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Posted by on Feb 2, 2011 in Guest Blog, Indie Fixx book Club | 14 comments

Indie Fixx Book Club: February – the Longest Shortest Month

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indie fixx book club

Here’s a long overdue Indie Fixx Book Club post. Get in touch with me if you want to contribute to the Book Club by writing a post. xoxo -  jen!

By guest contributor Laura Zurowski

For many, this winter has been a tough one – below freezing temperatures, snow in towns that rarely experience it, and mountains of the white stuff in places that do.

February is a month of polar opposites. If you love snow there’s no shortage of fun activities – downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding, and making snow-people and igloos (note that shoveling is never considered a “fun activity”).

If just looking at snow sets your bones-a-shiverin’ and prompts you to don the heaviest thermals you can find, then your primary winter activities probably involve turning up the heat and eating more – destroying both the budget and waistline. (But at least you’re warm!)

February also plays host to Valentine’s Day. Simultaneously loved and dreaded by all, this holiday can result in a romantic chocolate ganache high with your dearly beloved or leave you dejected on the couch with an empty bottle of wine and a pint of Häagen-Dazs. (But at least you’re warm!) Fortunately, the 14th marks the month’s mid-point, so once past you’re in the home stretch to spring.

Here are some reading suggestions to make your February as enjoyable as possible.

Stories about LOVE

Chicken with Plums, by Marjane Satrapi: Best known for her Persepolis series, this short graphic novel explores the relationship between a man, his music, and the presence of love. Keep tissues handy.

Alice K.’s Guide to Life, by Caroline Knapp: Alice K. represents Knapp’s Boston Phoenix column from the 1980s. If you ever wondered what the Sex & the City gals were doing in their 20s, this may satisfy your curiosity.

The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano: An incredibly sensitive and thoughtful story about two adolescent misfits who fall together during the emotionally difficult years of adolescence. Scars may heal but rarely fade completely.

Stories about SNOW

The Greenlanders, by Jane Smiley: This impeccably researched work of historical fiction will delight both old and new Smiley fans. Medieval Greenland winters make everyplace else appear tropical!

It’s a Slippery Slope, by Spalding Gray: While not Gray’s best known work, Slope is a sardonic tale of a mid-life crises man confronting his fear of skiing. For the dysfunctional at heart and those who love them.

Light Boxes, by Shane Jones: This free-form, Beat-poetry style story follows the inhabitants of small town stuck in perpetual February – and their decision to revolt.

And for those HEARTY OUTDOOR TYPES…

Bad Land: An American Romance, by Johathan Raban: Traces the early pioneers to the Dakotas and Montana where winters are harsh and the prairie never-ending.

Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony, by Lee Miller: While North Carolina winters aren’t like Greenland’s, imagine it’s 1587 and you’re living in a tent with no food.

Cape Cod, by Henry David Thoreau: There’s nothing quite as starkly beautiful as a deserted beach in winter. Thoreau’s story, told through the eyes of a naturalist, paints a picture of a world rapidly disappearing.

Regardless of how you may feel about snow and what you’ll be doing come Valentine’s, one thing is for certain – in 28 days February will be gone and we’ll enter March. Make the most of that time and you’ll be in green grass and warm sun sunshine before you can say, “Buy me a snow-blower!”

About the contributor: Laura Zurowski publishes Lovelorn Poets, a blog devoted to celebrating the beauty of anonymous love letters, missives of regret, and poems found on Missed Connections websites. The heartfelt messages serve as a springboard to creativity employing illustrations, photographs, music, dramatic readings, and videos.

14 Comments

  1. I’ll have to read “Light Boxes.” If the rest of February is anything like the first two days where I live, I may have to revolt as well.

  2. I am going to need to read It’s a Slippery Slope as I face my own mid-life crisis.

  3. I love this series! I’m a complete book worm and my friends know me for my fetish for books (it’s seriously an issue). I’d love to be a guest blogger for this series one day! I tried to use the contact link but for some reason, it wasn’t working. Oh well!

  4. Wow! Haven’t thought of Alice K in eons. Also intrigued by the idea of medieval Greenland. What a life. And she used the word “don” in her story. How can you beat that?

  5. Love the article. It made me smile — several times — especially after a particularly difficult week of snow and ice and all that comes with it. I’ve only read one of the books you recommend, The Greenlanders, and loved it. I’ll have to pick up some of the others. We’ve still got a way to go, even if the groundhog did see his shadow today!

  6. Love this post! And I guess I’m just crazy, but I love snow…not that I don’t love curling up in with a good book by a warm fire, too.

  7. I have “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” on my to-read list on GoodReads. I’ll have to check it out soon. If you liked that, you might like what I’m reading at the moment, “Skippy Dies” by Irish writer Paul Murray. It’s set in a fictional boys Catholic academy in Ireland.
    I’m intrigued by “The Greenlanders” although I’m not generally an epic reader (a notable exception is “Ireland” by Frank Delaney).

  8. I really liked Caroline Knapp’s “Drinking: A Love Story” – thanks for the recommendation of “Alice K…”

  9. Had previously read the Knapp and Gray … not to mention her long-running column and that of his brother. So Ms. Zurowski’s prefs and mine seem to overlap. A few clicks later and two more on her list are on their way courtesy Amazon… Thanks Laura and thanks Indiefixx…always enjoy the site :)

  10. February is the month of the true romantic: “if winter be near, can spring be far behind?” (Shelley’s “Ode to West Wind”). The month when the creative spirit gathers its breath; the month that makes all the others precious–the yellow of the forsythia at the end of winter wouldn’t even be noticed in late May, but is beautiful in the monotone of snow.
    Thanks for highlighting the Lonliness of Prime Numbers. Just downloaded it onto the iPad (in time for Valentine’s Day-ouch!)

  11. Having previously enjoyed Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” (both the graphic novel and the breathtaking animated feature film), I’m eager to get my hands on as copy of “Chicken With Plums” as soon as possible. While we’re on the topic, I have to recommend another short graphic novel of Satrapi’s called “Embroideries,” a humorous, insightful and at times unsettling examination of the sex lives of Iranian women. And lest you think that all I read is comic books, I should take a moment to recommend “The Golden Gate” by Vikram Seth. This remarkable novel in verse uses the formal structure of Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” (a series of sonnets with a very particular meter and rhyme scheme) to weave a spellbinding tale of twenty-somethings in California during the 1980s.

  12. Love your book choices! Knapp is fantastic. Happy Reading! Amy

  13. Anyone else interested in putting a post together, email me as well. jen@indiefixx.com.

    You can do reviews, book lists, or whatever else you are comfortable with and want to share.

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