The last few weeks have been cold and snowy so I’ve been able to read a lot. I’m reading books for my middle school class and books for School Library Journal and books because I want to read them. Here are a few of the titles I’ve been reading with a hot cup of chai by my side…
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I read this at the enthusiastic recommendation of Emily Crowe at the Odyssey Bookstore in Hadley, Massachusetts. In December, Emily wrote on her blog (asthecrowefliesandreads) that The Rosie Project was “the answer to every adult looking for a novel this holiday season.” She was right. It is funny and clever and just good company for a few days! It’s about a professor of genetics, Don Tilman, who is kind of eccentric, to put it mildly. He’s a really good guy, but he has so many quirks that he has a rocky dating history. Don decides to write a questionnaire to identify candidates for his “wife project.” Of course, he meets Rosie. There’s a lot more to it, but if you’re looking for a sunny book to brighten these grey days, The Rosie Project is it. Just a few hours ago, a friend asked me if I had any suggestions for a book to bring along on a long flight – and I told her to get a copy of The Rosie Project!
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I’m reading Lee’s novel with a group of 7th and 8th grade students. Between personal readings before I worked at Inly and reading it several times with students, I must be on my tenth reading. I always think….this time I will skim. I don’t need to read every word of every chapter. And then, of course, I read every word of every chapter. It never gets old. In fact, I appreciate passages that escaped my notice in past readings. Or I just marvel at how every word matters. This time I am overwhelmed with sadness for Mayella Ewell. When she’s on the witness stand and is flustered by Atticus being polite to her, my heart just breaks.
The Paperboy by Vince Vawter. A Newbery Honor winner and a book that I should have read earlier. Oh my goodness – I just loved it so much. Set in 1959 Memphis, The Paperboy is about an eleven-year-old boy who stutters. He stutters so much that it is painful for him to speak to almost everyone, except his family’s African American housekeeper, Mam. When he takes over his friend’s paper route for a month, he knows he’s going to have to talk. But the paper route opens up all kinds of possibilities to him. He meets new people, faces challenges, and begins to understand things about his family and neighborhood that enrich his life. A memorable book that I want to share with friends – and students.
The Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala. This incredibly sad memoir by a woman who lost her husband, two sons, and parents in the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka was not even on my “to read” list. It was on every “Best of 2013” list, including being one of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, but still…I kind of avoided it. This is where the Nook comes in. I don’t use my e-reader very often, but I read The Paperboy on it, and after reading the last page, I clicked over to the to the “store” and bought The Wave. I don’t know why. Clearly, the book had been on my mind. I read it in huge gulps; it was nearly impossible to tear myself away for the two days I was reading this unfathomable story. It’s like Sonali Deraniyagala is sitting across from you and just talking – in a stream of consciousness – and you hear her, but can’t really comprehend what she’s telling you. And you can’t stop listening. She doesn’t spare the agony of her experience. But there are lovely moments too when she describes her family’s life before the tsunami. I won’t forget it.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – I’m listening to this one in my car and I’m only on CD #3 – out of 26 CDs!! Many miles to go….literally!
Weeks of snow and cold ahead – I’ll report back on my reading!