the best leaders (much less have the best ideas.) I REALLY enjoyed this book, though I didn't realize I was supposed to feel as if I was being made to feel like a second-class citizen because of my introvertedness until this book told me that actually, being introverted is a great thing and comes with a lot of strengths. lol. I took pages and pages of notes that may possibly be turned into posts in the near future.


ebooks: 8
audiobooks: 1
books that I own and needed to read: big whopping zero. Oops.

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
kiwiria
Mar. 6th, 2012 02:22 pm (UTC)
You read more books than I did last month! Well done you! :-)
eattheolives
Mar. 7th, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
That's probably the first time that's ever happened. :D
kiwiria
Mar. 7th, 2012 09:02 am (UTC)
I don't think it's the first ever, but it's likely pretty rare ;)
pianistamy
Mar. 6th, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
I love your booklists...they give me lots of good ideas! :) I checked out a Bill Bryson book (In a Sunburned Country) after your recommendations and absolutely loved it!
eattheolives
Mar. 7th, 2012 03:59 am (UTC)
Aw, thanks. So glad you've found something good through me!
elvishcalarilme
Mar. 7th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
I did not realize that "Nick and Nora" was based on a book, but Levi and I turned the movie off after about twenty minutes because of pure filth...and we're not really too prudish about movies at all. I wanted so badly to like it!
eattheolives
Mar. 7th, 2012 03:58 am (UTC)
And I didn't realize it had been made into a movie!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )