Bert&Lou Reads: what's good this February

I'm obviously biased, but what better time to curl up and read than winter? My ideal scene is a cozy fire, a warm kitty on my lap, freshly-brewed tea in one hand and a delicious book in the other. Old Punxsutawney Phil was out for a minute yesterday and they're claiming it will be an early spring, but we all know how it will really go, at least here in old Chi Town City.  This is exactly why I've collected a sampling of books I am either planning on reading, just added to my @Goodreads To-Read account, or are due to be released and I'm excited to check out this month.  I'd love to hear about what you're planning to read for February and beyond.  Let me know and Happy reading!


The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

I am so pumped for the release of this book because Muriel Barbery is one of the finest authors I've ever read.  Her last novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, remains one of my favorite books of all time. 

Maria lives in a remote village in Burgundy, where she learns that she has a gift for communicating with nature. Hundreds of miles away in Italy, Clara discovers that she possesses a stunning musical genius and is sent from the countryside to Rome to develop her preternatural abilities. Barbery’s The Life of Elves tells the story of two children whose extraordinary talents will bring them into contact with magical worlds and malevolent forces. If, against all odds, they can be brought together, their meeting may shape the course of history. 


The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal; Translated from the French by Sam Taylor

Perhaps more "emotional" than books I'm typically drawn to, this book still looks exceptionally memorable.   

The Heart takes place over the twenty-four hours surrounding a fatal accident and a resulting heart transplant as life is taken from a young man and given to a woman close to death. In gorgeous, ruminative prose it examines the deepest feelings of everyone involved--grieving parents, hardworking doctors and nurses--as they navigate decisions of life and death. As stylistically audacious as it is emotionally explosive, Maylis de Kerangal's The Heart has mesmerized readers in France, where it has been hailed as the breakthrough work of a new literary star.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This book has been getting a lot of attention lately, so I'm intrigued.  I tend to shy away from books that are getting a lot of hype, but am trying to overcome that tendency because I almost missed out on some excellent books because of it (um, Hi Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I'm looking at you)!

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.


The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

This could not be more up my alley!  I love cephalopods, am fascinated by neuroscience, and am always drawn to books on nature.  Bing Bang BOOM.  I'm especially excited to read this one.

The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds. 


Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry KaufmanCarolyn Gregoire 

Another book that contains some neurosciencey stuff, I just can't resist.  Perhaps it will be an enlightening look into my own crazy complicated creative mind!

Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes— like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration – to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity.


The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do by Sarah Knight

All I can say is YES.  

This brilliant, hilarious, and practical parody of Marie Kondo's bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations, shame, and guilt--and give your f*cks instead to people and things that make you happy.


I can't wait to hear about your own books and recommendations!