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  • Ryanne Harper

Reading Challenge: February Edition

I participate in the Goodreads Book Challenge every year. My goal for 2021 is 52 books. I really love the idea of reading a book a week and, while I normally crush the goal, February continued to be a bust. I am style, nearly two months later, not completely recovered from Covid. I also fell behind on school work while I was sick, so February was a lot of making up points there. So, I did not read nearly as much as I would have liked, only finishing three books. But, the good news is, unlike my January reads, I actually remember them.

The House We Grew Up In, Lisa Jewell

3 martinis

I enjoy Lisa Jewell, but I have a feeling she, at one point, completely changed her writing style. Her newer books are face-paced thrillers with at least one off the wall insane component. That does not describe this book. If you are looking for Then She Was Gone or The Family Upstairs Lisa Jewell, this is not it. Instead, this is a sweeping family history, following the Bird family. It is at times sad, touching, but never really funny. There's not a lot of joy in this story. The older sister has a few moments, but it's mostly family secrets and metal illness.

The Woman Upstairs, Rachel Hawkins

2 martinis

Long, slow sigh. This is yet another Jane Eyre retelling. Yet another opportunity for someone to do right by Bertha Rochester. Yet another let down. While this reimagining used the familiar characters in a fun, interesting way, the author did Bertha dirty. Like they always do. My theory is, Bertha Rochester is far from crazy. She's mad. A mad prisoner in her own home. She escapes and tries to set Eddie on fire because she is being imprisoned by him. That's all. So, this one had a lot of potential. I thought we were finally going to get a good Jane Eyre twist. We got plenty of twists, but reached the same conclusion. Jane is naïve. Edward is a victim. Bertha is crazy.

Go Tell it on the Mountain, James Baldwin

5 martinis simply for being Baldwin

James Baldwin was a beautiful writer, and this was a beautiful story. It was also my book club choice for February. It tells the story of John Grimes on his 14th birthday. While the book tells the story of one day, it also tells the story of three people close to John, going back decades. GTiotM takes the reader to 1930s Harlem, and it also takes them to church. The bulk of the book, told in three parts rather than chapters, I assume because of the significance of the number three in Christianity, is not an easy read. I finished it a week ago, and I'm still thinking about it. That's the power of James Baldwin. He stays with you, and he makes you think. He may not have had much of a physical presence, but words were his power and he knew how to use them. If you've not read him, do. If you haven't watched I Am Not Your Negro, do. You won't regret doing either.

Oh, and because I know you're all obsessed with my book club and are aware that whomever is hosting is also responsible for preparing a meal based on the book, you'll be wondering what I made for Mountain. There are exactly three mentions of food in the entire book, so I went with a good old fashioned after church Sunday supper. Except I made it vegan. We had chicken fried tofu, mac and cheese, grits, greens, and biscuits. All vegan, all delicious. If you aren't jealous of our book club, you really should be. And then you should start your own.

What are we reading next, you ask? The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

Want to see what I'm currently reading? Follow me on Goodreads.

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