The Best of Summer Reading

I brought all of these titles to the beach, and, as so often happens, I read almost none of them. I’m such a right-place at the right-time reader, and I can’t decide what to read until I’m finished with what’s in front of me. Here’s my book report for the summer. The best, and only the best, of what I read.

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For Kids and Young Adults

Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate – Everyone loves her last one, The One and Only Ivan. I thought it was nice, but not amazing. Which is why it took me over a year to read Crenshaw. Mistake. This book is sweet without being cloying. It’s wonderful.

Orphan Island, by Laurel Snyder – Does anyone remember the book, Baby Island, by Carol Ryrie Brink. I want to say it was someone’s favorite book in The Babysitters Club. So I read it in fourth grade, and tried to make myself like it, but I just couldn’t. This book is about an island of babies and big kids, and it’s marvelous. A little Lord of the Flies, too, but none of the craziness.

When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon – Perfect light, frothy, YA read.

Windfall, by Jennifer E Smith – See above.

For Grown-Ups

The Wellness Project, by Phoebe Lapine – I love books like this because they make me stay on top of making healthy choices….for a couple of weeks. Most of what Phoebe did to lead a healthier lifestyle won’t come as a surprise (drink more water, anyone?), but again, these kinds of books always make me try harder to stay the course.

Summer Rental, by Mary Kay Andrews – My neighbor told me she was flying through this book, which is about a trio of high school girlfriends who rent a house in Nags Head for a month. I am a sucker for any book about friends staying in a beach house together, and this didn’t disappoint.

My Reading Life, by Pat Conroy – Pat Conroy is best known for his book, The Water is Wide, about his year teaching students on an island off the coast of South Carolina. I’ve got that bumped up much higher on my list after tackling this book. Some of the chapters were riveting (the chapter about Gone with the Wind was my favorite, and the one about the bookstore where he worked a close second), but by the end I was skimming and racing to finish.

The Mighty Queens of Freeville, by Amy Dickinson – Might be my favorite read of the summer, though not particularly a summer read. Amy spent most of her life raising her daughter alone, and this is her memoir about the town that shaped them. They spent time in DC as well, which was fun to read.

This is How it Always Is, by Laurie Frankel – Lots of people have been talking about this one, and I was happy I read it. I wonder if I would have liked it as much if I wasn’t a parent. That’s where the title comes from – the idea that as a parent, making decisions as best you can, even though the consequences might not play themselves out for years to come, is how it always is.

 

March Reads

Color Outside the Lines: Delays, Bookshelves, and Cowhides

I’m obsessed with these chunky built-ins. (image)

Just Read:

Columbine, by Dave Cullen – I’m going to gush about this book longer than I have about others. It’s so good. I have a lot more questions, and I would have read 500 more pages if Cullen had written them. I was in high school when the murders at Columbine High School happened. I remember turning on the TV expecting Oprah (as any 15 year old would), and getting completely sucked in to the media coverage. Cullen was a journalist on site that day, and after years of extensive research, he gives us an incredibly detailed account of what really went on not only that day in April, but years before, and years after. Spoiler alert: the media got a lot of it wrong. As I read, I thought for sure the story of the Lutheran minister who helped one of the shooters’ parents hold a private memorial service for their son would be the story that stuck with me. And then I got to the first day of the following school year. Hundreds of parents and community members formed a human wall around the high school to protect the returning students from the media so they could have their own moment walking through the doors again. I was sobbing as I read. But that was one of the few parts that brought me to tears. This is good journalism, and while I’d love to get Cullen to answer about a million questions I still have, many as foll0w-ups to what he wrote, this book is worth reading.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas – Another one about a shooting, but this is a YA novel inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. It debuted at number 1 on the YA best seller list, which is a giant deal. I ordered it the next day and gobbled it up. I feel about it the way I feel about Wonder, which is to say it is nowhere near flawlessly written, but it is a book that everyone should read. I’m still turning aspects of this one over in my head and I finished about two weeks ago.

Shrill, by Lindy West -I dont’ know. It’s a collection of essays, and there are some winners. But also losers. The first couple chapters had me laughing out loud, but sometimes I found her more whiny than she was making her point.

Hungry Heart, by Jennifer Weiner – Winner. Total winner. Another series of essays, almost all fantastic, from someone who is truly a grounded, and confident person. Loved it. Recommend it, even if you’re not into her chick lit. Though, she’ll tell you to stop looking down on chick lit!

The Red Pencil, by Andrea Davis Pinkney – A middle grade novel, written in verse, about a young girl escaping the horrors of Darfur. I enjoyed it, but I kept thinking, would my students?

Reading:

Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger – I have done a wonderful job staying on pace for 52 books this year, but a terrible job at consciously fitting them into the Pop Sugar categories. So I’m attacking this steampunk novel because it’s part of the challenge, and because it was just sitting on the YA shelf waiting for me to pick it up. It’s definitely different, and may serve as both my first and only steampunk novel, but I can commit to finishing.

