Since it’s a third of the way into March, naturally its time for me to do my February wrap up (ha ha)! February was a rather mixed reading month–a mix of reading and then not reading very much except work stuff. I started off the month well ticking off book after book on the tentative list I’d made for myself, joined in with Karen and Lizzy’s #ReadIndies2023, and had the rest of the month chalked out so as to not have too heavy a list but then time, or rather less-than-ideal time management got the better of me and the second half of the month was comprised of largely work related reading. I did read parts of Felix Holt which I’m reading in instalments with a goodreads group (review later this month when we finish), but that was it. My other picks for ReadIndies and the books I had in mind for the Japanese Literature Challenge are sadly still unread but I will of course be picking these up and reviewing them too, only not for the challenges I’d originally intended them for!

Anyway, so my February reading eventually amounted to six completed books and two that are still being read. These included two nonfiction titles, a picture book, two mysteries and one literary fiction title. All were enjoyable to varying degrees which is always to be thankful for.

I kicked off the month with Dickens and Travel: The Start of Modern Travel Writing (2022) by Lucinda Hawksley, which as the name pretty much tells one is a book that explores Charles Dickens’ relationship with travel and his travel writing, which took various forms from letters to friends to articles he wrote for publication. His early life was a hard one, when travel was quite out of the question, but ever since he became a journalist, this changed and he never stopped travelling, for work or leisure. The book, written by his great-great-granddaughter, explores these journeys and writings by place, and while travel and the places are its focus, we also get insights into Dickens and his life. The second nonfiction read of the month was Practical Anarchism: A Guide for Daily Life (2022) by Scott Branson, a book which argues that anarchism, contrary to the popular images of people dressed in black resorting to violence and seeking overthrow, is more about being aware of, questioning and challenging in our own small ways the capitalist, patriarchal structures that are imposed on us and presented not only as the norm but as the only way, increasing dependency and also perhaps one’s problems by reducing self sufficiency and community support. Exploring this in various areas from education to work and money among others, the author demonstrates how even small measures like community support and care for each other can loosen the hold of these hierarchies. This was a pick for ReadIndies.

A lovely read this month was the picture book Boris Goes to the Market (2022) by Michael E. McDevitt and illustrated by Olga S. Tenyakova. In this Jack the donkey, with Boris Badger and their friend the raven, are to carry cider and pumpkins to the market for their friend Savta. While the journey starts off well with the raven entertaining his friends with a folk tale, a turn in the weather means the three are soon stuck in a storm, and each of their skills come in handy to get them out of it. A beautiful book which delivers its message of friendship and working together subtly. Its illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.

Pilar Quintana’s Abyss, translated by Lisa Dillman tells the story of a dysfunctional family told through the eyes of an eight year old girl. Claudia ‘s mother (also her namesake) must give up her dreams of studying (since a girl mustn’t have any ambitions) and settle for a marriage with a much older man. The family moves along in its own way, the house so full of plants that it is called a jungle. Claudia’s father is reserved and absorbed in work, and her mother in magazines, often obsessed with celebrities who committed suicide or died mysteriously. But her mother has a short-lived affair which causes upheaval and changes family dynamics completely. Claudia must cope with a mother who is often depressed and checks out of life and a father who she can’t completely connect with, and her own fears of losing them both.

Finally the two mysteries; the first was Death of a Bookseller (1956) by Bernard J. Farmer, a murder mystery which takes us into the rather ruthless world of rare books, sellers and collectors. Sergeant Jack Wigan becomes friends with a book collector, Mike Fisk on the day the latter is celebrating the finding of a rare volume of Keats. When Mike is later killed, Wigan is deputed to the CID to help for he had learned a fair bit about the book world from Fisk. A man, Fred Hampton (a ‘runner’ who tracks down rare editions) is arrested for the crime. Wigan is convinced he is innocent but the Fred is not a very likeable man, having picked fights with nearly everyone, and none is willing to help clear his name. Wigan is determined however. This was a book with some wonderful insight into the rare book world, a far more dangerous space than one would imagine, even though the investigation itself was a little disappointing.

My last completed read for the month was Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse (1961), in which historian Mark Easterbrook is pulled into a mystery through the chance witnessing of a ‘cat fight’, a visit to a village fete, and a remark made by his friend’s latest girlfriend. All of these lead him to The Pale Horse, a former inn now the home of three ‘witches’ who claim to be able to murder anyone through their craft. There’s plenty of witchery and spookiness, but the solution lies very much in the human realm! Though a reread, I had forgotten whodunit, and enjoyed the surprise!

So that was my reading this past month, a nice-ish mix of genres even if I didn’t manage to read all the books that I’d originally planned. I’m hoping I do better with managing my time this month, and have reviews of some interesting titles planned. How was your reading in February? Any titles you recommend?


14 thoughts on “February 2023 Reading Wrap Up

  1. As Kaggsy says, life can get in the way, but you managed to read a fair few titles, fortunately. We’ll welcome you back more regularly when you’re able but we’re a patient lot and are happy to wait! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m also finding it harder than usual to carve out enough time to read at the moment, partly due to work, partly due to other life stuff. Still, I’m glad you enjoyed the books you manged to fit into your February. Agatha Christie rarely fails to deliver!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True; Christie for me also works as comfort reading.
      Hope your work/life schedule improves soon and you can make more time for reading. I’m hoping the same for myself too, but it seems an endless array of things are lined up. But I am doing better than the second half of February.


  3. For some reason I had got into my head that The Pale Horse was the last of the Tommy and Tuppence books, but I’ve just looked it up and discovered that’s actually Postern of Fate! It’s ages since I read The Pale Horse, but now that you’ve reminded me of it, I do seem to remember it being quite a spooky one. Time for a re-read, clearly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Postern wasn’t a particularly good one, was it. But I developed more sympathy towards it after reading her autobio, the elements of her own home and books she pays tribute to. Pale Horse is good fun and while I remembered howdunit, the who had actually been wiped off my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s difficult when not-particularly-welcome parts of daily life intrude on reading time! What always falls by the wayside for me is posting about what I’ve read. But you managed to include a really varied and interesting selection of books. The illustrations done for the picture book are wonderful, thank you for including a few in your review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 and so true. I keep trying to manage things better but every so often, it would seem I can’t and reading sadly takes a hit. The illustrations are so beautiful. I could just look at those for hours.

      Liked by 1 person

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