It’s now almost midway through March, and I’m finally getting around to writing about what I read in February, which is oddly appropriate. I had great intentions of reading more in February, but life got in the way (just as I had great intentions of posting this roundup on March 1, but the date snuck up on me and I hadn’t written a word). I thought for sure that I would read more in February: I was traveling abroad, I had a week off from my classes, and I had loads of books I wanted to read. But that was not to be. Nevertheless, while I fell behind on my goal of reading at least one book per week, I found three gems that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah / I apologize to my husband, to my students, and to anyone else who was counting on me to do something during the first week of February because I undoubtedly let them down as I could not put this book down. Dishes were neglected, laundry gathered dust, and essays from my students had to wait another week to be graded. This novel is a World War II story, which I’m always a sucker for, and it tells of two French sisters and their very different but very brave experiences during the war. There were definitely moments that broke my heart, but I kept being buoyed up by the sisters’ courage. A page-turner, from beginning to end.
The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell / While Maui is lovely, I can’t help but harbor a little hope that one day Vinny and I may end up living in Denmark after reading this book. The pastries! The traditions! The social systems! (Did I mention the pastries?) Russell chronicles the first year she and her husband spent living in Denmark, and her anecdotes are charming. She tackles one aspect of Danish society each month, consulting experts to find out just why the Danes are so content with their lives. The Danish idea of hygge, or getting cozy and enjoying the simple pleasures of life, runs throughout the book. Happily for those of us who don’t yet live in Denmark, we can adopt some hygge principles and make our lives a little happier, wherever our homes may be.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult / This novel is not at all small—not in size and not in scope—but it is indeed great. I read this book in its entirety during my travels from Managua to Miami, Miami to Dallas, and, finally, Dallas to Maui. Close to 14 hours of air travel felt like a blink of an eye because of this book. Picoult is a masterful storyteller. I don’t want to say too much about it because I think it’s best to experience this book for yourself. It tackles race, privilege, and justice in American society today, and it raises questions about how well do we see and accept those who are different than we are. It challenges readers to be more empathetic and compassionate individuals, and it forces us to question our own prejudices. Definitely worth reading.