Monday, October 19, 2020

Ten More Books I Read on Recommendations

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic is books we read because someone recommended them to us! I last did this topic in 2016, so here are some books I've read on recommendations since then!

1. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (recommended by Sian)
I'm pretty sure I got this recommendation from my friend Sian when everyone was doing that "ten books that made an impact on me" meme going around Facebook, and that I got the recommendation of Winter of Fire from her at the same time, which is another book I really enjoyed. I was familiar with Montgomery's work from Anne of Green Gables, of course, but probably wouldn't have picked this one up without Sian's recommendation.

2. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (recommended by Eli)
Eli enthusiastically recommended this one during a book club meeting, so I put a hold on it right away, and I thought it was great! YA can be hit-or-miss with me but I trust Eli's taste.

3. Friendship at the Margins by Christopher L. Heuertz (recommended by Heidi)
This was recommended to me a long time ago by the founder of LOVEboldly and it took me a few years to finally get around to reading it. It's both a gentle indictment of typical "mission" work and an exploration of the benefits and challenges of becoming friends with people whose life circumstances are vastly different than your own.

4. Greenglass House by Kate Milford (recommended by MacKenzie)
MacKenzie invited me to go hear Kate Milford speak at a local event, and I wasn't familiar with her, but MacKenzie and I share a love of The Mysterious Benedict Society so she knew I would love it too, and she was right! I finished the first book and was already partway through the sequel when we went to hear Milford speak.

5. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (recommended by Morgan)
This was already on my to-read list when Morgan recommended it to me, so I bumped it up to the top of my list. Although it wasn't necessarily a favorite, there was a lot that I really liked about it, and Morgan and I then got to have a great discussion about the book once I finished!
6. A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin (recommended by 'Becca)
This is another recommendation that I got from one of 'Becca's Quick Lit posts. I then turned around and recommended it to some friends who were looking for a mystery on audio for a car trip!
7. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (recommended by Patrick)
I had heard about this book during the time it was getting lots of buzz, but I might not have picked it up if Patrick hadn't enthusiastically recommended it. Then I was glad to be able to discuss it with everyone else!
8. Sadie by Courtney Summers (recommended by Chelsea)
I enjoy getting annual book recommendations from my younger sister, and this one may be my favorite of the ones she's recommended. I recommended it to my book club this year for the month we were reading an Audie Award winner, and for some people it was their first ever audiobook but they really enjoyed it!
9. Untamed by Glennon Doyle (recommended by Sharon)
This is another one that was getting plenty of buzz but I didn't feel a strong pull to pick it up until Sharon started sending me passages and emphasizing how amazing it was. I think it was probably unusually relevant for Sharon's life at the time, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read!
10. You're Not Listening by Kate Murphy (recommended by Diana)
I found Diana via Quick Lit, I think, and then discovered via her blog that she was also an adoptive mom, and then discovered that we'd attended the same university! I like seeing her recommendations for both adult books and kid books since our sons aren't too far apart in age.

What books have you read because of a recommendation?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Possession, An Untamed State, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: The Other Wes Moore, A Snicker of Magic, and Death in the Andes
Ten years ago I was reading: Asking Questions

Thursday, October 15, 2020

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar by Judith Rossner: I didn't enjoy this, both because of the premise (psychological wounds from childhood are the only explanation for why a women would regularly seek out casual sex, though it's bound to end in tragedy!) and because the main character, Theresa, was hard to relate to. It's a shame, since Rossner is actually quite a good writer. She just chose to use her talents to write a story making it seem like a real-life person was to blame for her own murder because she liked casual sex.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: This was as good as I remembered, and I think there were even more elements that I caught this time, reading as an adult and listening to it as an audiobook. I greatly enjoyed this version narrated by Anna Massey, and I would highly recommend this read!

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young: This fictional representation of patriarchy taken to extremes was creepy and tense. The author worked in a multitude of different ways that society seeks to control women: their bodies, their attitudes, their roles. The plot was mostly unpredictable, but the plot twists (or "reveals") were highly predictable, which was a big disappointing.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, Jr.: It definitely took a while to get through this, but I appreciated the chance to read about MLK's life start to finish in one book. This is an investment of time, for sure, but it's a worthwhile one if you want to get a thorough account of King's life and legacy.

The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie: The second Miss Marple book is a collection of short mysteries, which I liked more than the Poirot collections, but I'm still not a big fan of Miss Marple generally. I liked the setup for this book but dislike when solutions rely on knowledge of things like what poisonous substance people used as eye drops back in the 1930s. I'm not sold on Miss Marple yet, but I will continue with the series and see if her character develops beyond the caricature here.

