Saturday, June 06, 2015

Reading Update

Book #22 of 2015 was Love at the Speed of Email: A Memoir, by Lisa McKay.  I found this author when a Facebook friend posted an update from her blog after the recent cyclone in Vanuatu.  McKay's husband had just moved there, and she was waiting in Australia to get the all-clear to bring their two sons and join him.  This book is the story of how she and that husband got together, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I could relate to McKay's international background and struggles with identifying home. 

Book #23 was Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, the long-awaited new book by Rachel Held Evans.  Articles about the book have presented it as Evans' less-than-fond farewell to evangelicalism, but it's not really that.  It's more a love letter to the Church and all that is beautiful in it.  With anyone we love and know very well, we can also find plenty of flaws, and Evans does that too.  This book is so wonderfully written - she's getting better and better.  It's organized around the seven sacraments identified by the Catholic church.  I'd love to discuss this with a group; there's so much in it.

Book #24 was Gap Creek, by Robert Morgan.  It was like "Little House on the Prairie" (the TV show) on steroids.  Remember how in every episode there was some kind of horrible crisis?  It's the same in this book, except it all takes place in one year.  A note tells us that it's based on the first year of his grandparents' marriage.  Oh my word.  It's amazing anybody survived Appalachia right after the Civil War.  This book is harrowing but brilliant.  I recommend it, but I had to follow it with some lighter fare.

Book #25 was Greetings from Nowhere, by Barbara O'Connor.  I read this YA book with my seventh graders to finish out the year.  It was maybe a little young for them, but we all enjoyed it, nonetheless.  The book is written in several voices, which we'd encountered before in Seedfolks, and we liked the way it didn't wrap up too neatly.

Book #26 was As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth, by Lynne Rae Perkins.  I finished the year with this in eighth grade, and found it moved a little slowly for that class, who prefer their books a bit more action-packed.  I really liked it, though.  It was very quirky and fun, with characters who were oddly believable in spite of being so bizarre.

Book #27 was I Kill the Mockingbird, by Paul Acampora.  This one was a lot of fun, another YA title, centered around summer reading and some kids who decide to start a campaign to convince people to read To Kill a Mockingbird, using reverse psychology, social media, and ingenuity.

Book #28 was Orchards, by Holly Thompson, the same author who wrote The Language Inside, which I read last year but don't seem to have added to my list or blogged about, so I'm going to count that one for this year as #29.  Both books are verse novels and both have a Japanese setting.  I chose The Language Inside because it was about the 2011 earthquake in Japan and an American girl displaced to the US by the illness of her mother.  I've used it with students for a couple of years now, and while the kids don't love it quite as much as I do, it does go down well with them, and there's a lot to talk about in it.  Orchards also has cross-cultural themes, as it concerns a girl who is half-Japanese and is sent to Japan to spend time with her family there after a girl in her class commits suicide.  I'm considering this one for a read-aloud next year.

Book #30 was Cruel Beauty, by Rosamund Hodge.  This one is sort of a Psyche and Cupid/Beauty and the Beast/Bluebeard retelling, but with many interesting quirks.  I found the exact plot details a bit confusing at times, but the overall story was very evocative and satisfying.

Book #31 was Why I am an Atheist who Believes in God: How to Give Love, Create Beauty, and Find Peace, by Frank Schaeffer.  Schaeffer has a compelling voice, and that's what kept me reading.  I enjoyed his ruminations on growing up evangelical, and while I don't agree with all of his conclusions, I did find his rather curmudgeonly persona quite appealing.

Book #32 was So, Anyway..., a memoir by hilarious British comedian John Cleese.  It moved along pretty well, with interesting anecdotes, until suddenly Cleese seemed to lose interest and summed up thirty years in one chapter.  So anyway, is there going to be a sequel?

Book #33 was Good Harbor, by Anita Diamant.  This was a bit slight, but entertaining.

Book #34 was Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan.  I read this with a tech-y friend, and we both enjoyed it.  It starts out being about books, and ends up being about the internet, and in between is a lot of fun. 


Sherry said...

I want to read Love at the Speed of Email and I think I want to read Rachel Held Evans' book, although she sometimes annoys me with her judgmentalism toward conservative evangelicals. I know Franky Schaeffer annoys me, so I won't be reading that one. I guess I'm a little judgmental myself.

Janet said...

Well, you make a good argument for seeing 'Searching' as a love letter. And it's true that with those we know well and love, we see the flaws. I don't think I'd need them detailed so painstakingly in a letter from my beloved, though! :-)

Ruth said...

Good point!