February Reading Recap: Breaking a Toe is Good for Reading

Published by The Connected Reader on


With a week to go in February, I had finished four books. Which felt good. Felt like a natural slower pace after my big reading energy in January

Then I dislocated and fractured my pinky toe after stubbing it on a big box of dog food I left by the front door. 

After a visit to urgent care, I was in far less pain, and spent the weekend resting – and reading. And it felt nice to end the month getting lost in a few more books. I guess breaking a toe is good for your reading life.

How did your reading go this month? Have you read any of these?

My Favorite Book of The Month

An image of the book The Road To Dalton by Shannon Bowring. A picture of a farmhouse with a big blue sky and green grass.

The Road to Dalton by Shannon Bowring

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Add this to the list of books similar to the one I aspire to write one day. (There are two others on the list; Monkeys by Susan Minot and Chorus by Rebecca Kauffman.) I got this recommendation from @anniebjones on the From The Front Porch podcast and it lived up to the hype for me. It is the story of a year in the life of a small town in Maine. So much happens, yet it is a quiet book. There is a lot of sadness and grief, yet it also felt like a balm in the chaos of the world. I was excited to learn that there is a sequel in the works, out this fall.

Books I read before breaking a toe

An image of the book Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. A woman in a grey suit and bowler hat is facing Big Ben.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

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I have found it hard to find a cozy mystery series I love as much as Louise Penny’s Three Pines books and Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club books, but this one just might stick for me. This series is set in 1920s England and stars the self-titled detective, a late-20s-ish woman who has risen from a house servant to a well-established and sought after investigator. This first book is heavy on the back story and light on the current mystery; I found the back story intriguing enough to make me want to read the next book.

An image of the book First and Lasts: 16 Stories From Our World ... and Beyond! The title of the book is written in big three dimensional letters alongside a few images that look like notebook doodles.

Firsts and Lasts: 16 Stories from Our World…and Beyond! Edited by Laura Silverman

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Each year, my Young Adult book club reads a short story collection in February. Short story collections are not usually for me – I prefer my stories tied up in bows, which is not something a short story tends to deliver – so I look forward to February when I am pushed out of my reading comfort zone. This collection is all about teenagers in seasons of transition, going through the first and last of something – kisses, concerts, dates, relationships, days of high school and college. A lot of the stories capture the angst and excitement, the sadness and the sense of possibility that I remember from my own experience. The standout for me was “The Last Dinosaur” by Laura Silverman, about a girl who is lost in grief at the death of her twin sister, and finds a dinosaur that becomes her best friend. I know it sounds silly, but I cried, y’all. It was beautiful.

An image of the book The Ferryman by Justin Cronin. There is a big sky with dark clouds and a small sailboat on a large body of water on the cover.

The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

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I picked this up because it was a Popcast greenlight a while ago and, while it sounded outside of my usual genres, it was intriguing. And it was. It was just a little convoluted and 200 pages too long for me. The premise is a society where people have embedded chips that tell them when their vitality is waning, and when they go below a certain number, they are sent on a ferry to an island to be reconstituted as a young person. The main character is in charge of the ferry rides. Twists and turns arise from there.

An image of the book A Love Song for Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams. A picture of a Black man and Black woman lying with their heads side by side in opposite directions.

A Love Song for Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams

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Sometimes a book surprises you and that is a delight in and of itself. I had read Tia Williams’s first book, Seven Days In June, a few years ago and liked it. I loved this new one. I love the setting (Harlem, past and present), the main character and the set up with her family, the supporting friends (shoutout to Tuesday and Ms. Della), the alternating perspectives, and the twist. I loved the ending and didn’t even mind the magical realism, which is sometimes something that is not for me.

Books I read after breaking a toe

An image of the book The Widely Unknown Myth of Apple and Dorothy by Corey Ann Haydu. An image of two girls, one with red hair, one with black hair, both with white skin, dressed in Greek-style flowing dresses.

The Widely Unknown Myth of Apple & Dorothy by Corey Ann Haydu

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This was The Connected Reader 2024 Read Along book for February (we swapped it with the March book because Wandering Stars didn’t publish until the end of February). I have gone on and on about this book for months; it was one of my top three favorites from 2023 and a wrote a longer review of it here.

An image of the book Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. On the cover is an image of a child's legs, dressed in jeans and black Converse sneakers. The legs are blurry as if they are in motion running.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

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This is one that doesn’t quite stand up to the test of time – and as I read up on it, despite being a Newbery winner, perhaps it never stood up at all. I think as a child, and even re-reading it as a 20-something-year-old, I liked it because it felt unique to me. A boy living totally outside of any system – family, foster care – and having these little adventures in this town that is segregated between white and black people. What I read now, in 2024, however, is a white boy positioned as the solver of racial tensions, along with some stereotypes about Black people and poor White people. I read this with my almost 9-year-old and cut out some parts and stopped to have conversation about others.

An image of the book Family Family by Laurie Frankel. On the cover is a picture of a staircase with a cactus in a pot at the bottom.

Family Family by Laurie Frankel

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Laurie Frankel’s books have been consistent reads for me since This is How It Always Is back in 2018. She vulnerably creates fictional worlds that share a bit of her own life and leaves us, as readers, with vibrant families to be a part of for a time. In Family Family, Frankel explores adoption through the lens of a woman, India, who has placed children for adoption and adopted children through the foster care system. The back and forth in time and the found family elements worked for me, and I, of course, love a little fast forward nugget at the end. This was on my list of fiction books I wanted to read this year, and I’m glad I got to it.


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