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Possession, An Untamed State, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: The Other Wes Moore, A Snicker of Magic, and Death in the Andes
Ten years ago I was reading: Asking Questions

Monday, October 12, 2020

Ten Super Long Book Titles

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

I am not happy about Blogger's updates! I'm giving this a go because they fixed the frustrations I was having with the picture formatting, but I'm still having problems even inserting pictures unless I copy over the code from another post first. I also hate having to put in break tags if I want to draft the post in HTML mode, plus the fact that I can't make the "open in new window" setting on links stick. (Also I used to be able to click the "link" button and then paste in the URL, but now I have to click the button and then click into the box where the link goes, so there are now two extra steps every single time I make a link.)

Anyway, this week's topic is super long book titles. I did something similar with unique book titles a while back. For this one, I debated about whether to include subtitles (there are some great long subtitles, particularly in nonfiction!) but I decided not to count them here, though I did count "and other..." as part of titles.

1. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

3. Dear Mister Rogers, Does It Ever Rain in Your Neighborhood? by Fred Rogers

4. for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange

5. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

6. It's OK Not to Share and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids by Heather Shumaker

7. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

8. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch

9. "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum

10. Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? by Brian D. McLaren

What are some of the longest titles of books you've read?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Possession, A Thousand Lives, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: David Copperfield, Number the Stars, and Death in the Andes
Ten years ago I was reading: Asking Questions

Monday, October 5, 2020

Ten Books with Wintry Covers

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topics is fall book covers, but since I don't have much to add to the post I did on this theme three years ago, I decided to go with wintry book covers instead! (Since winter here in Portland is mostly rainy I was going to do covers with rain, but I couldn't find very many out of the books that I'd personally read.)

1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

2. Blankets by Craig Thompson

3. Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

4. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

5. Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

6. Greenglass House by Kate Milford

7. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

8. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

10. Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan

What books have you read that have wintry covers?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Magician's Nephew, God Land, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Number the Stars, and Positive
Ten years ago I was reading: A Confederacy of Dunces

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Best of the Bunch: September 2020

Best of the Bunch header

Today I'm sharing the best book I read in September.

Of the six books I read this month, I had two 5-star reads:

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

New reads always beat out rereads, so my Best of the Bunch is...

It was SO refreshing to read a YA book that wasn't predictable and full of tropes. The first Darius the Great book was also different than most YA because it took place in Iran and dealt realistically with depression and male friendship, but in Darius the Great Deserves Better Darius is back in Portland and dealing with what seems like typical high school drama. I don't know the last time I read a book in which every one of the characters felt like a real person, not a stand-in for some idea or plot point. I'm glad that I read the first book earlier this year so that I could read this sequel when it came out! I definitely recommend it.

What is the best book you read this month? Let me know in comments, or write your own post and link up below!

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages, God Land, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: Number the Stars, The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey, and The Pushcart War
Ten years ago I was reading: Fourth Comings
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Monday, September 28, 2020

Top Ten Quotations From the Past Year's Reading

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

This week's topic is on favorite book quotations. It's been a while since I shared some quotations; here is, yet again, some favorite passages from things I've read in the past year. They all happen to be from nonfiction!

1. "It is a contradiction that white females have structured a women's liberation movement that is racist and excludes many non-white women. However, the existence of that contradiction should not lead any woman to ignore feminist issues. Oftentimes I am asked by black women to explain why I would call myself a feminist and by using that term ally myself with a movement that is racist. I say, 'The question we must ask again and again is how can racist women call themselves feminists.' It is obvious that many women have appropriated feminism to serve their own ends, especially those white women who have been at the forefront of the movement; but rather than resigning myself to this appropriation I choose to re-appropriate the term 'feminism,' to focus on the fact that to be 'feminist' in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression." - Ain't I a Woman by bell hooks
I read this whole passage aloud on my podcast after finishing this book because I think it's an important contribution to the conversation about what it means to be a feminist or who "counts" as a feminist.

2. "This is still one of the black man's big troubles today. So many of those so-called 'upper class' Negroes are so busy trying to impress on the white man that they are 'different from those others' that they can't see they are only helping the white man to keep his low opinion of all Negroes." - The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley
I can't speak to the Black experience, but I see parallels here for other marginalized groups as well; for example, women trying to say that they're "not like other women," which ultimately perpetuates rather than battles misogyny in the culture.

3. "Even if the law is enforced equitably and without bias or malice, it still results in the incarceration of large numbers of people who are homeless, mentally ill, and poor, rather than hardened predators. Ultimately, the criminalization of homeless people should be understood as a way of managing growing inequality through increasingly punitive mechanisms of state control." - The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
This whole book is great, but I think this is a key point — it is the American system of policing itself that is broken, not just that it's carried out by individuals with bias, and that's why changes to the structures are necessary, not just increased training for police officers.

4. "Challenging behavior occurs when the demands being placed upon a child outstrip the skills he has to respond adaptively to those demands." - The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene
This is Greene's central thesis, and something I keep trying to remind myself of as we work to figure out the best way to help our son develop coping skills that don't involve violence.

