I loved writing my first What I Read column last month, so I’m excited to be back here doing it again. Since I started writing it I’ve been reading more, purely because I want to have more books to list in my monthly roundup — I hurriedly finished up three books towards the end of February — so that’s nice.
Also, I’m glad I decided to include my list of ‘currently reading’ books in my previous post, too, because it made me want to finish all the books I’d included. (I didn’t quite manage, but now I definitely want to finish the two that rolled over.)
I’m not so sure I’m glad I included my ‘books bought’ list, though, because, Jesus Christ, I buy too many books. Okay, on with this month’s reads!
What I Read in February
I started reading this manga series at the start of January after devouring the anime series on Netflix. Now I am totally fangirling on it. I LOVE IT. I don’t read many comics, but the ones I do read are super fucking badass. You know — dystopian societies, creepy monsters, battles for humanity, characters you can fall in love with. That kind of thing. I didn’t manage to get through all 17 volumes in January, so at the start of February I slammed down the final two. AND NOW I HAVE TO WAIT AT LEAST ANOTHER MONTH FOR THE NEXT VOLUME, WAH WAH WAH.
SPEAKING OF CHARACTERS YOU CAN FALL IN LOVE WITH! Oh, Captain Levi, who somehow manages to be sexy despite being a weirdly small person (I learned from reading the comics that he is 5 foot 2). I think it helps that he is ‘the strongest man alive’, although this does make his smallness even weirder. No Regrets is a prequel to the main Attack on Titan series, telling the backstory of Levi, who is undoubtedly the most badass character in the series. Needless to say, I loved it. It’s always fun to learn more about your favourite characters, eh? I’m seriously considering reading some of the other spin-off Attack on Titan series now, because I need my fix.
Since I started listening to audiobooks last year, I’ve discovered that classics are just THE BEST on audio. Because classics are often dense, I tend to put off reading them, but with audio you’re just whisked through them. Hearing the characters come to life, each with their own distinct voice, makes the whole experience a delight. The only downside is you never know how to spell anyone’s bloody name. I listened to the version read by Rosamund Pike, and it was charming. Also, Elizabeth Bennet is awesome. Not as awesome as Jane Eyre, but still.
Here’s an embarrassing confession: I haven’t read many books about writing. I read a few grammar books when I was younger (a good sign you’re meant to be a writer is that you think reading grammar books is awesome, and not something a total loser would do). But no, I haven’t read all that many books about the craft of writing, so I’m trying to rectify that this year. Dani Shapiro is a completely different kind of writer/person to me, so I found it interesting to learn about writing from her perspective. I ended up writing a blog post about my favourite lessons from the book (AND DANI RETWEETED IT OMG).
I chose to listen to this on a whim. I’d just finished Pride and Prejudice, which is obviously an in-depth, fairly long read, so I wanted something quick, different and easy to absorb. I already had this in my Audible collection, which made the decision pretty easy. Oh my lordy, the narrator’s voice was so soothing. Listening to this made me realise how lucky I am to be such an emotionally well-balanced person. Damn, people got issues. Fascinating to get an insight into fucked-up human psychology based on a psychoanalyst’s client experiences.
I’m making an effort to read more fiction (of the non-comic variety). I realised that, since my problem with getting into new novels is that I always try to start them before going to sleep, which means nothing ever sticks, I should devote a couple of hours to starting a new one before going to bed. That way I can get my bearings and figure out what the hell is going on while I’m still awake and alert, which makes it so much easier to continue reading them when I’m in bed. Anyway, about the book: brilliant. I love me a zombie apocalypse, and this was a unique, well-written take on them. I didn’t think I liked this as much as I did until I realised I was pining for it a week after finishing it.
I love Nerd Fitness (a fitness site run by the author). However, I was a little disappointed with this book. I think the concept is brilliant — gamifying your life and ‘levelling up’ in all areas that matter to you — but the book fell short for me. This is largely due to the standard of writing, which I don’t think is good enough for a book. I was honestly surprised to get to the acknowledgements section and see Steve thanking his editor. I didn’t think he even had one. There was lots of wobbly grammar, quite a few missing words, and the whole thing was way too wordy. It could have been so much better. I’m still giving it 4 stars though because, as I said, the concept is ace.
