Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reading Update

We have the day off today for Flag Day (flag below, and national anthem in this post), so I am celebrating by writing a Reading Update post and also grading many papers.

Book #28 of 2017 was At the Edge of the Orchard, by Tracy Chevalier.  Most of Chevalier's books that I've read have been centered on art of one kind or another, but Remarkable Creatures, which I read in 2014, was about fossil hunting, and this one continues in that more science-y direction.  This one is about trees - apple trees, redwoods, sequoias.  Turns out that working with trees is more of an art than I'd ever realized.  I really liked this book.

Book #29 was Glitter and Glue, by Kelly Corrigan.  I enjoyed this memoir for its portrayal of a complicated mother-daughter relationship.  Corrigan's mother said once, "Your father is the glitter but I'm the glue" in the family.  When Corrigan goes to work as an au pair in another family, one where the mother has been lost to cancer, she starts to see her own family in a different way.  I could relate to the way looking at other people's experiences helps you figure out your own and also how intense experiences, however short, can be life-changing.

Book #30 was The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey.  I loved how I was never completely sure whether this book was realistic fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or some bizarre combination of all three.  Fairy tales, Alaska, snow: ultimate escape from my tropical reality.  Yes please!

Book #31 was Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  This was my third Chimamanda book.  (I like to fantasize that we are friends and I call her Chimamanda, which is such a fabulous name.)  Have you watched her TED Talk, The Danger of a Single Story?  This book is about Africans in America, African-Americans, Americans in Africa (Nigeria, to be precise), hair care, and many other things, but it is most definitely not about a single story.  The brilliant author plays with stereotypes and shows us that each character is unique and that attempting to generalize would be ridiculous.  Plus, the book is compulsively readable.

Book #32 was Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult.  I find Picoult's novels pretty uneven, but this one, I liked.  It's a story about white supremacists who go to the hospital to give birth to their first child, and run into a highly competent African-American labor nurse, whom they hate on sight due to her race.  Drama ensues.

Book #33 was The Edge, by Roland Smith.  I've been reading Smith's book Peak with my seventh graders for the past few years, and this is the sequel.  Peak is climbing again, but this time in Afghanistan.  Drama ensues.

Book #34 was drama-free, which I kind of enjoyed after all the drama.  It was The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and "Women's Work", by Kathleen Norris.  Short, profound, and worth rereading.

Book #35 was Devotion, by Dani Shapiro.  This is a spiritual memoir, and while I can't agree with lots of aspects of Shapiro's mixture of Judaism and Buddhism, her questions and struggles in "the afternoon of life" do resonate.

Book #36 was the fourth Inspector Gamache book, A Rule Against Murder, by Louise Penny.  I did like this one the best so far, so I guess I'll continue reading this series.

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