It’s the beginning of Week 25 of 2013, and I’m on track for a book a week this year (#1 on the list took me weeks to finish!)
24. All Over the Map, by Laura Frasier. Excellently titled, this travel writer’s memoir is the story of a middle-aged single woman who loves her exotic, adventurous life while she longs for love and children. She envies her married, child-ful friends almost as much as they envy her. But her journeys go deeper than simply Samoa and blind dates—she is a living, breathing, interesting person who hits hers 47th birthday as she completes this book. Worth the read.
23. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. I ran out of sticky arrows to mark important passages in this important manifesto. Very readable, but more importantly, more “thinkable”. I wish she had written this ten years ago; my history would probably be different. But I’m willing to bet Mrs. Sandberg will be influencing my future. More importantly, I hope I will be influencing my future. For those who want the short version, click here. It’s a verbatim list of passages I marked.
22. Parenting a struggling reader by Susan Hall & Louisa Moats. Good information for those who might be the parent described in the title. A decent handbook to get you started.
20. Teaching on Poverty Rock / Joby McGowan. It’s not his first year teaching, but it’s his first year teaching on Mercer Island. A very short memoir.
19. To Sell is Human: the surprising truth about moving others / Daniel Pink. I read Drive, a book on what motivates us, last year. He’s a writer like Freakonomics and Malcolm Gladwell, great at taking diverse studies and bringing interesting information into a cohesive framework. He’s just a fun read! And we all so spend a lot of time “selling”—what to put in a subject line so you will read—and respond—to my email, advertising old stuff on craigslist, convincing someone else to do a job so you don’t have to…
18. How Children Succeed: Grit, curiosity, and the hidden power of character, by Paul Tough (author of Whatever It Takes). LOVED this. I posted more in depth on some of the ideas that stood out in this book.
17. Giving Our Children a Fighting Chance: Poverty, literacy, and the development of information capital / Susan B. Neuman, Donna C. Celano. This is the perfect book for me—the tale of two libraries, it deals with literacy, learning, poverty, the achievement gap, technology and education all within the parameters of an empirical research paper published as a book. (Those who listen to NPR will recognize the Susan B. Neuman name.) In case you find this as interesting as I do, you are in luck! KCLS didn’t have this book until I requested it and it looks like I will have to buy the book as it has some water damage. Hmm.
16. The Introvert Advantage: How to thrive in an extrovert world / Marti Olsen Laney. I am interesting in this topic, as I consider myself quite introverted (social, but introverted) and at least one of my kids has my same introvert characteristics. Recently, I went to a very engaging Susan Cain lecture about introverted children. Her book, Quiet, is on my hold list at the library and I think I will find it more interesting than this one.
15. Gilead / Marilynne Robinson. We read it for book club. It was excellently written, and it was hard to believe the nearly 80 year old pastor narrator was written by a middle age woman. It was pretty good.
14. Dawn Huebner has written 6 books, the first two I have read and recommend:
13. Going Bovine / Libba Bray. Great title. Great cover. Lousy story.
12. The out of sync child: recognizing and coping with sensory processing disorder / Carol Stock Kranowitz. I read this to see if it fit anything we had been seeing in one our little darlings. It didn’t. Here was the companion book: Answers to questions teachers ask about sensory integration : forms, checklists, and practical tools for teachers and parents
11. Fluency instruction: research-based best practices / edited by Timothy Rasinski, Camille Blachowicz, Kristin Lems. (2006). Great articles about, well, fluency. Quickest summary: kids learning to read fluently should read the same thing 4 times.
10. Tears of the Giraffe / Alexander McCall Smith. The second in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I really like listening to this series. Luckily, there are lots more.
9. Becoming a Thinking Christian: If We Want Church Renewal, We Will Have to Renew Thinking in the Church / John B. Cobb, Jr. From the publisher, “This book challenges Christians to think. Committed lay Christians, says Cobb, are already theologians; he wants them to realize this and then to become good theologians. Laypersons are just as capable as professional theologians of intellectual hard work, but they no longer expect the church to ask this of them. Cobb discusses why it is important for Christians to think about their own beliefs and assumptions.”
[Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is supposed to be an excellent book. I picked it up and started reading it at the library while Wesley slept in my arms. I had a few concerns about the subject matter, so I read the ending, decided I would hate the novel, no matter how well-written, and put it in the return box on the way out.]
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 publish 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 an 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 me. 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 prestigious 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.]