Tuesday, March 06, 2018

What I Read | February

A look back at what I read last month + my FREE reading list printable. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread

Let's chat about books, shall we?

I decided to revamp this post a bit and instead of sharing reviews for just two of the books I read in the month, I'll be reviewing them all. In previous What I Read posts, I got a lot of questions about my thoughts on books that didn't make my "must read" or "noteworthy" categories, so as you continue to scroll down, you'll notice I still have two highlighted favorites from the month, but I also share more about all the books I read. Sixteen this month. Let's go!

Must Read

Chronicles of a Liquid Society by Umberto Eco | ★★★★★
A posthumous collection of essays about the modern world from one of Europe’s greatest, and best-selling, literary figures.

Umberto Eco was an international cultural superstar. In this, his last collection, the celebrated essayist and novelist observes the changing world around him with irrepressible curiosity and profound wisdom. He sees with fresh eyes the upheaval in ideological values, the crises in politics, and the unbridled individualism that have become the backdrop of our lives—a “liquid” society in which it’s not easy to find a polestar, though stars and starlets abound.
In these pieces, written for his regular column in L’Espresso magazine, Eco brings his dazzling erudition and keen sense of the every day to bear on topics such as popular culture and politics, being seen, conspiracies, the old and the young, new technologies, mass media, racism, and good manners. It is a final gift to his reader—astute, witty, and illuminating. - Goodreads description

I adored this book. Yes, it was very much like getting a book of thoughts from a grandfather, and many of those thoughts were picking on millennials, but it is so full of wisdom, humor, playfulness and some downright cool stuff. I read this and immediately read it again because I wanted to catch those little nuggets I might have missed the first time. Sadly, I had never read any of Eco's work before receiving a copy of this book, but I will make a point to find any and all translated pieces by him, moving forward. What a gem! *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


Daphnis & Chloe by Longus | ★★★★
A tender novel describing eager and inept young love, Daphnis and Chloe tells the story of a baby boy and girl who are discovered separately, two years apart, alone and exposed on a Greek mountainside. Taken in by a goatherd and a shepherd respectively, and raised near the town of Mytilene, they grow to maturity unaware of one another's existence - until the mischievous god of love, Eros, creates in them a sudden overpowering desire for one another. A masterpiece among early Greek romances, attracting both high praise and moral disapproval, this work has proved an enduringly fertile source of inspiration for musicians, writers, and artists from Henry Fielding to Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Maurice Ravel. Longus transforms familiar themes from the romance genre - including pirates, dreams, and the supernatural - into a virtuoso love story that is rich in insight, humorous and ironical in its treatment of human sexual experience. - Goodreads description

I'm grateful for Project Gutenberg and national archives that made reading this one possible. I loved this classical love story and how, even as far back as the 2nd century, humans were sappy romance nerds. This was beautiful.

Other mentions for the month of February:
Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen  | ★★★★★
You know that feeling you get when you believe a book has been written for you? Yep, that's this book for me. I found myself reading this one and nodding the entire way through. It is for the overachievers who need to let go of feeling like they need to prove something and just rely on Jesus to find their worth. The chapter on "star charts" alone was enough to make me realize I needed to rethink the amount of pressure I was putting on myself to succeed. Such a powerful message! *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Martha's Flowers by Martha Stewart and Kevin Sharkey  | ★★★★★
Just in time for Spring, this book arrived at my door. True to any publication Martha Stewart has put out, this is a grade A book with thick, silky pages and glossy photos. Separated into seasonal sections, she shares tips for planting, growing, cutting and arranging flowers and includes stunning, full-page photographs that would make this book worthy of sitting on the finest coffee tables. This is a beautiful resource to add to your collection if you enjoy flowers. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Newcomers by Helen Thorpe  | ★★★★
This book follows twenty-two teenagers who have come from Mexico, South America, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and are now in South High School in Denver, Colorado. One of the first faces they see in this school is Mr. Williams, an incredible teacher who helps these kids learn the English language and understand American culture, which is very different from what many of them are used to. Not only does this book delve into the process of the education they receive, from language as simple as introducing themselves in English, to being able to go grocery shopping and asking for assistance, but Helen Thorpe also goes into some of their homes, meets their families and learns their story - all while the politics of immigration and the safety of refugees is making headlines on the evening news. This is an inspiring and eye-opening book that everyone could learn something from. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

True Grit by Charles Portis  | ★★★★
I immensely enjoyed the story of 14-year-old Mattie Ross who, seeking vengeance for her father's murder, elicits the help of US Marshal "Rooster" Cogburn to go after the perpetrator. Mattie is such a strong female voice and the American western narrative was among the ranks of Huckleberry Finn.

