Non-fiction lovers will enjoy February recommendations
If you want a hilarious book about weird Floridians that mirrors the daily headlines, read anything by Carl Hiaasen. His are great, entertaining books that do not require deep philosophical musings.
But if you are in the mood for more in depth, slightly darker writing I suggest “Swamplandia” by Karen Russell, a story of an eccentric family running a theme park in Southern Florida. Lauren Groff’s collection of short stories aptly named “Florida” were penned after relocating to the Sunshine State with her family. This was a finalist for the National Book Award. You may have read her bestselling “Fates and Furies.” These stories are dark but compelling and superbly crafted. But don’t feel bad about not reading them all straight through as each one provides a lot to chew on.
Looking for non-fiction?
“Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital” by David Oshinsky is the history of the New York City Hospital, but it is really a history of America and the development of one of our largest and most complicated urban areas. Fascinating!
“Heartland” by Sarah Smarsh appealed to me as a German Midwesterner who was raised with a solid work ethic. We parted philosophical ways at the end, but it is still a good description of a segment of working class life in the middle states.
“The Mars Room” by Rachel Kushner is a devastating and vivid portrait of San Francisco in the 80s and an unsentimental look at the life of a young girl born into poverty and limited ways of escape. “Reminiscent of Orange” is the New Black’s first season sans the annoying Piper character. Kushner has won multiple awards for her writing and this book was short listed for the Booker Prize in 2018.
The last two this month are about girls who must rely on themselves when they are failed by the people closest to them. “The River Widow” by Ann Howard Creel starts with a very real event in Kentucky, the 1937 flood of the Ohio River. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens has received lots of exposure, but even if you have already read this novel, take the time to read up on the author who is a naturalist who spent over two decades in Africa studying wildlife, much of that time she was in complete isolation, giving her the street cred to write this novel about a girl living in the remote marshland of North Carolina.