While I didn’t have any blog posts for the month of February (my excuse is that’s its the shortest month), I’ve been pretty heavily involved in some research regarding Little House on the Prairie, so look out for blog posts relating to that research that are coming up in March!
What I Read This Month
I continued reading strong this month (though was slowed down a bit from January), and finished February having read 16 books. Check out my Goodreads page for reviews of each of the titles listed!
Books for Class:
- Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Hidden Figures (The Young Readers Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly
- Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan
Books for Fun:
- The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the best burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding
- The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
- Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott
- Soft Science by Franny Choi
- The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
- The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff
- The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Emily Wilson
- Chicken of the Sea by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Thi Bui
- Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
- Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
- The Hidden Power of F*cking Up by The Try Guys
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Review: The Only Plane in the Sky — My favorite book of the month
The best book I read this month was hands down The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garret Graff. It was also the hardest and heaviest book I read this month.
Using oral histories from the National September 11 Memorial and Museum’s collection and other various other sources, Graff provides a harrowing, intensely personal look at the events of 9/11 from before American Flight 11 departed from Boston’s Logan Airport through the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and their immediate aftermath until the day ended. There is also an epilogue that shares stories from the days past 9/11 as well.
I first heard about this book from a September 11, 2019 NPR Book Review. I placed it on hold at the library shortly after reading this article and just now, in February was able to check out and read this book. The book stemmed from a 2016 Politico article written by Graff with a similar title, “We’re the Only Plane in the Sky” which followed those who were with President Bush on Air Force One on the day of the attacks.
There are so many incredible stories of survival in the book, but they are coupled with incredible stories of loss and destruction on a massive scale. I teared up often, I found myself at times having to physically put the book down and just take the time to let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. It was almost overwhelming to read this book, but also wholly necessary and important to truly understand the events of the day.
One thing that impressed me so much about this book was the way that Graff manages to present a broad overview of the events of 9/11 while still sharing so many stories and providing a cohesive narrative. An individual page features six or more paragraphs each attributed to a different person, but rather than feeling like I was jumping back and forth between different people’s experiences, it becomes one well narrated (and well signposted) collective experience where individual moments are allowed to take the space that they deserve within a larger narrative. This book is masterfully compiled and edited to achieve that narrative.
Graff dedicates the book to his daughter and “to all the children affected by 9/11.” He furthers, “I hope this book helps you to understand the world in which you live.” I was four years old on 9/11 and until reading this book I really don’t think I had a true understanding of the scale, impact, devastation, and resilience of 9/11 and those it affected the most.
I cannot recommend a book more highly than The Only Plane in the Sky.
Runner up for favorite book of the month:
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal. I think that any month where I didn’t read The Only Plane in the Sky that this would have been my favorite book. It’s a multi-generational story centering on Midwestern women that also led me to some really interesting thoughts about capitalism and resilience. It almost made me want to drink a beer, and normally I have to already be sort of tipsy (or have no other options) to want to drink a beer.
My Favorite Non-Book Things
Wizards in Space:
I spent my Leap Day in Providence, RI (only a short jaunt from Boston on the commuter rail) where I went to a few bookstores and saw the gorgeous Providence Athenaeum. But the real reason I was in Providence was for the release of Wizards in Space Literary Magazine’s fifth issue where my poem “An Afternoon Snack” is published! It was awesome to spend an evening with other writers and to have the chance to read my work out loud!
To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You:
I first read Jenny Hans To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before when it was released in 2014, so it’s no surprise that I loved the 2018 Netflix adaptation. So of course, I put the sequel which dropped this month on the top of my Netflix to watch list. I watched it on February 15th with clearance Valentines candy and a canned wine spritzer and it was such a pleasant, delightful continuation of Lara Jean and Peter’s story. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d highly recommend it! And of course, read the books; because the book is always better than the movie. Always.
I’ve been going to exercise classes at the YMCA, and I decided to diversify the classes I’m attending so I started going to yoga on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I did a few yoga classes at K-State and really enjoyed it, but it’s fun to add something different into my routine, and it’s proof I definitely need to work on my balance and flexibility. I’m proud that I can do a pretty convincing crow pose now (at least for a few seconds)!
“Rhyme Out” and other games with friends:
A few weeks ago, I had a game night with some friends from my program and it was a blast! I brought Rummikub (a family favorite) and Exploding Kittens. But my favorite game we played was one that a friend brought called “Rhyme Out” where there were three clues and the three answers all rhymed with each other (like the “Triple Rhyme Time” Jeopardy clue). We had so much fun shouting the answers at each other, trying to be faster than the others. I can’t wait for the next time we are able to have a game night.
This Twitter Thread:
Yes, after years of proclaiming that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favorite Harry Potter book, I think I’ve finally cracked the code as to why.