5. "It's a very colonizing impulse to look at something—a land, a city, a culture—and instead of seeing what is there, see a barren landscape that needs your new ideas. It's an American impulse to see a problem and think you can solve it with a little hard work and some bootstraps. It's a deeply human impulse to look all around you and see a problem but never consider that you might be the actual problem." - God Land by Lyz Lenz
I wasn't a huge fan of this book as a whole, but there were a lot of excellent passages throughout, like this one.

6. "Kids do idiotic, obnoxious stuff. That's unlikely to change any time soon, so if your plan for keeping your cool depends on your child's ability to do the same, that's going to end poorly for everyone." - How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t with Your Kids by Dr. Carla Naumburg
This is such an important reminder! The notion that "I wouldn't get so angry if they would just behave" is tied to abusive patterns. It's our job as parents to figure out how to be a steady and calming presence in our kids' lives.

7. "Much of what passes for racial reconciliation feels like an interracial playdate. Whites leave the playground feeling good about their new friend of color, but the material realities of people of color are unchanged." - I Bring the Voices of My People by Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes
This book has so much important content, but this is at the heart of her reason for writing it: the racial reconciliation movement in the church has been dominated by men and based on ideas of interpersonal relationships that don't dig into systemic inequities, and that needs to change if true justice is to be served.

8. "While we sit in pews singing songs about personal sins and salvation, we are ill equipped to go into the world to face systems of injustice, many of which we helped create." - Native by Kaitlin Curtice
One of the things I appreciate about the Catholic Church, and particularly the churches I've been part of, is that we focus more on community than individual salvation. I think faith has to be tied to social justice to truly exemplify the call to be Jesus' hands and feet.

9. "If anything, the people who moved to Jonestown should be remembered as noble idealists. They wanted to create a better, more equitable, society. They wanted their kids to be free of violence and racism. They rejected sexist gender roles. They believed in a dream. How terribly they were betrayed." - A Thousand Lives by Julia Scheeres
This book did an excellent job of showing how so many people ended up taking their own lives against their will. Being dismissive or judgmental doesn't allow you the ability to see how you too could someday become enmeshed in a dangerous situation following an unstable leader.

10. "Being human is not hard because you're doing it wrong, it's hard because you're doing it right. You will never change the fact that being human is hard, so you must change your idea that it was ever supposed to be easy." - Untamed by Glennon Doyle
This book is chock full of great quotations; here's a particularly good one.

What are some of your favorite book quotations?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages, God Land, and Whistling Vivaldi
Five years ago I was reading: Number the Stars and The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey
Ten years ago I was reading: Fourth Comings

Monday, September 21, 2020

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR

I'm linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for another Top Ten Tuesday.

First, looking back: I successfully read all the books on my summer TBR list. Now here's what I plan to read this fall!

1. Ace by Angela Chen
This just came out last week and I'm excited to read it! I read a lot of LGBTQIA+ books, but I hadn't ever seen a comprehensive nonfiction work specifically on asexuality. The reviews I've seen so far are great.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
This is one of the books on my original to-read list that I'm hoping to finally get to this fall.

3. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
Even though I was meh about the first Inspector Gamache book, I've heard the rest of the series gets better, so I plan to keep going with this second book.

4. Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
Every year I set a goal to read something my sister recommends, and this is what she suggested this year!

5. Sabriel by Garth Nix
This is a classic book I see recommended again and again but have never read. When I saw the audiobook was narrated by Tim Curry, though, I realized this would be a good one to count toward my goal of listening to classic books read by celebrities!

6. Strangers from a Different Shore by Ronald Takaki
This is another one from my original to-read list. After I watched the PBS series on Asian Americans this summer, I wanted to make this one a priority. I recommended that my library buy the audiobook, and just this past week they did!

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
It's been years since I read this book, which I think I read for the first and only time in middle school, and since I keep writing on here about how I don't understand why it's held up as The Classic American Book, I figured I should revisit it. I got an audio version that's ready by Sissy Spacek as part of my goal to listen to classics narrated by celebrities!

8. Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
This is my local book club's selection for November/December, for the theme of "friendship."

9. The Tuesday Club Murders by Agatha Christie
Another 2020 goal was to start the Miss Marple books, which I did — I read the first one — but it took me a long time to get around to the second one because the list I had of all the books in publication order had this book under a different title and I couldn't find it. Now I should be getting my copy from the library soon!

10. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
This is my online book club's next pick. The holds list for every format at the library is months long, so I will probably end up using an free trial for this one.

What do you plan to read this fall?

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Possession, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, and Let's Pretend This Never Happened
Five years ago I was reading: The Maze Runner, Number the Stars, and Uncle Tom's Cabin
Ten years ago I was reading: You're Wearing That?