February 2019: How Reading Through my Emotions Helps, a.k.a. February Was Weird

What I Read:

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
  • The Tea Dragon Society (graphic novel) by Katie O’Neill
  • Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
  • Parts of On The Road (re-read) by Jack Kerouac
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard (re-read) by J.K. Rowling
  • Some punk rock and conspiracy zines

What I Bought:

  • Punk rock and conspiracy zines
  • This Savage Song (gift)
  • The Tea Dragon Society
  • Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab
  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  • Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
  • Mick Jagger: The Unauthorised Biography by Alan Clayson
  • Let Fury Have the Hour: The Punk Rock Politics of Joe Strummer edited by Antonio D’Ambrosio

February was a weird month. Not just because I bought more books than I actually read,


Getting a drink at a bar with Dad!

but because lots of things happened. I turned 21 and got drunk for the first time (on two separate days). We had a family crisis toward the end of the month that is still ongoing. It has snowed for the last three weekends and will snow again this weekend, forcing me to stay inside or drive white-knuckled to anywhere I want to be. February was an emotional rollercoaster, but (or maybe because of this) I was still able to read quite a bit.


Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Prince were both school books, so I won’t spend too much time on them. All I want to say is that TEWWG is the first book that uses eye dialect that I haven’t actively disliked reading. And it was written by black woman in the 1930s, which made it perfect for Black History Month! It was a great way to start out my reading for this month, even if I didn’t really stick with a black authors theme.

On The Road was also a school read, and I have to say, I really disliked re-reading it. Usually when teachers assign chunks of books, I’ll read the whole book anyway to get the whole story. I could not bring myself to do this, in part because I was reading This Savage Song and in part because I have a whole new perspective on this book’s racism, sexism, and homophobia. The Beat Generation was interesting and important, but I have to be in the mood to read their novels. I was not in the mood.

There were three books that took the cake this month: Wild Beauty, This Savage Song, and Autoboyography. Oddly enough, two out of these three have a central theme of romance, and two out of these three are told from different perspectives—two things in books that have to be done really well or I don’t like them.

baginski_ryn_4Wild Beauty is about a family with generations of women who look after these gardens because they have magical flower powers. If they fall in love with someone, their true love always disappears, until one day all five of the youngest generation fall in love with the same girl and a boy springs up from the garden with no memories. This book is one that I carried everywhere just to show people the lovely cover—it’s SO PRETTY.

This Savage Song is one of my new favorite books. It is about a world in which bad/evil/immoral actions create monsters. This book was given to me by my friend Jax along with a mug that says “Please go away. I’m reading.” (It’s a mug I never knew I needed.) She told me she picked this book because it was on a list of books with no romance, and she knows how much I prefer my books without romance. TSS surpassed my expectations so much that I bought the sequel a few days after I finished it, but I’m waiting for a time when I’ll be able to read the sequel uninterrupted. (Spring break, IMG_9322maybe?)

The two main characters are complex and real and problematic and emotional and smart and strong and THEY DON’T FALL IN LOVE! This is a fast-paced book (which was a nice break from the slower books I’ve been reading lately) and I flew through it without losing any enjoyment or being confused. I highly recommend this book, especially to people who prefer their books without romance, or to people who like complex monsters that make you question what the word monster really means.

Wednesday the 20th is when shit went down in my family. A family member was rushed to the hospital for a potentially fatal surgery, my parents flew down to be with her and the family, and I drove home on Thursday to spend all weekend alone in my parents’ house with the dog, Reggie, so he wouldn’t have to be in a kennel. During this long weekend alone, I went to Half Price Books and bought the two weird music-related books about Mick Jagger and Joe Strummer, played an entire Nancy Drew computer game, and read Autoboyography. And, of course, I snuggled with Reggie and shoveled snow. What a weekend…IMG_9372

Autoboyography is quite unlike This Savage Song in that the whole central plot is romance/love-based. This book is about a bisexual boy who falls in love with a closeted Mormon boy and how their relationship evolves. This book deals with the difficulties of the Mormon boy being unable to fully accept his sexuality. The boys meet in a class called “The Seminar,” in which students have to write a book in a semester, which is one of the reasons I loved this book so much. Books about readers and writers are some of the best books I read, and this book also had nuanced queer main characters in a complex relationship. It wasn’t just a happy-go-lucky romance story between two boys; it really dealt with both the good and the bad of growing up queer and falling in love. I’ve never read a book that goes so in depth into these issues before, so I read this one fairly fast. It was one of those books that makes you happy, rips your heart out, puts it back together, rips it out again, and puts it back together again. But trust me, the torture is worth it.

As a side note, a book that caused me very little torture at all but is also super beautiful and lovely and queer was The Tea Dragon Society, a short graphic novel about people who care for dragons that produce tea leaves. I got this in my first and only OwlCrate box for this month, along with Crown of Feathers, as a birthday gift to myself.

Especially with how emotional this month has been, I am pleased and surprised that I was able to read as much as I did. Sure, I put off On The Road too long, but I read some


Ignore my weird expression…

amazing books instead. And I’ve found a new favorite book in This Savage Song. I even began writing a new short story (about a boy that wakes up with wings) that I still have yet to finish, ending my writing slump of a few weeks.

Later today, I have to pop on my “Accio Books!” beanie and trudge through the ice to copy edit at my school newspaper. I’ll be bringing my copy of King of Scars to start March off with another amazing author, and to continue to show myself that books that make me FEEL are the best ones to read.

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