Monday, October 3, 2016

Books I Read in September

So, September started off pretty rough in the reading department. I had some major bungles with my library holds list. One book turned out to be in Spanish, and unfortunately I cannot read or speak Spanish (nothing about the listing online revealed it was the Spanish version, so that was just annoying). Then the next book to come in turned out to be an abridged adolescent version of a book I was anxiously waiting for. That was just an oversight on my part. Needless to say, I'm not interested in the abridged version, so back that one went to the library, and back to the bottom of the holds list the real title goes.

And then, nothing else came off my holds list for almost the entire month! So I found myself scrounging quite a bit. It felt like I was always in need of something to read (or listen to), and always low on options. But I still managed to squeeze in seven books, and that's not a terrible month for me at all, so not all was lost. Here we go.

Anne of Avonlea  by L.M. Montgomery

After enjoying my return to Anne of Green Gables so much last month, I decided to continue on with the series. And really, this one just feels like an extension of Green Gables for me anyway. Anne's a little bit older, but still gets into plenty of memorable scrapes. And the whole little romance at the end was just perfect. Such a perfect sequel.

Uprooted by Naomi Novak

It's been a while since I've read a fantasy book I enjoyed this much. It had a couple of blush-worthy scenes I skimmed, but otherwise both the world and the story were quite enjoyable. It certainly ended up being quite a more complex world and plot-line than I expected from the initial chapters, which was nice.

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Oh wait, I forgot about this one! This was a library holds list success story (probably the only one the whole month). This book has been getting a lot of buzz recently, and it's probably worthy of most of it. I really enjoyed it quite a bit. It was sweet and thoughtful and had really wonderful characters (the best one not even being alive for the whole book, which props to Wood's authorial skill for that). Unfortunately, I don't think this story will stay with me in any meaningful way, but I still recommend it generally. Probably a nice book-club pick.

Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery

Obviously, the next logical step. This one is not quite as good as the first two, in my opinion. Anne's inability to recognize Gilbert's greatness just got super annoying to me in this one. Come on Anne! Get to know you're own heart better! Honestly! But despite that, this was still thoroughly enjoyable. But apparently I'm at a bit of standstill now, because there is no audio book version for Anne of Windy Poplars (as in, does not exist, at least, not that can I find in any of my usual channels, and honestly audio book publishers? This is an oversight). Obviously, I can read it in print, I just seem to have much more time for audio these days, so it may take me a while to get around to finishing this series. Le sigh.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

So, I was initially planning for this to be my October seasonal reading book, but after finishing up Anne of the Island I was desperate for a new audio book, and this one was available, and I couldn't wait. It was delightful! My first complete Neil Gaiman book actually (see unfinished books below), and I really enjoyed it. And really, it would make a perfect October/Halloween read, it has just the right amount of atmosphere without too much horror. The opening scene is a bit disturbing, so maybe not great for sensitive kids, but otherwise this is just fun.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Ugh. So embarrassed to admit I read this one. But once again, I found myself in desperate need of an audio book. My bathroom was just beyond the point of disgusting, but I couldn't face cleaning it without an audio book (in retrospect, I should've just listened to some podcasts) and this was the least offensive of my immediately available options. It ended up not being as terrible as it could've been, and I can see why the series is popular, but I was so annoyed with it on so many levels, not the least of which is the ending. It ends in the middle of the story! I mean, it is not a natural ending place at all. It wasn't until that point that I realized what I thought was going to be the story arc of the first book is actually the story arc of the first three books, and no. Just no. The drama does not need to be dragged out that long. Done and done with this series.

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger

Oh man, where to start. I already mentioned this book here, and you guys! I could fill up another post entirely on what I have to say about this book (could you handle that? Another post entirely dedicated to food?). To say I "read" this one also might be a bit of an overstatement, because I jumped around and skimmed a lot of it. The overall organization of this book annoyed me. It might be useful for some people, but I found the second section to be way more useful than the first. In essence, I agree with Dr. Greger and his plant-based philosophy, but despite his proclamations of going strictly off the research and basing everything on evidence, I still detected a fair amount of bias in the information presented (he had an entire section talking about the benefits of probiotics without once mentioning yogurt, as if he couldn't bring himself to admit that a non-plant based food product might include those benefits). So yes, I still highly recommend this book, and I still highly recommend a plant-based diet. But let's just say I could go on and on and on about all the thoughts this one stirred up (and I will probably be spending a fair amount of time on Dr. Greger's website, nutrionfacts.org, as I continue learning and thinking about all of this).

