What I read in February

February was a good reading month. I read a fantastic non-fiction book by an author who I’ve enjoyed listening to on a number of podcasts, a book that started off slow but turned into a striking and complex historical journey, a beautifully poetic novel with an interesting artistic style, and the start to a series that I’ve been meaning to pick up for ages. What have you read this month?

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I put this on my to-read list because Brené Brown kept showing up on podcasts I listen to, and every time I loved listening to her words. Luckily, she is one of those writers who writes how she talks, so reading this felt like reading an extended monologue (or maybe one of her Ted Talks). Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability offers both compassion and relatability while encouraging what she calls “wholeheartedness”. Although the book’s thesis is thoroughly and academically researched, her metaphors are accessible and her case studies are those to which most of us can relate or, if not relate, surely understand. While I found it to be more of an illuminative study than a book of actionable advice, Brown rightly points out that recognising shame, vulnerability, and their causes and markers are important in acknowledging and working with them, and in that way this book provides the first step in accepting our imperfections and learning to dare greatly.

Solar BonesSolar Bones by Mike McCormack

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a single-sentence stream of consciousness, Marcus Conway ruminates on his life, his marriage, his work, and the town/county/country/world in which he lived. The style takes a bit of getting used to, but if you just let yourself be swept up in it you find yourself wholly absorbed. It’s artistic yet unpretentious, and the prose is full of lovely, haunting turns of phrase.

The LacunaThe Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There’s such a strong sense of place in this book. It nearly demands you use your every sense—seeing and hearing and smelling the 1930s Mexico setting that Kingsolver paints colours as rich as those that appear in Rivera’s and Kahlo’s works. There are so many threads and layers that draw together over time, moments that come to make sense as you learn more about protagonist Harrison Shepherd’s childhood in Mexico and adulthood in the United States, and context that fills in the lacunae (gaps in a manuscript or text) of the title.

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)In the Woods by Tana French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m foolish. Several times before I had requested this book on Overdrive and then, when it came in, I let it sit until the loan expired. I love crime and mystery, I love Irish fiction, I’m not sure why I never quite got around to reading it. At least I finally rectified my mistake and delved into this excellent mystery novel. I like complex crime stories, even if they aren’t wrapped up neatly at the end like an episode of Law & Order, and this book delivers on the complexity with two cases, one past and one present, that are full of twists and turns, revelations that lead to disappointments, and answers and a lack thereof that create a feeling of frustration at not knowing but also of satisfaction at the realism of a story left deliberately unfinished. When you’re at the point where the detectives are cracking the case and then you realise there are still a hundred pages left in the book, you know it’s not going to be a slam-dunk, but you’ll enjoy going along for the ride. I’m looking forward to continuing to read the series, and not leaving them forgotten on my holds list this time.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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