8. Speaking Among the Bones (A Flavia de Luce novel) / Alan Bradley. This is the 5th in a series that I am on the library hold lists long before the book is published. A day’s read if one ignores one’s duties enough. I adore Flavia, who is now almost twelve. The last sentence in the book is the best/worst I’ve read in a mystery. Unfortunately for my sanity, the sixth book isn’t scheduled to published until “early 2014”. You’re killing me, Alan Bradley.
7. Radical: Fighting to put students first / Michelle Rhee. I read a book about Ms. Rhee last autumn and got a lot out of it, including a radical crush on Michelle and her philosophies. I bought Radical when I went to see her last week at a Town Hall lecture (thank you, Seattle Public Library!). There were pickets and protests and hisses and everything. Since leaving the Washington, D.C. district, she has started StudentsFirst, a union of sorts for students. She’s considered controversial, but I support her positions. I definitely want to teach again when the kids are all in school, but she inspires me to move to the inner city and work harder than I ever have in my life to be the best teacher any kid has ever had. I’ve already said it: she’s inspiring.
6. All There Is: Love stories from StoryCorp / Dave Isay (editor). I put this on my Hold list when I got on my This I Believe essay kick last year, one of NPR’s great features. Forty minute interviews between lovers, friends, and family are written up in short essays. It’s a excellent peek into the love lives of representative slice of America.
5. American Dervish / Ayad Akhtar. We picked this novel for book club and I loved it. I learned more about Islam, Jewish-Muslim-Christian tensions, and the Koran through this piece of fiction than I’ve ever gotten out of a deliberate study. Ah, the power of story. It brings up some great discussion topics, not only for book club, but even for Dwayne and I. Unfortunately, this is the author’s first book so as much as I would like to grab from the shelves all his other brilliance, I will have to wait.
4. Blueprints for building better girls / Elissa Schappell. Meh. A collection of short stories that I didn’t realize were about the same women until nearly the end. If you decide to read this book about anorexic girls with more issues than food, know that Elizabeth, Bender, and B are the same person. Maybe now you will get more out of this than I did.
3. The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron. Another audio read, I found this is the section of previous Newberry winners. Lucky, a ten year old orphan, is trying to find her Higher Power, a concept she has heard about while eavesdropping on the different “Anonymous” meetings her in small, small town. Hey, it won a prestigous award—always worth reading.
2. Predictably Irrational: the hidden forces that shape our decisions, by Dan Ariely. This was an audio read for me and both the reader and subject were fascinating. It’s in the same genre as Freakomics or anything by Malcolm Gladwell.
1. World without End, by Ken Follett. Our book group read Follett’s Pillars of the Earth a few years ago and decided to tackle the sequel, giving ourselves December and January. It’s 1,050 pages about life in a English town and priory in the 14th century. I love his historical fiction—I can read a history book about Martin Luther’s protests of certain Church practices, but fiction makes the fact more real. The author uses a few prototype characters no matter what century he’s writing in, but overall, I’d say my enjoyment of the novel was just about worth the 4-5 other books I gave up reading to get through this one.
[Red denotes a work of nonfiction.]