February 2024 Reading Wrap Up

Last month, I was stuck in a bit of a The Nix rut trying to finish one super long book all month. I also struggled to find audiobooks I connected with, which didn't help the reading slump situation. I spent a lot of my reading time doing research for my final capstone project as well. February, however, I fell back in the swing of the reading thing. After the binge reading of winter break, I've finally recalibrated and I'm able to fully appreciate books again. This means that February gets a much more traditional wrap up post. I'm going to structure these almost as mini versions of my year end posts and give insight into what I read this month (so you can hear a bit about the nonfiction I don't post about and get a preview of fiction reviews coming your way), chat a bit about what I'm hoping to read next month, and then have a quick space for non-bookish stories grabbing my attention. 

If February is the month of love, then my great love of the month was falling back in love with stories and storytelling. So let's get into all the details. 


I finished a total of 12 books this month, which was much better than what I projected in January. Having had such a slow, laborious reading month to start the year, I was ready to step back my overall goal, but after February, I'm well on my way to 75 or even 100 books for the year. Those 12 bring me to a total of 23 books complete overall. 
7 of February's books were nonfiction audiobooks. I hit a really great stride with finding audiobooks I clicked with again, and I found myself wanting to prioritize listening time on walks, while cleaning, and while working. Audiobooks, music, and podcasts all occupy a similar space in my media time, and this month, audiobooks were clearly the winner. That means that the remaining 5 books were fiction reads. One was an ARC that came out in February, 4 books were Libby ebooks, and 1 was a reread of a book I own in hardcover, so I had an interesting spread of different formats for my reading this month. 
As far as ratings go, I probably read so much this month because I finished so many incredible books that it made me hungry for more awesome reads. This has to be one of my most highly rated reading months ever since I discovered two 5 star reads and two 4.5 star reads. I'm pretty stingy with my 5 star designations, so that was no easy feat. These 2024 releases are shaping up to be incredible. My average rating given out was a 4, and my lowest rating was a 3 for an audiobook I didn't end up loving. 


This might be my best run of finding books I really enjoyed in recent memory. While I struggled a bit with getting through pieces of Midnight Ramblers and Good Material, I thought they were worth reading in the end. I'm still thinking about Martyr!. I was scared that it would give me the biggest book hangover, but my limited time Libby holds kept me moving right along. Over my four-day weekend this month, I indulged in a physical read since I didn't have to carry the book anywhere. For some reason, I've been in a deeply Sally Rooney mood this month, and I always love rereading because I'm growing and changing so much year to year right now that reading a book I read a year or two or three ago means I have a totally new experience with it. Then I wrapped the month with the warm hug that is Greta and Valdin

Overall: 4
A ghost writer embarks on two significant projects hunting for the truth behind one of the '70s biggest bands.

Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar 
Overall: 5 
A young man fascinated with death mattering visits an artist who chooses to die in a museum. 

Good Material by Dolly Alderton
Overall: 4
Andy struggles to be single in his late thirties as his friends move into new stages in their lives.

Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney
New Overall: 5 
*rereview coming soon*
A young, famous author retreats to the Irish coast to recuperate and keeps in touch with her best friend via email.

Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K. Reilly 
Overall: 4.5
Two siblings in their late twenties in New Zealand navigate adulthood amidst their large, chaotic family.


My nonfiction reading is all over the map, and I can't be held accountable for it! I read all kinds of random things on audio from memoir to self help to sciencey books to essay collections to craft tomes. This month captures that pretty well. I don't review nonfiction books on here often because I honestly don't read them as critically as fiction and don't typically have much to say afterwards. If I especially love a book or think people should read it, I'll try to morph my review format to suit it and make a post about it, but I thought it'd be fun to do mini reviews in my wrap-up each month to give some suggestions if you're looking for some audiobook inspiration. This month, I actually reviewed 2 of my nonfiction reads on the blog – the first and last one I read. 

Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch
Overall: 4
While this book came out in 2019, it's still incredibly relevant in capturing how language has morphed and changed on the internet. It's remarkable and well worth the read to think through about all the different ways we wield language in a day and take notice of how it's evolved. Super fun and accessible as a book too.

Cool Food by Robert Downey Jr. and Thomas Kostigen
Overall: 4
I had no clue Robert Downey Jr. cared about food or climate change before reading this one, but apparently he does. This book is somewhat unique in the food space for prescribing diet alterations not for health or aesthetics but to aid the planet. While some of the tips were pretty obvious, they did make some interesting suggestions and offer swaps to eat a more climate friendly diet. 

The Microstress Effect by Rob Cross and Karen Dillon
Overall: 4
It's not the majorly stressful moments that wear away at us, it's all the tiny little cortisol spikes in between as you worry over the language in an email or constantly miss family events because of work. Society encourages us to abandon ourselves in the name of productivity, and this book offers an alternative perspective. They dive into what microstresses are, how they are detrimental in your life, and offer some decent tips about how to lessen them within the existing framework of your life. 

A Swim in a Pond In the Rain by George Saunders
Overall: 4.5
This is an MFA class in a book. While I did struggle a bit with consuming the very long short stories from Russian literature that the lessons were structured around over audio, I still feel like I got a lot out of this book. The lessons about writing were open, useful, and not overly prescriptive, and it really added to the way I think about writing. It also made me even more hopeful that I'll get to attend an MFA program one day since the book gives good insight into how those classes operate. I would recommend picking this up as a physical book, though. 

