February 2024 Reads

Books I read in February 2024.

Back to work in February meant less time for books, but it was still a great month for reading. I discovered several new authors, impulse-bought a book based on title and cover alone (and loved it), and read more by some of my long-time favorite authors.

1. I Who Have Never Known Men

— Jacqueline Harpman
My book of the month. I had never heard of Jacqueline Harpman, and this was an impulse purchase based on the intriguing title and the cover design. Highly recommended. There’s a good review of this book (without spoilers) here.

Book cover: I Who Have never Known Men

2. The Housekeeper & the Professor

— Yoko Ogawa
A heartwarming tale beautifully told. I recommend this one as a starter novel if you’re new to contemporary Japanese fiction.

3. All Men Are Mortal

— Simone de Beauvoir
My third novel by de Beauvoir. It got me thinking about the movie The Man from Earth. Although I enjoyed this one, my favorite de Beauvoir is still The Woman Destroyed. In March, I’ll read A Very Easy Death.

4. Beauty & Sadness

— Yasunari Kawabata
Kawabata has never disappointed me. ‘A work of strange beauty, with a tender touch of nostalgia and a heartbreaking sensitivity to those things lost forever.’

5. Giovanni’s Room

— James Baldwin
My first Baldwin novel. A rock and a hard place tale about an American in Paris who’s caught between his desires and the strictures of 1950s morality. What should I read next? Go Tell It on the Mountain?

6. The Memory Police

— Yoko Ogawa
An oddball novel and my first Ogawa book. I quite enjoyed this one, but much prefer The Housekeeper & the Professor.

7. Out

— Natsuo Kirino
Another new author for me. Loved this. Great pacing. Nowhere near as dark as some reviewers claim.

8. The Premonition

— Banana Yoshimoto
It’s been years since I’ve read anything by this author. I recall reading Goodbye Tsugumi, Amrita, Lizard and Kitchen, and although I remember very little about those stories, I do remember enjoying them. This one is pretty good.

9. The Bluest Eye

— Toni Morrison
My first Toni Morrison. I decided to begin with her first novel. I was not disappointed. Her prose—goodness! How does anyone keep up that quality of prose and lyricism across hundreds of pages? Which should I read next? I was thinking of Beloved (it’s on my TBR).

10. Bend Sinister

— Vladimir Nabokov
A very strange novel indeed. Pages of stream of consciousness prose that sometimes strikes pure gold but mostly bored me. I enjoyed the end of the book, where he finally gets down to telling the story.

Did Not Finish (DNF):

DNF. Neuromancer

— William Gibson
I gave up at p. 66. Fans of this book — and there are many — please let me know what you liked about it, beyond its status as a forerunner of the cyberpunk genre.

Do you have any reading recommendations for me? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.