february books

1. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

As others have noted, it's difficult to describe the plot of this novel in just a few sentences—it's a saga that follows two immigrant families from Bangladesh and Jamaica, eventually culminating in the stories of their children growing up in London. Maya Jaggi writes in The Guardian: "[The novel's] characters embrace Jehovah's Witnesses, halal butchers, eugenicists, animal-rights activists and a group of Muslim militants who labour under the unfortunate acronym KEVIN;" basically, there's a lot going on in this book. I found myself only truly invested in the novel come the second half, but it was certainly worth getting there. Smith wrote it when she was twenty-four years old and that in itself is staggering. (Also, she and her husband have to be the most attractive people.)

2. Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems by Robin Coste Lewis

By far the best book I read this month, and I wish I would have read it sooner. The title poem is comprised "solely and entirely of the titles, catalog entries, or exhibit descriptions of Western art objects in which a black female figure is present, dating from 38,000 BCE to the present." Lewis writes that the poem, some seventy pages in length, "is not about my imagination; it’s about the failure of white imagination. It’s about the pathology of whiteness. Whiteness is the heart of darkness." While "The Voyage of the Sable Venus" centers the book—literally and metaphorically—the additional stand-alone poems particularly caught my attention. It has been a long while since I have read a new poet that I have loved so much.

3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

I really only picked this up because I was slugging through Judith Butler's Gender Trouble and I needed a break, and this book was laying around in my near-sight and seemed like an easy read. I've read bits and pieces of it in creative writing classes in the past, but never the whole book front-to-back. Anne Lamott is the sort of person that I want to be: always ready with a perfectly-humored story to illustrate a point.

Also, this is fun: Girls at Library.