Book Chat

Reading Log: August 2014

Another month come and gone… can it really be September already?!  August was great life-wise and reading-wise too!  The Nerdbery Challenge has renewed my interest in children’s literature and I’ve enjoyed having a purpose for re-reading some old favorites and exploring some new ones!  The Newbery count for this month is 3 books: The Giver, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond – all books I read once upon a time many moons ago.

Below is my Reading Log for August 2014, with my thoughts about each book to help me remember what I read.  I’ve included all the books that I’ve read or finished during the month (even if I started some of them outside of the month).  And of course I keep track of my rating on the grade system, the binding, genre, etc… just for fun!

August 2014

HB = Hardback, PB = Paperback, AB = Audio book, K = Kindle.
F = Fiction, HF = Historical Fiction, NF = NonFiction, YA = Young Adult,
CL = Children’s Lit, B/M = Bio/Memoir, SFF = Sci-Fi/Fantasy, C = Craft

Title Start Finish Grade/
Format
Genre 
Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul,
by Melodie Beattie
1/1/14 Still Reading TBD
PB
SH
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures,
by Malcolm Gladwell
5/21/14 Still Reading  TBD
K
NF
The Language of Flowers,
by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
7/8/14 Still Reading TBD
PB
F
Gift from the Sea,
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
7/20/14 8/3/14 TBD
PB
M
Deep Black Sea,
by David Salkin
7/25/14 Still Reading TBD
K
SFF
Becoming Queen,
by Kate Williams
8/1/14 8/19/14  A
K
B
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock,
by Matthew Quick
8/2/14 8/22/14 A
AB
YA
The Kids’ Cat Book,
by Tomie DePaola
8/17/14 8/17/14 B
K
CL
The Princess and the Frog,
Little Golden Books
8/17/14 8/17/14 A
HB
CL
The Giver,
by Lois Lowry
8/20/14 8/20/14 A+
K
CL
The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,
by E.L. Konigsburg
8/20/14 8/30/14 B+
PB
CL
The Witch of Blackbird Pond,
by Elizabeth George Speare
8/27/14 8/27/14 A
K
CL
The Wednesday Wars,
by Gary Schmidt
8/27/14 Still Reading TBD
K
CL

Thoughts:

Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul, by Melodie Beattie – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // January 2014 Reading Log

Still reading for my 2014 resolution… I am still catching up on the days I missed, but the nights that I pick it back up are always worth it. It’s hard to stick to a routine for an entire year, but I’m trying to get back on track.

 …

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, by Malcolm Gladwell – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // May 2014 Reading Log 

Eh, haven’t had the desire to pick this back up. It’s still waiting for me, so we’ll see…

 …

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

Still Reading. Haven’t picked this up again at all, although it’s sitting on my bedside table waiting for me. We’ll see if it joins the ranks of abandoned books or if I pick it up again some day…

 …

Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh – B+

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

A contemplative book meant to be savored, like meditating. Anne Morrow Lindbergh is the wife of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, and mother of the kidnapped baby Lindbergh. That’s about all I knew about her when I started reading, and I wish I had just enjoyed the book without looking for any other information. Unfortunately… I couldn’t help but look her up on Wikipedia, and that’s when I found out both the Lindberghs were Nazi sympathizers during WWII and both had extramarital affairs – she with her physician prior to writing this book, and he with multiple women resulting in numerous children. So… I have to admit that colored my perception of her writing about how to find fulfillment in the busy modern world of American women. But without the background story, it’s a lovely encouraging book. It’s just hard to read it without thinking of Wikipedia in the back of my mind, and wondering if she really believed in what she wrote. I still liked the book but the background knowledge was definitely distracting from the overall message of simplicity.

 …

Deep Black Sea, by David Salkin – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // July Reading Log

Another one that got left behind this month. Still want to give it a read some day…

Becoming Queen, by Kate Williams – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

 

A bit of British royal history as a palette cleanser. I’ve heard so much about Victorian England but never read anything in depth – this one covers the unhappy life of Princess Charlotte, whose premature death paved the way for Queen Victoria’s reign. I love reading this type of history, full of gossipy details and side stories, although all the names start to run together and I forget all the details from one book to the next. The 1800’s were so well documented through letters, newspapers, and diaries that there are tons of details. The ending was a bit abrupt, skipping several decades from the minute details of Charlotte’s life and the early days of Victoria’s reign straight to her death and completely bypassing her children and Albert’s death. But I suppose it has to end somehow, or the book would be twice as long.

