- City of Ember – DuPrau (January) *
It took awhile for me to read City of Ember out loud to the kiddo, but she loved it. I loved it. Both of us were enthralled with the city under the ground. The most beautiful aha moments when the story peeled it’s way back and made itself known were written all over my five year old’s face, and I loved watching her discover the patterns of storytelling. I highly recommend this book for children, but I especially recommend it as a family read a-loud.
- Last Child in the Woods – Louv (February)
This book is my motto and mantra for parenting and has been long before I read it or knew about it. It’s truly the only parenting book I’ve read so far that I think is worth a darn. And it’s not just worth a darn, it’s amazing, and should be read by every citizen of the planet Earth, or at least America where we’ve succumbed to too many silly rules. I read this back in February, but now in May I still find myself thinking about it as we now live on a golf course ironically named Walden, where the rolling hills and ponds are not for playing in or experiencing first hand, but for driving by in a cart (walkers are looked at funny).
- One Day in the Woods – Jean Craighead George (February) *
Charlotte Mason curriculum followers look for Jean Craighead George in the bookstore often. Specifically these One Day titles that I rarely see. I snatched this one up the second I came across it and it was a joy to read it with my little girl. We love the woods. We love discovering the woods. And although I don’t follow Charlotte Mason thoroughly, this is definitely a wise educational choice for someone wanting to raise their kid as close to the natural world as they can.
- Pym – Mat Johnson (February) #
Bizarre, and I loved it. Mat Johnson is snarky and clever, and thoroughly well educated. I found myself riveted by the idea of Edgar Allen Poe’s little known novella having a basis of truth. I found the not-so-mythical Pym amusing and the creatures encountered in the depths of the snow a fascinating take on social commentary and dealing with racism. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but worth the time of every student of social customs, genetics, and race relations.
- Power of a Praying Wife & Power of a Praying Parent- Omartian (February)
I was encouraged to read this by a marriage counselor in our area. In some ways it’s great, pray for your spouse, constantly. That’s a good message. Some of the how to’s, however, were a little bit out of not just my comfort zone but my belief system as well. About 3/4 into the book, if I remember currently, Omartian just seems to begin to embrace a lot of fluff Christian mysticism, putting power in anointments and rituals as much as in the prayers themselves. And that is not where power lies. Power lies with God alone, not oils being sprinkled on your family’s belongings.
- The Sterile Cuckoo – John Nichols (February)
I cried pretty early in the book. I still have not seen the movie starring Liza Minelli, but it is on my list of things to watch eventually. Sometimes I feel so much like Pookie in my soul, it’s scary.
- The Gardener’s Year – Karel Capek (February)
I find gardening memoirs exceptionally soothing. This one was no exception.
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Gaiman (February) #
This book was a joint read in a book club with my co-workers at Half Price Book (as was Pym). I had posted a review written by someone else on my blog that Neil Gaiman himself read. I adore this book, and will probably read it again and again for years to come. But I cannot write a review that does it justice, nor one that competes with the review already posted here. Hers was heartfelt and lovely, and mine could not capture that level of personal involvement no matter how hard I try. It would take me years to write something half as eloquent (and I’m speaking of both the book itself and the review).
The nonfiction book we are reading along with this one is The Ocean of Life. Topically, some mythology criticism would be more appropriate, but I was moved by the word ocean and therefore thought I’d read about bodies of water in general.
- The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell (February)
- The Pale Horseman – Bernard Cornwell (March)
- Lords of the North – Bernard Cornwell (March)
- Sword Song – Bernard Cornwell (April)
- The Burning Land – Bernard Cornwell (April)
I am so in love with the Saxon Series by Bernard Cornwell that I have written a novelette as an ode to Uhtred. You’ll just have to download it when the ebook is released. Right now it’s in the hands of my publisher awaiting either a blessing or the axe.
Currently, I’m reading Death of Kings. Also, if anyone knows of a great biography on Alfred the Great or any of his children, I’d love to check it out, especially come this fall as our homeschooling ventures move into the Middle Ages.