Want to Read:

In The Great Green Room, by Amy Gary – because I have read Goodnight Moon infinity times (I love it, though, it never gets old to me).

So You’ve Been Publically Shamed, by Jon Ronson – because everyone on the internet raves about it.

February Reads

Guys. My New Year’s resolution was to read every day. I have read every day. It has undoubtedly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There have been only 3 nights I’ve read a single page (That’s what I told myself. At least one page. Every day.) There have been a wealth of nights I have thought, “It’s just going to be a one-page night,” and I read so much more. Those people who say to start small when you’re trying to change a habit might be on to something there.

Ideal Bookshelf 974: Feminists

(Jane Mount’s Ideal Bookshelf – Feminist Edition)

Just Read:

Find the Good, by Heather Lende – Short, sweet, and worth a quick read.

Deconstructing Penguins, by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone – I had this on hold at the library for years, years! Not because a million people were waiting, but because there was one copy, and I’m assuming it got lost. I finally broke down and ordered it. While I didn’t agree with everything the authors taught or chose to read with their book clubs, there’s a lot of good here.

You Will Know Me, by Megan Abbott – Total quick-read, page turner, in the unreliable narrator, and creepy situations genre that has taken the book-world by storm in the last couple of years. I thought it was (seriously racy) YA, but turns out, Megan Abbott is shelved in the adult sections of both the libraries I’ve visited. I swear Anne referred to it as YA in Episode 63, and I swear The Skimm called The Fever YA when they picked it as a Skimm read. Know that it follows both adult, and young adult characters, if that makes a difference in your selection.

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon – Classic YA. Completely predictable plot. So good anyway. Short chapters mean you can plow through it quickly.

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – I love, love, love Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She is equally adept at writing for kids and grown ups. This is a grown up volume, and oh-man, does Amy have a was of noticing the little things that might otherwise slip by unnoticed.

Sabbath in the Suburbs, by Mary Ann McKibben Dana – The idea of sabbath is a fave of mine. This is written by an associate pastor at a church in Northern Virginia, about her family’s experiment with Sabbath and rest. Such a quick read, and I found myself highlighting lines on almost every page.

Reading:

The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon – Consensus on my bookstagram feed is that this is the better of Yoon’s two books. Loving it so far.

Want to Read:

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood – I’ve never read it and I want to watch the series on Netflix. But, of course, gotta read the book first.

Ragtime, by E.L. Doctorow – I have plans to go see it (again – love this show) in D.C. this spring and it’s about time I read the original story.

2016 Reading Challenge, an Update

Dear readers, it’s reading week.  Which will likely last well beyond a Monday-Friday’s worth of blog posts.  Books are the best.  Cheers.

You know the deal.  PopSugar posts a reading challenge each year, and I count myself in.  I check in with you all halfway through the year to let you know how I’m doing, and then again at the end of the year.  More on my 2017 reading goals tomorrow.  Here’s how I finished up 2016.   How I didn’t read a single dystopian novel is beyond me.

Penguin English Library.

A book based on a fairy tale

A National Book Award winner – Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo (well, it’s a finalist)

A YA Bestseller – With Malice, by Eileen Cook

A book you haven’t read since high school

A book set in your home state

A book translated to English – My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante

A romance set in the future – Happily Ever After, by Kiera Cass

A book set in Europe – Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan

A book that’s under 150 pages

A New York Times bestseller – The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey

A book that’s becoming a movie this year

A book recommended by someone you just met

A self-improvement book –Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes

A book you can finish in a day – Tales from the Back Row, by Amy Odell

A book written by a celebrity – I Feel Bad About my Neck, by Nora Ephron

A political memoir – Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance (well, it’s sort of, unintentionally political right now)

A book at least 100 years older than you

A book that’s more than 600 pages

A book from Oprah’s Book Club – Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton

A science-fiction novel

A book recommended by a family member – Accidental Saints, by Nadia Bolz Weber (recommended by my Pops)

A graphic novel – Dare to Disappoint, by Ozge Samanci

A book that is published in 2016 – When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalinithi

A book with a protagonist who has your occupation – American Housewife, by Helen Ellis

A book that takes place during summer – Summerlost, by Allie Condie

A book and its prequel

A murder mystery – Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty

A book written by a comedian – You’ll Grow Out of It, by Jessi Klein

A dystopian novel

A book with a blue cover – After I Do, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A book of poetry – Booked, by Kwame Alexander

The first book you see in a bookstore – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

A classic from the 20th century – Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne

A book from the library – My Year of Running Dangerously, by Tom Foreman

An autobiography – Life in Motion, by Misty Copeland

A book about a road trip – Love that Boy, by Ron Fournier

A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with – A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park

A satirical book – A Window Opens, by Susan Egan (not true satire, but it pokes some fun at suburban life in all the right places)

A book that takes place on an island – The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy – Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo

