Book #39 of the year was Gold, by Chris Cleave. This is the story of three friends who meet through their training for Olympic cycling. Zoe and Kate compete with each other in their sport, and they also compete for Jack, their friend. The descriptions of cycling past endurance, to the point of nearly losing consciousness, were perhaps a little too appropriate, as I read this book while in the final stages of a sickness, right before getting diagnosed and hospitalized. So maybe that's why this book resonated with me so much.
Book #40 was Camino Winds, by John Grisham. It's been a long time since I've read anything by John Grisham, but at one time I did read many of his books. I found his legal thrillers really enjoyable, though not at all character driven, and often I couldn't remember the characters at all once I had closed the book. But this one was a big disappointment. It didn't have the fast-moving, rollicking plot I remember from past Grisham books; the plot was very confusing and nonsensical, a mixture of several stories that didn't stick together at all for me. But again, maybe it was because I wasn't feeling well.
Books #41, #43 and #44 were books I'm going to teach this year for the first time: The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis, Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, and Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen. I loved the first and third; the second was interesting and well-written, but I can hardly imagine my students being able to relate to it. I have had students in the past talk to me about how it was the first book that made them cry, so I know that some of them will love it, but the raccoons? The kid falling on the axe and...well, I won't give it away, but it's pretty gruesome? The endless scenes of hunting? I don't know.
Book #42 was a fantastic book; I read over half of it in the hospital, and could hardly put it down. It was The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson. In addition to telling the overall story of the Great Migration, when about six million African American people left the Jim Crow south and moved to other parts of the United States ("it was the first big step the nation's servant class ever took without asking."), she chooses three representative individuals and tells us their stories too. When I say "representative," don't read "generic," for each of these stories is wildly idiosyncratic and unique. The book reads like a novel, and a stunningly written, gripping novel at that. The author has a new book coming out this month, and I put it on hold at the library; unfortunately, I'm number 90 in line to read it! I can't wait.
I'm not quite finished yet with the other book I read in the hospital, so I'll have to save it for the next update.