And now for the category of Did Not Finish:

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Okay, so I've been meaning to jump into Neil Gaiman for a long time now. He sounded so much like an author I would enjoy, but I wasn't sure where to start with him. I'd heard some interesting things about this novel, and was intrigued by the premise, so I started it. And... it was pretty gritty. A little too gritty for me. I couldn't stomach it. For now at least, I will stick with his young adult fare, which I found far more delightful (Graveyard Book).

And beginning a new category: Chapter Book Read-Alouds! Obviously, I've been reading aloud to my children since they were born, but up to this point it's only been board books and picture books. I've been thinking about and planning when to jump into chapter book length read-alouds for a while, but I was pretty unsure of how my four-year-old would handle it. His attention span isn't amazing, and he doesn't seem to enjoy long stories (he doesn't even sit through movies very well). But now that he is moving into the realm of reading on his own, I figured it was as good a time as any to at least try. I want to record these chapter books we read together, so I'll be tracking them on Goodreads and here in my monthly round-ups, but I'm not counting them towards my own personal reading goals or totals.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Yep, I started with a classic. I adore this book and this story of friendship, and even though it's been years (decades?) since I last visited this story, there were so many memories for me reading through this one again. But what did my son think? Well, overall I think this book was a success. He did NOT pick up every detail of the story, and we had to do lots of review and questions and explaining of vocabulary, but he was so excited about getting to read a longer book and he loved the idea of talking animals and begged me to read another chapter all throughout the day, so that counts as a success in my book. It took us nearly the whole month to get through, but after we finished I asked if he wanted to go back to picture books or read another chapter book, and he enthusiastically asked for another chapter book (you'll find out which one next month). So on we plunge into this wonderful world of chapter book read alouds! I'm pretty thrilled to be here. Any suggestions of good ones for young boys with short attention spans?

Read any of these? Thoughts and opinions?


  1. My kids LOVED the Tumtum and Nutmeg books. (More talking animals--mice in this case.) I did an overview on my blog: http://www.ofbooksandblooms.com/2016/04/series-spotlight-tumtum-and-nutmeg-by.html

    The have also really liked "The Littles" series, which are quite short, but still count as chapter books. :)
    Magic Tree House, for sure--the earlier books are especially good for his age, because they're quite a bit shorter than the later ones. You could read a whole book in about 30-40 minutes. Plus, if he likes those, there's a zillion of them waiting in the wings!
    Then there's all the series featuring elementary-aged kids: Ready Freddy, Jigsaw Jones, Horrible Harry, A to Z mysteries, etc.
    Good luck! We have had a lot of fun with read-alouds!

    1. Thanks Linnae! I've not heard of Tumtum and Nutmeg, I will have to look into them. And I know about Magic Tree House, but assumed they would be better for later. I'll check out the early ones.

  2. Bradley and I also read Charlotte's Web during most of last month. I may or may not have sobbed my way through the second to last chapter. Seriously, I could NOT keep it together. (Oh, and you might change your mind about counting your readalouds in your personal totals. Many of the books I read to my kids are ones I would read by myself if I didn't have kids to read to, so I totally count them.)

    1. Hm, now that I think about it, you might be right. It's just all the books I can think of as good read-alouds at the moment would either be re-reads, or books I would only read because they are at his level, not ones I would choose for myself. But that will probably change someday!

  3. Winnie the Pooh, original and House at Pooh Corner, are fun for adults and kids.

    1. I bet Josh would like those! At least, he likes the Disney movie. Good idea, thanks!

  4. There are so many wonderful picture books that teach great lessons keep them up too-
    A few of my favorites- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and Doctor DeSoto by William Steig
    Bill and Pete by Tomie dePaola
    Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent by Bill Peet