Overall: 3
It feels wrong to say that a book about ADHD was just too scattered and all over the place to hold my attention, but that's truly my issue with this book. I felt like I kept losing the train of thought the book was operating on. I just didn't click with the writing or style and wasn't able to find what I was looking for in this one. 

Never Enough by Jennifer Breheny Wallace
Overall: 4
This book is all about the toxic achievement culture in highs schools, particularly in upper middle class families, and what the imperative to go to a shiny name brand college does to the teens who spend their lives resume building instead of learning. While I didn't experience this from my own parents, I did see these pressures starting as young as elementary and middle school in my peers before my own schooling experience turned away from the conventional. Having somewhat randomly ended up at USC for college, the school at the heart of the college admissions scandal that brought this parental anxiety into the mainstream conversation, I see the after effects of growing up in this toxic achievement culture in so many of my peers. And, honestly, it does not create the best environment for learning or socializing. While there wasn't anything groundbreaking here, I thought it was a solid book, and if you have a teen planning to go to college, this is a book you should pick up and consider when approaching that uncertain period. 

Overall: 4.5
*review coming soon*
This is on so many of those read these books in your twenties lists, so I decided that I'd finally give it a go. I won't say too much since I have a full review coming on it, but I definitely agree. It was especially fun on audio because all of the guest interviews are read by the guests themselves, so it almost feels like a narrative podcast. It gave me a new perspective on many kinds of love.

What I'm Currently Reading 

The Late Americans by Brandon Taylor

On Our Best Behavior by Elise Idehnen
What's Next:
Mid writing this post, I got random Lucky Day Libby loans that have made me completely rewrite my reading plans for the next week, so I'll give you the books I've jumped into to try to read in 7 days first before I go back to my currently reading and then my originally planned next read. 

Audio: Grief Is For People by Sloane Crosley; The Multi-Hyphen Life by Emma Gannon
Kindle: Piglet by Lottie Hazell; Victim by Andrew Boryga (out 3/10)

Books on My Radar 

For the rest of the month, I'm not entirely sure where my library loans will take me. I do know that I've been dying to read Piglet (so I've jumped at the chance to speed read through it this weekend) and Green Dot. While Green Dot has a very long hold time because it's made such a splash, I realized that my hometown library always has print copies of in-demand books easily available so I got online, placed a hold, and it will be ready for me to read over spring break while I'm home. I'm so excited to get to read both these books. The bookstagram hype has gotten to me. If I have time while I'm home, I might revisit My Year of Rest and Relaxation since I own a copy and have been curious if my opinion about this one might have shifted like my opinions on Sally Rooney books.
Speaking of which, Sally Rooney just announced that she's releasing a new book in September, so it'll be a while before I actually get to read that one, but it is on my radar. Based on my current hold times, I anticipate getting to read Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg, The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, I Love You So Much It's Killing Us Both by Mariah Stovall, and After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell.
What books are on your radar? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram! 

Movies, TV, etc.

All of Us Strangers (2023) - IMDb

All of Us Strangers 
I don't watch movies often, but all of my friends love them, so I hear about a lot of movies, and sometimes I get intrigued. I decided to indulge in a film post-midterms, and since I love Andrew Scott from Fleabag and Paul Mescal just in general, this seemed like an obvious choice. I didn't realize that no plot (or very inconsistent confused plot) just vibes could extend into movies, but apparently it can, which suited me just fine. I did not cry, but I did spend an hour scrolling through various Tumblr theories about what that ending meant and then analyzed all of them with my friend over text afterwards.

Normal People (TV Mini Series 2020) - IMDb

Normal People (The TV Show)
Now here's the place where I did shed some tears.
If you've kept up with my blog, you know I've had a long and greatly evolving relationship with Sally Rooney's work. I hated it as a teen when the buzz first started. I found her books boring and frustrating and I didn't get what the hype was for. Then, in junior year of college, I reread the books in preparation for writing an essay about how they're so deeply overhyped and flawed. But I found in the period between the two readings I'd lived exactly the kind of life that would lead me to fall head over heels for Rooney's stories, seeing myself in the pages and understanding the novels in a way I didn't before. So I ended up writing a very different essay
All of this to say that I never watched the show. I watched Conversations with Friends when it came out because I was curious if Joe Alwyn could act, but I skipped this one. Since I've been in a Rooney mood, I gave it a go, and I finished it in two days. I see why the show was so popular now, and I think it's a very solid adaption of the book. The first half might be even stronger than the book, but it struggles at the end to convey the more nuanced aspects of the central relationship developing over email and long periods of time passing. It began to feel a bit rushed and all over the place. But, rarely, do I think the screen does a book so much justice, and the casting was truly incredible. 

In Case You Missed It...

To close, I just want to recap all of the reviews, tags, discussion posts, and more that I've posted over the course of the month. I share every new post on Instagram (@readingwritingandme) if you want to follow along over there for regular updates. It was so much fun to post a few discussion posts beyond the reviews and get to share my thoughts on some current bookstagram favorites and new releases. With the You Are Here review posted that means I still only have 1 holdover review from my winter break reading, so from here on out, all the reviews you'll see will be pretty much real time! 
Also, if you're interested in more general pop culture, music, and internet culture related articles, I post a couple times a month on my newsletter Lanie Land, which you can find here.


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