Since February only had 29 days, technically the title should read “Four Books I Read in February (And Two Days of March).” Nevertheless, here are the four books I read “In February.”

Norco ’80 by Peter Houlahan

Wow. What a book. I was not alive in 1980 and I did not live in southern California in 1980, but this story is so bonkers I’m still not sure how I never heard about it. But I hadn’t. This non-fiction book about one of the most culture-altering heists in American history blew my mind. Full of bizarre twists, it read like a fiction tale even though every word was true. This book included maybe the most action-packed 100 pages of any book I’d ever read. I had no idea what to expect, but it was a thrilling and interesting book. Definitely worth your time.

Shut Up And Listen by Tillman Fertitta

This book was a lot like eating at Rain Forest Cafe, one of Fertitta’s company’s restaurant concepts. It looks good, and it wasn’t bad, by any means. But at Rain Forest Cafe you’re paying for the pyrotechnics and the fog and the noise and, in the end, $18 for six fried shrimp isn’t all that impressive — you could get the same thing somewhere else much cheaper. I was excited to read this book because by every measurement Fertitta is one of the country’s most successful businessmen. And the book isn’t bad, it’s just that it wasn’t all I was expecting. Good? Yes. Great? Nah. You can get the same thing lots of other places. Still, a quick and helpful read by a genius in the entertainment business.

Stamped From The Beginning by Ibram X Kendi

This month’s favorite and most challenging read. With a subtitle like “A Complete History of Racist Ideas in America,” you surely have to buckle up for an academic, thorough examination of a controversial topic. But as I continue to try and regularly read authors who don’t look or think like me, this title was recommended by a trusted friend — and it did not disappoint. You can find more complete reviews of this book, and my goal is not to “review” the book per se. I would say this much — if you’re up for challenging your old assumptions, learning a thing or two, and growing personally, then this is a book we all should read. And if you think I’m overhyping it in any way, just know it has a National Book Award Prize to back up all the fuss. Do yourself a favor and read this book.

Ponton by Garrison Keillor

And now for something completely different, a fictional tale in the Lake Wobegone family from the infamous host of A Prairie Home Companion. It’s a folksy meandering in true Keillor style. It’s a book about life, death, small towns, faith, atheism, and being yourself. It has one of my favorite last sentences of a book I’ve read since Stephen King’s 11/22/63. It’s a treat, it’s an easy read, and with Spring Break and summer vacations coming, it’s perfectly suited for a hammock, hot tub, or beach towel. Definitely worth the read, although it has very little purpose to it other than pure enjoyment.

Then again, isn’t that what reading books is all about?

 

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