This post contains referral links; all opinions expressed are completely our own.
Here is our round up of good reads, watches, and listens for the month of February.
Throughout the month of January, my life was consumed by the The Neapolitan Novels written by Elena Ferrante. The writing is startling and fast paced (helped by very short chapters); the narrative, raw and fascinating. The story nearly spans the life of one woman especially in her lifelong friendship with another woman, but also deals with relationships of all kinds from those of place and belonging to those of family. The book starts in 1950s Italy and ends in the present day, and the social and political shifts play a huge role in the story as well. The probing of human relationships and experiences is remarkable and rings true on so many levels. Disclaimer: Obscene and foul language as well as explicit scenes. - Sophie
A Guest For the Night. A deeply probing, rhythmic and sweeping novel following the continuous thoughts of the narrator, a learned middle-aged Jewish author, as he returns to his fictional Polish hometown post World War and stays for a while as a Guest. I assumed throughout that the events took place post WWII, with the narrative’s permeating desolation and the dispersion of Jewish culture. It was only when I had finished the novel and was reading the Foreword that I discovered the book was actually published in 1939, making it “an eerie and ghoulish premonition of the 1940s” (from Jeffrey Saks’ Foreword). This was an unexpectedly gripping read, with a more meditative and gradual unfolding, and Biblical language that kept calling to mind Robinson’s novel Gilead. - Sarah
A couple months ago, we watched Get Out for the first time. We went in without knowing what we were getting into. Somehow, we were led to believe the movie was a comedy. But actually, this movie is hard to pin down. It’s certainly funny but also horrifying (with a bit of slash, especially at the end). Primarily, though, it is thrilling and suspenseful and amazingly intriguing. Watching it a second time just recently, we found it even more chilling and thought provoking. Highly recommend. - Sophie
If you like food and/or foreign movies, I highly recommend Eat Drink Man Woman. It’s a highly enjoyable Taiwanese movie about a widowed father living with his three unwed adult movies. It has a lot of quirky personality and a well crafted storyline that moves along, entwining food with relationships and leaving you feeling emotionally full and belly hungry. - Maria
Radiolab has so many interesting podcasts, but I especially love the ones that present thought provoking situations and questions. Part of this podcast deals with companies avoiding financial loss by simply apologizing - which of course questions the sincerity of their apologies. Maybe it’s just one of those situations in which right behavior yields good fruit regardless of intention? - Maria
I try to get to the library every week or so. Edith (age 3) loves it as does toddling Maria. Thinking to be a dutiful parent, I figured it was time to start introducing basic concept books to Edith. But, man! Are they tedious! Simply identifying ABCs, shapes, colors, numbers, etc… can be agonizing. Neither my husband nor I can bear them, and moreover, they don’t seem to keep Edith’s interest either. Of course, there are a few well known exceptions like The Hungry Caterpillar and 5 Little Monkeys. But Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno is a recent find for me. I love it! Rather than being tedious, it is a game. Starting from zero, it counts up through twelve by depicting a growing village over the course of a year. One building grows to two, to three, to four, etc…. There are several groups that stay the same and slowly build, while others (such as a herd of cows) are particular to a single page. The scenery shifts with the seasons and the Church clock reflects the changing time as well. There are so many different levels to the book. It is delightful. - Sophie
The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock. The repetition and rhyming of this book paired with the quaint illustrations produces a lovely, enjoyable read that has made it the first pick with Edith and her cousins. The words are catchy, we find ourselves chanting or singing it throughout the day. Plus, there is a part in the story when the reader gets to amp up his vocal cords and diaphragm for some belting out. (Small bonus: it forces you to pronounce sow (female pig) correctly by rhyming it with cow.) - Sophie
Always worth noting these awards, particularly the Newberry and Caldecott Medals.