Books I Read In February 2022
Time for another month’s worth of reading presented here in some brief reviews.
Last month, I started sharing the books I’d read that month. So, here are the books I read in February. It’s an assorted collection of essays, memoir, poetry and non-fiction.
Be Recorder by Carmen Giménez Smith
Identity and racism are made as big and abstract as possible, so they can easily be yelled about on talk shows. But identity is shaped, and racism is felt, in small everyday experiences. This collection of constantly surprising poems gives voice to those everyday moments in ways that constantly made me stop and remember similar experiences in my own life.
Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria Jr
Written in 1969, this book is a classic that still confronts the reader’s assumptions about the role of government and liberal society in indigenous issues. With an equal measure of wit and blunt fact-telling, Deloria reveals how harmful “good intentions” can be. One of the most eye-opening books I’ve ever read.
Midwinter Day by Bernadette Mayer
Does your daily routine in some way act as a summary for your whole life? This astonishing collection of poems and prose, written on a single December day, gets close to that. It’s small and grand at the same time. This should be essential reading for any conversation on “work–life balance” or gender roles in family life.
Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes
Grief is often written about after the pain becomes a story filled with ideas about the meaning of life. But here, grief is written as it reveals itself. This is all the more telling and disarming because, although Barthes is so well equipped to fill a book with abstraction and ideas, instead, at every turn, he leans back into the raw emotion of his mother’s passing.
The Republic by Plato
A budding young content creator tries to make a name for himself by retelling the fantastic stories of a cancelled influencer.
The World Doesn’t End by Charles Simic
This Pulitzer Prize winning collection of prose poems is a wild ride. Scene after scene greets the reader with memoir, social commentary and even hints of magical realism. Simic often references the post WW2 world of his childhood and those visions, given our current moment in history, make this collection feel especially urgent today.
Thinking Better: The Art of The Shortcut by Marcus du Sautoy
I have a moralistic aversion to shortcuts. They feel like cheating. But, whenever I live somewhere for a while, I always end up figuring out the shortcuts that make traveling from one place to another a little quicker. Thinking Better is all about the mental shortcuts we can use to make problem-solving a little less taxing. It’s not one big theory or a collection of hacks, but rather, it explores a series of mental models that can you use in a variety of situations. Perhaps the most interesting parts are the interludes where the author explores these ideas in specific contexts, like music, art, finance and therapy.