Friday, October 9, 2015

For the Record: September 2015

What a relief to be back in a routine. It hasn't been easy to focus on schooling when we still have workers in our house every day, but the end is in sight.  After another week or two, we should have our home back to ourselves.  It's only been three years. Yikes. (*big sigh of relief...or was that just exhaustion?) My library cabinets are being oiled and all the loose ends are being tied up; pretty soon the only problem with my house will be that it is located in Southern California instead of Northern California! (I actually don't mind SoCal but I'm a NorCal girl and I miss it So Much.)

Reading this month wasn't too bad! Partially because of routine and school books, partially because getting all my books out of storage made my thirsty for reading.

8 Books Read in September: [61 books year-to-date]

2 Classics:
  - The Optimist's Daughter, Eudora Welty (4.5) What a beautiful portrait this small book is! Full of Southern manners and culture clash, family dynamics and truth, this is a book that I already want to read again. There isn't much plot, but as a character study and observation on life, this has it all.
  - Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (4) Before reading this book I was pretty certain that I wouldn't like it. It seemed too tied to an agenda to be enjoyable. Of course I was wrong. I did have a hard time getting into it at first (probably because of my preconceived ideas) but it was written so well and plotted so perfectly that I ended up being won over. This read happened to coincide with Banned Books Week: happy accident.

2 Other/Fiction:
  - Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee (4) I had decided to not read this book. Not because I loved To Kill a Mockingbird so much, but because I didn't love it enough to warrant reading a subsequent book. I'm glad it was picked for my book club though, because it ended up being the perfect companion novel and helped me appreciate Mockingbird more than I did before. Where Mockingbird felt polished, clean, and purposeful, Watchman felt raw, pointed, and passionate. I don't think the characters were portrayed with different personalities, rather with a different perspective. Very interesting read, and wonderful discussion in my book group.
  - The Story of Land and Sea, Katy Simpson Smith (3.5) Though I usually enjoy books that focus on the characters and setting more than the plot, this one was the exception. I found myself skipping over descriptive passages trying to find the story. It was an interesting look at America during the time of the Revolution, as it didn't focus on the war as much as most novels in that setting would tend to do.

4 Junior Fiction:
  - Pedro's Journal, Pam Conrad (3) A fictional journal of a boy on Columbus' first journey, this was more about the history than the entertainment.
  - Flora & Ulysses, Kate DiCamillo (4) This was an entertaining little story of a squirrel with super powers and the girl that needed him in her life.  My 11yo is reading it and is also entertained with the intelligent humor and addition of drawings and comics. It's a cast of oddballs, which somehow makes it more realistic.
  - Walk the World's Rim, Betty Baker (4) Really interesting history here! I've had a hard time teaching about the explorers and conquistadors without feeling like it's a bunch of names and dates that don't matter much. This book does a wonderful job at introducing many cultures, geographical locations, and historical events in a very simple manner.
  - Om-kas-toe, Kenneth Thomasma (3) Although this was an interesting picture of the Blackfeet Indians, their lifestyle and introduction to horses, the writing was kind of terrible. It would have been more interesting, perhaps, if the reader had some familiarity with modern day Montana and was able to identify the locations the author mentioned. As it was, the continual interjections of commentary into the story made it harder to stay focused.


Current Reads:

  - A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson. My current audiobook. Isn't this being made into a movie? Usually I like to watch a movie before reading a book, contrary to most readers, but this seemed like a good one to read first.
  - Wolf Winter, Cecilia Eckback. This story is pretty intense! I suppose it could be classified as a crime mystery, but it so thoroughly feels like I've been dropped into 1717 rural Sweden that I can't help but think that this is exactly what historical fiction should be.
  - Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Marguerite Henry. Current read-aloud to my 11yo daughter. The accents written into the dialogue make this a fun read.


On My Nightstand:
Since unpacking my books, I kind of just want to read everything immediately. The plan, though, is to alternate some of the books that have been on my nightstand forever with some of the new books I've picked up. So, next up is The Big Burn by Timothy Egan followed by The Night Watch. We'll see where I go from there.



  1. I think you have had a tremendous reading year considering the move! 61 books so far is a great number! I haven't been blogging recently. It's time for me to get going again. I tend to not be able to focus when I'm under a lot of stress. My dd got married suddenly at a justice of the peace which was a shock to us. Plus, I'm taking my sister-in-law to all her cancer treatments. So, focusing on reading has been impossible. My sister-in-law just finished her treatments. So, now it's testing and waiting to see how things went.

    I must say I was a fan of Go Set A Watchman. I agree--I connected with the raw story and felt it was a different viewpoint.

    1. Oh my goodness, Heidi. You've just been going through it! I've been thinking about you, and hope that life lightens it load for you soon. Having a nice read-a-thon this weekend should be a nice change of pace.

      You're right - I have read quite a bit this year, considering. It sure does feel good to be on the tail end of this house project.


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