Sunday, March 03, 2013

January/February Books

I didn't read very much in January and got kind of behind on my posting, so I decided to combine January and February's books into one post.

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
This was another book I downloaded to Kindle and then forgot what it was about before beginning to read it. Turns out, it's a memoir of a young mother who is diagnosed with breast cancer. Perhaps not the best choice to read at this time of my life, but it was so good that it made the difficulty worth it. Primarily, the book focuses on the author's relationship with her father, who is also battling cancer. "The middle place" refers to that stage in life when you are an adult and have children of your own to take care of but you still feel like you need your parents to take care of you. It was touching and hilarious, and the family dynamics were very relatable. Highly recommend.

A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick
This was a sweet, if somewhat trite, book about a woman who begins a new life in New England after her divorce. She opens a quilt shop and befriends a group of women who help her as she gets treatment for breast cancer (surprise! it's everywhere...sigh), and, in the meantime, work out their own problems. While the friendships between the women were touching, the book was a bit to predictable and preachy.

Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Francis Chan
This was the third and final of the free Francis Chan books. As with the other two, I was a bit underwhelmed. I guess I'm just not a Francis Chan fan. I did like one point he made about how people get caught up figuring out "God's will" for their life in terms of the next 10 years, when usually we need to think about God's will for our life in terms of the present moment. 

The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews by Michael Good
This was the fascinating true story of the author's search for the Nazi officer who was in charge of his mother's Lithuanian work camp and who his mother and others credited with saving their lives. I didn't know a lot about this particular part of WWII history and it was fascinating. As usual, I was so impressed by the tenacity of those in the labor camps. This book also brings up a good point about what it means to be a hero. Does one have to give up everything, including his or her life? Or can relatively small actions, but ones that others are too afraid to do, really make a difference?
Life from Scratch by Melissa Ford
This novel about a blogger who finds herself through cooking was an enjoyable read. But, the fact that it was fiction and not memoir made me like it less than Julie and Julia, which it seemed partly modeled on.

I'm taking a class on children's literature this semester that requires a lot of reading. I've really enjoyed being introduced to quality children's literature. I won't share all of the picturebooks I read, but I will share the young adult books. 

Saving Sky by Diane Stanley
This was a thought-provoking story set in an America in which the terrorist attacks continued after 9/11, and anti-Arab sentiment reached levels comparable to anti-Japanese sentiment during WWII. A young girl and her family choose to help one of her classmates. 

Honeybee by Naomi Shihab Nye
This was a great collection of poems and short prose. Honestly, it seemed just as appropriate for adults as children. I was first introduced to Nye's work at ACU. One of my professors really admired her, and she even came to do a reading on campus. She is hilarious and scathing (often at the same time) and eloquently captures the experience of growing up Arab-American in Texas (she's from San Antonio).

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat
I absolutely loved this memoir of a girl who was 4 years old when she and her family were forced to flee their home when Israel occupied the West Bank. It was a great window into the Palestinian experience, of which I was virtually clueless. Highly recommend.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
This was my first graphic novel, and it was easier to follow than I anticipated. It was a darkly funny story about a teenage girl who is haunted by the ghost of a girl who died 90 years earlier. Despite the somewhat strange premise, it's basically a story about the teenage tension between being true to yourself and fitting in. I'm a little too far removed from high school angst (thank goodness!) to be totally captivated by the story, but it was a fun little read.

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