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Read pretty much exactly what I wanted to read in February. On track with all goals and so forth. Hooray for me.

  1. Freya by Anthony Quinn (2/5) – Holy crap. I was enjoying this book immensely. For the first 400 or so pages. Unfortunately, it’s about 550 pages long. I’ve never seen a book crash and burn like this before. It was amazing. To construct a character so thoughtfully 400 pages and to then quickly contradict and destroy everything you’ve created. It was every possible bad decision about how to end a book. It’s almost an accomplishment how thoroughly he ruins it all.
  2. Jazz by Toni Morrison (5/5) – Taught this book for a the first time in a few years. I really enjoy teaching it because the structure is so different from what kids are used to seeing. It challenges them interesting ways. And I continue to enjoy it, having read it 4 or 5 times now, which says something as that’s usually the point for me when even books I love often become a bit stale.
  3. Magnetic Point by Ryszard Kynicki (4/5) – Over the last few years, I’ve kind of developed a thing for Eastern European writing. Especially poetry. And with poetry, what you get are mostly these selected poem collections of someone’s enormous and important career. It’s interesting the trace the phases and I inevitably prefer some to others, but this volume was mostly up my alley. Tranströmer with a bit more naturalism is, I suppose, how I’d describe it.
  4. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (5/5) – This book was an absolute delight. I am just going to read all the Calvino. When I finished this one, I laughed loudly and delightedly. I can’t remember ever having that response to a book before. I think anyone who hasn’t read this and really enjoys reading will appreciate it and take quite a bit of joy from it. It is a book for readers.
  5. The Violins of Saint-Jacques by Patrick-Leigh Fermor (3/5) – The introduction to this little volume acknowledges that Fermor is an interloper to the culture he is trying to capture, and it’s disappointingly true. The story is brief and compelling, but it is very much the kind of book colonizers have always written.
  6. The Great Unknown by Marcus Du Sautoy (4/5) – I had a lot of fun reading this book, which explores questions about science and how far it can reach in a compelling and self-aware manner. Sautoy doesn’t ignore any of the elephants in the room and I learned quite a bit. Most of the physics stuff I’d read previously, but this was a very enjoyable book if you’re of the kind of science-nerdy persuasion that I am. I sped through it, as well, thanks to an easy-to-embrace narrative voice that never overcomplicates or talks down to the reader.