A Look Back at February 2020 – A Month in Review

I’m a bit behind in getting my monthly review posted for February. But without further ado, here is a look back at my reading last month.


The Iliad Read-Along

The Iliad Read-Along

For awhile, I kept my determination to keep reading this epic poem. But honestly, I just don’t like it. I was hoping I would maybe enjoy it more reading it a second time around with this read-along, but I just didn’t. Cleo’s posts and the discussion in the comments were still helpful for me getting more out of the classic work; so that was good. But I was dreading having to pick up the book every day to read. So I decided it just wasn’t worth weighing down my reading time with re-reading a book I just did not like reading. So I bowed out of the read-along and am happy with that decision. 🙂


War and Peace Read-Along

War and Peace Read-Along

I mentioned last month that I am enjoying this book more this time around…but that I hadn’t quite gotten into the war parts of the novel yet. Well, I have entered into the war chapters of War and Peace now. And while these are not my favorite parts of the novel, I still am liking this novel more this time reading it. I haven’t decided for sure if the pace of the read-along (one chapter a day for the whole year) has contributed to that or not. I typically don’t like to spread books out over long periods of time. And I must admit, I have been feeling a bit like I don’t know if I literally want to be reading this all year long. But I’m not changing the pace just yet. I want to keep at it a chapter a day for now and see how it continues to go.


Deal Me In Challenge 2020

Deal Me In Short Stories Reading Project

I read five short stories in February. Here’s a brief look at what I read:

  • “Paul’s Case” by Willa Cather – I did not like this one at all. I was a bit disappointed too because I was looking forward to reading something by Willa Cather. I have the novel O! Pioneers on my TBR list. I am still looking forward to reading that novel though!
  • “The Failure of David Berry” by Sarah Orne Jewett – I thought this was a well-written short story that explores the topic of how people adapt to change, as well as exposing people’s tendency to remember the negatives over the positives. It also probes into the dynamics of generosity and selfishness.
  • “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett – I really liked this one! It is a quiet short story about the sanctity of nature’s life. The writing was excellent!
  • “A Retrieved Reformation” by O. Henry – This was the second short story by O. Henry I’ve read now. After having read “The Ransom of Red Chief” and not liking it, I was happy to find this to be one I really enjoyed. “A Retrieved Reformation” is a story of reformation and second chances.
  • “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain – I found this story to be mediocre at best. I felt it was a bit lacking in story-telling quality and had an unimpressive ending.

Japanese Literature Challenge

Japanese Literature Challenge 13

I kicked off the Japanese Literature Challenge in January by reading The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. This was a re-read for me. You can read my review HERE. In February, I read the following:

  • The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura – I found this book very interesting! You can read my review HERE.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro –  The only word that comes to my mind to describe this book is haunting. You can read my review HERE.
  • When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka – This book is about the experience of a Japanese-American family in the time of the Japanese-American evacuation to internment camps. It was a New York Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year. You can read my review HERE.
  • Journey to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida – After reading When the Emperor Was Divine, I knew I wanted to re-read Journey to Topaz. This is a YA novel also about the Japanese-American evacuation to internment camps. I don’t often rate children’s novels that I read but this one is a solid 4 stars. It has a well-written, story-telling quality and it definitely pulls you right into the narrative very quickly.

Other Things I Read

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

The Canterbury Tales Retold by Geraldine McCaughrean

 


Books In Progress

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Mindfulness:  A Practical Guide by Tessa Watt


February Stats

7 Books Read
5 Short Stories Read
6 Books In Progress

Favorite Book Read in JanuaryJourney to Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida
(All my favorites were from the books I read for the Japanese Literature Challenge. But if I had to pick just one, Journey to Topaz would probably be it.)

Most Visited Blog PostA Look Back at January 2020 – A Monthly Review


 

When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka

When the Emperor Was Divine

Title When the Emperor Was Divine
Author:  Julie Otsuka
Length:  144 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
My Rating:  3.5 Stars


About This Book

This is a well-written historical fiction novel about a Japanese-American family who gets evacuated to an internment camp in Utah during World War II. The novel chronicles the events from before the family is evacuated all the way through when they return home.


My Thoughts

I’ve been trying to think of how to describe the way Otsuka writes this story. While we get a glimpse into what happened in this time in history, Otsuka mainly focuses on how the evacuation, internment, and finally the return home affect the particular family in the story. It’s not dramatized or overly emotional. It’s more like the author has laid out events of what happened with this family, letting the reader experience the story from a distance. As the narrative is built and told to the reader in a short amount of pages, the writing is succinct and precise.