Books in Brief: February & March Roundup

I’m sitting at 25% of my reading goal for the year, right on track but I feel very close to falling behind as I didn’t feel a ton like reading throughout March and I’ve been busy doing other things.  It happens sometimes for me for no reason that I can figure out even though I read some great reads but I’ll get back on track!  In the meantime, here are few of the reads I’ve enjoyed over the past couple of months.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

 Do you ever read a book at just the moment you needed it?  I felt that way with The Rules of Magic.  It’s a prequel to Practical Magic, a novel I read back when I was a teenager and fell in love with.  Maybe I just needed to read something familiar but also new. I’ve re-read Practical Magicover the years and if I see the movie on TV, I’ll put it on.  I love the characters, the story, the Owens’ curse and of course, the magic.  I found all of that in The Rules of Magic, which tells the story of Franny, Jet and Vincent Owens and it begins as they are teenagers in New York City at the end of the fifties.  It was neat to learn of Franny and Jet’s backstories and to meet their brother (Franny and Jet are the Aunts in Practical Magic) and Hoffman magically tells their stories, weaving in the events of the time and of course, highlighting the importance and the power of love.  I don’t read much fantasy but I’ll always find time for the Owens family and if you enjoyed Practical Magic, this one is worth reading!

 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I borrowed this book at a book swap – we each brought three books that we really liked or were really good and traded off temporarily.  I borrowed three and one of them was Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and I am so glad I borrowed it (shout-out to whoever brought it to the swap).  At it’s heart, it’s a story of Oskar Schell, a nine year old boy who lost his father on September 11thand who embarks on a journey throughout the city of New York to find out what a key unlocks – a key he found in his father’s closet.  It’s a huge task but introduces Oskar to some really interesting people throughout the story.  It was more than just Oskar’s story though as the story of his grandmother and grandfather are told through two series of letters.  It was a beautiful way to share those stories and connect those characters to Oskar.  It was a beautifully written novel that was also written in such a creative manner. It brought Oskar to life and gave me, as the reader, a sense of how he thought and tackled his grief about losing the most important person in his life.  I’ve read a few novels that were connected to September 11thor that tragic event plays a role in but this one was by far the best.

Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life by Humble the Poet

 I had this book on my Christmas Wish List because of what Heather Reisman said about it on the RECO app and what she said rang true for me.  It presents ideas that seemed to me to be very universal but easily forgotten in day to day life.  It’s an inspiring read and I admit, I haven’t read it all.  I thought I could probably fly through it and then I realized that I didn’t want to.  I read a “truth” or two a day, not much more than that because I want to take the time to reflect on what he has written.  Consider Truth 14: Who Are You? which was summarized with the following:

“If people don’t like you for who you are, change the people, not yourself” (Humble the Poet, 50)

The idea in itself is so simple and I know I’ve been lucky to have wonderful and great friends throughout my life but I reflect on engagements with other people in my life and this idea just rings so very true.  So many of the “truths” I have read thus far are exactly like that and I think that’s why I’m finding it so inspiring.  Be mindful of the truths because they can lead me (and maybe you) to a better life.  As someone who lives very much in her own head, these truths are important for me to remember and I will appreciate this book for years to come.  I recommend it!

More to come soon about some fantastic reads!


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