Friday, August 2, 2019

What I Read: July

We got our prizes for the summer reading program this month and I turned in my bingo card with nearly a black out. There are a couple boxes on the bingo I think I'll still do even though I already finished my card (with 5 bingos). I'd like to read a book translated from a different language and I'm currently re-reading an old favorite, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, with Carter. It is so hard to stop reading each night and put Carter to bed because even though I remember what more or less happens in each book, I've forgotten a lot of the details! I read the first book when I was in 6th grade and although that doesn't seem like it was that long ago, it was over 20 years ago! Oh my!

  • Elmer McCurdy: The Life and Afterlife of an American Outlaw by Mark Svenvold- My mom mentioned this book to me back when we read Killers of the Flower Moon. It was really interesting to read because the book mentioned so many cities around where I live now and where I grew up. So I was familiar with the towns. It was amazing to me what people used to do with unclaimed bodies. It was hard to believe! My favorite part of the book was when he talked about the foot race where McCurdy's body was part of the side show. I had never heard about the race before.
  • Plainsong by Kent Haruf- I loved Our Souls at Night by Haruf so when I saw this one at Goodwill, I picked it up. One of the Bingo spaces on my Library Bingo Card was a one word title so I decided to read this one. It was good but I didn't like it as much as Our Souls at Night. It left me feeling a little bit sad. The whole book had this feeling of detachment or lack of emotion. It's interesting how he's able to portray that in characters and give his books that feel. It's the first in a series of Plainsong books and I really want to read more to find out more about what happens with the characters. He ended the book on a positive note but left some loose ends with characters who I kept wondering about.
  • The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom- I love Mitch Albom and have liked every book of his I read so expected to really like this one and just didn't. I had a hard time getting into it and wasn't really invested in any of the characters. Although I did really like the minister and his skepticism and what he said about the phone calls. Then when I finally got to where I wanted to read the book to find out what happened, I hated where he went with it. It didn't make sense to me the justification he gave for actions and it felt a little forced and nonsensical. I did like the bigger point he made about faith and people sharing their beliefs.
  • Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury by Matt Richards & Mark Langthorne- The library bingo card for our summer reading program had a space for a book with an LGBTQ+ character. I saw this book posted on our local bookstore's Facebook page and knew immediately this was the book I wanted to read to fill in that space. It was a little slow going at first but then I just loved it. I liked the Mercury quotes given and I really got a sense of his personality. He was hilarious when he wanted to be. It was sad to read about how he felt he needed to hide who he really was. The book gave a lot of information about HIV and AIDs. I learned so much about that and, man, was it depressing. It is so sad how many people died and how the virus was initially overlooked because it was believed to be a "gay problem". While reading the book I felt like I got a good sense of who Mercury was and enjoyed it quite a bit. Then when I finished the book I found myself feeling a bit blue, not just due to the loss of Mercury's life, but for the loss of so many lives.
    This cover is just gorgeous!
  • The Martian by Andy Weir- Ty read this book before the movie came out and told me enough about it that I really wanted to read it. I just hadn't gotten around to it. Our Library Bingo (can you tell I really enjoy doing it) had a square for a book set in outer space so I decided to tackle this one. There was a lot of science in the book, some of it I struggled to really wrap my mind around and picture, but I really enjoyed it. Watney's character was so lovable and he kept the book interesting with his dry humor. I saw the movie when it came out but it was so long ago I didn't remember specifics well enough for the book to lose its interest. Matt Damon played Watney so well I pictured the character as him. My big beef with ebooks is that I don't know how long they really are. Some of them are actually 301 pages when it shows it is 301 pages. Some will say 380 pages but the last 20 pages are discussion questions and teasers for other books. That happened with this one. I got to the last page thinking I had 20 more pages to go and then turned to discussion questions for a book club. I was sooooo disappointed. The ending was so good but I would have found it more satisfying if I'd realized it was the end. I was expecting more. My favorite part of the book was when he said, "...every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it's true... This is so fundamentally human that it's found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don't care, but they're massively outnumbered by the people who do." I loved that and it's so true. It gives me hope and make me think of one of Fred Roger's most famous quotes. "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping'"
  • This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison- I started this one as an audiobook and loved it. The narrator was wonderful. But then I got an audiobook in on hold so I switched to reading this one as an ebook. I really liked how the book was written. I liked that it went back in time but also skipped around. I also liked how the narrator wrote about the past and told the story as though speaking to Harriet. There were lots of surprises and unexpected terrible turns in the book. I really liked it but it was also a bit sad when it came down to it. Even when something horrible from her past was revealed, I couldn't stop reading and kept wanting to read more and more.
