This month I had two reading goals: participate in both the #readingblackout and the #unreadshelfproject2018. I was able to read some books in both of these categories, however I think these projects will continue over the rest of the year, as there is so much more to read!! Here’s a look at what I read this month:
Books by People of Color
A few weeks ago, I posted my TBR list for the #readingblackout, and I was able to read three books from the list and have put the rest on hold at my library.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
I really enjoyed this story about a young girl trying to survive in a future United States where the government is crumbling, the economy is devastated, the effects of climate change are being felt and living in your own neighborhood can be deadly. (Note: the book was written in 1995, and is set in 2025, which is now not that far in the future) The characters were interesting, particularly the main character Lauren, and while this is not really a post-apocalyptic book, it has the feel of one. Throughout the story you are rooting for this girl and her friends to survive and find refuge in a safe place. Lauren goes from being a scared little girl to the leader of a new philosophy/religion, called Earthseed. Although I don’t necessarily agree with what the author is trying to say by adding this religious philosophy to the story, it was an interesting element to the book and helps to set up the sequel, Parable of the Talents.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This is a memoir of the author’s childhood, growing up as an African-American in the south during the 1960’s and 1970’s. A middle grade novel, the book is written in verse, which can be done very well or very poorly, and in this case, I thought it was perfect. The book reminds me of another favorite of mine, also written in verse, Loving vs. Virginia. This is a story that marks the passage of history, with the Civil Rights movement always in the background of the author’s relationships with her family members. It’s beautifully written and I’d recommend it for both children and adults.
Cover art is something I’ve been noticing lately, and this one is beautiful. This is a short work of fiction that reads like a memoir. The main character explores her grief at losing her mother to cancer and how different life looks through the lens of that grief. Adding to her emotions is the birth of her own child, and her difficulty watching her father move on with his life after her mother’s death. Issues of race are explored as well, with the main character’s mother being of mixed race and originally from South Africa. I’m betting that the author has had similar experiences to the main character, in order to capture her thoughts and feelings on so many difficult topics so well. This is not a plot driven book, but rather one that focuses on the character’s relationships with her family and how those relationships shape the person she becomes.
I also read An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole.
This is a historical romance, and while romance is not typically my genre, historical fiction is, so I gave it a try. I thought the book’s plot was really interesting; two Union spies, a white man and a black woman, meet while on an assignment in the south during the Civil War. Parts of the book seemed very unrealistic to me, but when I’m looking for a book to help me escape from reality, I can let that slide. There is another book in this series, A Hope Divided, which focuses on a few of the secondary characters in this novel. In the end, this was a quick, easy, enjoyable read.
Books from my Unread Shelf
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
With all the hype surrounding this book, I have to say I was somewhat underwhelmed. I think that’s because I really enjoy a plot driven book and this one was more about the characters and the exploration of an idea; in this case women’s reproductive rights. The book follows four women living in present day America, two years after a ban on abortion and single-parent adoption has gone into effect. I enjoyed some of the story lines more than others (the unhappy housewife is getting overplayed a lot I think). I will say that I read the book in one day, so it is a compelling read and I’m glad to have read it.
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein by Jennifer Roy
Ali Fadhil was eleven years old when the U.S. went to war with Iraq in 1991. This is the story of those 45 days, told through a child’s eyes. It’s a middle grade novel and handles the realities of war in a delicate and age appropriate way. Part of the reason I read is to be able to empathize with others and this is a great book to use to show kids a different perspective on world politics and war. Fadhil’s journey from that eleven year old to where he is today is briefly explained at the end of the book, and is truly a heartwarming addition to the story.
Those are the highlights of what I read in February. For a complete list of everything I’m reading, follow me on Goodreads.
What have you been reading lately?