February was a good month, especially given that it’s the shortest month of the year. I’m in a weird strained place with reading right now. I’m teaching two different books and Simone has me reading The Hobbit to her again. It’s all well and good, but it makes it hard to finish anything very quickly and I do still want to read some other books. Anyway, eight books this month. Some I was less than thrilled with…
1. Seven-Star Bird by David Daniel (3.5/5) – This is a collection of poems. The latter half of the book is great, especially when he goes into prose poetry. The early parts I could do without, but that’s always the danger of collections. Still glad I read it.
2. Matilda by Roald Dahl (5/5) – Simone is back on chapter books with a vengeance. I loved reading this one to her. It’s so absurd and delightful. Dahl doesn’t pull punches. He also keeps from getting too preachy. My favorite of his that Simone and I have read together so far.
3. McSweeney’s 48 (5/5) – This is among the very best McSweeney’s issues I’ve ever read. Were there some stories I liked more than others? Of course, but they we re all at least very good and some were spectacular. I can actually imagine myself going back to this for things to teach to my writing classes. Great, great issue.
4. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka (3.5/5) – I’ve read both of her books now. Each a slim volume. And while there are stretches of greatness, I never feel like she’s gone deep enough. The last 2/3 of this is great, but the first is rather lackluster and the whole thing could stand more character development.
5. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuine (3/5) – Meh. That’s what a three is for me. Meh. It was fine. Margaret Atwood called it a modern classic and I’m always on the lookout for good fantasy writing (because I have a hard time finding it), so I got it from the library. Didn’t do much for me. Too much plot. Not nearly enough character.
6. The BFG by Roald Dahl (3.5/5) – Can you tell Simone and I have been reading a lot lately? This was nice, but it had some poorly executed stretches, thus it didn’t rise to the level of Matilda.
7. Fire by Anaïs Nin (3/5) – I’d read snatches of Nin here and there and this had been on my to-read shelf for a long time. Mostly, I don’t think reading diaries is really for me. It’s too repetitive. There were moments of greatness, but I’d much rather read a novelization of all of this.
8. All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang (5/5) – Finally, a great novel to close out the month. This is a brisk 205 pages, but what pages. It is a campus novel, but it is up with Stoner among the best campus novels I have ever read. The characters are so full and rich and all of their mistakes are so understandable. It is a perfect little book. I don’t know that any writer could hope to do better. I can’t recommend it more strongly.