Books read in November 2015

Wow, it was a good month for reading.


Picture books:  Leo, a Ghost Story
Middle readers:  both I have listed below, but if you are going to go for one, go for The Nest.
Young Adult: Again, a really good selection.  Either Dumplin, or All American Boys
Young Nonfiction:  Again all are good.  I’ll go with My Seneca Village
Smart Smut:  Real World
Grownup Nonfiction: Between the World and Me (and not just because it’s the only one)
Grownup Fiction: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
picture books

Leo A Ghost Story
Barnett Robinson
Read for Librarian Book Group
I’m a sucker for these illustrations.

middle grade

The Marvels
Brian Selznick
Read for Librarian Book Group
Beautifully illustrated and cleverly written.

The Nest
Kenneth Oppel
Read for Librarian Book Group
Super creepy in that delightful way.  Is our main character a little crazy, or are angels talking to him?  And what’s up with those wasps?  This was a thrilling middle reader.

young adult

X: A Novel
Ilyasah Shabazz & Kelka Magoon (sp)
Read for Mock Printz
An earlier attempt to read the Autobiography of Malcolm X crashed and burned due to dry prose, so I was leery of this novel.  But I need not have worried.  This story of Malcom Little’s teenage years was engrossing and full of period detail. It was fascinating to watch the growth and changes from his mid-teens to his early twenties.  I happened to be reading Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me at the same time and the two books were good companions to each other.

Julie Murphy
Read for Librarian Book Group
Dumplin’ is a pleasure from start to finish, encompassing so many things about body identity and being overweight as a teenager.  I loved this book.

Tonight the Streets are Ours
Leila Sales
I love Sales continued exploration of female friendships.   This book also explores finding the truth behind the face that people are presenting to the pubic.

All American Boys
Read for Librarian Book Group
Ah, so relevant, which is depressing given that you can’t really write and publish a book overnight.  Told by two authors, from two points of view.  We meet Rashad, a black artist and ROTC student, who due to random unfortunate circumstances that mostly have to do with him being Black, is severely beaten by a white police officer.  The police officer is a big-brother figure to Quinn, a white kid from the neighborhood who witnesses the beating.

From there we travel with our main characters through a variety of feelings about race and loyalty and fair/unfairness. It’s a brutal book, a hopeful book, and an uncomfortable book.  It’s a book I think you should read.

(The authors were featured on NPR in January 2016.  You can find the link here.)

Young nonficiton

Funny Bones
Duncan Tonatiuh
Read for Librarian Book Group
I recognized the iconography, and it was fun to find out it was the work of one man.  Excellent font usage and very good illustrations.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer
CB Weatherford
Read for Librarian Book Group
Picture book story of Hamer, who I had not heard of.  Brings up difficult important parts of her story with truth and in a way that young readers can understand.  The illustrations complimented the text.

How to Swallow a Pig
Read for Librarian Book Group
I’m the kind of person who loves to learn how to do things.  Even things I’m never going to do.  This book hit a sweet spot that few books can.  I know now how to swallow a pig and so much more.

Rhythm Ride
Andrea Davis Pinkney
Read for Librarian Book Group
Sit back and go for a journey of Motown’s story with a velvet-voiced DJ.  I loved the level of detail and there were so many small facts I delighted in.  They layout was good, with ample pictures.  The voice of the DJ totally worked for me.  Certain things in Motown’s history were glossed-glossed-glossed over, but as this is more of an appreciation of Motown than a down-and-dirty history, I rolled with it.

I read this with my phone handy, so I could listen to the songs I wasn’t familiar with.  I found them all on YouTube, most without commercials.

My Seneca Village
Marilyn Nelson
Read for Librarian Book Group
I loved both the concept and the execution of this book of short poems inspired by Nelson’s research about Seneca Village, which now is known as Central Park in New York City, but prior to the 1850s was a diverse community of free blacks, Irish immigrants and others.

Nelson’s poems are easily accessible for tweens and above. I would suggest reading the book in one sitting (completely doable) so as to best follow the through-line of the stories.

You can read more about Seneca Village here:

smart smut

Real World
Amy Jo Cousins
Cousins has stated that Tom and Reese are her two favorite characters and she wrote this book to give them their happily ever after.  I’m also a fan of Tom and Reese and was happy to read their happily ever after.  But I think Cousins’s love of Tom and Reese got in the way of dramatic tension in the book.  It’s a pleasant ride, especially if you aren’t looking for any drama.

Grownup Nonfiction

Between the World and Me
Ta-nehisi Coates
The entire time I was reading this book I wondered what I would write about it.  A friend’s review “Read this book!” is spot-on.  Coates got me to see the world differently.

Adult fictionWhere’d You Go Bernadette?
Maria Semple
I always check out what’s available in the (many) Little Free Libraries I pass in my travels, but I rarely bring anything home.  This was the exception as I’d heard good things and didn’t have a ton to read.

It was so good!  Not in that National Book Award way, but in that way where you take comfort from the first page because you know the author is in control of the story and you know it’s going to be fun wherever she takes you.

Also, I love to hate Seattle,* so Bernadette and I got along great.

*Sorry Seattle.  You just aren’t as cool as you think you are.








One thought on “Books read in November 2015”

  1. As I finished out the year, I felt the same way. I had such a bounty of good books to choose from for “favorite.” It’s a nice feeling, isn’t it?

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