Books read in November 2018

This is month two of my 60 minutes per day for 30 days, plus I’m still restricting my sleep which means I didn’t read a ton this month. But it was good reading, what I did read.

Recommended

Picture Books: A Big Mooncake for Little Star
Young Adult: Dry is my top recommendation, though they were all good this month.
Grownup Nonfiction: Anything You Want

Picture Books

Imagine
Juan Filipe Herrera
Read for Librarian Book Group

This is a good story from a migrant’s perspective and an inspiring story for anyone. I didn’t personally connect with the illustrations, but they were good.

Unfortunately, this picture book did not work for me. At first there seemed to be a scheme for how things would go. There were four pages ending with “Imagine” and then one page with “Imagine what you could do too.” I assumed this would continue through the book and when it didn’t, there was a tension built that I found off putting.

There was also one page I didn’t understand what was being said.

The Field
Paul/Alcantara
Read for Librarian Book Group

A picture book with many short sentences, this aptly conveys the excitement of a neighborhood game with great use color. Plus a nice author’s note.

A Big Moon Cake for Little Star
Grace Lin

Delightfully limited color scheme and a great origin story of the phases of the moon.

Young Adult

The Lady’s Guide to Pirates and Petticoats
Mackenzi Lee
Read for Librarian Book Group

Mackenzi Lee continues the story started in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, this time telling the tale of Monty’s sister Felicity, who longs to be a doctor in a time when women are most decidedly NOT supposed to be doctors. Her quest to become one has her throwing her lot in with a pirate (the daughter of a pirate king) and traveling all around Europe.

This book is chock full of women things: adventure, friendship, and an examination of women’s place in the world. It’s full of great quotes about friendship, and work, and making decisions. 

The author also includes a very good note at the end addressing the historical fiction charge of “modern-day character, set in the past.” She includes a list of women in history who inspired this story.

Long Way Down
Jason Reynolds
Read for Family Book Group

This was very well received by the Family Book Group; the kids gave it an 8.833 and the adults a 9.281 for an average of 9.089.

In addition, the novel-in-verse format worked very well for discussion as we could flip through and find things to discuss that caught our eye. That, combined with the gripping plot, made this a great book for discussion.

Dry
Shusterman & Shusterman
Read for Librarian Book Group

Southern California, after years of drought. One day, the water is shut off. The taps are dry.

So begins our story, which follows several people: Alyssia, the soccer-playing regular girl; Garrett, her little brother; their neighbor Kelton, the son of a “prepper,” a man who has been waiting his entire life for the moment the world devolves into crisis and he and his family can survive. 

As people become thirsty, they also become desperate. And desperate people make life dangerous.

This book has incredible pacing, does a great job with separating the kids from the adults in an organic way, and I never could predict the twists and turns. My one problem with the book was that I was regularly confused about who was talking due to lack of distinct voices, but that was a minor quibble.

Neil and Jarrod Shusterman have written a taut novel with high stakes that will have you turning pages, and also heading to the store to make sure you have your emergency supply of water. 

Hey Kiddo
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Read for Librarian Book Group

A graphic novel of Krosoczka’s growing up years living with his grandparents due to his mother’s drug addition. I enjoyed his story, especially the way he pointed out the differences in your life when your grandparents are your parents. The color palette was great even before I read the note at the end that explained the inspiration and that same note had a good plug for counseling/therapy.

The grandmother was the one so-so part of the story. Krosoczka seemed to give her a pass for her (mostly) functioning alcoholism. Perhaps the love that’s apparent on every page blunted some of her behaviors for him. They were plenty unsettling for me, though.

If You Come Softly
Jacqueline Woodson
Read for Life’s Library

I tend to prefer books with a romantic plot be told from one person’s point of view because it’s more interesting to me to have a limited perspective and wonder along with the character what the heck is going on with the other person. Woodson uses two narrators, but uses different points of view for each of them. We learn about Ellie’s story directly from her, and Miah’s narrative comes in third person. This was very interesting.

I loved how spare the writing is. Jacqueline Woodson is a master at painting a mural with a handful of words. The book also is a sweet romance, and captures the tentativeness and awkwardness of adolescent love. There’s some good stuff about dating outside of your race and general hazards of being black in America.

This is a short, calm, quietly beautiful book that is worth reading.

Grownup Nonfiction

Anthing you Want
Derek Sivers

This book was designed to be read in about an hour and delivers on that promise. It’s the story of CD Baby, an online music store that gets the music of independent musicians to fans that want to buy it.

Derek Sivers is not your standard entrepreneur which makes reading about his business–now former business–very interesting. He’s a man who knows what he wants, and is willing to go about getting it in unique ways. It’s also a story of what not to do once your business gets successful.

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