Hey readers! I can’t believe how quickly this past month flew by. I’m all settled in to the new house and pretty settled in to working at the library. I’ve discovered that audiobooks are my best friend right now, considering the almost 2 hours of commuting I do every day. In February I managed to read a total of 13 books, broken down to:
- 5 nonfiction
- 5 adult fiction
- 2 young adult fiction
- 1 romance
Really happy with my wrap up for this month, especially considering it’s the shortest month of the year!
Books I Read in February
1. Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
I’d been hearing some really great things about this before picking it up and when I saw it in my library’s catalogue, I knew I had to pick it up. This was an excellent collection of short stories. Adjei-Brenyah has such a lyrical, addictive writing style and I found myself completely captivated by the first page of every story. Each story was a very thought-provoking critique of different social issues; from race and capitalism, to more. I’m very much looking forward to reading more work from Adjei-Brenyah in the future!
2. Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #2.5)
Ahhh, you guys!! This was one of my most anticipated romance releases of the year and it 100% lived up to the hype. The Reluctant Royals series is one of my favourite romance series and I just love Alyssa Cole’s writing so much. I’ve loved Likotsi from the first books and was so looking forward to reading her story. Fab and Likotsi just worked so well together and I really liked the alternating timeline way the book was written. I felt that Alyssa Cole managed to pack in so much development into such a short story and this has become one of my fave f/f romances!
3. The Banker’s Wife by Cristina Alger
Well, this was a surprising new favourite. For a few months last year I saw The Banker’s Wife all over bookstagram, so when I saw that my library had this, I picked it up on a whim and am totally glad I did! The Banker’s Wife isn’t really your typical mystery/thriller, but I found it so utterly engaging and I couldn’t put it down! Told in alternating perspectives, this follows the wife of a banker (Matthew) who dies in a suspicious plane crash, and a journalist investigating the bank Matthew worked at. What follows is a thrilling plot uncovering a huge scandal around offshore banking. The premise may sound a bit odd but trust me, this book is so good.
4. When They Call You A Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrise Khan-Cullors
I was expecting this to be wholly about the BLM movement, however it’s more a powerful memoir outlining events in Khan-Cullors’ life that led to establishing the movement. Told in two parts, this memoir explores Khan-Cullors’ childhood growing up in Los Angeles and how the BLM movement was created. I appreciated seeing how the author came into her role as an activist and founder of such a huge movement. Would definitely recommend.
5. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Honestly… I was expecting to like this a lot more than I did. There was nothing overwhelmingly bad about it, I just wasn’t blown away the way I thought I would be. There’s no doubt that Elizabeth Acevedo is a talented writer, and I very much look forward to reading more of her work. Acevedo packed a punch here and explored a myraid of topics ranging from body acceptance and rape culture to abuse and religion. Acevedo did an excellent job showing Xiomara’s internal conflicts throughout the whole novel, however I felt that the ending/resolution was rushed and quite jarring. No matter if I didn’t like this as much as expected, it was still a good read.
Audiobooks I Listened To in February
1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
I feel like this is a book that perhaps if I were American, I would have enjoyed even more than I did. At the time Obama was elected as president, I was only 10 and so I didn’t really care for politics for most of his time as president. In saying that, I thought Becoming was a lovely memoir, and Michelle Obama is such a strong, passionate and beautiful role model for young women. I loved hearing about her childhood, her budding romance with Barack, her thoughts and feelings on politics and Barack’s presidency. This was an inspiring, moving memoir and I definitely recommend it.
2. Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi
Just like with any collection of stories, there were some stories here that I loved, and some I didn’t really care for. All of these stories had one thing in common– exlporing experiences of being young and black in America, and showing that no matter the experience, black teens are black enough. This was an inclusive collection, showing experiences from biracial and mixed race black teens, queer black teens, poor black teens, black teen immigrants and more. I think it’s an important short story collection and I highly recommend the audiobook!
3. The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
This was an abolustely phenomonal non-fiction book that is easily one of my new all time favourites. Sonya Renee Taylor explores the idea and power of racidal self-love. Going into this book, I assumed it was going to be just about body positivity but it was about so much more than that. Sonya offers the idea that prejudice (racism, homophibia, transphobia, etc.) is a form of body terrorism that can be corrected and changed through accepting your own & others’ bodies (radical self-love) and creating systems that accept those bodies too. The audiobook was amazing, but I’m definitely going to purchase my own copy to highlight. Highly, highly recommend.
4. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
This was my first Jesmyn Ward book and it certainly won’t be my last. This was a moving, harrowing story told over the days leading up to, and just after, hurricane Katrina. Salvage the Bones follows a family in poverty striken Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. This book tackles many topics, such as rural poverty, teen pregnancy, dog fighting and more. Ward’s writing is absolutely beautiful and her descriptions are amazing. I found the pacing at the end to be a little off, and thought the days where the hurricane hit moved a little too quickly, however I still liked this and will be reading everything Ward has written!
5. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
This is a collections of essays exploring Austin Channing Brown’s experiences growing up as an African American woman. Brown descibes microaggressions she has encountered in all aspects of her life, especially schooling and work. Brown also explores microaggressions she’s experienced in church, and this is definitely a book I would recommend to non-black Christians. I myself am not at all religious, nor do I care for religion, so while I appreciated learning about Brown’s experiences, I just could not connect to that. I would say this book is worth the read, though!
6. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is a book I definitely could have gone without reading. This is grossly transphobic and heteronormative, and doesn’t really do much to challenge any stereotypical gender roles. In all honesty, it doesn’t recognise queer and/or trans women at all and does nothing to challenge the gender binary. I feel like this book is recommended as a staple in feminist literature sometimes, but there are so many more inclusive pieces of feminist work we could recommend instead.
7. Where The Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward
Do you ever read a book and wonder how on earth it is an author’s debut? That’s how I felt about this one. After listening to Salvage the Bones I knew I wanted to read more of Ward’s work, so I picked this up. It amazes me how beautiful the writing was in this debut! Where The Line Bleeds follows twins Christophe and Joshua as they’re leaving high school and searching for jobs. Joshua is able to find a job working on the docks, but Christophe, unable to find a job too, begins selling drugs. Although it drags at times and I felt like there wasn’t much of a plot, Ward’s beautiful writing is enough to keep me recommending it!
8. We Cast A Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
This is a sharp, biting, whip-smart social satire set in a futuristic dystopia where technology exists to lighten ones skin. Maurice Carlos Ruffin addresses racism, fear, parenthood and more throughout this novel. Even though it’s very well written and the narrator was excellent, I didn’t really love this. The narrative was choppy, the plot was all over the place and the pacing/timing was so jarring that at times months had gone by and you couldn’t tell. Ruffin is definitely a smart, talented author, and though this one unfortunately didn’t work for me, I can understand the hype.
That’s everything I read in February! I read a good mix of stuff last month, focusing on black authors since it was Black History Month. I found a couple new faves, a couple authors I’m excited to keep an eye out for, and a few books I didn’t really care for.
What did you read in February? Have you read any on my list? If so, tell me what you thought of them!
Thanks for reading!