Books Read in August 2019

Ah vacation reading. So much time. So many good things!


Picture Book: Birds of a Feather
Middle Grade: Pie in the Sky
Young Adult: Queen of the Sea, Sorry for Your Loss, Ordinary Girls
Grownup Fiction: Daisy Jones and the Six, City of Girls

Picture Books:

Daniel’s Good Day
Micha Archer
Read for Librarian Book Group

Lovely soft-focused college-like illustrations of Daniel interviewing people in the neighborhood about what makes a good day.

You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks
Evan Turk
Read for Librarian Book Group

Big illustrations of many national parks (though not Crater Lake!) and an afterward that dissuades the nefarious methods by which the parks were obtained.

The Night is Yours
Abdul-Razak Zachariah and Kenturah A. Bobo
Read for Librarian Book Group

A girl plays in a courtyard with other children. I wouldn’t mind living in that apartment building.

Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds & Me
Susan L. Roth
Read for Librarian Book Group

“The differences between a bowerbird and me are fewer than you might expect.”

Great first line! Great college!

Middle Grade

Pie in the Sky
Remy Lai
Read for Librarian Book Group

It’s an immigrant story, in this case, the destination for the immigrants is Australia. I loved how well this book told the story of not understanding things because of not knowing the language.

There was great brother tension, because the older brother’s language skills were not progressing as quickly as the younger brother’s. This book also integrated the text with the illustrative panels, it was a book/graphic novel hybrid (though heavier on the book).

There were many amusing details, and sad feelings, and overall, this was probably one of my favorite middle grade books this year.

Young Adult

This Time Will Be Different
Misa Sugiura
Read for Librarian Book Group

One of the things I loved about this book was that it examined some of the ramifications of the Japanese internment during WWII. The book is set in present day, but the work done by C.J.’s great-grandparents and grandparents to recover from losing everything when they were forcibly relocated is still rippling down, many generations later. I think it’s important to trace things that happened back in the day and show how they still affect the present day.

It’s also chronicles shifting friendships (one of my favorite YA novel things) and there’s a very real mother/daughter relationship with a lot of nuance. Sugiura also includes a much-debated issue in an organic way that defangs it from the drama in which it is usually encountered, instead portraying it the personal matter it is.

Overall, this was a really great read that juggled a lot of things without ever feeling issue-oriented or too unweidly. Well done.

When We Caught Fire
Anna Goodbersen

I think I put this down four times to read other books. I probably would not have finished it, but I kept running out of books I wanted to be reading.

Things it’s got going for it: Chicago right before the great fire is an interesting setting; the social climbing aspect is interesting, as is one character’s navigation of being both the servant and the best friend of another character.

Unfortunately, this book suffers from a lopsided love triangle–there was no reason for me to believe that the choice was impossible and all the drama associated with the dithering was just dumb. Plus, all the characters made repeated idiotic choices and the ending was completely unbelievable.

Inventing Victoria
Tonya Bolden

This was an old fashioned book where we see the main character struggle through a childhood in reduced circumstances (in this case the daughter of a local prostitute in the Reconstruction-era South.) Then we see fortune’s wheel turn and a new and different kind of struggle to transform herself and leave her past behind.

Overall, Essie was interesting and I enjoyed accompanying her on her journey.

Ordinary Girls
Blair Thornburg

Holy cats, this book was fun! We’ve got a sister story, we’ve got a large, rambling, moldering house story, we’ve got a quirky family story, we’ve got an outsider story and we’ve got it all packaged together with sparkling writing, and astute observations.

If you’re a Jane Austin fan this is a book for you.

Also, what a great cover!

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Read for Librarian Book Group

It’s a make-up/break-up relationship. So very frustrating to observe in real life, it did make for a compelling narrative. When will she learn about Laura Dean? Be strong Freddy! Be strong!

The First Part Last
Angela Johnson

One of the many awesome things about being in a book group with librarians is that they know all the books. So when I say, “I haven’t read many books about teen moms,” they are handy with this recommendation which is a short book of beautiful prose about a teen dad making the best choices he can for his daughter.

Eleanor & Park
Rainbow Rowell
Read aloud

This was a great read aloud with a lot of tense moments. This time, I loved how much of Eleanor & Park’s relationship took place hanging out at Park’s house. It was cold outside, they didn’t have much money, and Park’s dad wouldn’t let him drive anywhere. It felt like a very authentic adolescent relationship.

Also, this book is full of large-body feelings.

How it Feels to Float
Helena Fox
Read for Librarian Book Group

An engrossing story of a teenager untethered and how she re-tethers herself. It’s set in Australia for people so interested in that setting.

Sorry For Your Loss
Jessie Ann Foley
Read for Librarian Book Group

I’m a huge fan of stories featuring huge families and they are few and far between, probably because multiple siblings make for more juggling by the author, and also probably because most of us don’t come from large families anymore.

But this book focuses on the underachieving youngest member of a family of eight children. One of his brothers recently died–hence the title–and he’s trying to get through high school.

It’s also a book about finding your “thing” which is always an enjoyable thing.

Queen of the Sea
Dylan Meconis
Read for Librarian Book Group

The first chapter of this graphic novel was confusing and off-putting. Thankfully, I persisted, because after that, this story of a young girl growing up on an island populated with nuns was both delightful and a page turner.

I loved seeing how life on the island work, getting to know the nuns personally, and trying to figure out what was going to happen next. Here’s hoping for a second book.

Grownup Fiction

Daisy Jones & the Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid

I enjoy a good oral history. Vanity Fair just had a great one with the cast of the television show Veronica Mars. But if I’m reading an oral history, I already am familiar with the subject.

That’s where the magic of this book comes in. It’s an oral history of a band that never existed yet Taylor Jenkins Reid creates the entire world using just interviews. Also included: behind the scenes of becoming famous; increasing band tensions; and a third act punch I didn’t see coming but elevated the book from “damn this is good,” to “this book is friggin’ amazing!”

I’d also like to give a shout out to Karen Karen, the keyboardist who wants only to be a musician, and not a female musician.

City of Girls
Elizabeth Gilbert

The author read the first chapter to me (and the rest of the audience at Revolution Hall) and I knew I was going to like this book. I mean, I’m in for slutty showgirls in any decade, but especially the early 1940s.

It proved to be a rollicking ride. There was a bit about 7/8ths of the way through where things were a bit draggy, but then it picked back up. I enjoy a main character who is intimately familiar with her flaws and strengths and this book made for good reading.

Young Nonfiction

Moth: An Evolution Story
Isabel Thomas & Daniel Egneus
Read for Librarian Book Group

Illustrated story of the peppered moth, made famous in textbooks and used to teach about natural selection. Lovely illustrations.

Grownup Nonfiction

Atomic Habis
James Clear

When I read the Power of Habit earlier in the year, I felt a bit shortchanged, wanting more in the realm of self-help. This is book I was looking for, and is a great companion to that book.

If you are looking for a way to change yourself through many small changes, James Clear has a plan for you.

3 thoughts on “Books Read in August 2019”

  1. I have a friend who has a lot of concern for how Park is depicted in a not-own-voices way that is very problematic. I have been wanting to reread it with that lens.

    1. Interesting. I suspect I will not re-read for a while, so I will probably miss out on that evaluation for my own self.

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