What I read: February 2016

I read 55 books last year. I made some guidelines for 2015: a new author every week, stick to recent releases, something literary, and only read books I never read before. Sounds boring, but it was important to me. This year, however, I’m doing whatever the hell I want. I’m not worried about a number like I was last year or those stupid rules. I still have a reading goal (4/month), but I can read things I’ve already read and am trying some more “fun” titles.

My dad was in town for a bit, so I didn’t do much reading in the first half of the month, but I finished three in the past week. I even had the chance to interview two of them. Check them out below. (PS: Sorry that they’re all by white men.)

Feb 2016 Books Read

Sweetgirl – Travis Mulhauser (2016)
Completed 2/2 (Read my interview with Mulhauser here.)
What it’s about: Percy is a sixteen-year-old girl who is trying to find her meth head mother. She stumbles across two passed out drug addicts and a baby in awful condition. She snatches the baby and the rest of the plot follows the fallout from that decision.
Why you should read it: though the plot requires some suspension of belief, the book is beautifully written. Some say the main character shouldn’t have such eloquent thoughts considering she’s a high school drop out, but don’t let that stand in the way of you enjoying the beauty.

One Summer: America, 1927 – Bill Bryson (2013)
Completed February 24
What it’s about: a historical look into the summer that American became, well, America. But don’t be fooled: it covers the time leading up to the summer of 1927. Bryson covers Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, Sacco and Vanzetti, as well as numerous other cultural events that impacted America.
Why you should read it: Bryson’s prose transforms this book beyond just a history lesson. He mixes important events with little-known tidbits that add so much intrigue to the stories. Because of the structure, you won’t get bogged down in too much too fast. Instead, the book gives a good introduction to a lot of topics.

Why We Came to the City – Kristopher Jansma (2016)
Completed February 25 (Listen to part of my interview with Jansma here. Read the whole thing here.)
What it’s about: Irene Richmond is in her mid-twenties, healthy and has a group of friends that she loves more than anything. Then she discovers she has cancer. The rest follows her time fighting the horrific disease and what comes after she dies. It’s based on the author’s own experience with his younger sister passing away at the age of 22.
Why you should read it: It’s a visceral look into the type of friendship that many books attempt, but fail. It’s reminiscent of A Little Life, but more concise in many ways. Jansma’s words show that he cares a lot about what he is writing about. I really appreciated how it wasn’t a typically structured novel. It uses larger “chapters” to reveal large chunks of time, but at the same time focuses on such small details.

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life – Steve Martin (2007)
Completed February 28
What it’s about: Steve Martin recounts his time as a comic and the events that shaped him become as funny as he is. There are some sweet moments from his childhood and revelations that Wikipedia never told me.
Why you should read it: If you want to be funny, read this. If you’re interested in media, read this. If you just like smartly written words strung together, read this. Martin is an interesting person and it was nice to hear about how his life came together. It’s a terse novel — around 200 — and it glosses through his life. Nothing is bogged down in Martin’s prose, which makes it a quick and fun read.

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