Mid-month February round-up

…is more like a shamefaced few lines. As I did last February, I started binge-watching a show, and although it’s nowhere near as time-consuming as Goblin was, This Is Us still took up about five hours over the weekend (and I have another 7 episodes in Season 1 to go!). As always with TV and film, I am so so late to this party – but it’s so good! It manages to balance emotion with humour really really deftly, so it never gets too heart-wrenchingly painful to watch, so you don’t sort of dread watching it (this was my problem with Grey’s Anatomy, and why I loved the earlier seasons of House so much). The tonal balance is lovely, and I love the storylines about living as a fat person in America, the racial stuff is handled really well, the happy families are so lovely and happy and troubled but still overall…good, and I love Randall – how cheerful and good and nerdy he is.  I covet all of Mandy Moore’s dresses, so pretty!

Additionally, I did my annualish ski trip last week, and after each day of skiing, all I wanted to do was onsen and eat hearty hot food. (This was the first time I actually came close to injuring myself while skiing too! Had a magnificent wipe-out on the first day, snapping my left knee one way and my ski the other. This left my knee sore and weak, meaning I overcompensated on my right leg the next day while boarding and my right ankle became strained. So on the third day both legs were pretty busted.) So my Kindle went basically untouched for a whole week. I read a little on one train ride, getting through a fair portion of Imogen Hermes Gowar’s The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, but I think my ability to read on moving vehicles is decreasing rapidly.)

So, with 9 days left to the month, I have read a sad total of 3 books! Two were notable:

Vivan Shaw Strange Practice The first in a series about Dr Greta Helsing, who treats the undead in London – zombies, ghouls, vampires. The second is coming out later in the year, and I’ve already earmarked it. Strong cast of characters, good human element to a supernatural premise, and London – buses and Sainsburys and all.

ed. Tracy Chevalier Reader, I Married Him A collection of short stories in response to Charlotte Bronte’s iconic line in Jane Eyre by well-known writers, including Susan Hill, Emma Donoghue, Elif Shafak, Lionel Shriver. As a child, I hated Jane Eyre, thinking her mousy and passive; as an adult, I understood and therefore liked her better; after reading Wide Sargasso Sea, I swung around – I still liked Jane, but I liked the rewriting of Jane Eyre better, I liked the reclamation and articulation of the dark, unspoken, inhumane and unhuman undercurrents that British gothicism and Romanticism were built on, better. So my favourite stories in this collection were the ones which called out Rochester’s cruelty, Bertha Mason’s mistreatment, the political and racial dynamics which undergirded Jane’s ability to be both complicit with and innocent of the injustices of the world she moved in. Some of these stories were only faintly connected to Jane Eyre, which I also liked – what speaks to us as readers in a novel may not be anything directly from the novel itself, but a breath from a novel, the space it takes up in our literary world.

As with any collection, there were some stories which didn’t work for me at all.

Last year I read 12 books in Feb, and the year before 17, so if I want to get anywhere close to that this year, I have to hustle through another 9 books in the next 9 days. Doable? Doubtful, but I do have several really interesting reads on the go, so we’ll see!

February, you short and cold and treacherous and wonderful month.

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