- The Castle in the Attic – Elizabeth Winthrop (March) *
The Castle in the Attic was a childhood favorite of mine, I was so excited to read it to the kiddo. We enjoyed our time fighting evil magicians and venturing on a quest together, and I look forward to reading her the sequel.
- The Opposite of Loneliness – Marina Keegan (March)
Marina Keegan was a writer of significant merit before she died far too young. I find her series of essays, published by her teachers and family after her death, inspiring. She was diligent. She had a goal to develop her craft and be a better writer every day than the day before. I admire that and if there is any stamp she left on the world, it is absolutely that diligence is something to respect and aspire to. She was also, apparently, Harold Bloom’s research assistant. I officially want to be someone’s research assistant, I hope at the age of 32 it’s not too late for me to add that to my bucket list. Anyone willing to show me the ropes?
- Corruption – Camille Norton (March)
When I was in my twenties, I found most poetry pretentious. It annoyed me to read a lot of it. Sure, there’s beauty in it, but I did not have the true respect for it that I have now. The older I get, the more I enjoy the concise manner of poetry. How someone can have the fortitude to dwindle their words down to only the most beautiful elements and retain meaning. Maybe it is social media and the realization on twitter that saying something truly profound and lovely in few words is indeed hard. So, the older I get, the more often I find myself plucking up poetry books. Edna St. Vincent Millay and Housman are my favorites, but Camille Norton has great talent and is worth keeping an eye on. I look forward to discovering more of her work. (Currently, I’m falling in love with Pablo Neruda, I know, I’m so very late to this party.)
- Warm Bodies – Isaac Marion (April)
Still my favorite zombie movie, so fun! But it was an even better book. Marion is funny and brilliant. The Gray’s Anatomy excerpts at the beginning of each chapter were an especially nice touch. I read this on my lunch breaks at work, and it was just the thing I needed to enjoy a rest between a lot of hard work. People think bookstore jobs are leisurely, and they can be, but I work my tail off. Seriously, I used to have a sizable ass, now I can’t find it anymore…
- Endurance – Lansing (March) #
I like to read nonfiction books alongside my fiction books. I alternate and pair up topics and bounce around genres like a rabid animal hungry for words, words, more words. Nonfiction always, naturally, takes me longer to read than the fiction counterparts. This was paired with Pym, for its arctic scenery and lost on a journey scenario. It’s fascinating, until its not. I tore through a good chunk of the book and then couldn’t force myself to finish to save my life, until I did one day. Like the members of the crew, I found myself in a state of listless drudgery. Being lost isn’t fun. The play by play was accurate and thorough, and a little bit painful. Glad I read it though. Wouldn’t necessarily encourage anyone else to.
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan (April)
A bookstore, a secret society, and data. My heart went pitter patter. And the cover glows in the dark. Seriously, how could a book be any more awesome?
- His Majesty’s Dragon – Novik (May) #
Napoleonic Wars with DRAGONS. THAT TALK. This pleased me to no end. Also, it’s a series, so expect to hear more from me on the subject. It’s also one of the co-worker read a-alongs with a nonfiction pairing book club picks, so later this year expect me to happily share a (hopefully) good history title.
- The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (May) #
This book started out good, and slowly became AMAZING. So lovely and beautiful. Despite the present tense that I hate, Morgenster’s writing voice is wonderful. It’s unique, but grounded. She gives you all the detail without overselling any of it, just a taste so that your imagination may run wild. There’s a teaser toward the end regarding a museum… I’m curious if she’ll ever elaborate on that. In the meantime, I think I’ll be picking up The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. It seems like an appropriate book to follow the mood… Also, I’ll be reading Under the Big Top by Bruce Feiler, as this is another pairing selection that I’m reading along with others. I’m also eyeing Topsy by Michael Daly and a biography of Barnum. I might just run away with a circus this year…