Book Chat

Reading Log: October 2014

Another good month for reading! A lot of fun books this month. Still plugging away at the Newbery challenge – 6 more books to cross off, and so far I’m still really enjoying the challenge! Only one rotten egg so far.

Below is my Reading Log for October 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!

October 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
The Truth About Forever,
by Sarah Dessen
9/20/14 10/4/14 B+
LB
YA
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store,
by Robin Sloan
9/28/14 10/9/14 A+
K
F
Here is Where: Discovering America’s Forgotten History,
by Andrew Carroll
9/29/14 Still Reading TBD
K
NF
A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel,
adapted by Hope Larson
10/5/14 10/11/14 A
LB
CL
Jane, the Fox, and Me,
written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
10/6/14 10/6/14 A+
LB
CL
Strawberry Girl,
by Lois Lensky
10/9/14 10/16/14 B
K
CL
The Higher Power of Lucky,
by Susan Patron
10/13/14 10/19/14 B+
LB
CL
The Midwife’s Apprentice,
by Karen Cushman
10/16/14 10/17/14 A
K
CL
A Single Shard,
by Linda Sue Park
10/17/14 10/22/14 A
K
CL
Dear Mr. Henshaw,
by Beverly Cleary
10/20/14 10/24/14 A
LB
CL
Capote: A Biography,
by Gerald Clarke
10/22/14 10/30/14 A+
K
NF
The Graveyard Book,
by Neil Gaiman
10/25/14 Still Reading TBD
LB
YA
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods,
written by Rick Riordan and illustrated by John Rocco
10/26/14 Still Reading TBD
HB
CL
Breakfast at Tiffany’s,
by Truman Capote
10/31/4 Still Reading TBD
K
F

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 got back on track this month and it’s a welcome bedtime ritual. Hoping I can stay on task through the end of the year.

 …

The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen – B+

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

This was good stuff – well-written, explores some issues, believable dialogue and characters. The main character is still reeling from her father’s unexpected death and trying to pretend she’s “finejustfine,” and over the course of a summer she starts to loosen up through the help of some new friends and helps her mother do the same… and of course there’s a romance and a happy ending. My expectations may have been a bit too high because I kept hearing that Sarah Dessen is the Queen of YA Lit – or at least the Jodi Piccoult of Teen Issues. I didn’t have a chance to write my thoughts down right away after reading, but after only a few days I’ve already forgotten most of the details, so I guess my only complaint is that it just wasn’t all that memorable.

 …

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Book Store, by Robin Sloan – A+

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

Such a fun, nerdy adventure! The main character finds himself working in an unusual bookstore which turns out to be a front for a secret society – and from there, the twisty journey that he and his friends embark on to find out if immortality really exists. I loved all the quirky characters and some of my favorite buttons were pressed – nerd culture, digital vs. print, book stores, secret societies, books within books, San Francisco. The epilogue was especially satisfying, and it was just a straight up fun read all around. My favorite quote: “I’m really starting to think the whole world is just a patchwork quilt of crazy little cults, all with their own secret spaces, their own records, their own rules.”

 …

Here is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History, by Andrew Carroll – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // September 2014 Reading Log

Still reading… there are just so many other books that I want to read that this one tends to sit on the backburner.

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Hope Larson – A

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

Instead of re-reading A Wrinkle in Time for the upteenth time, I decided to try out the graphic novelization – and I really liked it! I wouldn’t necesarily want to discover the story for the first time in this format, but it was a fun way to visualize the story in a new way. I wondered if it was going to be a literal translation frame by frame or more of a loose interpretation and there were some changes, of course, but it was still very true to the story. And because of the medium, it was still a lot more faithful than a movie adaptation would be.

 …

Jane, the Fox, and Me, written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault – A+

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

I was in the graphic novel section of the library (the kids’ section, of course, looking for the graphic novelization of A Wrinkle in Time) and happened upon this French translation. I picked it up on a whim and found myself loving the illustrations and the poignant story of a girl dealing with bullies. I ended up reading it right there in the library, then again at home just to savor the artwork again. I’m just starting to get into graphic novels, but I love how they can give voice to a subject matter that might be too heavy for a picture book through sensitive illustrations that convey so much more than the written word. I especially like how the illustrations slowly grow more colorful as Helene sorts out her feelings and finds a friend. Good stuff!

