Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ready To Read - Or Something Like That?

Y'all, it's hard to come up with creative titles for all of these posts. Good News - These books are better than the subject indicates.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline was a re-read for me. I listened to the audiobook a few years back and just adored it. My book club is reading it this month, so it was an excuse to dive back into The Oasis. Once again, I loved this one. I love the infusion of 80s culture. I love the drama. I love the dystopian future spin. I'll be interested to see how the movie version stacks up to the book. Without question, I know the book will be better for me. However, I'm interested to see how Spielberg visually spins this one into (virtual) reality. #wordplay #amirite #sorrynotsorry

Read this book if - You love the 80s and/or you love sci-fi and/or you want a new spin on dystopia in the not so distant future. You are going to see the movie, and this is one you should absolutely read before the movie. Also, if you're looking for a foray into audiobooks, this is one of my favorites. Wil Wheaton is an outstanding narrator.

A Framework for Understanding Poverty: A Cognitive Approach was a book I read for work. It was interesting. There are some gaps in this approach, but from the cognitive lens it was informative. It focused on unwritten rules and behavior patterns to examine systems. Coupled with some other pieces I'm checking out on the topic, it'll be a helpful piece to reference. 

Read this book if - You want to understand how poverty might manifest in a classroom environment. This one does have an educational spin, and it's definitely written for teachers. However, I still found applicable pieces for the work I do. You also should plan on reading more than just this book to get a good understanding of the topic.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond was another read I picked up for work. This one is heartbreaking as it examines the state of housing in Milwaukee. I learned a great deal on housing issues by reading this one. It was also an interesting read given that when Dustin and I were in Branson for the week many of the motels on the strip had moved to weekly rates with move-in waivers or specials which made me actually see and process the issue further. This was a hard read, but a necessary one on this crisis issue.

Read this book if - You want to get a better understanding of the challenges affordable housing - or lack thereof presents. You want to understand the reality of what is happening in many of our cities around housing.

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was a book I was excited to find at the most recent mini JoCo Book Sale. Y'all, it was only $1! Only exciting to me? Oh well. This is one of the thrillers of the moment in that Girl/Woman who Something Something trend. I do love a good thriller, and this one hit the spot. It had some unexpected twists and was high on the drama which is the basic recipe for me to enjoy one of these. I'd recommend other thrillers to y'all before this one, but if you happen to see it on a shelf, it's worth checking out.

Read this book if - You have loved literally any other book with a title GIrl Something or The Woman Who Something. You tend to like the thriller of the moment. You like a book that reads like a Lifetime movie.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Spring Reading! Spring Reading!

First off, I hope that you sang to the tune of Spring Cleaning from Rocko's Modern Life. Just me? Well, that's okay. Anyway, you know the drill. Here's some books I read.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist was actually a re-read. It had been longer than I realized (18 months!) since I'd read this one. However, I think about it at least every other week. Truth be told, I (re)chose this one because I needed a moment of calm. I couldn't decide what I wanted to read next, so I decided to take a pit stop with an old friend. This is one of my go-to recommendations, and I'm glad I took the time to choose it for me this round. It's beauty is in its simplicity of prioritizing. It was good to actually revisit its message word for word. Oh, and if you're new here, I've actually written about my love of this one before - Taking Down Chairs.

Read this book if - You need some inspiration. You need some affirmation that it's okay to not do it all - and permission to stop trying. 

Lord Of The Flies by William Golding was a book I picked up by virtue of my challenge to read something I didn't enjoy the first time around. Y'all, did I really read and get the dynamics of this one 15?!?!? I can assure you that I didn't. Given how often the idea of this book is mentioned when talking about problems with culture, I wanted to understand the source text. As a surprise to no one, this is a heavy read. Again, there is no way that high school freshman me emotionally processed this one as it was intended The 35 year old me was able to take this one in and understand what was happening much better. Also, I'm still not sure enjoy is the right word for how I feel about this one now, but I can say I have better perspective on what happens. So, there's that?

