It’s been a rough month – it only being the second month since my father’s death; he was our sole surviving parent. My mother passed away less than two years ago. Everything is still hard to give my complete focus and attention. Grief smacked me upside the head as I stared down at a knife the other day while unloading the dishwasher. Tears sprung from my eyes as my mind taking me to my parent’s kitchen and their utensils and knives. My parents
have had the same knife that caused this floodgate to open –if no one in the family takes it, the knife will be donated along with the rest of the cutlery and everyday plates. No wait, I grabbed the dishes. My feet sink into what feels like sand, hoping to find firm ground.
One of the rocks I’ve been able to cling to during these stormy times has been my books. My pace has slowed, along with everything else. I surprised myself as I completed reading six books, also reading a few short stories as I continue working through The Art of the Short Story. I am reviewing the individual stories but will do so in a separate post. Writing is more difficult these days.
I followed many different themes this month, helping to guide me in making my literary selections. Sometimes I find that to be one of the greatest challenges – what do read next. February celebrated Black History, and I looked to my TBR List to see what fit the bill. Octavia Butler’s Kindred had been sitting on the list for too long, and I was excited by the time-traveling aspect of the story. I love a good time-traveling tale.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love historical fiction, and I love time travel stories. So, I was excited to read Octavia Butler’s Kindred finally. The story focuses on two interracial relationships, with the protagonist, Dana, at the center of both. When the story begins its 1976, Dana, a 26-year-old African American writer, is living in Los Angeles with her white male husband, Kevin, who is 12 years her senior. Although Dana is thrust back to antebellum Maryland in 1815, quite a shock for a 20th-century woman. The story follows the developing relationship of Dana with her ancestor, Rufus, the son of a plantation and slave owner, Tom Waylan. Kindred explores ancestry, slavery, and interracial relationships and is a riveting story about family, gender, and power. Butler is a fantastic storyteller who creates interesting characters and relationships. Initially published in 1979, it has withstood the test of time to have been made into a TV mini-series in 2022. I haven’t seen the mini-series, but hopefully, it will prompt others to read the original book themselves. My criticism about the book is that the time travel aspect wasn’t consistent, and the mechanism/portal was unclear to me; other than that, I highly recommend it. I listened to the Audiobook narrated by Kim Staunton, who successfully brings the various characters to life. 10 hours 55 minutes.
Recently I have been intrigued by reading graphic novels. There was something appealing to me about looking at pictures that told a story. Perhaps it was the inner child in me trying to reach back for the comfort of my picture books. It’s a genre I have only just begun to dip my toes into its deep waters. Robin Ho’s Almost American Girl and Isabel Greenberg’s The Encyclopedia Of Early Earth were a promising way to wade in.
Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir by Robin Ha
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Moving is one of the most stressful things people do in life. We’ve all experienced it at one point or another, and if you haven’t – at some point, you will. But most people don’t move to a new country, and for those who do, the experience is even more scary and filled with barriers such as the language. Almost American Girl is a touching YA graphic novel about a middle-school-aged girl being uprooted by her mother from her home in Korea to live in America. Robin Ha’s honest and poignant portrait of her relationship with her mother is powerful and relatable on many levels. I loved Ha’s illustrative style, and the format was an inviting framework for her memoir. This story is pertinent in many ways to more than just the young adult reader. 4.5 Stars rounded to 5 for the Goodreads star system.
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is a graphic novel with interesting and imaginative woodcut-style illustrations by Isabell Greenberg. The nested story style is one that Greenberg is comfortable with, and I have seen her use it in other graphic novels. The story follows the journey of a boy from his home at the North Pole to the South Pole, where he finds true love. The stories are all retellings of well-known biblical and mythological tales, and after a while, I started to get a bit bored. The last two stories seemed out of sequence with the rest of the book, although it is an “encyclopedia,” which isn’t necessarily sequential. This was the second book I have read of Isabelle Greenberg’s, although this was her debut novel. There were many similarities between the two books, and what I found unique and exciting the first time wasn’t as much so the second time around.
One of my reading goals is to read my way through the collection of various favorite authors I have. My parents were both huge fans of Agatha Christie and they were the ones who introduced me to her murder mysteries when I was a teenager. This month I chose to focus on Christie; I was excited to return to the beginning with her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sisters can challenge us like no other, and we tend to rise to the occasion when they do. Madge Christie dared her sister, Agatha, to write a mystery that the reader couldn’t figure out the murderer – thankfully, Agatha was up for the challenge. As a result, she wrote what would be her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which also featured the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Poison was her first weapon of choice; Christie had an extensive understanding of medicines and poisons from her volunteer work in the dispensary in the Torquay hospital during World War I.
I enjoyed reading this mystery – silly me thought I was clever enough to figure out the murderer since I have read several of her books. That is the beauty and the genius of her mysteries that make them so enjoyable. The Mysterious Affair at Styles proved to be an excellent stepping stone.
Finally, I read two more books – one on my Kindle – The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. I have followed Wim Hof on Instagram for several years and wanted to start incorporating cold therapy into my life more than I have with deep breathing and meditation. The Life Fantastic: Myth, History, Pop and Folklore in the Making of Western Culture was a book selected by the Literati Joseph Campbell Myth & Meaning Book Club, and I was excited to sit down with this finally.
The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential by Wim Hof
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Must Read-
I have followed Wim Hof for many years now on social media, so it was a real treat to read the Wim Hof Method. It’s filled with valuable information to help teach the many techniques which Wim Hof uses. Backed by science,Wim includes the results of many of the experiments done on him – strengthening his case for why his method works. Highly recommend to all.
The Life Fantastic: Myth, History, Pop and Folklore in the Making of Western Culture by Noa Menhaim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My To Be Read List grew exponentially while reading The Life Fantastic: Myth, History, Pop, and Folklore in the Making of Western Culture by Noa Menhaim. I love reading books like this, and although the format at first took me some time to get used to, in the end, I found the pop-up bubbles to be valuable prompts. I needed a magnifying glass near me since my eyes aren’t great. This book is all about connecting the dots in understanding where modern culture was influenced.
At the close of the month, I have completed 22% of my Goodreads Challenge with thirteen books finished. I’m currently working on a few more including Alice Walker’s collection of short stories and an interesting mystery called The Plot to name a few. Until next month, enjoy reading.