Wednesday, July 15, 2015

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.

My reading frequency is back to normal! Until the next big project or life change sweeps me up, I hope to keep reading a dozen or so books a month. Here's what I've read in the past month:

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo: I understand now why this was a terrible movie — the book is more about the experience of storytelling than having a straightforward and engaging plot. It wasn't a bad listen, but it was still your standard fairy tale with a predictable plot and flat characters.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: The most interesting part of this book for me was how much detail went into the descriptions of how they made a life for themselves on the prairie (building a log cabin, digging a well, etc.). The characters, however, were simplistically drawn — disappointing since they were based on real people — and this made the stories feel rather repetitive after a while.

The Miracle Worker by William Gibson: This was a powerful play about Annie Sullivan's dedication to helping Helen Keller learn to break out of her silence by teaching her a way to communicate.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente: I was disappointed that this modern fairy tale tried to do and be too many things as it pulled bits and pieces from many well-known children's stories.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner: I really enjoyed this portrait of a couple in the late 1800s who spends much of their life together in mining camps in the western United States. I like the outer narrative frame, of their grandson who is writing their story, a lot less, but overall it was a good read.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People by Gary Chapman and Paul White: I probably could have drawn my own parallels from The Five Love Languages to the workplace, but I appreciated the many specific examples in this book. It was clearly a stretch to make it book-length, though.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay: This suspenseful, heart-wrenching, always surprising novel deserves all the accolades that it has received.

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World by Brian D. McLaren: I love McLaren's ideas but ultimately felt that he failed to get them across in a coherent and applicable way. I would have liked more examples of how to live out his ideas that didn't boil down to "join this new denomination."

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander: This is a middle grade book that manages to capture many of the things a student that age might be going through — jealousy, loneliness, sibling rivalry, arguing parents — wrapped up in a story about basketball delivered in the style of slam poetry. I'm not the intended audience, but I would hand it in an instant to someone who is.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren: I liked this way more as a kid than I did as an adult. There's too much absurdity and mocking of other cultures for my current taste.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare: This was an enjoyable enough story, but the writing and editing was a little too sloppy for my taste. If you like a good fantasy/action novel and don't want to think too hard about it, you'd probably like it.

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu: This is the first of the different religious texts I'm trying to read this year. It was interesting to see where it's similar to and different from other religious ideas, particularly in Christianity and Buddhism. If you've never read another religious text, this is an easy one to start with, because it's super short.

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta: This book was a mixed bag for me. I liked the concept, and I loved the ending, but the writing style was too choppy for my taste and I felt like I missed a lot during some of the quick back-and-forth dialogue. I can see why people like it so much, but the middle was a slog for me.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: This book was basically a conglomeration of my favorite things: books, data, mysteries... It's not very deep but was a super fun read.

What have you been reading this month? Share over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

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  1. I'll have to give the one about languages of appreciation in the workplace a read. Running my own small business I'm always looking for ways to motivate my team and potential new team members. Thanks!

  2. Anne @ I need some inspirationJuly 15, 2015 at 2:55 PM

    I gotta give Mr. Penumbra another try. I only read the first several pages and must've gotten caught up in something else before having to give it back. It sounds so fun.

  3. It was! I had heard very mixed reviews of it, so I don't think it's for everyone, but I loved it.

  4. That's a great idea! Good for you for wanting to know how to motivate and appreciate your employees :)

  5. Yeah, I disliked Pippi Longstocking even when I was a kid. Somehow I heard about it for a long time before I actually read it, and I had this idea of what it would be like, and then I was terribly disappointed that Pippi seemed dumb and careless and was kind of a jerk in some ways.

  6. I wonder if it appeals to kids because she lives what they think would be their ideal life — no parents, no school, eating and doing whatever they want all the time. But as an adult I found it more sad than anything, that she can't really read or write and doesn't know how to behave around other people.

  7. Ohh, I loved City of Bones. XD And I want to read Sea of Tranquility someday! I'm glad it's as good as the hype promises. And The Girl Who Circumnavigated...gah. I'm kind of weirdly scared of that one?! I read the first page and it's really not my style of writing BUT WE SHALL SEE. I'm a sucker for fairy tales so I don't think I'll avoid it forever. xD

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

  8. If you are a big fan of fairy tales you might like The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland. Be aware it gets pretty dark and gruesome at times. Definitely check out The Sea of Tranquility!

  9. So many books I love on this list! I loved Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store! and The Tale of Despereaux. I read The Sea of Tranquility recently without knowing anything about it or its acclaim and it's still haunting me a few months later. I'll have to look into The Crossover as a possible book for my middle school English Festival.

  10. I didn't know anything about The Sea of Tranquility except that it had been recommended by several people I trust. I didn't know it was YA (although it reads a little older than a typical YA), and I loved that it subverted a lot of the expectations I had about YA plots. So good!