Books Read in June 2022

Picture Books

Matthew Forsythe
Read for Librarian Book Group

Mina the mouse’s father brings home things. One day, he brings home a squirrel. But maybe it isn’t a squirrel?

Bathe the Cat
Alice B. McGinty and David Roberts
Read for Librarian Book Group

A familiar situation to many: frantically cleaning the house before guests arrive. This leads to many funny mix-ups.

Gigi and Ojiji
Melissa Iway
Read for Librarian Book Group

Gigi looks forward to her grandfather moving from Japan to the US and into her family home. There are some unmet expectations that make the transition a little bumpy, but make for a good story.

Where is Bina Bear?
Mike Curato
Read for Librarian Book Group

Tiny can’t find Bina Bear during her big party. That’s because Bina Bear has some inventive hiding places. But also, why are there no other guests? How early did Bina Bear come to this party?

Middle Grade

The Last Mapmaker
Christina Soontornvat
Read for Librarian Book Group

Soontornvat weaves a rollercoaster story about a girl from the preverbal wrong side of the tracks making her way in the world. This hits all the adventure markers and has the plus of being set in a world where ships move about by sail power, and women are equal to men.

Aviva vs. the Dybbuk
Mari Lowe
Read for Librarian Book Group

Solid middle grade with a bit of mystery. I don’t run across many children’s books set in modern Orthodox Jewish households, so this was a nice change of pace. There’s a glossary at the back for anyone who might need to brush up on some terms.

The Summer of June
Jamie Summer
Read for Librarian Book Group

The book opens in the aftermath of June dramatically shaving her head. She did this to curb her tendency to pick at her hair when she is nervous. In this brief book, Jane finds ways to control her anxiety.

Young Adult

Vinyl Moon
Mahogany L. Brown
Read for Librarian Book Group

A compact story of Angel’s first few months in Brooklyn, where she moved to live with her uncle after a bad boyfriend and subpar mother experience. Very brief chapters and a sprinkling of poetry provide rich details about characters and emotion.

Nothing Burns as Bright as You
Ashley Woodfolk
Read for Librarian Book Group

A novel in verse that perfectly captures the highs and lows of a first love that isn’t really good for either person in the relationship, but feels so very good to both at the time.

Also, the cover!

Always Jane
Jenn Bennett

I’m torn between thinking two teenagers coming together because of a traumatic event is a sign that they haven’t healed from the event, or whether it means they are meant to be. Regardless, Bennett works her usual magic with two people in love. The story makes a nice turn partway through, and it was interesting to see what life is like in service, in this case as the personal assistant to the daughter of a music producer (who might also be the bio dad.)

African Town
Irene Lathan and Charles Waters
Read for Librarian Book Group

A novel in verse about two interesting historical things: the last ship to enter the U.S. carrying enslaved people (It was long after the ban on importing people was passed) and the lives those people built once they were brought here.

V.E. Schwab

This is a spooky book that feels like a back-in-the-day gothic novel, but takes place today. From the orphanage-like opening, this was very fun.

See You Yesterday
Rachel Lynn Solmon

For people who have not see the film Palm Springs this is a delightful time loop story set at the beginning of freshman year of college. For people who have seen Palm Springs this story will sound very familiar right down to a plot turn.

Radio Silence
Alice Oseman

I enjoyed this because the author did a great job putting us in the shoes of the narrator. I wasn’t really sure what was going on with that guy that lived across the street. She also kept us from knowing what happened to his sister in a way I found realistic. I also enjoyed the “Welcome to Night Vale”-type setting.

Young Nonfiction

Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky
Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond & Daniel Minter
Read for Librarian Book Group

For a long time, it was tough to dye things blue. I learned this and other facts in this engaging picture book.

Seeking Freedom: The Untold Story of Fortress Monroe and the Ending of Slavery in America
Selene Castrovilla and E. B. Lewis
Read for Librarian Book Group

Who knew that the path of emancipation started with a self-liberated man hiding in the woods and a major general writing a letter? You will, if you read this picture book.

Grownup Nonfiction

Run Towards the Danger
Sarah Polley

I’ve been missing Polley both as an actor and as a director. So I was happy to read these six essays.

Grownup Fiction

A Little Too Familiar
Lish McBride

It was fun to see McBride’s considerable talent with YA fantasy settings and characters applied to an adult romance.

SKS: Postcard from Paris

Sara’s postcard made its way to me quickly! The postmark says June 23 (actually it says 23-06-22 La Poste, but I know how to translate) and it arrived on June 29! Speedy delivery!

I was quite excited to get this composite card. Sara reports that they have visited three of five things depicted: Eiffel Tower (from the ground) Sacré-Cœur, and Notre-Dame, which is under construction after the fire.

She also said that they just finished a canal and Seine boat tour that took them through three locks. This reminded me of the book Just One Day.

Three Songs I’ve Discovered Because of Movies

God bless movie soundtracks for introducing me to new songs and also making up an important chunk of my formative years. (Ahem Footloose, Pretty Woman.)

Here are three songs I’ve recently discovered thanks to movies watched. Let’s take them in reverse order.

