February: What I Read

One of my goals for 2019 was to read more. My specific objective was to read AT LEAST one book a month (I barely read 13 in all of 2018).

I’m happy to report I’ve read so many books that I had to update my Goodreads goal from 25 to 30, as I’ve already completed 16 books. Maybe I’ll up it to 50 before the year is out!

Without further ado, my February reading list:

How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain

Lisa Feldman Barrett’s book blew me away. Every time I updated my status on Goodreads, I’m fairly certain I included the “mind blown” emoji.

In brief, Feldman Barrett’s research is revolutionizing the way we look at emotions. Instead of our “lower brain” reacting to external stimuli, complex, interlocking systems in our brain are actually predicting how we “feel” based on external stimuli and physical sensations. These predictions are based upon previous experiences AND social conditioning (not all cultures share even the most “basic” emotions).

I have tried to explain Feldman Barrett’s research to multiple people (usually after a few drinks) and fell short. Thus, everyone should read this book to save me the embarrassment.

The Happiness Project

I write a lot about Gretchen Rubin on this blog since she is my personal self-help guru, and I recently updated you all about the status of my own Happiness Project, so I will keep this short.

The Happiness Project is the book that made Rubin a celebrity author, even though she had been a published writer for several years prior. It tells of her one-year journey to become a little happier without completely upending her life.

What I like most about all of Rubin’s books is that she is not afraid to discuss her own failings. Like me, she can be snappish. Like many of us, she is not always as nice to her husband and kids as she would like to be. I find it much easier to take her advice knowing that she is not perfect either. She’s also a charming, funny writer.


I already blogged about the inspiration I found in Michelle Obama’s autobiography, so I’ll let you all take a break from this list to go read that.

Guinevere in Baltimore

Are you back? Good. Let’s discuss Shelley Puhak’s brilliant book of poetry, Guinevere in Baltimore.

Most of us know the myths of King Arthur, and I studied them pretty intensely in graduate school. Far from admiring the nobility of Arthur, I always felt more kinship to those who struggled to meet his impossible ideals, especially Guinevere. Can you imagine being married to Arthur? I can. I pretty much was. It’s no fun.

Puhak modernizes the love triangle and examines many of the same themes of purity and decay (certain poems are laugh out loud funny, too). The language is exquisite, and she navigates multiple forms with absolute ease.

Also, the line, “How we are never more alone/ than in love” has haunted my waking moments since I finished the book.

The Four Tendencies

Back to my girl Gretchen Rubin for a moment. She wrote The Four Tendencies after completing Better than Before, a book that gave concrete details about how you could create good–and eliminate bad–habits based on your tendency (and which I’ve already reviewed on this site). The Four Tendencies more deeply examines each personality type.

Since I already knew quite a bit about my tendency (Questioner) from the Happier podcast and Better than Before, I read this book mainly to better understand other people in my life, particularly my beloved Rebels. It has helped me be more tolerant and also control my Questioner self so that I’m not alienating loved ones.

Before Snowfall, After Rain

I enjoyed this chapbook while waiting to renew my license at the BMV. Take this word of advice, Dear Reader. Always carry a chapbook with you. They weigh about an ounce, and they may save you from death by boredom.

To find Ariel Francisco’s book (and other great chapbooks), visit Glass Poetry Press.

Psychopath Free

Jackson MacKenzie’s book helps the reader identify emotionally abusive relationships, and I found that part of the book particularly useful and well-done (if only we were given a Narcissist checklist to use on dates when we were still in Middle School).

The later half of the book, which offered tips for overcoming these types of relationships was less concrete and not particularly useful. I also didn’t care for MacKenzie’s writing style, as it was too casual (lots of exclamation points) for the subject matter. That being said, there is wisdom to be found here, and other people may be less bothered by the style.

Tin Can Homestead: The Art of Airstream Living

I finished off the month with Natasha Lawyer’s tale about how she and her husband revamped a classic Airstream and became tiny house dwellers. She gives specific instructions for how to do everything from waxing the outside of the Airstream to installing plumbing.

While I was not inspired to sell all my possessions and take to the road in an RV, I loved the pictures, and I do feel better about living in my own small home. If Lawyer can bring that much space and style to an Airstream, surely I can do more with my trailer.

And that’s it! Definitely a month of great reading. I leave you with this preview of what is to come in March.

Did you dive into any particularly good books? If so, comment below!