1. It’s Black History Month. Read a selection to celebrate African Americans, their history and contributions to society. What about Twelve Years A Slave, the book that inspired the award winning movie? Author Rachel Kushner calls it an incredible document. I also recommend The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkinson’s sweeping, readable history of migration of African-Americans from the South to the North and West. If you wish to listen to a more recent voice, Men We Reap by Jesmyn West is an emotional and riveting memoir. (See readeatlive.com posted January 2, 2014 and accessed through the January archives or search by title for Missing Mississippi.)
2. Honor the work of the late, acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman by seeing one of his movies: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Capote (2005), Moneyball (2011) Doubt (2008) or your personal favorite.
3. Read a good romance, perhaps Anna Quindlen’s new book Still Life With Bread Crumbs. This may be the one for you.
4. Enjoy a pizza! Here are few suggestions: Mellow Mushroom, found all over the south and a few are showing up in the West, Pizzalley in St. Augustine, Buddy’s Pizza, numerous locations in the Detroit area, Rastrelli’s in Clinton Iowa or try the latest light pizza in your neighborhood.
5. House of Cards is available Feb. 14 from Netflix. Watch one of the hottest shows on television as much and as fast as you can. Robin Wright is unforgettable.
6. See an Oscar nominated movie you have missed so far: Philomena, Dallas Buyers’s Club, Captain Phillips, Nebraska, American Hustle or the one you most want to see.
7. Read a new book from the bestseller list. What about Sycamore Row by John Grisham or The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt?
8. Give a gift to your Valentine: flowers, chocolate, a Starbucks date, a romantic dinner, a trip to your favorite museum or a couple’s workout. A bottle of your sweetheart’s favorite wine and a trip to the beach to watch the stars sounds like an exceptional gift for the occasion.
9. Walk a winter trail or a beach. Climb an Arizona Mountain Trail or hike Saguaro National Park. Try the Riverwalk in Detroit or Tulsa’s River Trail along the Arkansas River. Hit the nearest State Park in Kentucky, Illinois, Florida or wherever you are.
10. Learn more about our February presidents: Washington and Lincoln. These recommended books will be well worth your time. 1776 by David McCullough, George Washington: The Crossing by Mark Levin, Writing the Gettysburg Address by Martin P. Johnson, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.