It's been a while since I have posted what I've been reading. Here's the latest:
Book #36 of 2014 was Longbourn, by Jo Baker. I've written before that I have a weakness for Jane Austen sequels, retellings, and knockoffs of all kinds. I check them out of the library and even buy them, and am nearly always disappointed. Not this time. Baker is a wonderful writer in her own right, and is not just attempting imitate Austen. This story has the same characters as Pride and Prejudice, but it's told from the point of view of the servants, who, as you might imagine, see things rather differently. You'll never think of Elizabeth Bennet's six inches of muddy petticoat the same way after you have read the chapter devoted to doing laundry at Longbourn. Austen is often criticized for ignoring the fact that her country was at war, but Baker doesn't ignore it at all (in fact, the war section got a little long and graphic for me). The story is satisfying and thought-provoking, and also beautifully written. Highly recommended for Austen fans.
Book #37 was Jane Yolen's Pay the Piper: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale, which she wrote with her son Adam Stemple. This is inspired by the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Creepy!
Book #38 was another Trollope title, The Small House at Allington.
Book #39 was a reread, The Mystery of Marriage, by Mike Mason. My husband and I read this around the time of our wedding (I can't remember if it was before or after). This time I read it aloud to him, and we both enjoyed it and found much to talk about. This isn't a perfect book about marriage, but it is poetically written and beautiful. It's not a how-to book, but more a meditation on marriage.
Book #40 was The Testing, Book #41 was Independent Study, and Book #43 was Graduation Day, all by Joelle Charbonneau. I bought this trilogy for my classroom, and it's being eagerly devoured now by fans of the Hunger Games books and other dystopic fiction.
Book #42 was Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett. I read this aloud to my eleven-year-old when he was sick, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. It's got art, mystery, secret codes, interesting characters, and lots of information.
Book #44 was Invitation to Tears: A Guide to Grieving Well, by Jonalyn Fincher and Aubrie Hills. This was a quick and very helpful read, with implications for all kinds of loss and grieving. I am also thoroughly enjoying the podcasts that the authors have been doing in their "read-along." (You can find links at that post to all the podcasts.)
Book #45 was The Good Wife, by Elizabeth Buchan, a novel about a political wife in England. It was mildly entertaining, if a bit forgettable.
Book #46 was not forgettable at all. It was clever, brilliantly plotted, and mysterious, and I can't tell you a thing about it without giving the whole thing away. It was We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart.
Book #47 was The Private Lives of the Impressionists, by Sue Roe. I read this because of my fascination with the National Gallery exhibit about Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt, which I had the privilege of seeing over the summer. This book is so good; it reads like a novel, and it opened up the paintings for me. Highly recommended.
Book #48 was Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff, by Jennifer Holm. I got this for my classroom, and I think it will entertain my students.
Book #49 was Later, Gator, by Laurence Yep. My son picked this one and read it aloud to me. I'm surprised to find that it may be out of print.
Here's my last Reading Update post, which includes links to the others from 2014. Looks like I'll reach my goal of 52 books this year!
This post is linked to today's Saturday Review of Books.
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