This month was a really good reading month. I like to average between 15-18 books a month, so I was able to fall directed within my average this month, and that was good. More importantly, I really enjoyed most of the books I read. My favorite reads were probably the last two books in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, but there were lots of other winners for me this month.
- Books Read: 16
- Re-Reads: 1
- Goodreads Challenge Progress: 115/200 (18 books behind schedule)
- New Books vs. Backlist:
- New Books: 7
- Backlist: 9
This audible listen was a re-read of a book I loved as a child. Listened with all four of my children at a pace of about three chapters a week over the past few months. All the children, boys and girls say this one is a winner.
As an adult, I felt that the book was a little preachy, but children’s tales often contain moral lessons, so I tried not to let that bother me too much. Once I did, I was able to relax and enjoy the story. I really need to watch the new movie with the children now that we’ve finished the book.
This is the second of the Crazy Rich Asians novels and it’s really fun. There are several new characters introduced as a large portion of this novel details Rachel’s biological father and how she gets to meet him along with her half-brother and his girlfriend. The Chinese world in this book is even more crazy than Nick’s world in the first book. There’s a side story about Kitty Pong attempting to fit into Asian high-society and another one about the implosion of Astrid’s marriage. However, the spotlight here is on Rachel and her half-brother. The story is frothy, fun, and completely over-the-top.
A nonfiction winner for me, Boys and Sex is a narrative created by interviews with around 30 men in their late teens and early 20s. They’re beginning to navigate sex, love, and relationships, and reading the book is, in some ways like watching a train crash. So many of these boys want to have relationships and can’t figure out how to get beyond the hookup. Others feel pressured into sexual activity they don’t want to prove their masculinity. There are very few mature, sexually aware men in this book. It’s a tough but necessary conversation
As an ancient linguist, Hebrew for Life is a professional read to me. It’s very practical and hands-on, filled with tips for practice and memorization as well as lists of resources for building fluency. They also make the case for Aramaic, and that influenced me strongly as Aramaic is a language I have not got around to learning yet. It’s a great little book, but obviously is going to have a limited appeal.
The Lies That Bind is a book that isn’t sure what it wants to be. On one level it’s almost a frothy romance. On another level, it’s a tear-jerking 9/11 novel and meditation on both unrequited love and loving someone you should not love. Then, there’s the whole thing with the terminally-ill twin brother. I really wanted to find out how it ended, but at the same time the premise and story itself was completely ridiculous. It might have been a little soap-operatic.
Speaking of ridiculous premises, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has a completely ridiculous premise. After all, how many 100-year-old men climb out the window of their nursing home, happen upon a suitcase with 50 million dollars in it, and in their backstory have interacted with the likes of Stalin, Truman, Mao, and de Gaulle? Not many, right? Especially not when traveling in the present with three other people and an elephant? And he’s so calm about everything that happens that it’s almost like it happens to someone else. I found myself compulsively flipping pages to find out how it ends, but I didn’t enjoy the read as much as I had hoped to. I just didn’t feel like I had anyone to root for.
I next turned to a little fantasy with the classic middle-grade novel, The Phoenix and the Carpet. The four children in this book have a knack for getting into troublesome situations. When you add in a talking phoenix and a magical flying carpet, you’re really just asking for more trouble. This book was delightful in many ways, and I may find myself re-reading it in a few months as a read aloud with my two youngest children. I’ve owned this one since my older two were young, and it’s just been collecting dust in the garage, so it felt good to mark this one off my TBR list.
Graduate school and graduate school reads continue to play a significant role in my reading. Because I’m only going to grad school part-time, it does feel like I might be grad school forever though! The next book I finished this month, Leading with Cultural Intelligence, was for my required Intercultural Communications class. This book is business focused, describing the areas of cultural intelligence and how to increase one’s levels of cultural intelligence. The writing was engaging, but as my specialty is ancient languages rather than business, I admit that this book was not immediately applicable to me. Still, I did receive several insights, and I think it was a helpful read.
Next, I read a novel that was almost perfect for me. The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is a story set in the lovable curmudgeon genre. Seventy-nine-year-old Missy is struggling and lonely. Then, a chain of events in the park set off some interactions that culminate in new friendships and fresh experiences. She also begins to repair some broken and dysfunctional relationships that already existed in her life. She approaches her whole life with a better understanding and healing. . . . There are also some super sad and bittersweet moments, and I found myself reading the ending of the book in the bathroom, having to set aside the book at times because I was ugly crying and the tears were coming so fast that I couldn’t read.
I knew as soon as I read China Rich Girlfriend that I would very quickly follow it with Rich People Problems. This third book in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy is the perfect ending to the story. Everyone’s storyline is wrapped up, and all the questions that a reader might have are answered. I read this a little more slowly than I often like to read books, mostly because I wanted to savor it. I didn’t want it to end. Then, I finally got to a place 3/4 of the way through, and I just had to read the rest of the book really quickly. If you like over-the-top, satirical, family drama, this is a great trilogy for you. It’s frothy enough to never be depressing. There’s romantic comedy. There are all these family relationships. It’s just great!!
Next was my second Agatha Christie novel of the year, The ABC Murders. Reading this one, I know why it’s such a beloved novel. It’s a great snapshot of Christie’s famous Hercule Poirot. The mystery is interesting, and I might be the only one, but I totally didn’t get the answer to the mystery. I was super close, but wasn’t right in my answer. This was such an enjoyable book that I’m going to recommend it for my teenagers for their literature reads.
The next book I read was The Pull of the Stars. Set in a maternity ward in Dublin during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, this book is short, but covers a lot of ground. I found myself feeling a little brokenhearted because there was a lot of death in this one. There was also a little romance, discussion of World War I, and a lot of birthing babies. This is a really beautiful book, and it takes place over the course of three very long days within the hospital from the point-of-view of a 30 year old nurse.
I finished my homeschool science study from spring and summer with my 9 and 10-year-old children. We used Memoria Press’s curriculum, and the spine was one of their books The World of Mammals. The book had a workbook and another book that came with it to use in mammals study. It went through each group of mammals in an organized fashion, ending with seven lessons on primates. I don’t think I’ve ever studied either primates or whales so closely, so I learned a good amount from this book. I alternate science and social studies with my little two, so now we’re doing US geography, focusing on memorizing states and capitals.
As we finished up mammals, I decided to do just a little more in-depth studies on whales by reading What is a Whale? to the children. This was actually a really nice entry in a series by Bobbie Kalman, where she goes in depth into different types of whales. Since I didn’t know much about whales, this was a great addition to our mammal studies.
The next book I read was part self-help and part memoir. Afraid of All the Things begins with a girl that is fearless until she realizes that bad things can happen in life. In this case, the bad thing is her parents divorce. Following her parents’ divorce and her mom’s subsequent remarriage, Hiltibidal finds herself wracked with new, and often paranoid, anxieties. These anxieties follow her throughout life, changing and morphing as she grows into adulthood. As an adult, she discusses how life experiences and her growing relationship with Jesus have helped her to approach life with less fear. As I have been someone who struggles with generalized anxiety disorder, I found many parts of her book to be relatable, some to be quite helpful, and others to be a little too preachy.
The next book I read is one of the books I’ve been more excited about recently. I read Sally Clarkson’s new book, Awaking Wonder. This book sets a vision for what you’re trying to awaken in your homeschooled child, as well as paining broad strokes for how to get there. Gentle, beautiful, unapologetically Christian. Clarkson’s books always remind me why we do what we do here at home, so I’m delighted to have gotten to read this book this month as we start a new “school year” here at home.