 …

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, by Matthew Quick – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

 

The last audiobook from SYNC’s selection this year. On Leonard Peacock’s 18th birthday, he gives a gift to his each of his only four friends and makes plans to kill a classmate and then himself… whew, heavy premise! I liked Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook, and this is his YA work which has lots of similarities. Again the main character is likable but mentally unstable, although I found it harder to relate to this one. I think the hardest part of empathizing with Leonard Peacock’s diatribes against adulthood is that it’s hard to get into that head space if you’re not already there. I just couldn’t connect with his emphatic opinions that were so amplified by his depression/anxiety/suicidal thoughts. On the plus side, I really loved his teacher and felt like the letters from the future were the most effective part of the whole book. Great writing and all that, but I just never felt connected to the character so I was not as touched by the end as I felt I should be given the subject matter. Maybe it’s just me.

 …

The Kids’ Cat Book, by Tomie DePaola – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

 

Tried out a picture book using the Kindle Unlimited subscription, and picked this one randomly. Well, maybe not so randomly – Tomie de Paola and cats seemed like a good match! Cute little picture book with facts about cats and how to care for them. A tiny Strega Nona was in one picture – I love Tomie de Paola’s illustrations!

 …

The Princess and the Frog, Little Golden Books – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

 

I started collecting the Little Golden books that correspond with the fairy tales in the Once Upon a Time cross stitch sampler I’ve been working on this year. I’ve never seen the disney movie, so I enjoyed the brief story – and I love the artwork! It’s less the typical Disney animation and more like stylized concept art. Cute story – and the perfect use of Paperbackswap.com, where I’ve accumulated lots of credits but they rarely have the latest books available. It’s fun to start a (free) little collection just for fun (The Princess and the Frog goes with the February block from OUAT).

 …

The Giver, by Lois Lowry – A+

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

First book of my Newberry challenge! The Giver was a YA dystopian novel before it was cool. I like my dystopian communities to make sense, and even though Sameness requires a certain suspension of belief, it’s easy to get swept up in Jonas’s world. It’s impossible to recreate that first experience of realization that the world is devoid of color while re-reading it, but I had forgotten other details. I’m sure the first time I read it in the 4th grade the ambiguous ending probably bothered me, but now it’s par for the course. It’s really astounding and wonderful that such a complicated premise is written for middle grades… and reinforces all over again that good writing can rise above condescension toward the age of the reader.

 …

From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg – B+

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

Another reading memory from the 4th grade – kudos to my teacher Mrs. Yarbrough! Solid story, and interesting, but I can’t say the characters made much of an emotional impact over all. It was fun to follow Claudia and her younger brother as they run away and live in a museum for a week, and the added mystery of a new statue’s origin was interesting… but the conclusion just didn’t pack a punch for me. And maybe I’m just getting old, but I thought it was pretty heartless of Mrs. Basil to discover the kids and then keep them from their parents another night after they’d been missing for a week already! Good stuff but I’m not sure I’d call it iconic.  Also, and this is nitpicky, I really did not like the illustrations at all. I’d really rather not have any at all than drawings that ruin my mental images of the story.

 …

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare – A

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

 

I remember reading this sometime around 3d-4th grade, so it was fun to read it again (almost 20 years later!) for the Nedbery challenge. Kit Taylor grew up wealthy in Barbados, but when her grandfather dies and leaves too many debts, she has to sell everything and live with her Puritan relatives in the Connecticut colony. Still a quick and absorbing read, and so much fun to be sucked into the historical details and characters once again. It’s funny how some books leave an impression on you for years, but I can’t remember any details at all from some books I read only a year ago. I had forgotten all about the Royalists vs. American Rebels politics and the Puritans vs. Quakers drama, and who knows how much of it went over my head when I was 9, but my memories of the love triangles and my horror during Kit’s witchcraft trial were still strong. I have to admit that it was disappointing that free-spirited Kit’s answer to all her problems was marriage, but I suppose it was still satisfying in an old-fashioned sort of way. For such a short book, the plot covers a lot of ground and the content was packed in without a single wasted moment.

 …

The Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // August 2014 Reading Log

A Newbery Honor book and not a winner of the medal, but I’ve heard lots of good things and it’s available through Kindle Unlimited, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. So far, so good!

So that’s what I’ve been reading during the month of August.  Anyone reading a good book?

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3 thoughts on “Reading Log: August 2014

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