Book Report: May 2016

It’s been a good reading month for me. I abandoned several books (mostly because they were due back at the library and couldn’t be renewed) but I still managed to read eight books this month, and for the most part I enjoyed them all.  I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that I’m well ahead of schedule on my reading goal for 2016.  Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

This middle-grade verse novel sucked me right in.  I love the precision and intention necessary to write a verse novel.  No wasted words, no long explanations, which makes the story stronger.  Yes, it’s about basketball.  But you don’t need to know anything about basketball in order to love it.  (Trust me!) It’s mostly about family relationships and growing up.

Pieces of my Mother by Melissa Cistaro

I found myself thinking of this book as a milder version of The Glass Castle (which is one of my all-time favorite books).  The author details her life with a rarely-present mother: the lengths she went to as a teenager to find love and acceptance, the effect of her history on her relationships with her own children and eventually her reconciliation with the life she was given.  Heartbreaking and fascinating all at once.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Fun, light and maybe a little silly.  I loved going back to the late nineties and re-experiencing all of the newness of email and technology as well as Rainbow Rowell’s references to music, movies and TV shows from that time period.  Just plain fun with a love story thrown in.  (Warning: one minor character has quite a potty mouth.)

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

I remember reading this as a pre-teen and loving it, so I was excited to share it with my kids.  Jason read this aloud to the older kids (11 years old and 7 years old) and me in the evenings after Elijah (2) was in bed. I still enjoyed the story, but was so struck by the fact that the many adults Sam Gribley came across in the year of living on his own in the wilderness did nothing to stop him .  They all trusted his ability to survive too much to make this a very plausible story.  However, we enjoyed the adventure as a family and loved all the details about what Sam ate and home and contraptions and clothing he made.

81 Days Below Zero by Brian Murphy

I am fascinated by survival stories and often find myself in a survival book phase (Into Thin Air, Left For Dead, Miracle in the Andes, Into The Wild, Between A Rock and A Hard Place, 438 Days,  and The Long Walk are a few favorites). 81 Days Below Zero fits well into that category.  It takes place near a military base in Alaska near the end of World War II and details the incredible survival of one member of a test plane that crashed well off course and deep in the Alaskan wilderness.  A fascinating look at the power of determination.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Love, love, love.  I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version if you have the chance.  Cary Elwes himself reads the book and it includes many cameos from beloved cast members of The Princess Bride. My husband and I listened to this together on a recent road trip and we both loved it.  It’s funny and sweet. And full of behind the scenes stories, interesting details of movie making, the relationships that developed between all involved, and a glimpse of the countless hours of work and training that went into making one of the most beloved films of our time.  I can’t wait to re-watch the movie with all my insider information.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

I’ve heard of this book and seen it on book lists for years, but only just picked it up.  As with many books of its’ type, it moves slowly and is very detailed.  But once it got going I just fell in love with the story.  I don’t feel like I can say very much without giving away major plot lines.  But this is not a cozy Jane Austen-type novel, as I judged it to be at first. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Jane Austen!) The hardships experienced are much deeper than the threat of embarrassment or the possibility of not achieving an advantageous marriage. The book deals with difficult themes: injustice, faith, judgment, forgiveness and love.  I was surprised by how much I loved it and immediately begged my sister to read it so I’d have someone to talk to about it.

Also, there’s a miniseries!

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I fell in love with curmudgeonly Ove and his neighborhood cast of characters.  This was a funny, entertaining read with brief moments of tears. The sadness is well balanced by the power of friendship and love and service to others.

Check out Modern Mrs. Darcy for a lot more book recommendations.

What have you been reading lately?