February: What’s On Your Bookshelf?

I’m joining the What’s On Your Bookshelf challenge for February! I’ve read three books so far this month, one non-fiction, one based on a true story and one YA fiction; Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom; The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris; and Rebecca Roanhorse’s Race to the Sun.

February Reading. Photo: Rebecca

Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) is an incredible book; a must read for a more in-depth understanding of US history. Douglass describes the details of his years as an enslaved person; the violence, the starvation, the lack of liberty to make choices about work, life partner and children. Despite privation, Douglass made the most of his scant opportunities.

After a brief exposure to reading, Douglass determinedly taught himself to read, write and spell. Later, as a young man he taught secret reading classes. After he escaped slavery, he founded and edited an abolitionist newspaper, the North Star. He gave lectures on his life history to large crowds of Caucasian northerners. Powerful story of freedom written by a US hero. Thanks to Freethinking Bibliophile for the book recommendation.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018) by Heather Morris is based on the experiences of Lale Sokolov in Auschwitz. It chronicles the inhumanity, chaos and quick changes of fate in the Nazi death camps. Surprisingly enough, it also speaks of love. Lale told Heather Morris how he met his wife Gita in that terrible circumstance and how he worked to help them survive. Somehow Lale built community in that deadly place and people worked to protect one another however they could.

The third book is a YA novel by Rebecca Roanhorse, Race to the Sun (2019), which combines Diné (Navajo) traditional stories with the theme of modern youth coming of age. A teen and her brother go on a hero’s quest to fight against monsters who are crushing their way of life. Over the course of their journey to the sun the siblings gain confidence in their abilities and in their traditions, and they’re able to save their mother whom they’d lost. Fabulous retelling of Diné legends. This book is part of the Rick Riordan Presents series sharing ancient legends from around the world with a new generation.

What are you reading this month? ¡Olé! –Rebecca


Rebecca Cuningham

44 thoughts on “February: What’s On Your Bookshelf?

    1. Thanks for your comment and question, Susan. I would say the true story, written in his own words, of Frederick Douglass’ life is a book that will stay with me forever. I appreciated Lale’s story and how he survived the genocide, but since it was fictionalized I wondered which parts of the story were his. The Race to the Sun is a good choice to read and learn more about Diné culture!

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      1. I’ve read many intriguing quotes by Frederick Douglass. I can imagine that would have been a very interesting read. I suppose my first attraction was the Race to the Sun, because I’m very interested in indigenous culture and stories. I also am writing a YA fiction story incorporating some of those cultural ideas and lessons.

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  1. HI, Rebecca – Thank you for joining us at #Whatsonyourbookshelf challenge. I haven’t yet read any of the books on this list. I did read Morris’s sequel to Tattooist, Cilka’s Journey. I highly recommend it.
    Thank you for sharing these powerful reads with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Currently enjoying Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? by Seamus O’Reilly, a warm, funny, memoir about a family of 11 children brought up by their father after their mother died when the author was only five. It’s a love letter to a wonderful childhood in N. Ireland and to siblings and a father who shouldered his responsibilities without burdening his children with his fears and his desolation at the death of his young wife. O’Reilly is still a young man with his first child only 3 years old, so it’s only about his childhood. On my side table waiting to be read, is crime novel A Song for the Dark Times, a thriller from the master of the complex, Ian Rankin, who captures not just the character of Rebus but the spirit of the city and the times we live in: for light bedtime reading I have just added Carrie Fisher’s Shockaholic, a laugh-out-loud, acerbic and funny novel from one really, funny lady which I dipped into last night and which kept me reading long past my sleep time!

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  3. Amidst the chaos and the dimwitted of the world, there truly have always been remarkable & wonderful people on every land. I think you summed these books up very beautifully. Good choices, and of good people, it seems.

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  4. I loved the Tattooist of Auschwitz, I mean it broke my heart but it was so powerful that I could not help but love it. Your other two picks for the month sound fantastic too.

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  5. I enjoyed your reviews of these books Rebecca. In regards to The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, I was given Three Sisters which I understand is book 3 of the trilogy. and have it sitting there ready to read!
    Thanks for joining us for our #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge, it’s great to have you with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve just finished Louise Hare’s This Lovely City, a story about the lives of those arriving from the then British Caribbean islands in the early 1950’s – the Windrush generation – an involving read. And though I’ve read several books about Auschwitz (and visited ..) here’s one I haven’t yet read.

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  7. At the moment I’m reading a biography of writer Elizabeth Hardwick (author Cathy Curtis) and a mystery by Nevada Barr called *The Rope.* Not recommending either, though. Will fetch a couple I ordered from the library today and hope for better luck. The biography was more disappointing because although it covered life events well with loads of quotes, I wanted to more analysis of the work and personality. I couldn’t figure out why Hardwick was the way she was and how she could put up with with that monster husband Robert Lowell.


  8. Hola Rebecca,

    Great post, I’m currently reading My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon, who was a captain in a Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. The story is good but also highlights how dangerous the 1960s was. The fact that America survived the decade is amazing. On deck I have A New Ireland, but I think I’ll also add the Tattooist of Auschwitz to the list as well. I’m glad you liked Douglass’ book, it really is a gem and a critical part of U.S. history. Sometimes the material is tough, but I remind myself that while we can’t the past, we can always learn from it. Looking forward to the next summary!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments, Gerard. I appreciate you stopping by my post. I enjoy your reviews. My People Are Rising sounds interesting. I like hearing about the social programs the group put in place. I look forward to the extended critiques of these books you mention. Douglass’ story is amazing. I’m so glad he wrote it. His wife was not as educated as he was, but she was a wizard with their finances. Hope you find the Tattooist as meaningful as I did. There were definite parallels with Douglass’ book; how to survive inhumane situations. I’ll be interested to hear your reaction.


  9. Oo, your book selections are all powerful stories full of moments we can learn from and appreciate in their entirety! I am reading Writing to Change the World and enjoying how many of the concepts the book talk about show up in stories told from the heart. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. such good reads for February Rebecca! and the second one – abut WWII and surviving sounds so good – and inspired with this: “Somehow Lale built community in that deadly place and people worked to protect one another however they could.”

    Liked by 1 person

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