Hello everyone and welcome to my February books post! I have read a few books this month, so I’m steadily making my way to my 2016 Reading Challenge goal of 25. When I first started the year I did 15 because I didn’t want to make a crazy goal and then be disappointed if I didn’t meet it. However when I was reading more books and almost hitting 15 I had to update it accordingly. By the end of February I was at 9 books read, as I had read 4 in this month. I’ve slowed down in my reading pace since then so I’m thinking I might have to raise my goal again, but not quite so soon. Anyway, here are the books I’ve read in February!
First up is Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel. You might recognize this story as it shares its title with the 2015 Best Musical Tony Winner, Fun Home, the Musical which is based on this book. Fun Home (the book) is a graphic novel autobiography of author Alison Bechdel’s life. It follows her life as she grows up in rural Pennsylvania with her family. As she grows, Alison and her father clash as she wants to forgo her hair barrette, wear trousers rather than dresses or bathing shorts rather than a tank suit while on a family vacation. She eventually comes out to her parents and learns that her father is a closeted gay man and her mother has asked for a divorce. Her father dies shortly after when he is hit by a truck. She spends a lot of her book reflecting on her and her father’s homosexuality as well as her father’s death.
I found the story mostly enjoyable. Bechdel’s art is beautiful, and she puts a lot of effort to share her story in the same way. While there were parts of the book that could have been removed without taking away from the story, it was still nice to read. I think I found Bechdel’s thoughts on whether her father’s death was accidental or intentional the most interesting of the story, although this story line did take a backseat to the homosexuality themes of the book. Bechdel’s book does provoke some deeper thinking, particularly about gender roles and death. While it’s not one of the best books I’ve read I am still looking forward to someday seeing the musical adaptation.
The next book I read was Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It by Grace Helbig. Those of you who have read the My February Life post, you know I met the author at her book signing. This is Helbig’s second book and it follows the same tone she set in her first book while the content she provides is very different. Helbig talks of her eating disorder very early on in her book (try the very first sentence), her obsession with Limited Too as a tween and fashion going forward in her life, and even writes hilarious diary entries from the perspective of a pair of sweatpants who goes to school at the prestigious Mall of America.
Helbig’s writing style is hilarious, which you would expect from a comedian. Her first book though, definitely contained advice while this one was more comedy and entertainment. It seems like this book was written more like a diary, full of Helbig’s thoughts and opinions rather than an organized and concise format you would expect from a self-help book. I remember often thinking “I wonder when the next piece of advice will be” and then when I got to the end of the book it didn’t really feel like I got any. I did feel like I knew Helbig and could understand her a lot better after reading the book though, as she did share more personal and deep stories of her life that she had never shown before. Nevertheless, it was still enjoyable and witty and the writing level was much improved from her previous book. I would recommend this book for any Helbig fan.
The third book I read is another YouTube book, Binge by Tyler Oakley. In this autobiography Oakley delves into stories about his family life growing up, his involvement in theatre, his college life, past boyfriends, and more. The way he’s organized his book is by topics, essentially writing an essay on each. He also talks about his rocky past with his father who did not accept him after he came out as gay, a past abusive relationship, and even his past with credit card theft.
Honestly, I had no intention of reading this book until a few weeks ago. The YouTube books trend was fun at first, but I didn’t read most of them as I hadn’t really heard good things about them or they didn’t seem interesting. Oakley’s book generated a lot of buzz and I finally picked it up. However, I thought it fell short of my expectations. While it was funny there were some of his stories that I felt I would rather not know, such as how he drove through three different states and while on two road trips with a car that he was specifically told needed important repairs. I’m not a huge fan of irresponsibility so I did feel like I lost respect for Oakley after reading those types of chapters. On the other hand, his stories like the one on recuperating his relationship with his dad, leaving his abusive boyfriend, and his friendships with his theatre and YouTube friends were great reads. I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you’re a huge fan of Oakley already.
The last and final book I read this month was Beowulf and Other Old English Poems by an unknown author. This poem was written around the eighth century and follows the hero Beowulf as he slays three creatures that attack the Anglo-Saxons.
I did not enjoy this book at all. I do not like poems so it was not a fun read for me, but I have been trying to read books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for years and get through them. It also fit into my goal to read more classics as well. I don’t remember exactly how I found this book; I think I may have picked it up in my high school days from a book sale or something along those lines. To be completely honest I had to keeps spark notes up on my phone as I read to make sure I could finish the book. Maybe it was because I went into it with the expectation that I wouldn’t enjoy it so I might try this book again in the future, but for now, I’m going to hold off on poems for a while.
So those are my February books! I haven’t read in a bit so I’m thinking I won’t read as much in March but I’m optimistic that I can turn this month around. Feel free to leave book suggestions below!
Thanks for reading!