People always ask if I really read all these books. The answer is yes! And also I go through periods where I tool around on the internet just like everyone else. Lately I have been doing a lot of tooling around on the internet and also I am sloooowly working my way through The Wire for the first time. But I do have some books to post about.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (purchased by me)
Despite the fact that we North Carolinians like to claim Dr. Angelou as our own, I had never read all of this book. I read a few different excerpts at different times during school, but never the whole thing. After she passed away this spring, I put it on my summer reading list. What is there to say except that her extraordinary story lives up to every bit of hype and if you haven’t read it, you really should.
Blankets by Craig Thompson (from the public library)
This is a huge graphic novel – almost 600 pages. It tells the story of Craig’s childhood with his fundamentalist parents and his first love. It’s always on those lists of must-read graphic novels and I can see why – it’s a beautiful story with beautiful drawings.
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (from the public library)
Not quite as good as the first one but still a great mystery with fun characters. Hits the spot for me and I just love the J.K. Rowling voice you can hear in there when it comes to the descriptions and the dry humor.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown (from the public library)
I have some friends who swear by Brene Brown, and I didn’t disagree with anything but I am not sure that vulnerability is my issue. Great book to discuss with a friend who knows you well.
Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Anna Whiston-Donaldson (via Blogging for Books)
I was not sure I wanted to read this memoir about Whiston-Donaldson losing her son in a freak tragedy at the age of 12. While it is an incredibly sad story, it was somehow not as bleak as I thought it might be. An honest portrayal of a mother’s grief and her family’s attempt to pick up the pieces of their broken life. I appreciated that it did not reach for easy answers or shy away from the intense pain and questions that Whiston-Donaldson was feeling, to the point that I am still not sure whether her marriage will survive the tragedy. The story is stronger than the writing, but the story is enough to keep you engaged. Unsettling but ultimately hopeful.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (purchased for me by Mike)
There’s a lot of buzz around this story about twins who were once close and who are now barely speaking to each other. It alternates back and forth between the past and present with the two narrators, Noah and Jude. I really did not like it. Hated the writing style with the quirky asides, hated one of the narrators (Jude), hated the story, kind of hated the magical realism aspect. I wanted to like it! But it was not for me. Recommended for: NO ONE. But if you want to read it I will lend you my copy.
Wildlife by Fiona Wood (via NetGalley)
This is about two girls in Australia who go for a term to an outdoor education camp. One, Lou, has recently lost her boyfriend in an accident and is covered up in grief. The second, Sibylla, was recently featured in a marketing campaign and is seeing new social doors open for her. They are in the same cabin but don’t forge a friendship right away. I liked this book for its depiction of life as a teenager in Australia as well as the focus on female friendship. Recommended for 12-16 year olds.
Blues for Zoey by Robert Paul Weston (via NetGalley)
Kaz works in a laundromat and has a mother with a weird disease. He sees Zoey and falls for her, but their relationship doesn’t make sense. Zoey isn’t developed as a character, and Kaz’s inability to see her as more than a cool hot chick makes it hard to feel sorry for him when it turns out Zoey isn’t who she claimed she was. Basically a mess and it’s a shame because the characters have a lot of potential.
Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake (via NetGalley)
I am a huge fan of The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake – it comes in and out of my library almost every day and it’s a book that I love and love to read with students. But I could not get into Unstoppable Octobia May. I enjoyed the portrayal of time and place but the story was hard to follow. I couldn’t see myself giving it to a student when I could barely read it myself. Huge bummer for me because I was excited about it and was hoping for more. There’s a good detective story in here and I could see some of the antics playing out so well if they had been described a little bit more clearly.
We Make the Road by Walking by Brian McLaren (via NetGalley)
I have a rocky relationship with Brian McLaren – I have seen him speak and really enjoyed his words, but I have also read some of his other books and felt like he was condescending and . . . almost unkind. But this book? I am loving it. It’s structured as a year-long study so it’s hard to read straight through but I am working through it a little at a time and the reflections on scripture are wonderful. I could see a Sunday School class getting a lot out of these discussions. Highly highly recommended!
I received copies of some of these books from the publishers but, as always, my opinions are my own (and boy did I seem grumpy with this set).