Check out what the Womanalia team is reading for the month of February!
what timaree is reading
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
I found this book in the bargain section at a bookstore and was immediately drawn to the cover and not least the fact that it is penned by renown author, Ann Patchett. Further scrutiny reveals that it is also listed as a #1 New York Times Bestseller. Alas, this was news to me and I have long since forgotten what I am supposed to read or watch as life and motherhood sometimes places society just out of reach. Turning over to read the back I am captivated by the mix of sweetness and poison the book holds as it covers the decades long saga of a dysfunctional family and a prized possession: the Dutch House. I think family relationships both immediate and extended can be complicated by the ups and downs of life and I am excited to read a story that captures those nuances in a way that offers up a reflection to our own lives.
What sofia is reading
Dune by Frank Herbert
A tome of a book that I have been putting off for years and was gifted for Christmas. Imagine the Middle Ages, noble houses, stewards, fiefs, but set in the future on multiple planets. Written in 1965, originally published as 2 separate pieces in a magazine, the themes draw from gender dynamics, decline of empires, religion and environmentalism. I am excited to invest in some serious, solo reading time.
The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo
This is a reread and reread on repeat. The Alchemist, written by Paul Coelho, is a beautiful story that is fable-like. The message of following your dreams while understanding that happiness is something you create, not find resonates deeply with me. It is serving as, of course, a lovely read, and a reminder of my New Year’s resolutions.
What Jocelyn is reading
Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
With February being Black History Month in the U.S., I wanted to make sure to prioritize some Black-authored books. I have been putting off Wizard of the Crow for at least five years now and I’ve decided it’s finally time to pick it up. This is a modern classic in postcolonial African literature. I’ve heard it’s a satirical take on Kenyan political history, but other than that I don’t know much about the premise. I do know that the author translated this himself into English afterward, which is all the more impressive.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
This YA contemporary will ideally be a lighter pick in an otherwise dense reading month. Then again, this book is all about a young Haitian girl being separated by her mother by immigration when they arrive in the U.S. I’ve read Zoboi’s take on a Pride and Prejudice retelling and am excited to get back into her stories.
What Cass is reading
Secrets of the Chocolate House (Found Things #2) by Paula Brackston
Travel back to the late 1600s with Xanthe. If you’re into period pieces and time-travel, this is the second book in an addictive series (first one is: The Little Shop of Found Things). Heroine Xanthe lives on the page, and you really get a sense of her internal struggle as she’s torn between living her present and fixing the past. Listening to it on audiobook gives you a really wonderful audio experience, especially with all of the English accents.
Little Shop of Found Things (Found Things #1) by Paula Brackston
Ghosts of the past force Xanthe to travel in time to save a girl who has parallels to Xanth’s past and no one else looking out for her.
Paula Brackston has a way of making us all consider the powers we wield.
what Raisa is reading
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Set in Atlanta, Georgia, this story follows a young, black couple- Celestial and Roy- navigating the ups and downs of marriage as newly weds. All seems well until Roy gets wrongly convicted and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. The novel then shifts between the perspective of Roy and Celestial through letters they write back and forth to one another while Roy is in prison. Other characters come to play at this time which add to the drama of the already complicated matters of their lives. Written by Tayari Jones, an American marriage is a story of love, heartbreak, race, and life’s injustices- a page turner thad had me rooting for all the main characters in hopes that they find peace and compassion within themselves.
What I enjoyed the most about this novel is the author’s ability to shine light on the many realities of marriage. The question of having children or not, relationships with disapproving in-laws, dealing with a loss in the family, and the conflict between following your heart or fulfilling your marital duties. Tayari Jones does an excellent job portraying the racial injustices of the criminal justice system in the 21st century, and the devastation that stays with family for years to come.
What we read in January
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Tell us in the comments what you’re reading next or share a book that you have recently enjoyed! If you’ve read one of our picks, leave other readers a review.