Books read in January 2015

Another good YA month.  Maybe I always have so many good YA reading experiences because I read so much YA.

Top recommends:
Picture: Nothing blew me away
Chapter: Betsy & Tacy Go Over the Big Hill.
J-Graphic Novels: Lowriders in Space
Young Adult: Gabi, Girl in Pieces; My True Love Gave to Me; Like No Other; How it Went Down
Grownup Nonfiction: Anatomy of an Epidemic

Picture Books

Brother Hugo and the Bear
Read for Librarian Book Group
Another book I had trouble remembering two weeks later.  I think the younger me would have enjoyed the illuminated manuscript aspect of this story though.  And the current me enjoyed looking for the bear hiding in the illustrations.

My Grandfather’s Coat
Read for Librarian Book Group
Lovely illustrations. The story has been done a lot.

Chapter Books

Betsy & Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Maud Hart Lovelace
The one where they visit Little Syria. Also has a great escalating fight between the sisters that feels very true-to-life.

J-Graphic Novels

Lowriders in Space
Cathy Camper
Read for Librarian Book Group
I loved both the lowrider and the art.  Really fun use of both Spanish and English.

Young Adult

John Green
A re-read for the upcoming movie, was surprised to realize that what I remembered most about the book (the road trip) took up a very small amount of the story.  On second reading, I still dislike Margo Roth-Spiegelman as a character, but loved the friendship between everyone who wasn’t Margo Roth-Spiegelman.  I’m very much looking forward to the movie.  Will it still be called the Omnictionary? 

My True Love Gave to Me
ed. Stephanie Perkins
My favorite part of winter break 2014 was giving myself the present of one story per night from this book.  All were different, but all centered on the thing I like most in stories: falling in love.  I may put this into regular December rotation.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces
Isabel Quintero
Read for Librarian Book Group
Quality YA written in diary format I found hard to put down. Incorporates poetry, zines, and great narration.  I really loved this main character and this book.

How it Went Down
Kekla Magoon
Read for Librarian Book Group
Multiple perspectives of an event that has become familiar to us: white guy shoots black teenager and claims self-defense, gets off with no charges.  Fascinating to see who thinks what and to piece together your own picture of the victim based on others accounts.  Very well written and recommended.

Five Flavors of Dumb
Antony John
Solid YA about a deaf girl who becomes the manager of a band called Dumb.  Unbelievable in places, (I never got on board with the idea that a band who couldn’t keep time would win the Seattle Battle of the Bands) but a nice story nevertheless.

Like No Other
Una LaMarche
Sheltered Hasidic Jewish girl meets nerdy Black boy when she is trapped in an elevator at the hospital.  They fall in love, which is both delightful and worrying. I greatly enjoyed this novel both for glimpses into cultures I’m not part of, but also for the characters.


The Talent Code
Daniel Coyle
How can you develop a talent more quickly?  Is it just in the genes?  A music teacher I know recommended this as a short, fascinating book that has changed how he instructs students to practice.  Very interesting to learn about why the Brazilian soccer teams are so good, why the Russians are producing tennis champions like mad and why South Korea has such good women golfers. (I know no sports knowledge, so I’m assuming all those things are true).  How you can become a better musician, skateboarder and encourager of children?  The answer lies in this book.

Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph
It’s interesting how Arbus managed to capture “normal” and “uncomfortable” in one frame.  I’m sure many of her images were even more disturbing back in the 60s and 70s when we weren’t used to images of transvestites, nudists, etc.

Men Explain Things to Me
Rebecca Solait
Short book of essays, also a book of short essays.  Solait makes good use of words and I especially appreciated her putting a fine point on maybe looking at rape as a cultural thing men do rather than a series of random isolated events.

Anatomy of an Epidemic
Robert Whitaker
Read for Kenton Library Book Group
I hate this book because me telling people what I’ve learned from it will make me sound like a crazy person.  But so it goes with life-changing books. 

The first three-quarters is a slog with each chapter following the format of:  list a psychiatric disorder.  Look at outcomes pre-psychiatric drugs.  Look out outcomes post-psychiatric drugs.  The drugs make things worse.  Repeat that several times until you’ve covered all psychiatric disorders.

After that it really gets rolling.  Medicating children, lack of long term studies, the pharmaceutical industry, psychiatrists rescuing their profession by tweaking the DSM.  The book takes most of what we “know” about mental health conditions and exposes just how little research there is to support that “knowledge.” 

It’s not the most gripping read, but an important one. 

3 thoughts on “Books read in January 2015”

  1. Try being someone who loves to read about disasters! I get a lot of WTF looks when I tell people what I’m reading. Also, "Maud Hart Lovelace"? That’s either made up or someone was born to be an artiste (or perhaps a woman suffragette circa 1902).

  2. Betsy & Tacy is on my to read shelf! We bought a copy of the book on our trip to Northfield. Gabi is also on my cyber to read shelf.

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