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell- I wanted something fun and easy. I picked this one because I really liked Eleanor & Park. This was another one that was hard to stop reading and I got through it really quickly. I ended up putting my regular book on hold to finish it because I enjoyed it so much. I could totally see it being a Nora Ephron movie which made the multiple references to Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks as romantic leads even more perfect! I also like the big burly guy as a big softie on the inside, reminds me of my own big burly softie!
  • The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman- I wanted a short audiobook to listen to while I waited for one I had on hold. I was scrolling through Hoopla and saw this one. I was familiar with the 5 Love Languages, although I've never read the book, and thought it would be interesting to hear about how they related them to children. It was fun listening to it and pegging the love languages of different people I know and love. I realized I'm lucky that of my 2 primary love languages, one is Carter's and one is Elise's, so they are constantly giving me love in ways that I am able to really appreciate. It was really surprising to me to realize that things I've picked up about my kids relate to their love languages. I've noticed with Elise praise is huge with her and really motivates her and makes her feel special whereas Carter gets embarrassed by it. Carter constantly wants touched, hugged, and kissed on. Now that he's older he loves it when I turn it into a game, chasing him to kiss and hug him. Whereas Elise has never been quite as snuggly and doesn't want held to be comforted when she's hurt. She just wants you to acknowledge she's been hurt and for you to tell her you are sorry she got hurt. Carter has Big Al who he has always been very attached to and Elise has never been attached to a special stuffed animal or blanket in the way Carter is. I had never really thought about those things being related to their love language, I just thought of them as special things about their personality. I also realized that gifts is not on my radar at all because it is lowest on the totem pole for me when it comes to the 5 Love Languages and it has never been a big one for Carter. But it seems to be higher for Elise so I need to do a better job of doing that every now and then for her, even when it's just drawing her a special picture or giving her something fun from nature I found on a run. Ty does a great job with it, bringing home special treats from work which she always gushes over. This was such an eye opening book and I really enjoyed it. I think it is a wonderful read or listen for any parent or teacher. I found myself thinking of my students from this past year and picking out possible love languages. I'm excited to read The Five Love Languages and hope to talk Ty into reading it with me. I think it's a wonderful thing for everyone to be familiar with since we all have relationships with others in some way or another.
  • The Fledgling by Jane Langton- I added this one to my book list when I read Dear Farenheit 451. I decided to listen to it because I still hadn't gotten my audiobook in and this one was also short. It was good but not anything special, in my opinion. I kind of hated that it made me a little blue and I don't especially like books for kids that make you sad. It usually means a pet or animal dying and for whatever reason, that always hits me in the feels. It's apparently one in a series and sounded like at the end it may be kind of like The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe from the last portion of the book. Not sure I really care to read or listen to the next one to find out more though. I did really enjoy the references to Thoreau and Walden Pond.
  • The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal- I loved Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows so much that when I saw Jaswal had a new book, I immediately put it on hold. I chose to get it as an audiobook and never even thought about getting it any other way. It wasn't until I finished it that I realized I hadn't even contemplated getting it in a different format, I think because I'd listened to her other book as an audiobook. This one was just as good. I like how she's able to bring up sensitive issues, such as female infanticide, without making the book sad and depressing. Her books are fun but also remind people of the issues facing Indian women in particular but even women of other cultures and religions throughout the world. The way she does it makes it more real for people who haven't encountered those issues personally.
  • The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett- I had this on my to-read list for some reason and I'm not sure where I saw it. It was an interesting concept and I enjoyed the book. It was short and sweet. The audiobook was read by the author and it was a little harder to understand him. I found when I listened in the shower or on runs I had a harder time hearing and understanding him.


  1. I loved This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! too! I didn't like the First Phone Call from Heaven as much as his other books, but I liked it more than you did. I always add some books to my to-read list from these posts of yours. :-)

    1. What I really didn't like was the motivation of the guy faking the phone calls from heaven. I didn't understand why he wouldn't have just come forward to tell the truth rather than creating such an elaborate hoax. That really bugged me.