In January I set a goal through the Goodreads reading challenge to read 55 books this year. Reading four to five books each month seemed doable. Not a pushing-myself challenge, but something to keep me on track.
Here it is mid-August and I have completed the challenge: I’ve read 55 books, with more in progress, more in my to-read stack, more coming each week from the library straight to my Kindle.
Now that the kiddo is back in school (distance learning via Zoom) and I’ve registered to take a graduate course myself, plus some actual paid work coming my way soon, I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up this pace. But we’ll see… I’m guessing I’ll get close to 90 books by the end of this year, and that will be one Great Big Good Thing about this otherwise off-kilter year.
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Please comment and share with me a book you’ve enjoyed recently.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A beautiful memoir in verse, tracing Woodson’s life from birth (legend has it that the Woodsons are descendants of Thomas Jefferson) to adulthood. Remarkably, she has dyslexia and still words fascinate her and help her find her place in the world – from her earliest days of learning to write a “J,” to toting around a composition book, to discovering people like her in “easy” picture books, to memorizing stories because they flow like air in her lungs, to writing her own stories. It took me a while to read as I chewed the poetry in small bites.
“I want to catch words one day. I want to hold them
then blow gently,
watch them float
right out of my hands.”
“How can I explain to anyone that stories
are like air to me,
I breathe them in and let them out
over and over again.”
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pete: “It’s just rock ‘n’ roll. None of this really matters.”
At first I agreed with Pete. This whole book is rock ‘n’ roll, a lot of drama over nothing. But it’s entertaining, and of course it’s about people – their dreams and relationships and motivations. And in the end, I loved them.
Billy (about Daisy): “She had written something that felt like I could have written it, except I knew I couldn’t have. I wouldn’t have come up with something like that. Which is what we all want from art, isn’t it? When someone pins down something that feels like it lives inside us? Take a piece of your heart out and shows it to you? It’s like they are introducing you to a part of yourself.”
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Clever, entertaining, weird. But problematic. Set in 1950’s Mexico, the language reads too contemporary and I found that jarring. Somewhat predictable, I anticipated half of the reason for the drama early on. And I’m not convinced about the relationship at the end.
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I love the unique misfit-ness of the characters – lonely deaf girl, shy Filipino boy, spiritualist girl with sidekick young sister, and the stereotypical bully (with enough backstory to make him sympathetic). And Filipino grandma with dream-insight and ancient tales that bear on reality.
But I wanted more. It was okay, but not what I typically expect from Newbery.
“Crying is good for the soul,” said Ruby softly. “It means something needs to be released. And if you don’t release the something, it just weighs you down until you can hardly move.”
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