All Lit Up: February 2015.
February was an excellent month for books. All those cold and dreary days are a reader’s delight. I started out with Scary Close by Donald Miller, (Annie is a die-hard fan of his and I read it on her recommendation.) In it, he explores the true nature of intimacy in relationships and the all-too-common roadblocks many of us face in trying to truly be ourselves. I was drawn in by his honesty as he wrote about the deeply personal issues he dealt with in his closest relationships. The book itself is an excellent example of the vulnerability he writes about, and I was both inspired and uplifted by his unflinching honestly and down-to-earth revelations.
I’ve been shamelessly following, (and mocking,) this season of The Bachelor so I couldn’t resist picking up For the Right Reasons by previous Bachelor, Sean Lowe. Strategically released in time for Valentine’s, it was a breezy read with plenty of juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits from both his season and his time on The Bachelorette. It was fascinating, getting a closer look at the reality TV star known for his homegrown values, and I enjoyed reading from his perspective. I would definitely recommend it to fans, but if you’re not already a part of Bachelor Nation, there are other books on life and love that are written with much more expertise and impact, (such as the aforementioned Scary Close.)
After two nonfiction reads, I wanted to get back to something a little more whimsical. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee was the perfect candidate. This delightful middle reader revolves around a little girl who spends her days wandering in a drafty museum while her father works on restoring old swords. Ophelia, a skeptic by nature, is cautious and careful until she finds a boy trapped in a secret room, and must help him battle a wicked snow queen. A perfect blend of wit and peril, this book both entertained me and tugged on my heartstrings. I’d recommend it any day.
Bon Appetempt by Amelia Morris was a book club read and my first foray into food memoirs. The coming-of-age story with its accompanying recipes was enjoyable, and definitely inspired me to get in the kitchen more, but I constantly found myself wishing the author would delve a little deeper into her emotional history. It was ultimately linear and flat. However, if you’re looking for an easy read describing a woman’s growing up years and her changing relationship with food, it’s still an enjoyable read. Also, the cover is gorgeous.
I almost feel bad mentioning this one since it won’t actually be released until April, but it was such a fun book that I can’t resist! Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham revolves around the ups and downs of a romantic relationship in modern society and is written entirely in texts and emails. The authors, both screenwriters, were tired of watching unrealistic romantic comedies and decided to write a story that couples and singles could actually relate to. They pulled it off brilliantly! I laughed out loud and found something I could relate to on virtually every page. My favorite aspect of the story was its focus on the advisory role that friends of couples often fill, and my only complaint was that I wasn’t ready for the book to end! Single or taken, you’ll love this hilarious read.
My next choice was I’ll Have What She’s Having by Rebecca Harrington, another non-fiction foodie read. The author decided to take on the challenge of following various celebrity diets from Gwyneth Paltrow to Marilyn Monroe and recorded her experiences. The results of her experiments were ridiculous and hilarious, and I found myself astonished at some of the bizarre eating habits of well-known figures, both past and present. I enjoyed the bits of celebrity trivia sprinkled throughout the book and was thoroughly entertained by the author’s tongue-in-cheek style of humor. Lighthearted and comically self-deprecating, this is a great read!
All throughout the month I read 40 Days of Dating by Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman. Two friends living in New York with opposite dating issues decided to date each other for 40 days to see if they could break their bad relationship habits and learn something about themselves. The book is essentially the blog they created post-experiment, and includes their additional observations, what happened after their experiment went viral, and a host of beautiful illustrations. I was definitely intrigued by the concept. It was so interesting seeing their contrasting perspectives written side by side, and reading as they discovered things about themselves and each other actually gave me some insight into my own relational history. It also felt a little like reality TV on a page, but without editing teams tweaking your perception of the participants. On the whole, it was a very raw and accessible reading experience. If the concept intrigues you, read it. It doesn’t disappoint.