Books Read in May 2015

Obsessive tidying and other home projects cut into reading time this month.  Also, most of the Librarian Book Group books weren’t appealing to me, so there was a lot of wandering off mid-story and those books aren’t recorded here.  Here is a roundup of my favorites:

Middle readers:  The Imaginary
Young Adult: The Sky is Everywhere
Nonfiction: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Picture Books
My Pen
Christopher Meyer
Meyer tells us all the different places he can “go” by drawing with his pen.

Middle Readers
The Imaginary
A.F. Harold
Read for Librarian Book Group
The story of a girl and her imaginary friend from the imaginary friend’s point of view. this was a great combination of text and illustrations, with one illustration scaring the bejeezus out of me. I found this British book to be scarier than similar US texts, which is something to keep in mind.

The Trees Kneel at Christmas
Maude Hart Lovelace
Lovelace spent time with “Syrian” immigrants in the 1950s and from their stories wrote this tale of a little girl living in Brooklyn.  Both the text and the illustrations tread in and out of “treacle” and at some points the illustrations appear pages before the texts. However, it is a nice story of faith and might make a good read-aloud tradition in some families.

Young Adult
Under a Painted Sky
Stacy Lee
Read for Librarian Book Group
Our cast of assembled characters is happily diverse,  and this book is set in my favorite time period for historical fiction: Oregon Trail/Frontier America.  Aside from the above two reasons, there were many more likable things about this book: friendship between two girls; action and plot that whips the story along; calling out of how to exist in a white society when you are not yourself white; the difficulties of pretending you are a boy when you are sixteen and a girl.  At times, I found Andy’s dialogue to not be consistent, and overall the story felt long, but ultimately, its strengths outweighed its weaknesses.

Betsy’s Wedding
Maude Hart Lovelace
This is my least favorite in the Betsy series, mostly because Betsy gets married.  Joe becomes a cardboard “husband” character, one who is cheerfully determined.  Mention is made of his “blue moods” but they flit by in passing, and are never really explored.  Betsy too settles into the wifely role of her time.  It’s weird, after seven books of her bucking convention (I will be a famous writer!/I will travel the world!) to see her happily settle down and learn to cook and clean and budget.  At one point she’s offered a job doing publicity work and turns it down. There’s even a Betsy/Tacy conversation about needing to get Tib married off before it’s too late.

It’s also interesting to compare to the eighth of L.M. Montgomery’s books in the Anne of Green Gables series.  It’s set in roughly the same time period, but whereas Betsy and Joe in Betsy’s Wedding only mention the war raging in Europe from time to time, World War I is the central focus of Rilla of Ingleside and it’s a much better, deeper book.

Overall, as a conclusion to the Betsy-Tacy series, this book is a disappointment.

Emily of Deep Valley
Maude Hart Lovelace
I was in the mood to tear though this so-called “Deep Valley Novel” and I finished it quite speedily, unlike the others in the Betsy-Tacy series, which I mostly read one chapter per day.  Emily is two years younger than the Betsy-Tacy gang, and comes from different circumstances, being an orphan living with her grandfather at the edge of the slough.  The book begins with her graduation and her longing to attend college with her crowd.  Unfortunately, she  must stay to care for her grandfather.

It’s fairly obvious early on where this story is going, but anyone who has had periods of isolation or forced solitude will relate to Emily’s plight, which makes this an enjoyable story, even if the trajectory is rather obvious.

The Sky is Everywhere
Jandy Nelson
“If you are looking for a swooney romance, this is your book.”  So said a high school librarian, and if anyone should know a good swooney romance, it would be a high school librarian.

She wasn’t wrong.  Aside from a fabulous love triangle, our hero Lennon (people just call her Lenny) is dealing with the sudden death of her older sister.  The book is populated with fabulous characters and settings, with everything turned up just one notch brighter.  At the same time, it explores grief and ways people deal with loss in a way that seemed very realistic.

This was a book I consumed, stopping only to text my friend that she needed to put down whatever she was reading and pick this up instead.

Adult Nonfiction
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo
Kondo shows you how to change your life by sorting by category, not area and only keeping pieces that “spark joy.”  It makes many persuasive arguments for changing your life in this manner.  Read with caution.  You may find yourself clearing your schedule on a four-day weekend so you can tidy.

Not that kind of girl
Lena Dunham
Hilarious and heartfelt, this is an enjoyable collection of essays.  The book also has the prettiest end papers I’ve ever seen.

Body of Truth
Harriet Brown
Examines the many fallacies around weight, dieting, health and exercise.  A very good book, and one that made me mad because I’ve been duped just like everyone else.  For people who have a sneaking suspicion that something is rotten in the way we go about looking at weight and health, this is highly recommended.

2 thoughts on “Books Read in May 2015”

  1. This summer may be my summer of obsessive tidying. AS soon as my conference is done and my reorganization project at the library…I will be more home free! We will chat when you are here so I can get an insider’s scoop!

  2. I read 1 (ONE) book in all of May, and more than half of it was illustrations. I’m already doing better in June! Part of me wants to give The Sky Is Everywhere a chance, but I hate love triangles, so much so that I can’t bring myself to write one myself (even when it fits in the story).

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