This week was one of those monster reading weeks where I read and read and then was surprised to reach the end of the week and find that I read five books this week! I was really surprised because I was so busy with grad school stuff and homeschooling my kids that I did not expect to read so much. Here’s what I read:
The Phoenix and the Carpet is the second book in the Five Children series. This series focuses on four older siblings (and one baby brother) who are constantly finding themselves in a state of trouble and misadventure. In this book, their mother buys a new carpet for their nursery floor. They find an egg wrapped up in the the carpet. One day, the egg accidentally ends up in the fireplace, and a phoenix is reborn. He tells them the carpet is a magic one, which gives three wishes daily, and they end up using the carpet and consulting with the phoenix to go on many adventures.
This book is a mild portal fantasy, where the action is never too thrilling, but it makes for an interesting read anyway. This is written for children, and I think I will probably hand it over to my own children in the hopes that they enjoy the adventures and want to make up their own adventures.
The only real discordant note for modern readers is that, at one point, the children are transported to an island, and they keep referring to the natives of that island as “savages.” it’s fairly normal for the time, but doesn’t age well for our culture.
My grad school class that just ended is a class on intercultural communication, and Leading with Cultural Intelligence was one of the required reads. Livermore uses this book to explain the importance of cultural intelligence, and how to go one’s cultural intelligence. He divides cultural intelligence into four components: CQ Drive, CQ Knowledge, CQ Strategy, and CQ Action. After defining these components, the remainder of the book is an exploration of each component along with action points on how to grow this component.
This is heavily a business book, and as an academic, I doubt I would have read it had I not been required to. Between the book and the the Cultural Intelligence Center’s accompanying quiz I was able to pinpoint some of my weaker areas and strategize how best to become more culturally intelligent. I suspect that I’ll find it helpful.
The next book I read, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael, is in the genre of lovable curmudgeons. Missy is lonely. Her husband is gone; her son lives in Australia; her daughter is not speaking to her. She decides to go to the park for a park event, just so she’ll have news to report to her son via email. She passes out at the park and is helped by a young woman, her friend, and her son. This young woman, Angela, and her older friend, Sylvie, decide to befriend Missy. The rest of the book is told in alternating chapters between past and present as the reader sees how Angela and Sylvie’s attempts go, and how Missy got to be so lonely in the first place.
Missy really resonates with me on a couple of levels. I think she might, like me, be an enneagram 5. There are times when she seems self-pitying and when her trouble seems of her own making, and there are other times when she worries over being a burden and fearing getting to close to others. She’s a mass of contradictions, and I think most people can relate to her complicated experiences and feelings.
Towards the end, this book gets a little emotional, and I admit that I cried through several chapters. Actually, I had a big ugly cry at some point with it. Still, it ends in a place of happiness and hope, and I am glad for that.
Rich People Problems is the third book in the Crazy Rich Asian series. It focuses on Nick’s grandmother being sick, and as she’s dying, relatives are flocking there to say good-bye. Of course, the don’t just want to say good-bye. They’re all very concerned about who might get Su Yi’s large fortune when she’s gone. Nick is unconcerned about the fortune, but he desperately wants to make amends and reconcile with the grandmother he loves and has been mad at so long. On the other hand, Eddie is completely obsessed with the fortune, believing he’s going to be a rich man in just a few days.
There are two important side plots going on at the same time. First, Astrid’s still in divorce proceedings, and Michael has been vicious, attempting to smear her name, as well as Charlie Wu’s name across the press. Astrid and Charlie’s story still hangs in the balance. The second is Kitty Pong’s story also continues. She is now Jack Bing’s wife, and so jealous of his daughter Colette that she can’t stand it. She spends the entire book trying to find her place in society and attempting to find ways to one-up Colette.
This is really a great ending to the trilogy. Readers learn so much about Su Yi and what made her who she was. They also get to be in the room when the will is read and see the family’s reactions. The second half of the book nicely ties up all the loose ends and gives a picture of where everyone’s story ends.
The ABC Murders is the thirteenth Hercule Poirot mystery and my second Agatha Christie novel of the year. It all begins when Poirot begins receiving letters. These letters include a city and a date. These cities and dates become the map for a murder spree . . . and ABC order murder spree as the killer begins in Andover, killing a woman with the last name A. He then continues working his way through the alphabet, taunting Poirot as he goes with a new letter each month.
This is masterfully done. I really enjoyed the mystery, and I really enjoyed seeing Poirot’s working relationships with the other detectives and police officers throughout the novel. I also admit that I was a little fooled by Christie. I was close to who the murderer was, but not quite there when the murderer was revealed. I always love a mystery where I don’t get the murderer right. I plan to read more Christie soon.
So, that’s it for my reading this week. What have you guys been reading?