February Reads


One of my resolutions for 2013 is to read 50 books this year. I've been such a slacker about reading ever since I moved to San Diego. For the most part, I blame my lack of a work commute. I used to have a ton of time to read on the train or the subway in New York and here I drive 15 minutes each way to the office. Not that I'm complaining. :)

Unfortunately, I haven't made much progress on my '50 Books' goal just yet. With my current MBA class, work, and our trip to San Francisco, I haven't found much time for leisurely reading. In fact, one of the books I read this month was for school. But hopefully that will change next week when I'm finished with this class and off from school for two months!

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart - Gary is a Hunter grad as well and finished his MFA the year before I started mine. Although I never had class with him, I did meet him at several Hunter/literary functions. However, I'd never read any of his books until Super Sad. SSTLS is a dystopian novel set in the near future in Manhattan. It alternates between two voices: the protagonist, Lenny Abramov, and his love interest, Eunice Park. Two thoughts on this book: 1. It is super sad. Not necessarily the love story itself, but rather the general melancholy and pessimism of the whole book. I didn't realize it until after I finished, but it kind of depressed me and not in a meaningful way. 2. The narrator tells us only horrible things about Eunice Park and yet expects the reader to buy his obsession with her. Put another way: Shteyngart doesn't even dress up Lenny's obsession as misguided or confused. Lenny is smart and all too aware of Eunice's many flaws. He himself has trouble finding things about her to love, except for her looks and daddy issues. It was hard to invest in his feelings for her (which is the foundation for the whole story) when he couldn't even seem to do so. 

Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell - Karen Russell is the 'one that got away.' For one of our final MFA projects we had to interview an author and Karen was my top choice. At the time, she had only published her first short story collection and I'd read one of these stories in Best American Short Stories 2009 and fallen in love. Somehow, one of my classmates beat me to her, but I had the privilege of interviewing the author of my favorite short story collection of all time instead, so it all worked out. Still, I would have loved to pick her brain at that point in my development. Confession: this the first Karen Russell book I've actually read cover to cover. I own the other two, but haven't had a chance to finish them. From the moment I picked up Vampires though, I knew that my earlier predictions were right: Karen Russell is poised to be one of America's greatest short story writers of all-time. Vampires showcases her range in 8 haunting, eerie stories. 

The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson - This is a nonfiction book that was assigned for my MBA class, "Organizational Creativity, Discovery, and Innovation." Normally, I don't even attempt to read books assigned for school, but I'm glad I finished this one. The Medici Effect focuses on how to create the right circumstances to poise yourself for innovation in your work. While a lot of the exercises and anecdotes are really useful for the corporate workplace, I've found myself applying them to my personal creative work as well. It's a quick read and useful if you're having any kind of creative block. 

'50 Books' Progress: 3/50

Sadly, that's it for February! The good news is that I have several books I can't wait to start in March. What books did you read this month? Any recommendations?