February Books

FebruaryCompared to January, this was a shorter month with fewer books, but these were all solid choices.

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry – I purchased this young adult book about an atheist who attends a strict Catholic high school for my son, soon to be a Catholic high school student himself. (He devoured it in a day.) Michael, the protagonist, challenges school culture by making waves with his newfound friends. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it delivers a strong message about the importance of faith – whether in family, friends, or the Church.

The Wrong Heaven: Stories by Amy Bonnaffons – A talking Mother Mary lawn ornament, a woman who takes steps to turn herself into a horse, and dollhouse figurines who come to life? Why not? I really wish I remember how I heard about this book so I could tell you why I picked it up, but it doesn’t really matter. Every story was an entertaining read.

Finding Sisu: In Search of Courage, Strength, and Happiness the Finnish Way by Katja Pantzar – You may recall that last month, I read a book called Sisu: The Finnish Art of Courage. It wasn’t my fave, but I am a fan of Finnish culture, particularly the concept of “sisu.” This book, written more like a memoir as a fellow Finn returns to live in the motherland, was much better than Sisu… Still, I don’t think you’ll appreciate it unless you’re a Finn.

Ohio: A Novel by Stephen Markley – I first saw this book on a store shelf in Jackson, Mississippi this past Christmas, and as an Ohio resident, I was intrigued. This debut novel made many “Best of 2018” lists and classified Markley as a “writer-to-watch.” The story unfolds through multiple characters’ perspectives. It is long. It is dark. It is sometimes slow. But the payoff was good.

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson – I am constantly seeking to grow in my racial literacy. Having read his 2018 What Truth Sounds Like… in December, I looked up other Dyson books, and this one from 2017 seemed like a good fit for my second read. His arguments are sound, and I don’t disagree with a single one, even those that challenged me. If you are a member of “White America,” I would recommend Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility before this one (or over this one, if you only read one).

Friday Black: Stories by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah – Holy S#%t. That was actually what I said out loud, sometime after midnight when I finished the first story, “The Finkelstein Five,” one I started with the intention of “just reading a couple pages before bed.” I could not put it down, and when I finished, I was breathless. Think: if Black Mirror was a short story collection. Friday Black is uneven, but the good ones are that good. Other notables for me: “Lark Street,” “Zimmer Land,” and the title story.

Rages Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly – This was the last novel I read based on a Time magazine review combining this title with Gemma Hartley’s Fed Up… and Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad…, which I read within a week of each other at the end of last year. I saved the best for last. Where Fed Up was lacking research, Rage lays it out clearly. Where Good and Mad seemed to focus more on White women, Rage is intersectional in all the right ways. Honestly, after reading Traister’s All the Single Ladies a couple years ago, I thought this book read like I expected Good and Mad would, but didn’t.

The best of the month:

Friday Black for short story collection that offers disturbing social commentary
The Wrong Heaven for a lighter short story collection
Rage Becomes Her… for nonfiction