February Monthly Roundup

Okay so weekly roundups are apparently not a thing that I can mentally commit to, especially with school this semester. So we’re going to make it a monthly thing instead. January seems to have flown by.

Just as a disclaimer–none of my links are paid/sponsored/solicited. It’s just stuff I like or wanted to share.

Eventful Events and Happening Happenings

February often goes by in a blur, and I’m honestly having a hard time trying to think if anything actually interesting happened last month. I’m leaning towards…not so much. February was just a lot of work mostly. I’m happy that it’s March, I don’t know why but March always feels like the month the year really begins to get going. Maybe because of my parent’s birthdays? Not clear.

Books Read

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino I enjoyed but was not swept up by this book of essays. It is well-written, but my favorite essay was definitely the first one, which was about social media and our lives online. I also really like her essay on American scams, which is really well done. Other essays I found myself having a harder time relating to since she doesn’t always explain their significance in the beginning of the essay. But I think most Millennials will relate to the feeling she expresses of benefitting from unjust and unhealthy systems such as the need for self-promotion on social media.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi Two stories of Afghani women are told in this book, one at the turn of the 20th century and the other in the beginning of the 21st. Both women have heartbreaking stories, since both of them are strong, intelligent women who are forced into really terrible situations by family and social circumstances. Watching them make their own lives out of those situations is both inspiring and really sad.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli There are very few words for this essay. It’s so well done. Luiselli worked as a translator to help child migrants detained at the border to find immigration lawyers. Luiselli works through the questionnaire she must ask the children, outlining the history and context of this migration, showing the injustice in the system as well as giving hope for the future. It’s great–you should read it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Memorial by Bryan Washington I wasn’t the hugest fan of the writing style (hence the rating) but this book was still a really moving portrayal of a relationship and all of its complications and difficulties with family and race and grief and growing apart.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam A haunting book that I couldn’t read too late at night for several days because of the general unsettling quality that it has. This book is really quite good–it’ll make you think about modern life and what we mean to each other in a totally different way.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros A series of beautiful passages about a Latinx young woman growing up in a Chicago neighborhood. Through the vignettes, she navigates friendships, sexuality, and a love for words. Her complicated feelings about her neighborhood

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Movies Watched

13th (2016) The 13th Amendment says in section one “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This documentary examines incarceration in the United States and how it has been used as a tool for perpetuating racism. You’ve probably already seen this–it’s been on my list forever–but if you haven’t you really should. Streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) The Netflix original film is an adaptation of an August Wilson play, which I didn’t know going into it, but I suspected that it was a play adaptation because of how closed the set was and how much dialogue there was (not to mention how good the writing is), a little research revealed the great August Wilson. Ma Rainey was a real 1920s blues singer, and Viola Davis does an amazing job bringing her to the screen. Actually pretty much all the performances are amazing, and Chadwick Boseman, in his last role, is brilliant. Plus the costuming–the whole production is really great.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Octopus Teacher (2020) My mom told me this documentary was really good, and she was right. The cinematography in particular is amazing and watching this relationship develop between him and the octopus is moving and challenges things you think you know about nature. Streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Dig (2021) This period drama has everything: archaeology, brooding, and plenty of tragedy to go around. I really enjoyed the archaeology parts. The rest of it–slightly depressing TBH. But still there was archaeology, so it wasn’t a total loss. Streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Madame X (1937) A witness to murder during an infidelity, this mother is kicked out of her household, becomes an alcoholic, and then is arrested, trying to prevent her son from learning the extent of her fall from respectability. Sometimes I feel like Hollywood movies are just depressing to scare women straight from daring to commit adultery. I’d say how it ends, but I think you can guess.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Designing Woman (1957) I really do like Lauren Bacall and she and Gregory Peck make an interesting pair in a classic, man can’t handle a wife who’s more successful than him scenario, especially when he’s taking down the mob, but then they figure it out and it’s all okay and we just ignore the fact that there has been no trust established in this relationship. Yay! But it’s still pretty cute, and the clothes are great. So that’s something.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What was the best thing you read/watched in February? Let me know in the comments!

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