A healthy portion of my time in January was dedicated to setting up goals for the year; it was a tedious process as I had to carefully design how the year is going to be. Inevitably, it caused a slowdown in my reading and at the end of 31 days, I only managed to read a measly three books, way off my personal best. But it was great nonetheless for it afforded me time to reflect on how I am going to direct my year, at least in terms of reading.
Overall, February went great. I slowly gathered momentum and I was able to finish six books, a better number compared to four books read last month. Moreover, unlike the previous year where I dedicated love month to exclusively reading romance novels (well, except for The Heart is a Lonely Hunter), I let my February reading month be as open as possible. Yes, I did read some romance novels, but I got to read from other genres as well.
Here is the order of books I read in February and a simple insight on these books.
Emma by Jane Austen
Ah. Jane Austen. It was through her that I got introduced to the world of English classics (i.e. Pride and Prejudice). Emma is my third Austen work and again, I was astounded. There is just something about Austen’s brand of writing that charms me. Unlike Pride and Sense, Emma dwelt less on the romance aspect but rather on behaviors, social interactions and manners on a wider scale. Feminism and libertarian idealism, as always, are amongst the foundations of this classical work.
Moreover, Austen created one of the most memorable literary characters in Emma Woodhouse. She is the type of character that you love to hate and you hate to love. But this is more credit to Austen’s uncanny ability of developing wonderful and literary characters that leave traces in the mind of readers. An added bonus: I am crossing one more book from Beat The Backlist 2019 edition list.
For a complete review of this classic work, click here.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath was haunted by her demons which ultimately led to her untimely demise. But before her death, she produced a masterpiece. In The Bell Jar, Plath took me to a personal ride to the inner workings of her mind. Her writing was astounding, I can clearly distinguish Plath’s voice in the din. I saw a misunderstood young woman who continually struggles against the darker realities of her time (and of our time in general).
To say that The Bell Jar is a phenomenal read is an understatement; I cannot find the right superlatives to how this masterpiece aroused feelings in me. Her story reflected a lot of my own personal struggles. I just wish that there were more of Plath’s longer works (ala novel-esque length) considering that I am not that much of a fan of poetry.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
There are just books that can dupe readers (not in a bad way). Last year, I though Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is a romance novel only to learn it was not. This year’s version is Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love. Although to some extent it was, I really (really) thought that it was a romance novel! Haha. And considering the fact that Nicole Krauss is the former wife of fellow author Jonathan Safran Foerr.
On a different note, The History of Love is a lyrically written prose. Although I wasn’t a fan of the nostalgic but utterly nauseating conclusion, I was riveted by the build up of the story. I rarely find myself lost in the beauty of the narrative but Krauss did just that. What she conjured is a haunting and captivating read.
They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera
So yes, I am averse to young adult fiction and Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End is another example why I try to avoid the (overly hyped) genre as much as possible. The novel has an interesting premise. I guess it was just that the execution was a little too out there. You have two interesting characters who meet at the last day of their personal lives. They try to maximize their last day as much as possible.
Silvera’s take on star-crossed lovers is, well, a bit bland. I had high expectation of the novel but if you remove the element of the Deathcast, the novel is reduced to nothing but another mundane young adult fiction read. Beyond Deathcast, there was nothing of interest in the novel and even the Deathcast was prematurely developed. Silvera trudged the same path that authors of his genre keep on walking on. Too bad.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
Death Comes for the Archbishop was an effective tonic after that subpar experience with Silvera’s They Both Die at the End. It was my first work by the highly celebrated Willa Cather who I have first encountered of while doing numerous list-challenges. Some of her works were critically acclaimed and Death Comes for the Archbishop was my first dibs into her works
What I loved about the work is Cather’s atmospheric descriptions of the arid New Mexican landscape. It was on-point. Death is an interesting intersection of two histories and cultures – the Spanish and the Native Americans. Cather did a great job of combining these two elements and creating a wonderful reading experience. It makes me look forward to her other works.
Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki
Japanese authors are simply superior. Yasunari Kawabata, Kazuo Ishiguro and Haruki Murakami are just amongst the long list of excellent writers the nation has provided. Keeping up with this long standing tradition is Junichiro Tanizaki, an author whose works I also keep encountering on numerous must-read lists.
I am always excited to read Japanese literary works that is why I immediately took on Some Prefer Nettles even though I just recently bought it (I am really sorry to the other books who have been gathering dust on my bookshelves since time immemorial). Some Prefer Nettles is the crossroads of Japanese traditions and Western modernization with marriage as its primary plot device. It is very Japanese in its intent and writing style and I had a high time unraveling the narrative. Needless to say, it is a great and though-provoking read. This first taste of the Tanizaki makes me look forward to his other works (Makioka Sisters is a priority!).
Current Read: Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This book forms part of my 2019 Top 20 Reading List and one that I have been looking forward to since I bought it. Encountering it several times in must-read lists piqued my interest in this African masterpiece. So far, it is not disappointing and is keeping me hooked to the story. 🙂
In spite of the momentum I gained in February, I still find myself lagging behind again in terms of book reviews. So far, I have published one book review of the six books I have read (Emma). I am hoping that in March I can cope up with the lag. Crossing fingers. This is something that I really have to address but anyway, what is important is that I am taking it all in strides.
There is another wonderful reading journey waiting in March so do watch out for it. How about you reader, how did you February go? I hope it went as well as mine did.
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! – When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
For my book haul for February, you may click here.