Monday, September 20, 2010

What We're Reading

Let's hit the highlights, shall we?

But first, let's digress. Check out this very cool list of 105 Ways to Give a Book! I nearly always give books as gifts, including at kids' birthday parties where I'm fully aware they won't be the most thrilling item in the pile. What about you?

OK, back to the topic at hand.

Read-Alouds (mostly to the girls):
Knights of the Round Table (A Stepping Stone Book) - Read this to the kids last week, and they loved it. I wasn't dazzled by the writing style -- I'm not big on sentence fragments[edited to add: IN PUBLISHED CHILDREN's BOOKS], but these weren't egregious -- but when the kids clamor for another chapter, and we can have talks afterward about the qualities of honor, etc., I call it a winner.
Galileo's Leaning Tower Experiment - Nice cross between fiction and nonfiction, making a scientific concept simple, clear and engaging. We liked it.

Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1) - The boy's certainly not old enough for The Hunger Games and its sequels, but I had to introduce him to Suzanne Collins. He was reluctant at first but ended up reading this for three hours straight one morning and is on the lookout for the rest of the series.
His Majesty's Elephant - Too soon to tell. This novel takes place in the time of Charlemagne, and so far Ian isn't sure why there's so much Arabic influence on the setting. I may need to read it myself so we can discuss.
Famous Men of the Middle Ages (Greenleaf Press) - The spine of his history study right now, this is constructed as a series of in-depth vignettes about ... see if you can guess ... famous men of the  Middle Ages! We're both liking it -- history's always most interesting when told as people's stories, IMO.

Belong to Me. Y'all. I practically inhaled this over the weekend. If I liked the original, Love Walked In, (which I recommend reading first), I LOVED this book. It's unusual in that it's told from several points of view, including both first person and third person narrators. That way, you get to walk through each character's story along with him or her, but also see how the OTHER characters perceive them, and how that perception changes.

 I think one reason I loved the story, besides the fact that the writing is funny, poetic, beautiful and moving, is that this theme -- people are always more than they seem -- really resonates with me. It's something I've learned and continue to learn, often through mistakes, in my own life. In fact, the first story I ever sold owed its existence to that very lesson, learned most poignantly when listening to another mother's story blew my superficial concepts about her out of the water.

 Superficial concepts get shattered left and right in this book, and come to think of it, in that particular way it reminded me of The Help. There's a fantastic quote from the latter book that sums things up nicely, about how deep inside, we're all just folks who want to be understood, but since the flood, our house is in more chaos than usual and I can't find the notebook where I write down fantastic quotes. Sorry.

Later this week, I have a bit to say about favorite audiobooks, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, I'm off to dispense stories and goodnight kisses.


Raji P. said...

Keep the book lists coming! We read Warm as Wool tonight. The kids loved it (except for the sheep popping off; that upset one of mine a lot).

Galex said...

A flood hit your house? (Oh sorry, sentence fragment. Another one. Yikes, I'm on a roll! It is so fortunate for me that you're intrigued by looking past the superficial!)

Tim said...

Will you post a link to the first story you sold? That was in Mothering no?

KTG said...

I just went to look up the quote and remembered I have passed The Help on for someone else to read already.
Books are always my favorite gifts!

Newton Upper Falls said...

A quick, interesting post-Katrina story that I finished off in a couple days: "Zeitoun." Not an all-timer, but thought-provoking. If only we all could write like Steinbeck. (Yes, that was a recommendation.)

I know football isn't your thing. Or is it? What's this about football players at your house for dinner? A really insightful journey into the locker room and offices of a professional football team is "A Few Seconds of Panic," by Stefan Fatsis. (Who also wrote another book that i'm SURE you would delight in. I'll let you figure out which one I'm referring to.) I read it over the summer and it gave me a completely different perspective of the game that I so enjoy watching.

Do you take it personally when people don't take to your book recommendations? Some of my strongest memories are books that I've read, and the people that have either given me those books are recommended them to me.

Hannah said...

Hey Newton Upper Falls,
And who might you be? ;-)

Bear Creek Mama said...

Okay, also doing MA's with Hannah. We are reading Famous Men and liking Story of the World SO MUCH more! We will continue with both, but, just sayin....