Monday, September 2, 2019

What I Read: August

So many good books this month! I also enjoyed re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets with Carter. He liked them so much, he'd be standing at the door with the book when I got home from my run, asking me to read to him first thing in the morning. He loved them both but got a bit scared by the Chamber of Secrets and had a couple rough nights afterward so we decided he's not quite ready for the Prisoner of Azkaban since dementors are introduced in that book and the books get scarier as they go along.

  • Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand- I love how Hilderbrand writes about an entire family and is able to make every character so rich and interesting. This book was my favorite of hers I have read. I loved how many huge moments in history she was able to tie into the characters without it seeming ridiculous that they could have been connected to those moments. It was especially fun to read this after all the excitement of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. I read this book pretty much nonstop on our ride to and from St. Louis for my grandpa's 90th birthday party outside of the time I spent reading to the kids. I never got tired of it or wanted a break from reading it like you sometimes do when you've been reading a book for hours at a time. I liked how she was able to make you feel stressed about what would happen to the son who was drafted into the Vietnam War throughout the entire book just like families would have felt at the time. I also liked that she left it open at the end. It made it more realistic than a happy ending. So many families didn't have happy endings related to the Vietnam War.
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin- I've had this one on my to-read list for a while and came across it at Goodwill. I really loved the book but also felt a sense of sadness when I finished it. It was lovely and heart warming at times. It also made me tear up toward the end. It was one where the characters stuck with me long after I finished the book and I randomly found myself thinking about them. I liked the little notes at the start of each chapter that A.J. wrote about short stories and found myself wanting to read them all.
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor- We were at the library and I was almost done with A.J. Fikry so I decided to wander through the stacks to find my next read. I saw this one and pulled it out because I keep seeing O'Connor listed on book lists and I have her collection of short stories on my to-read list. I don't know if I just didn't get this book, but I would almost go so far as to say I hated it. Maybe I missed the point, but I actually struggled through the book and it was less than 300 pages. Had it been any longer, I wouldn't have finished it. I hate to even admit that since she's considered one of America's great writers. I feel like it makes me seem tasteless and unrefined. But I'm nothing if not honest, so there ya go.
  • Purposeful Play: A Teacher's Guide to Ignite Deep and Joyful Learning Across the Day- Our director at the preschool recommended this book during our July training. It was really good and definitely made me reframe play in mind. There were so many things in the book that I do but had never thought of how important they are and how they can inform childrens' play experiences. It also made me realize I need to incorporate play in my older classrooms a lot more when I go back to teaching elementary aged children.
  • All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung- Every year our library does a special One Book, One Tulsa event. They recommend a book for card holders to read and then have special events related to the book, including a book talk with the author. When I walked into our library and saw a poster displayed about the event along with the book next to it, I picked it up right away. I read last year's book and it was interesting but I didn't get to go to the author event. This book was very interesting. It was about Chung's life as an adoptee and her search for her birth parents. It started a little slow, but once I got into I really enjoyed it. It definitely reframed my thoughts about adoption and it's effect on the children involved. I'm looking forward to the author event.
  • The Elegence of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery- I picked this book up at Goodwill. It was also a little bit slow to start with but I ended up really enjoying it. It was translated from French and a book translated from another language was the only book space I had left on my bingo card. I didn't realize that until I was reading it, so that was nice. 
  • Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson- I was really excited to read Jackson's newest novel even though I haven't read all of her previously published novels yet. This was so good, just like always, and it was so hard to put down. I finished it in the matter of a few days.
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett- I really liked Commonwealth by Patchett so when I saw this on a book list I decided to give it a try. It was essays she had written throughout her career collected into a book. I really enjoyed it and it gave an interesting view into her life. Now I've added multiple other books she has written to my to-read list.
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty- This book was so good. I loved it as an audiobook because the narrator had an Australian accent which was perfect. The way she wrote the book kept me hooked the whole way through. I thought I had things figured out and then she tricked me into thinking I was wrong and then it turned out I was right at the end which was fun. I liked how the chapters often either began or ended with police interviews with different parents who were at the event where the death occurred. You found out at the very beginning of the book that someone dies but you don't find out who until the very end. I was trying to guess who it was the whole way through. I was still questioning it right up until it actually happened. And even though I'd guessed who it might be, I was wrong about who did it.
  • The Ensemble by Aja Gabel- I'll be perfectly honest on this one. I chose it just because the cover was so pretty. I had no idea what it was about. I was pleasantly surprised about the content and found it very interesting. It followed a string quartet through the life of their time together as a quartet and was really good. 
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates- I read We Were Eight Years in Power by Coates for book club a while back. When I saw this one I was interested and chose it as an audiobook because it was read by the author. It brought a different perspective to issues of race. As I prepared to send Carter back to school after most the schools in our area included active shooter training in their back to school training for teachers, I listened to the story of Prince Jones being shot by a police officer. I found myself crying as I ran listening to the audiobook. I realized that the fear I feel about sending my child to school in an era of mass shootings and gun violence is the fear black mothers have lived with every day since the beginning of our country. And their fear includes a fear of police officers as well, the very people who are supposed to keep us safe. It was heart wrenching.  
  • The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper- This book was about May Alcott and focused a lot on her relationship with her sister, Louisa May. I loved this book and had no idea that May was an artist as well and was able to create and sell artwork. It was an interesting view into the very limited choices women had back in those times. It was sad that as May really started to feel like she was coming into her own as an artist, she died after childbirth. It made me think about how the lives of so many of my favorite fictional characters likely would have ended in death related to childbirth. It is highly likely that at least one of my beloved Bennett sisters would have died in childbirth had it been a true story.


  1. I added Summer of '69 to my to-read list last time you mentioned it - I also love her books. I am also going to add All You Can Ever Know, and probably the ones by Joshilyn Jackson and Ann Pachett. I also thought Big Little Lies was SO good!

    1. Oh my gosh, so good! I'm excited to read more of her books now. All You Can Ever Know was short and very good. I'm sure it would be interesting to read as the parent of an adoptee. I think hers was complicated because she was Korean and her adoptive parents were white, but I'm sure it would be an interesting read.