 …

Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lensky – B

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

Eh, the first Newbery winner I’ve read so far that probably wouldn’t be picked nowadays – it basically follows a Hatfield & McCoy situation between two rural Florida families who feud until (spoiler alert) one of them is “saved” by a traveling preacher and has a complete personality change. The daily life/historical aspect of it was interesting, and I didn’t realize that Florida was still a fairly new state when this was written in 1946. I never connected the dots that the Wild West had been “civilized” for much longer by the early 1900’s. The dialect also grew on me, but the story itself wasn’t very inspiring. I think the author’s background is more interesting – she did illustrations for the Betsy-Tacy books and wrote a whole series of books on children from different regions of America, which is how this one won the Newbery in 1946.

 …

The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron – B+

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

All I knew about this book going in was the controversy when it was awarded the Newbery because of the word “scrotum.” I didn’t quite love this story – it was a bit slow, and nothing really happened until the last couple chapters – but I have to admit that I teared up at the very end, so I guess it hit the mark after all. Lucky is a ten-year-old dealing with the death of her mother and wondering if her new Guardian is going to stick around or abandon her as well. The more I think about it, the more nuanced and complex it seems, dealing with some serious issues in a pretty subtle way. It didn’t necessarily charm me, but I can see why it would win the Newbery.

 …

The Midwife’s Apprentice, by Karen Cushman – A

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

I heard that Lena Dunham is interested in developing another of Karen Cushman’s books into a movie (Catherine, Called Birdy), so I brought this one to the top of my list of Newbery winners. I vaguely remember reading this in third grade, maybe, but I don’t remember much. The story of Alyce, a homeless girl in Medieval England making her way as the Midwife’s apprentice is short, sweet, and sparse: a breath of fresh air. It reminded me of Beverly Cleary’s writing, and her declaration that she hates adjectives. And as an adult, it was interesting to read about the historical aspect of midwifery.

 …

A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park – A

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

Another Newbery winner (2002) available through Kindle Unlimited. This seems like an old-fashioned story – an orphan living in Korea during the 12th century learns to make beautiful pottery – but I found it surprisingly accessible. Plenty of information about the culture and the pottery were conveyed without seeming too stuffy. It was really interesting to learn about the communal potters who made innovative celadon and inlay pottery, and I loved the orphan Tree-Ear and his protector Crane-Man. Solid story, with lots of lesson plan potential.

 …

Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary – A

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

I will always love Beverly Cleary’s clear, straight-arrow writing, even when Ramona isn’t the main character. In this Newbery winner, Leigh writes to his favorite author while dealing with his parents’ divorce and moving to a new school. I didn’t remember much from my first reading in fourth grade or so, except that there was something about a dog that upset me. Poor Bandit got left out in the snow! But all’s well that ends well, and even the ambiguous ending seemed just right.

Capote: A Biography, by Gerald Clarke – A+

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

I needed a bit of a palette cleanser and a break from children’s literature – a gossipy, conversational biography was just the ticket. I don’t know how to explain my fascination with Truman Capote, except that maybe A Christmas Memory took a hold of me when I was young, and ever since I’ve wondered about him. I’ve never even read any of his other works, although this biography has convinced me to move In Cold Blood to the top of my to-read list and at the very least Breakfast at Tiffany’s from his short stories. This bio definitely quenched that thirst, and I was not surprised to read in the afterward that the biographer spent nearly 13 years writing, 9 of those years interviewing Truman and hundreds of people who knew him, and another four years after his death before publication. It was extremely thorough for the most part, with lots of juicy bits about his famous friends and “swans,” although curiously vague when it came to some events like Truman being molested by a middle school teacher and other students at military school, with barely a paragraph to explain. Most of his life seemed so full of potential, and his working years traveling abroad seemed so idyllic – which made the downfall all the more painful to read about. It was pretty depressing, actually. And now – on to the short stories, and the “nonfiction novel” and the movie, before this bee in my bonnet is gone.

 …

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman – TBD

The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

Started just in time for Halloween! Interesting story about a boy who grows up in a graveyard, raised by ghosts, with lots of cool illustrations interspersed. Almost done now, and quite enjoying it.

 …

Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, written by Rick Riordan and illustrated by John Rocco – TBD

 The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

Heard about this book from buzz online, and then found it at the Southern Festival of Books – seemed meant to be! I’ve been reading a tale or two at a time, savoring the illustrations, and I plan to take my time with these re-imagined Greek myths.

 …

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote – TBD

 The Amateur Librarian // October 2014 Reading Log

Gerald Clarke’s bio made me want to read more works by Truman Capote, so I thought I’d start with this short story first. I think I’ll bump In Cold Blood to the top of my to-read list next.

 …

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

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4 thoughts on “Reading Log: October 2014

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