Read this book if - You're nostalgic for English 9H? You hear this book referenced often, but want to actually understand what it's all about.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan was a really quirky read. There's really no better way to describe it. It's really a book like no other. The premise is Clay, a guy from the world of technology, picks up a job at a strange, old-fashioned bookstore. Those who interact with the bookstore are a mystery, and he tries to figure out just what the heck is going on with it all. It's actually a read that's kind of hard to explain, but I enjoyed it far more than I expected.

Read this book if - You like books that are a little unconventional. You like books about books.

The Double Bind was interesting. I accidentally saw part of the ending as I was figuring out many pages I had left to read, so I feel like I didn't get the emotion and *GASP* of the twist ending as intended. I absolutely loved the first Chris Bohjalian I read (Midwives), and it's his writing that kept me reading on this one. Given the dimensions of the plot, it's a lot to process from an emotion and trauma perspective. In other words, I'm offering you a content warning. This one was another heavy read, and there were a lot of moving parts that feed into the twist, but also made things hard to follow at times. It wasn't my favorite, but I'll definitely read more Chris Bohjalian.

Read this book if - You like a side of unexpected twists with your fiction reads.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Circus + Baseball + Coming of Age + SciFi = These Reads

One problem with all these book posts is I run out of creative ways to start these. So, again, here's some books I read.

Bottom Of The 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball's Longest Game by Dan Barry is so incredibly well-written. It's a nonfiction read, and yes, there is in fact a real life baseball game that once went 33 innings! This is a trek back through that game in 1981 between the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, but y'all it's so much more. The author dives into the stories of the players (which includes two guys you may have heard of - Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr), as well as the fans that were in attendance. Minor league baseball is a fascinating place, and this is such a thorough and beautiful examination. I've read a lot of sports books through the years, and this is one of the best. This has been on my list for some time, and I'm so glad I finally found it at Powell's, so I could have the experience of reading this in my life.

Read this book if - You love a good sports read. You're a baseball fan. You love books that involve a variety of stories about a variety of people.

The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor was an advanced reader's copy I received. It's a middle grade read (so 3rd through 5th grade, I guess?) and I think that was one of my struggles with this one. I tried to imagine how the elementary school version of me would react for this one. I liked it well enough, and I think I would have felt the same way as a kid. It's the classic story of a lovable kid who struggles with the social hierarchy of childhood. He's lost a friend, and he makes a new one along the way, as he is trying to navigate bullying, relentless questions about what really happened to his friend (which is the big *gasp* at the end), continuing to navigate grief, and just all that being a kid brings with it.

Read this book if - You are a fan of the middle grade genre and/or a middle grader who also apparently reads blogs of thirtysomethings that offer book reviews?

The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman was this month's selection for my online book club. I hadn't heard of this one before diving in, and wow, y'all, this one got me. It's an emotional read, but it's so wonderful. It's a read that alternates between narrators in two different times. There's the story of Lilly in 1931, a little girl who's never really left her home, and then one night, her mother sells her to the circus. Then, there's Julia who is navigating life in 1955. She's left her toxic home life, is struggling to get by, and then she gets some news that takes her back to her childhood home. The stories run separately, but as you go, some common threads start to appear. I am also particularly captivated by stories of the circus, so this one really got me. I do offer the disclaimer that when I say emotion there is some tragedy involved, but so worth feeling those feels.

Read this book if - You like historical fiction. You like a book that has a bit of a mystery in its plot. You share my fascination with the world of the circus.

A Wrinkle In Time: The Graphic Novel was obviously one I read because of the movie. I opted for the graphic novel because I hadn't read one in awhile, and I thought this was be a good opportunity to do that. After reading, I could see why people are so captivated by the story. And y'all, it is going to be so visually stunning. There is so much dimension to the story (both literally and figuratively, I guess). I really am glad I took the time to get to know the source material before checking out the real deal soon-ish. Movie aside, the graphic novel was really well done. At some point, I want to go and read the full novel just to compare, but I felt like this was a really strong retelling with an added visual element that made the story come to life even more for someone (me) who was reading this for the first time.

Read this book if - You plan on seeing the movie and want to have the background of the original material. You've already seen the movie and want to see where it all began. You have no idea if/when you'll see the movie, but you like a good sci-fi read.