One of the things I hated about what was called oldies radio in the 80s and early 90s, was that they played the same five (or three, or one) song by artists over and over again. So unless my parents had albums or 45s (they mostly didn’t), I didn’t hear anything else by those artists. Thus, there are large gaps with many artists, even with Elvis. I didn’t hear “A Little Less Conversation” until the Ocean’s 11 franchise, and I didn’t hear “In the Ghetto” until someone sang it at my 40th birthday karaoke party. “Suspicious Minds” may have been floating around, but didn’t really come to me until I watched Intolerable Cruelty.

Which means I didn’t hear “If I Can Dream” until just last night, when I watched the Elvis movie. It has lyrics that are so heartfelt they tip slightly over to cheesy (a plus) and a great big sound that builds and builds.

“Life’s Adventures,” by Tim Myers was from the Kissing Booth 3, which I finally got around to watching on Friday. The soundtrack also features Bright Eyes’s “First Day of My Life,” which is a favorite of mine and has appeared on this blog before.

This song is relaxingly sweet.

According to the comments on YouTube, I’m not the only person who found this song via Along for the Ride the Netflix movie based on a Sarah Dessin novel. It’s a good song for a transition point in the movie and a positive song overall.

Roe is No More

Protest art in St. Johns. It’s not hitting my feelings exactly (it doesn’t jibe with the UU first principle), but it does capture the zeitgeist.

The draft opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization dropped right when I was smack in the middle of the longest period of my life. For 15 straight days I bled, a marker of my waning theoretical fertility.

I’d love to say that the decision took me by surprise, but it was more like my approaching menopause. I knew the end of Roe v. Wade was out there, but I didn’t know when it would happen. In my mind, the last wall fell when Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, but the chipping away has gone on for years. It was happening when I was in high school and Roe hadn’t yet turned 20.

I wept when Ginsberg died. When the official decision came down, I’d already done my mourning.

My fertility remains a theoretical thing because I’ve never been pregnant. I’ve never wanted to be, I’ve worked very hard not to be, and I’ve been lucky enough to have the means to suppress that egg from starting it’s monthly journey and lucky enough to live in a time when I was allowed to do that. I’ve also been lucky enough that my various forms of birth control (there have been many) have worked and I’ve never had to go through the steps to get an abortion. Steps that have been relatively easy in all the states I’ve lived in, at least at the time I lived in them.

Gen X follows the coming of legalized abortion. The youngest ones were prepubescent when Roe came down. We’ve hit menopause or are wrapping up our ability to conceive just as six people on the Supreme Court decided we aren’t the people who get to decide what to do with that fertility.

Because I’d never wanted children, the ability to have an abortion was paramount. I educated myself about birth control (Thanks, Our Bodies, Ourselves and Sassy Magazine!) got on regular birth control once I became sexually active, and was rigid about contraception. Still, I always made sure I had at least $600 in my checking account, and always knew where the nearest clinic was.

People have abortions for a variety of reasons. Some are selfish, some are logical, some are an act of mercy, some are well through through, some are not thought through at all. A lot of people have opinions about that particular medical procedure. But does that mean they get to say? It does not.

In high school, I wore a brass cuff engraved with Becky Bell’s name and her birth and death dates. When people would ask me what was the meaning of the bracelet, I would explain that Bell had died in 1988 from complications due to an illegal’s abortion she sought because of parental consent laws. I lived in the (very) slightly liberal city of Boise in a very conservative state, so a lot of time that information would be met with silence or a quick change of subject. But a lot of women, hearing about a young woman died from an illegal abortion, would tell me about how scary it was before abortion was legal and the friends they lost, or the stories of their friends who were grossly affected by illegal abortions. But I think I was the only one hearing those stories. To hear everyday women speak about abortion was never a thing. As with so many things, we don’t listen to women’s stories. We don’t even ask them what their stories are.

And that, for me, is what this comes down to. There are two pillars of my fundamental belief in a person’s right to choose abortion. The first: abortion is a medical procedure that should be decided on by the patient with input from the doctor treating the patient. The second: women and other pregnant people have always sought abortions, no matter what the law says. When they can’t access them legally, they find a way.

There shouldn’t have to be a way to be found. Just as every person in the United States should have access to healthcare, so should part of that healthcare include deciding for yourself, if a pregnancy should continue.

I’d like to think that this is the issue that causes an uproar across the nation and a blue tide in November. But I don’t think it will be. We will need to have another generation see what it’s like when a bunch of people get to make choices for other people and see the fallout before we can find a new path.

J.H. Clifton and Sons Since 1914

I took two days off of work, and on the first day I had a bunch of fun thing planned: a massage, exploring the shops on 42nd Street, a lunch out, and embroidery lesson. Plus biking to get to all those places. Alas, I did not take my real camera along, so I only have one picture from the day itself.

I admired this shop on 42nd, partially because the paint job looked so nice, and partially because it had been in business for more than 100 years.

It was only when walking back that I noticed the realtor’s sign. Apparently J.H. Clifton and Sons is no more.

SKS: Relax Already

Sara sent this postcard along with an Entertainment Weekly (R.I.P.) and a bunch of People Magazines. Very fun. She said that sending along the magazines was part of her trip prep.

She says that she’s not always sure where to send this card. Also that she has sent it, but hasn’t kept a list of who has already received it.

She sends me a fun challenge to find silly adventures near my home this summer. We shall see.