Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What I Read this Summer

The moment is almost here when I will take up stacks of papers with lists of the three books each student read over the summer. Before I have to read those, I should report on my own summer reading. I brought home a pile of professional books but ended up reading mostly fiction instead.

Book #26 of the year was The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Stewart, and # 27 was the second book in the series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. My then-11-year-old recommended these, and I was also intrigued by this terrific review of the first book. I loved these tales of unlikely heroes and unconventional methods of problem-solving. There's humor and fantasy but the books are surprisingly affecting as well.

Book #28 was Broken Music, a memoir by Sting, whose music I enjoy. This was interesting but I honestly don't remember much about it except that it could have used a bit of editing for tense consistency - it frequently went back and forth between past and present.

Book #29, The Luxe, is one several of my students had been lugging around recently. One had been reading it for weeks and had provided almost daily updates to her neighbor at the beginning of class. It sounded to me like a soap opera with a historical setting, and sure enough - the book depicts rich, spoiled teenagers in "the age of innocence," and even begins with an epigraph from Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence. These girls aren't terribly innocent, though. While Edith Wharton is probably a more accurate source for the mores of 1899, as well as being infinitely more subtle, than this book, I could see why it kept my student's attention.

Book #30, White House Autumn, by Ellen Emerson White, is the story of a teenager whose mother is the President of the United States. I found the book a realistic portrayal of what it might be like for a young girl to attempt to live a normal life while under unusual pressures.

I almost didn't read book #31 because of its title, which struck me as overly cutesy and whimsical. I thought The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society would be a quite different kind of book. Although the word "charming" has been liberally applied in reviews, the main story is about a difficult time in history, the German occupation of the island of Guernsey during World War II. I was fascinated by the details of this time and found the epistolary style told the story well. An important theme is reading and the way books connect people. I recommend this one!

Next I finished off Susan Howatch's Church of England series, about which I wrote in more detail here, so book #32 was Absolute Truths.

So...there's a list of almost half the books I read over the summer. I'll write about the rest in another post.


Unknown said...

You should sign up for the Amazon affiliates program, and use your affiliate ID when you link to books. You get a few bucks every time someone buys one of your suggestions, and every few months they send you a gift certificate.

Janet said...

I haven't attempted the Potato Peel book for the same reason you almost didn't read it yourself... but I've come close to reading it recently. Your comments make me want to.

So glad you liked 'Benedict'! I haven't read the sequel yet. Need to get to that.

Your comments about the Sting book made me smile. A true teacher!

You have some great variety here! (Why am I not surprised?)

Tricia said...

I liked the MBS books, and so did my 11 year old (and at least 2 girls in his class were really into them, as evidenced by carrying around yellow pails for much of the school year...)

Amy said...

I always enjoy reading your book tidbits, especially since the majority of them are books I will never read myself. :)

Lately all my reading has been of the light-and-fluffy escapist sort. Beach books make up a large percentage of my library circulation record lately.