I read Year of Wonders for what I call my “Old Lady Book Club.” I’m in two book clubs, one of which has an average age of around 70. Which is delightful, I really enjoy their mature and feisty perspectives on life, the universe, and everything. But I digress.

I really enjoyed the first 90% of Year of Wonders. It takes place in England in 1666 during The Plague and is from the perspective of the house serving girl for the vicar and his wife. Their little town is quarantined and it’s about all the ways in which people react to the Plague.

I found it fascinating and it prompted me to do a little more research about The Plague. The mortality rate in Europe during this time was 40-50% and some of the most heart-wrenching scenes of the book were about the only surviving members of families.

I listened to it as an audiobook and I didn’t love the narrator. She was really breathy and almost sing-songy, which I found distracting.

The main problem I had with this book was about the end. It came out of the blue for me and I didn’t feel like the characters’ behavior was consistent with the personalities they had the rest of the book so it fell flat a little bit. Not to mention an off the wall, completely unnecessary epilogue.

Still worth reading.

Read this one curled up with a cup of something hot. With numerous nods to the English Gothic tradition, this book was compelling and spooky. Multiple twists kept me guessing and turning pages until I got to the end.

However, I found myself dissatisfied when I put the book down because the characters fell flat for me. I didn’t really like any of them. The intricate plotline made me want to finish the book, but it’s not going to stay with me because I wasn’t really invested in the character’s lives.

I don’t feel like I can say too much more without spoilers 🙂 but I feel like I might be a little too hard on this book. I’m curious if anyone else has read it and might have opinions.

I loved this book.

This is a poignant coming of age story set at the turn of the century in Brooklyn. It is largely autobiographical which I find makes it even more compelling.

This story is about a little girl growing up in poverty with an alcoholic father and yet she is able to see so much beauty all around her. Her relationships with her parents and brother are touching and her tenacity is inspiring.

With my history background, I really enjoyed the insights the book gives into holiday celebrations, diverse cultural interactions, politics, and education systems in this specific time and place.

The main character comes from a line of strong women and the feminist role models in this book are so valuable.

Honest and heartfelt, this book will stick with you. It is not plot-driven so the only impetus you’ll have to turn pages is the love you develop for Francie and her family.

This book is a Pulitzer-prize winning historical fiction novel with magical realism elements.

**This is a work of fiction. The underground railroad was not actually an underground railroad as is depicted in this book. Do not be confused.**

Sorry, I had to get that out there since I saw a lot of reviews on Goodreads saying the felt so enlightened to know that the underground railroad was real when they read this book. Oiy.

I was expecting more magical realism from this book then there actually is in there. The only element is the railroad being really real and deep underground. The main character escapes slavery then bounces around from state to state afterward on the railroad. From what I can gather each state represents a different time or season in African American history. It’s an interesting premise.

I listened to this one as an audiobook and while the narrator did a good job, this isn’t the kind of book that should be listened to. I think I missed out on a lot of the themeing and other literary mechanisms I would have noticed if I held it in my hands and could read at my own pace.

I wasn’t blown away by this book. For slavery depictions I like Kindred by Octavia Butler and Beloved by Toni Morrison better, I found them more impactful.

I really liked this interview with Colson Whitehead. I found it particularly interesting that he combed through thousands of personal narratives of people who were slaves while preparing to write the book.

A lot of people worry about scenes of intense violence, etc, when deciding to read books about slavery. This book is a good one to read if you’re worried about that. It does depict violence, but it isn’t graphic and it doesn’t linger.

I loved this book. It’s really meant to be a business book about how to manage people and run a successful business without stifling creativity but I found it so applicable to my regular life and found the anecdotes surrounding familiar Pixar movies fascinating.

I found myself getting all teary when he talks about when they released Toy Story because I remember seeing it in the theater and being completely blown away by it.

I choked up when he talked about how every movie they have ever made started out as a bad idea. I can’t think of anything more inspiring than that.

I loved the story he told about getting his first job at LucasFilm and how they hired him because when they asked him who else they should interview for the job, he was willing to give them a list of names when no one else would.

I so enjoyed it. I listened to it as an audiobook and the narrator is fabulous as well.

And that’s the end of my February reading. What did you read this month? I never read anything unless it’s been recommended to me so I’d love to know what you think I should read next.

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