What I’ve Read in February

It was a good month for reading. I’m keeping well on track with my resolution to read 52 books by the end of 2013 (12 complete already!), but I’m also enjoying the personal challenge just to keep reading. I used to go through cycles where I’d read fanatically for a few weeks, then not have anything on the go for a little while. Knowing I have to keep moving forward encourages me to stay on top of recommendations, book reviews, and interlibrary loan requests so that there’s always something new on my shelf. Here’s what I’ve been reading this past month:

1. “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua

I wrote a blog post about this book, so if you want to hear my more in-depth thoughts on this rather bizarre family, here’s the link!

2. “The Headmaster’s Wager” by Vincent Lam

The-Headmasters-Wager

Written by a Toronto doctor who’s known for “Bloodletting and Other Miracles,” (which I read a long time and loved), this story is set in Vietnam in the 1970s. I enjoyed it, particularly his descriptions of geography and food. The story had surprising twists, which kept it interesting, but was ultimately tragic, which left me feeling dreary for days. Still, I’m dying to go to Vietnam someday.

3. “Eating Dirt” by Charlotte Gill

eating-dirt

A book about tree planting in Canada written by a woman who’s been doing it for twenty years, this was a great read. She shares her own adventures, along with a solid look at the logging industry and deforestation, as well as trees themselves and what makes forests important on our planet. I loved Gill’s poetic metaphors in particular. She’s a beautiful writer.

4. “The Female Eunuch” by Germaine Greer

The-Female-Eunuch-01

Well, this was a whopper of a book — a polemic feminist text published in 1970 that was influential in the second wave of feminism. Greer is strongly anti-marriage and monogamy but in favour of having multiple children raised in a communal setting. She can be quite over the top, but the book was still fascinating. I can only imagine how shocking such a work must have been for a housewife of that era. It got me thinking and wondering how many things have actually changed, but that’s for another post…

5. “The Golden Mean” by Annabel Lyon

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A work of historical fiction, it’s based on the time Aristotle spent tutoring young Alexander the Great in Macedonia. I’ve never read a novel from that time in history, so it was interesting from that perspective. What struck me most was how so many of the men were bisexual and how it seemed almost acceptable for old men to sleep regularly with young boys. Of course that was not the focus of the book, but it certainly made an impression.

7. “The Age of Hope” by David Bergen

age-of-hope

This book was the third of the Canada Reads nominations I’ve read and by far my favourite. I really enjoyed this book, far more than “Away” and “February.” It follows the life of a Mennonite Canadian woman in Manitoba from childhood to old age, who fulfills the  stereotypes of wife and mother. She never does much with her life beyond raising children, which is why I found it particularly interesting in relation to “The Female Eunuch.” She would have been the kind of woman Greer was writing for. An excellent read that I’ll be buying for my grandma because I really want to talk about it with her and hear her take on life as a housewife throughout the twentieth century.

How about you? Any good recommendations?

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6 thoughts on “What I’ve Read in February

  1. Since you liked the Golden Mean, you could try The Sweet Girl, which is Lyon’s follow-up novel. I was disappointed in The Age of Hope. I’m not sure I really believed her. Here are some suggestions for books I’ve liked that you might enjoy:

    Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – a great page turner
    You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik
    This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
    The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin – well, ANYTHING by Toibin, especially The Master or Brooklyn
    Dear Life by Alice Munro
    Y – Marjorie Celona
    Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson – I learned something about food and cooking on just about every page, even Lloyd loved it.
    The Red House by Mark Haddon – he wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, which is fabulous, if you haven’t read it.
    Goat Song by Brad Kessler

    Happy March reading!

  2. Since you like stories from other times and places…
    —White Man’s Grave by Richard Dooling. I liked this book, about a father who goes to search for his missing son who is in the Peace Corps in Africa. It was really unusual and interesting.
    —Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski. A little oddball, but interesting and a page-turner. Takes place in Thailand.
    —Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barret. I read this a while ago but remember just loving it. Maybe because it had a female scientific illustrator character in the early day of the Smithsonian Institute. History, art, nature, travel and adventure…what more could you want?
    —Catherwood. by Marly Youmans. I loved this book, but it is very sad. It’s about a young woman who gets lost in the wilderness in colonial times with her young daughter…and it I won’t spoil the ending…but you’d need plenty of kleenex. But I thought it was beautifully written, and it painted an interesting picture of colonial America.

    But with your reading habit, I bet you’ve read these already!

  3. I know what you mean about those cycles! I’ve been the same.

    The book I’d recommend from my read this year is The End of Your Life Book Club. The others are more genre and ones I’d be reluctant to recommend without really being confident about the match between book and the recommendation recipient.

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