I first learned about this thanks to my mum, who directed me to the author’s Twitter account so I could see photos of his collie pups. (I grew up with border collies and they are the best!) James Rebanks is a Cumbrian farmer and a proud shepherd. This was a gentle (though passionate) amble through life on a farm. James is witty and made me laugh out loud in places. He also made me cry; hearing about foot and mouth disease from the farmer’s perspective is devastating and heartbreaking. James was brutally honest and frank in his opinions, which I enjoyed (of course), though I’m sure some people would find him a conceited prick.
I was disappointed with this. Not because it was bad, but because I was expecting it to be BRILLIANT. A woman’s memoir about travel and nature? That’s like, my all-time favourite combination for a book. There were definitely some bits in here that made me long to visit the places she was describing (bioluminescent waters! insane, never-ending thunderstorms! the Serengeti!) but a lot of it felt flat to me. There was far too much navel-gazing for my liking, and the author had a tendency to be overly descriptive, which made it harder for me to visualise things. I’m a fan of simple, clear writing, which this mostly was not.
My Book Statistics
Books read in February: 11
My goal is to read 75 books this year. This is more than I’ve ever read before (last year I managed 52). I’ve bumped the number higher than usual because I knew I’d be reading a lot of graphic novels, which only take an hour or so to read. Yay comics!
Total books read: 31/75
Progress towards goal: 41.3%
Average books needed per week to reach goal: 1
Books bought in February: 23
- Attack on Titan, Vol. 16-17 — Hajime Isayama
- Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Vol. 1-2 — Hajime Isayama & Gun Snark
- Autobiography of a Face — Lucy Grealy
- Burmese Days — George Orwell
- Chocky — John Wyndham
- David Copperfield — Charles Dickens
- Death of a Salesman — Arthur Miller
- Educating Rita — Peter Chepstow
- Finding Ultra — Rich Roll
- On The Move — Oliver Sacks
- On Writing Well — William Zinsser
- Rejection Proof — Jia Jiang
- Steal Like an Artist — Austin Kleon
- The Bell Jar — Sylvia Plath
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes — Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Heart Goes Last — Margaret Atwood
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat — Oliver Sacks
- Tiny Beautiful Things — Cheryl Strayed
- Under the Tuscan Sun — Frances Mayes
- Wildflower — Drew Barrymore
- Writing About Your Life: A Journey into the Past — William Zinsser
(I think I have a problem.)
Currently reading: 5
- Make Your Mark — Jocelyn K. Glei *
- The Art of Asking — Amanda Palmer
- The Bees — Laline Paull
- The Best American Essays 2013 — Robert Atwan & Cheryl Strayed (editor) *
- The Zombie Survival Guide — Max Brooks
* indicates books that have rolled over from the previous month(s).
Win a Book of Your Choice from My February Reads!
Last month I ran a giveaway using some fancy software. This month I’ve decided to run another one, this time the old-fashioned way (turns out the fancy software is very expensive after your trial has expired).
So, this time: to win a book of your choice from my February reads, just leave a comment on this post telling me which book you would like! If you don’t use a legit email address, you will be disqualified, as I will have no way of contacting you if you win.
I’ll choose the winner at random once the contest is over. If you win, I’ll send you the book of your choice, no matter where you are in the world. All you have to do is respond to my email asking for your postal address.
The giveaway ends at 9pm GMT on Friday 11 March.
This giveaway is now closed!
Congrats to Mel Green, who won a copy of Attack on Titan!
Leave a comment below telling me which one of the following books you want if you win! (Not required, but please free free to share why you want it. Ooh, and also what good books you’ve read this month!)
- Attack on Titan, Vol. 16
- Attack on Titan, Vol. 17
- Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Vol. 1
- Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Vol. 2
- Pride and Prejudice
- Still Writing
- The Examined Life
- The Girl with All the Gifts
- Level Up Your Life
- The Shepherd’s Life