What I Read in February

Mar 1, 2018

Okay, this is getting embarrassing. Like January, I somehow managed to only read three books in February. What is wrong with me? In my defense, I spent a big chunk of the month reading a book for book club (Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners by Therese Oneill), but I'm not including it here; I only read half of it because the style grated on me after awhile, plus I didn't appreciate some of the content.

So here are the three books I actually finished:

1. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
Some books are extremely engaging and entertaining when you're in the middle of them, but after you finish, you find yourself liking them less and less each time you think about them. Other books are harder to connect with when you're reading them, but the longer you're apart from them, the more you love them.

I can already tell this book is going to be the latter scenario for me.

That's not to say I didn't like it when I was reading it. I definitely did--the writing is pristine and stunning, and the Alaskan wilderness is a perfect backdrop for winter reading--but the plot was a little slow-moving. I didn't fly through it but had to hunker down and really commit to finishing it.

But since finishing it, I'm finding my esteem gradually rising. It's hard to explain, mostly because it makes it sound like I didn't enjoy the actual act of reading it. It's just that I love it so much more now that it's over, and I'm beginning to see that it wasn't just a good story but a masterful retelling of a quiet and heart wrenching fairy tale.

It has its roots in the Russian fairy tale, "Snegurochka" (the Snow Child). But it's set in the early 20th century on a wild and often times harsh Alaskan homestead. I loved what Eowyn Ivey said about it in an interview: "I found that the earthy, often violent realities of homesteading created wonderful texture contrasted with the ethereal elements of the snow maiden." And that's exactly how I felt about it. There's this part of it that's very physical and tangible and this other part that keeps slipping through your fingers in an other-worldly fashion.

But the real takeaway for me was this: "We are allowed to do that, are we not Mabel? To invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow?" I had a feeling from the beginning that the ending would be, at best, bittersweet, and, at worst, tragic. While I won't spoil what happens, I will say that I kept thinking about this phrase as I was reading, and I realized that in spite of sad things, we can always choose joy over sorrow, even if sorrowful things happen to us, and I think Mabel really makes that discovery during the course of the story.

Content note: a baby is conceived out of wedlock, and there is some profanity

2. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
My boys and I have several series that we're in the middle of. This is intentional. It's nice to have a few books constantly at the ready so if our current readaloud is a total bomb (it happens), we can get back into a good reading groove with the next installment in a much-beloved series.

The Chronicles of Narnia happens to be one of those. It's been almost two years since we were last in Narnia (when we read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), and Aaron and I were ready to get back to it. The feeling wasn't mutual though. Max was obstinately reluctant (as usual), and Bradley took one look at the cover and insisted that it would give him nightmares. We went ahead with it anyway.

(Ironically, Bradley skipped the first two-thirds of the book and finally decided to join us on, you guessed it, the very scene depicted on the front cover. And he wasn't scared at all.)

I read this book myself several years ago and wrote an extensive review at that time (probably one of my favorite reviews I've ever written), so I don't feel like I need to go into much additional detail here. I will say that I loved reading this one out loud. Doing the voices for Puddleglum and the witch were my favorite.

3. Anne of Green Gables: a graphic novel adapted by Mariah Marsden and illustrated by Brenna Thummler

I have reached a point in my reading life that I never quite expected and that is that I actually really enjoy graphic novels and will often reach for one when I need a quick read that will also serve as a bit of a palette cleanser.

When I saw this new graphic novel adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, I immediately put it on hold, and I loved revisiting one of my favorite stories in a new way.

For the most part, this adaptation remains true to the original story and includes all of the major scenes (Anne cracking her slate over Gilbert's head, intoxicating Diana, dreaming of puffed sleeves, and nearly drowning in her role as the Lady of Shalott, etc.). But more important to me was that it stay true to the heart and feeling and essence of the original, and it did. (And we all know that sometimes these adaptations DO NOT--can I get an "amen" in regards to Netflix's Anne with an 'E'? Ugh.)

I particularly loved Matthew and Marilla in this adaptation, and I maybe got a little teary-eyed when Marilla tells Anne, "Matthew and I--together, we loved you beyond sense."

Of course, it can't compare to the original (nothing can!!), but I think this would be a perfect introduction for kids who might not be quite ready for Anne's flowery speeches. I'm pretty sure Aaron, Max, and Bradley would agree since they all stole it from me and read it, too.

That's it for February. I anticipate March being a much better reading month as I'm already well over halfway through three books.

What did YOU read in February?


  1. Man, your book club sounds WAY more adventurous than mine :)

    I've been wanting to read The Snow Child forever, and the more I hear, the more it sounds right up my alley! I love books that grow on me more and more over time.

    1. Haha, yes, we read quite the variety of books! The discussion on that one was actually really good even though I didn't love the book.

  2. I have The Snow Child on my list. I got it from the library once but I couldn't renew it so I never made it past the first few pages.

    Do you do accents for Puddlegum? My ex-husband STOLE the Narnia books from me to read to the boys (well, I lent him the books because he wanted a good read aloud, and he has no idea how lucky he is that I value my kids so highly). My favorites were Horse and His Boy and The SIlver Chair, and Puddlegum is my favorite. Although I really like the idea that the kids missed all the signs but the last one but muddle through away. We get multiple chances!

    1. I let my husband read Prince Caspian (because that's the only one I don't like), and then I claimed the rest, so you are exceptionally nice! I wouldn't call my rendition of Puddleglum's voice accented, but it was definitely a voice (kind of twangy, but not in a cowboy sort of way).


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