The Proving by Beverly Lewis  | ★★★★
Amanda Dienner fled her home in Amish country after having a quarrel with her sister, leaving the life she knew behind. Five years later, she receives word that her mother has died, leaving their famous bed & breakfast to her. The stipulation is that she can only take full ownership after she has served as hostess and maintained a profitable business for a full year, forcing Amanda to face the family she was trying to forget. I've never read anything by Beverly Lewis and normally wouldn't reach for this kind of book on the shelf, but I really enjoyed it and am excited to try a few of her other books in the future. *ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Making the Cut by Jillian Michaels  | ★★★
This is basically a guide for anyone who wants to lose that last twenty pounds. Jillian provides instruction on how to determine your body and metabolism type and what you should be eating based on your type - which is very helpful - along with weekly menu plans and fitness routines that are in synch with a The Biggest Loser regimen. Her actual plans are not ones that would work for my lifestyle, but the book has been sitting on my shelf for years and it was finally time to read it. There is a lot of helpful information but if you aren't a hardcore workout fan, or have a special diet (GF, vegan, etc) you probably wouldn't get much out of her plans.

Selected Poems by John Donne  | ★★★
Donne's love poems are beautiful but also very reminiscent of that experience of a teenage boy who has had his heart broken so many times that he is beginning to hate the female gender.

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis  | ★★★
This is my first time beginning this series and I was a little disappointed. The story was fun but it lacked the zing I had been anticipating. Hope the next book in the series delivers!

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare  | ★★★
I think I need to read this one again to fully absorb it. Although it was labeled as one of Shakespeare's comedies, it didn't have the same amusing tone that his other comedies do.

Othello by William Shakespeare  | ★★★
If ever there was a play about paranoia and jealousy in a marriage, this is it. This is the story of Othello, his wife Desdemona and Iago, who, because of his hatred of Othello, tries to split them up by telling lies. It was like reading a soap opera in old English.

Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare  | ★★★
Loosely based on The Iliad, this play is about a love-sick young man and the woman he adores, a pair which are not written to be main characters. Nevertheless, I did become invested in their stories and enjoyed reading this play.

SuperGods by Grant Morrison  | ★★★
This one is basically porn for superhero fans. Morrison examines the creation and evolution of the superhero and the roles they play in our society. The book was interesting and fun, but a little longer than I would have liked.

King John by William Shakespeare  | ★★★
This was the dramatic play based on King John of England. It started out quite slow and didn't really pick up for me. 

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell  | ★★☆☆
This book was not for me at all. I thought Scarlet was a miserable character who was desperate for the attention of men and enjoyed playing with them like a cat with mice. The other characters didn't have much depth to them and for me, the story was annoying and three times longer than it needed to be.


Now, as promised, here is this season's printable reading list! Click the link below to download this copy or if you want the full version, that download will be available in my newsletter this weekend. If you aren't part of the newsletter crew yet, you still have time to sign up!

What did you enjoy reading last month?

The post What I Read | February first appeared on A Simpler Grace. If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends! Don't forget to join the ASG Tribe!


  1. Maegan Lin O'LoughlinMarch 6, 2018 at 10:04 PM

    Ahh, I would love to read this many books in a month! The Chronicles of Narnia gets better :) I like the sets that have that book as number 7 instead. I really want to check out Martha's Flowers now! I love this list.

  2. So many good books! I just started "Nothing to Lose" and I like it so far!

  3. Such a great list!! I recently got back to reading and have been going on a book shopping spree these last few weeks haha I'll have to add some of these to my reading list.

  4. Wow! So many different and interesting sounding reads here! Nothing To Prove sounds really interesting, I think I'll be adding that one to my list!

  5. Penny @ pennyspassion.blogspotMarch 6, 2018 at 10:04 PM

    Love seeing what others are reading! I'm so impressed with the sheer number of books you read in February.

  6. Definitely go on to read the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I know that Magician's Nephew is technically book 1, but Wardrobe was written and published first and I think is a more fitting place to start. Magician's Nephew is more of a "history of Narnia" rather than an actual story, but Wardrobe is so good!

  7. Nothing to Prove was so good! The message resonated so much with me!

  8. You read so many incredible books this past month! I love how vastly different they are from one another. I've never read anything from Umberto Eco but have always heard great things, and also would love to check out the Martha Stewart book--that might make a wonderful Mother's Day gift this year, as my momma loves gardening.

  9. Thank you, Becky! Hope you found one or two you'd be interested in. :)

  10. Yes, I plan to continue with the Narnia series. Martha's Flowers is such a beautiful book!

  11. Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog.March 7, 2018 at 7:47 PM

    I love Jen Sincero's book!! I hope you enjoy it too :) I read the one about money, but I think it is so applicable and relevant to just LIFE in general.

  12. Book shopping is a dangerous hobby for me! I'd buy way too many. Haha!

  13. Ooh, that's on my list of books I want to read this year. Can't wait to hear what you think!

  14. Yay! I'm getting ready to start it this week! :)

  15. I have to mix it up or I get bored. I enjoyed Othello!

  16. Ok, I noticed that Magician's Nephew was in a different order on some lists. I do plan to read the rest of the series and look forward to it. :)

  17. I NEEED new books right now, thank you! :) This list is so great and I'm so impressed you can read so much. Also the way you starred the books is so cute.

  18. Wow, you had some fantastic books (according to your ratings!). I haven't read any of them, but of course will pick some out for my to-read list. As always, thanks for the reviews!