February reading roundup: Procrastination is fun and educational

February was a month where I learned that reading is probably one of my favorite methods of procrastination, second only to sleeping. Or eating doughnuts, yeah, I would have to add eating doughnuts. 

Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars, Paul Collins. Wow. You know those people who say, wouldn’t it be great to live in olden times? When things were so much simpler? Yeah, give them this book. And I am not talking about old-fashioned dentistry or pre-penicillin olden times. I am talking about how, say, the size of a person’s head or their ethnicity are considered proof of guilt in a murder trial, any murder trial. Scary olden times.  

The Night Strangers: A Novel, Chris Bohjalian. Spooky and creative with an unexpected ending. Yep, this is a good rainy day book.

How Georgia Became O’Keefe: Lessons on the Art of Living, by Karen Karbo. The painter Georgia O’Keeffe was an original. She followed her heart and her gut and lived her life deliberately with great and not-so-great results. But the results were her own and no one else’s. I will often read up on someone whom I admire and try to learn from them. But more often than not I confuse learning from them and emulating them. Author Karen Karbo does a wonderful job of painting the life of the artist and reminding the reader that if we want to become Georgia we have to be our true selves.

Let Me In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Along with the films of Ingmar Bergman, the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy and ABBA, this book once again proves that Sweden is home to some really, really dark people with some seriously scary and f*#&’d up imaginations. I kid. I love ABBA, for reals.  

The Essence of Happiness: A Guidebook for Living, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler. If I were to sum up the message of this book up in one sentence it would be … If you want to truly experience happiness, put other’s happiness first.

The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life, by Laurie Notaro. Um, can someone be reincarnated while the are still alive? If so, I believe I have discovered one of my past lives. She is currently residing in Arizona.  

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. (audio) Thank you Susan Cain for validating my simple wish to just go home and put on my pajamas on Friday and remain in them until Monday morning. I now have scientific proof my desire to stay at home, eat cereal and watch a marathon of Downton Abbey is a biological imperative and not simply a case of the lazys.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, by Katherine Boo. (audio) You know how with the first book in the roundup, Murder of the Century, I wrote about how glad I am to be born now and not during another age? Let me further qualify my thankfulness that I was also born in the United States to a middle class family, blissfully ignorant of my good fortune. You can watch Slumdog Millionaire and tell yourself it is a work of fiction but listening to the non-fiction Behind the Beautiful Forevers, you are constantly reminded at how difficult and tragic other’s circumstances are and how insanely lucky we are. And a reminder of how powerful reporting and storytelling can be. I can not accurately describe how wonderful Katherine Boo’s writing and reporting are and I can not recommend this book enough. 

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