Sunday, August 12, 2018

Reading Update

When I posted my last Reading Update, last month, I mentioned that I'd been in a reading slump. Then I proceeded to have a bit of an end-of-summer last hurrah. Here's what I've read since July 16th.

Book #52 of 2018 was The Punishment She Deserves, by Elizabeth George. I saw this at a bookstore while I was visiting my daughter, and immediately put it on hold at the library; I hadn't realized that Elizabeth George had a new novel (it came out in March). I always enjoy these books, particularly the relationships among the police officers, and this one was no exception.

Book #53 was The Language of Sparrows, by Rachel Phifer. This story touches on mental illness and suicide and religious persecution and unjust accusations; somehow it still manages to be a sweet, touching, believable book.

Book #54 was Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning, by Mike Schmoker. Isn't it fascinating how when you are assigned to read something, you start out with a negative mindset?  Even when you're my age and love to read and learn? Yeah. In spite of that, though, I ended up finding this book a useful read. As the title suggests, it's not going to give you new ideas - they are the essentials - but it's a good reminder of what matters and how to teach.

Book #55 was Peony: A Novel of China, by Pearl S. Buck. I love being introduced to whole new worlds, and that's what this book did. It's about the Jewish community in China.

Book #56 was In Harm's Way: A View from the Epicenter of Liberia's Ebola Crisis, by Nancy D. Sheppard. Sheppard worked in a hospital in Liberia during the Ebola crisis, and was a colleague of the Americans who came down with the disease and were flown to Atlanta. This happened in 2012 and at the time was the subject of a great deal of breathless media coverage. This book gives a personal perspective on what happened and I enjoyed it.

Book #57 was an exciting one: the first draft of a novel by someone in my writing group! Shhhh...I'm not allowed to say more at this stage, but it was very entertaining!

Book #58 was Love and Ruin, by Paula McLain.  This is the story of Ernest Hemingway's third wife, Martha Gellhorn, a writer and war correspondent in her own right. I found out about this book when a friend posted this essay on Facebook.  I was fascinated and wanted to know more. I read a Martha Gellhorn book, The Weather in Africa, when I was a teenager, and before I had read any Hemingway.  I still prefer it to Hemingway, and I'd like to read more of Gellhorn's work.  Obviously with the word "Ruin" in the title, this doesn't have a happy ending; Hemingway had four wives. (McLain also wrote a book about his first wife, which I read in 2015, and one about Beryl Markham, which I read in 2017 and reviewed here.)

Book #59 was 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works, by Dan Harris.  I thought this book was really interesting, and enjoyed learning about Harris' journey from crazed, stressed-out broadcast journalist taking drugs and having a panic attack on the air to a calm, peaceful regular at meditation retreats.  I was fascinated to read about his sort-of Buddhist ideas; I say sort-of because he doesn't believe in the supernatural at all.  I thought most of the ideas and practices based on Buddhism were about a very clear, realistic and accurate view of how our minds actually do work.  I'd love for some friends to read this so we can talk about it.

Book #60 was a re-read, Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, more Soulful Way of Living.  I'd been thinking about Niequist and wanted to read something of hers.  Here's a link to the time I participated in a blog tour for one of her books, Bread and Wine.  I've read all her books and liked them all. 

Obviously things are about to slow down in the reading department as the school year gets into full swing, but I'm glad to have had some extra time for books this summer. 

This post is linked to the August Quick List post at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

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