Book Chat

Reading Right Now: September 2012


The books I’ve been reading lately are all over the map.  I love jumping around from book to book, and my reading mood changes throughout the day—and so does the format.  Nowadays I read most of my books on the Kindle app on my phone.  When I can’t nab a seat on the bus commute to and from work, I’ve mastered the art of standing while reading on my phone (My strategy: Plant your feet, bend your knees, and SWAY with the bus… while trying not to touch anyone else.)  Now that I don’t have to carry around a bulky book in my purse, I read my paperbacks around the house, usually on the weekends when I have time to sit and eat breakfast.

My thoughts below aren’t reviews really, because I’m in various stages of reading each one.  Here’s a look at what I’m reading right now:

Breakfast Book: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly

I haven’t read a book geared toward middle grade readers in a long time.  I love my YA Lit, but I haven’t spent much time with Children’s Lit since I was a librarian.  In fact, I bought this book a couple years ago at one of the Scholastic Book Fairs while I was still working in a school.  I like the setting: Calpurnia is 11 during the summer of 1899, living in Texas as the only girl in a family of six brothers.  She decides to become a naturalist and forms an unlikely bond with her cantankerous grandfather during her scientific pursuits.  So far, so good with this one!  I like how Calpurnia strains against the gender restrictions placed on her, and wants more out of life than the options available to her, but in a believable way for her age and time in history.  There’s nothing more irritating to me than characters in a historical setting who think as progressively as modern day people.  The author does a really good job of making each character likable and relatable, while staying true to the thoughts and habits of the turn of the century.

I like how books geared toward younger ages don’t necessarily have to have a gripping plot with a definite beginning, middle and end; it’s enough to enjoy the characters and their adventures along the way.  I would place this book with students toward the higher end of grade school, probably grades 4-6 because the vocabulary is fairly advanced and there are lots of great accompanying lessons that could help the historical context to be understood.  (Keeping a nature journal, using a microscope, guided observation walks, researching the clothing and technology of the time, etc.)  As I read, I can’t help but formulate discussion questions, pick out vocabulary words, and point out sentences that would be great examples of inference or other comprehension skills.  I don’t really do that when I read YA Lit, but for some reason it just keeps popping out to me.

Book Group: Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann

This book has grown on me.  Different perspectives centered around one event, the tightrope walker who walked between the world trade center towers in 1970.  I did not enjoy the first perspective at all, so I started off not liking the book much.  But each perspective is drastically different, and woven together really well—at first I didn’t see how any of them would intersect, but now it’s starting to intertwine in a really interesting way.  To give you a glimpse—some of the people include an Irish priest living in the projects who befriends a group of prostitutes and struggles with his romantic feelings for a single mother, a drug-addicted couple who cause a tragic car accident, a third-generation hooker in jail contemplating suicide, an older woman grieving for her son who died in the Vietnam War, a young photographer who studies the graffiti in the underground subway, the tightrope walker who practices obsessively for years to prepare for his stunt… etc.  I like some characters more than others—I just really don’t want to be inside some of those heads, and not necessarily the ones you would assume would be difficult.   IT can feel like pretty heavy stuff… some characters are claustrophobic, others are very compelling.  But as I continue, it’s coming together, and if it wraps up fittingly then I think I will like it as a whole.

Bus Book: Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, by Karen Doornebos

To be perfectly honest, the book group pick for this month is a bit of a downer.  I needed a really light and fluffy read in a familiar landscape, so onto another Austen spin-off!  The premise: Single mom with a failing business needs money.  She’s a die-hard Austen fan, so she auditions to be part of a Regency-era documentary in England.  When she arrives, she finds out it’s a reality dating show—women competing for a marriage proposal and a hefty amount of prize money.  That’s about as far as I’ve gotten.  It’s pretty enjoyable, but the writing is not exactly top-notch.  Which maybe I wouldn’t normally notice, but the other books I’m reading right now have very distinctive writing styles and voices, so this book is a little jarring in comparison.  I am looking forward to some guilty-pleasure Regency-style cat fighting and maybe some not-embarrassingly-ridiculous love scenes.  Nothing in this genre can beat Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, but hopefully this book won’t disappoint!

So that’s the snapshot of what I’m reading right now.  What are you reading?

2 thoughts on “Reading Right Now: September 2012

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