And the stuff I’ve read that doesn’t fit these categories:
Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave; Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson; Stella by Starlight, by Sharon Draper; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; Small Victories, by Anne Lamott; George, by Alex Gino; I Remember Nothing, by Nora Ephron; Sparkly Green Earrings, by Melanie Shankle; Little Victories, by Jason Gay; Maybe in Another Life, by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult; The Secrets of Happy Families, by Bruce Feiler; Grace, not Perfection, by Emily Ley; My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Stroud; The Light of the World, by Elizabeth Alexander; This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett; The History of Great Things, by Elizabeth Crane; Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist; The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion;  Delicious, by Ruth Reichl; Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight; Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull; Keep Me Posted, by Lisa Beazley; A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd

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2015 Reading List

On December 29, 2014, I sat on my beach house couch, and Pinned my heart out.  In doing so, I came across a Popsugar reading challenge for 2015.  Fifty books covering a variety of serious and not-so-serious categories.  Each time I finished a book, I opened up this here post and assigned it one slot.  Considering I kicked the year off with a Required Reading series, I figured the timing was perfect to check in halfway through the year with what I’ve read.

Here’s my update:

  1. A book with more than 500 pages
  2. A classic romance
  3. A book that became a movie
  4. A book published this year – Fish in a Tree, by Linda Mullaly Hunt
  5. A book with a number in the title
  6. A book written by someone under 30 – It Was Me All Along, by Andie Mitchell
  7. A book with nonhuman characters
  8. A funny book
  9. A book by a female author – Leaving Time, by Jodi Picoult
  10. A mystery or thriller – Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
  11. A book with a one-word title
  12. A book of short stories
  13. A book set in a different country – The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
  14. A nonfiction book – Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
  15. A popular author’s first book
  16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
  17. A book a friend recommended
  18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book – All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
  19. A book based on a true story – The Royal We, by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
  20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list
  21. A book your mom loves
  22. A book that scares you
  23. A book more than 100 years old
  24. A book based entirely on its cover – The Guest Cottage, by Nancy Thayer
  25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t
  26. A memoir – I’ll Drink to That, by Betty Halbreich
  27. A book you can finish in a day – Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher
  28. A book with antonyms in the title
  29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
  30. A book that came out the year you were born
  31. A book with bad reviews
  32. A trilogy
  33. A book from your childhood
  34. A book with a love triangle – Dept. of Speculation, by Jenny Offill
  35. A book set in the future
  36. A book set in high school – I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson
  37. A book with a color in the title
  38. A book that made you cry
  39. A book with magic – Hugo and Rose, by Bridget Foley
  40. A graphic novel – This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki
  41. A book by an author you’ve never read before – The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander
  42. A book you own but have never read
  43. A book that takes place in your hometown – The Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll
  44. A book that was originally written in a different language
  45. A book set during Christmas
  46. A book written by an author with your same initials
  47. A play – Hold Me Closer, the Tiny Cooper Story, by David Levithan
  48. A banned book
  49. A book based on or turned into a TV show
  50. A book you started but never finished – Flora and Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo

Books I’ve Read that Don’t Fit in These Categories:  Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, by Frank Bruni; Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman; Oh Yeah, Audrey, by Tucker Shaw; I Take You, by Eliza Kennedy; The Heir, by Kiera Cass; The Knockoff, by Jo Piazza and Lucy Sykes; Finding Audrey, by Sophie Kinsella; YOLO Juliet, by Brett Wright; Oh! You Pretty Things, by Shanna Mahin

Where I Find Books

First there are the obvious sources.  Goodreads, Amazon, and the shelves at the library.

But there are other places I head when I want to add to my (insurmountable) list of books to read.

anthro books.

Blog posts.  People who love to read love people who love to read, have you noticed that?  Though they’re not book-centric, many of the blogs I read daily pop in with book reports from time to time:  Elise, Ali, Joy, Joanna, Carly, and one of my favorite go-tos for books for grown-ups and kids alike, Jenny and Andy at Dinner, A Love Story.

books.

BookTube!  I found BookTube a couple months ago and oh man, I am obsessed.  There are all these YouTube channels out there for people who love to read.  These YouTubers are always popping in to review books, show off their beautifully curated shelves, and to share their TBR (to be read) lists.  When I posted my recent blathering about library books, YouTube pointed me in their directions.  I love the channels from Bookables, A Book Affair, and The Book Diary.  But there are channels out there for every interest under the sun.  Find the one that makes your heart sing.

harry potter.

 

New Books

Happy weekend everyone!  Here are the books I talk about in the video:

The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs – by Dana Bate, and my favorite out of my last set of reads

Bootstrapper – by Mardi Jo Link

Blue Plate Special – by Kate Christensen (Can we please judge this book by its awesome chalkboard cover?)

Case Histories – by Kate Atkinson

The Lost Art of Mixing – By Erica Bauermeister

Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps – by Kelly Williams Brown

Stay tuned for a pretty green week next week!