It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/17/17

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when friendship followed me

I shouldn’t have loved this book. It contains two of my fiction pet peeves. First, there are so many tragic events: so much bad has never happened to one child within such a short timespan, except in a Chris Crutcher novel. Second, it downplays the debilitating effects of trauma. Our main character, Ben, has multiple experiences of disrupted care from birth to ten–in and out of foster homes, group homes, and no lasting connection with a safe adult until he is ten years old. That is not a recipe for emotional adjustment, and yet Ben is incredibly well-adjusted with not a single symptom of the alphabet soup of diagnoses that most children with these experiences end up with. These two things bothered me on pretty much every page of the book. And yet, I couldn’t stop reading and I ended up giving it four stars on GoodReads. Griffin is a really good writer, and he tells an engaging, deeply emotional story that never feels emotionally manipulative (no easy feat given the plot twists and turns here). He writes about very sad things with a very light touch. The characters are so lovable and interesting and complex. And there’s a great dog at the center of the whole story.

talking as fast as i can

Talking As Fast As I Can is a collection of essays and humor pieces by Lauren Graham, best read and appreciated by fans of her work on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. If you haven’t watched those two shows, there is probably no compelling reason to read this book, but if you are a fan of her TV shows, you may enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at acting, Hollywood, and what it means to be so closely associated with one (or two) TV characters. It’s kind of like reading a book written by a smarter, more reflective Lorelai Gilmore. Graham has a strong voice, and while I liked the heartfelt moments in this book best, she is also a competent comic writer and there is plenty of funny.

iron trial

The Iron Trial is the first in a five-novel fantasy series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. It’s like a darker, less charming Harry Potter: there’s a magic school and a Voldemort-like evil rogue magician; a boy who doesn’t know who he is and his two friends (a boy and girl); they have to learn magic, manage mischief, and fight evil.  I probably won’t read the rest of the series because I wasn’t especially engaged by the story or characters, but I did love that it’s middle grade (though dark in parts–plenty of violence and death!), it’s SHORT, and the big plot twist was actually a surprise to me (though it shouldn’t have been–it’s also very Harry Potteresque!).

car secrets

I plucked two books off my reading twin’s library hold shelf this week. Cat Secrets was one, and it’s a keeper. The cats are determined to share their cat secrets only with other cats, and they attempt to determine if the reader is a cat. There is much amusing conversation directly with readers (I can imagine that young readers could get quite involved in attempting the meows and purrs the cats require as proof of cat insider status) as well as a lot of interference by a tiny mouse that the cats manage to be totally unaware of. Lots to tickle the very young here.

i'm not.jpeg

I’m Not is the other title I snuck off my reading twin’s shelf (just to read in the library, in case that’s not clear. I am not actually trying to prevent my reading twin from checking out the books she has on hold by taking them for myself!), and I liked it, though the illustrations seemed a little too heavily influenced by James Marshall. It’s the story of two friends, one very outgoing and good at everything, and the other, well, not. In the end, however, the narrator discovers her own unique strengths and accepts the ways that she is different from her friend.

i am yoga

I Am Yoga is a really lovely, really calming title that depicts yoga practice in such a creative way. I loved the author’s note and description of the poses in the back as well as the message that we can use our breath and body to calm ourselves and connect ourselves to the world around us.

dinosaur vs library

I really, really, REALLY don’t understand the appeal of this series. That makes me sad, because I love Bob Shea. Maybe you have to be reading it aloud to an appreciative audience?

otto grows down

Otto Grows Down is a funny–and intense!–exploration of one child’s wish that his new sister had never been born.  The ending is inevitable: of course he has to learn to accept his new sibling. But the journey to get there is quite creative.

my dad at the zoo

I liked this role reversal story of a Dad who is so excited to get to the zoo and then can’t quite behave once he’s there and the long-suffering, patient child who attempts to curb Dad’s wild exuberance. Plenty of silly fun for kids but also engaging for the grown-ups reading it to kids.

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14 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 4/17/17

  1. Question: Would my 26 year old daughter who loved all things Gilmore Girls and now is binge watching Parenthood like Lauren Graham’s book? I think I’ll get it for her. I heard a podcast with Peter Reynolds on All the Wonders where he said they are doing a new book, “I am Peace.” I love all of his books.

    • I think she’d like the book! There are two essays on Gilmore Girls–first is very good, second so-so. I haven’t watched Parenthood yet so I skimmed that chapter because I didn’t want spoilers. It’s a quick read, not a ton of meat, but fun. Wow to “I Am Peace”–sounds like one I’ll really like!

    • Agreed! I was hooked from page 1 and read it straight through without taking any breaks with other books (which is unusual for me–I usually read several books at once and move back and forth among them).

  2. Thank you for including the link to your reading twin post. That is hilarious. If you ever do meet, I want to know what happens!
    I need to read FRIENDSHIP. Curious, is it one you will eventually read to your son, or do you think it would be too much?
    My 11yo just found the IRON TRIALS and has loved them. She just got book 3 in her Easter basket. I haven’t gotten to them yet, but I’m intrigued!

    • I will not read it to my son. I think there’s way too much going on for him to process easily and there are so many triggers. I also think it would be painful for him to read a story about a kid whose circumstances he could so easily relate to but have this kid be so unrealistic in terms of his ability to cope with trauma. I mean, Ben behaves like he’s gone through years of very high-level trauma therapy! My husband also adored the Iron Trials books–he’s read all three and reread the first one because he liked it so much! He was a little disappointed my son and I didn’t love it more!

  3. A few of the books on your list sound quite entertaining, especially Cat Secrets and My Dad at the Zoo. Interesting story about your reading twin. I hope someday you do get to meet her! You definitely wouldn’t run out of things to talk about since you’ve read so many of the same books!

  4. I will look for Cat Secrets for the ‘cat lovers’ in my family. I understand about Friendship,and wondered how he was managing, or going to manage later. I Am Yoga is nice. I passed it on to a colleague who did meditation with her students. Thanks, Elisabeth.

  5. My students do NOT ask for these very sad books, but they keep being written. Isn’t it odd about coping, though- I read a book about prisoners of war during WWII, and the Japanese prison camps were truly horrible. The survivors were expected to cope, and they did. Some of my ancestors had horrible experiences as children, but not coping wasn’t an option. They just didn’t talk about it, and somehow made it to the end of the day. Things have changed, it seems.

  6. After reading yours and Carrie’s comments about When Friendship Followed me Home, I went straight to my library website. I discovered that they have an audiobook and it is available. I downloaded it ASAP.
    I agree with Michelle, your reading twin post was hilarious. I often wonder if I tried to check out someone else’s book (accidently of course) if the system would even let me.

  7. You all have me interested in When Friendship Followed me Home, and I was also interested in My Dad at the Zoo. I recognize the illustrators work from Take Away the A, which my students love, so I looked up her other work and saw that she and the writer of My Dad at the Zoo also worked on My Dad is Big and Strong…But! a bedtime story about a Dad that doesn’t want to go to bed. I wish I had these two when my kids are little as my little ones would have made easy connections! I also appreciated your words on The Iron Trial, a book my daughter has read and really likes, but I have yet to pick up. Thanks for the post!

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