Saturday, February 29, 2020
This month's reading...I'm trying to keep up with short reviews this year. So far, 2 months in a row seems like it might be a trend....
Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality, and a Deeper Connection to Life-in Judaism (after Finally Choosing to Look There) by Sarah Hurwitz - I really like her voice. Of course, she's a speechwriter! But I really liked the way she put things, and my favorite parts were when she was sharing her own stories. It's also a very accessible basic-Judaism-text, which is always nice to have. Looking forward to meeting her next month.
Kaddish.com by Nathan Englander - Leading a book discussion on this one soon. I didn't expect to enjoy it at all - but it was a quick read and good food for thought. There were parts of this book that seemed a little far-fetched and I'm not sure I "bought" the main character. Looking forward to a group discussion on this one.
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly - a sweet middle-grade novel about a Deaf girl and her yearning for connection. I just handed this one to Solly so I am looking forward to hearing what he thinks! Loved the main character....
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali - I really enjoyed this one. It was an interesting look at Iran in the 1950s and I'm always fascinated by the changing roles of women in general. It's a little hard to believe in the ending, but at the same time, it felt satisfying and good.
Ban This Book by Alan Gratz - This is a middle-grade novel that's gotten a bit of press. It's about banned books (I bet you guessed that from the title) and a group of kids who love to read! It made me want to re-read some of my favorites from my childhood too. Well done!
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo - I am still thinking about this book long after I've put it down. What an interesting, fascinating, troubling (in a good way) read. I read How to Be an AntiRacist at the end of last year and this was such a remarkable complement. I'm looking forward to hearing the author speak next month and I am still processing. I think everyone should read this one, and I look forward to hearing what people have to say to me about it. Here's the quote that I think stuck with me the most (although there were several): "When I start from the premise that of course I have been thoroughly socialized into the racist culture in which I was born, I no longer need to expend energy denying that fact." And her use of some really interesting terms like "interrupting racism" - this has my mind spinning in so many directions.
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr - I needed a little bit of lighter fare after White Fragility and this was a good one. Not too fluffy but a good story about a woman finding herself after her marriage implodes.
What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum - I picked this YA novel up because last month, I read a book by this author at Yael's suggestion. This author writes beautifully about grief. The main character in this book is on the autism spectrum and it seems like a really interesting portrayal (I am reluctant to say accurate) of insight into that person's character. Is it all wrapped up a little too neatly? Maybe. But I liked it anyway.
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day - a middle grade novel that I can't quite tell you how it got on my shelf but I'm pretty sure it was from an article highlighting diverse voices in literature. A story about a girl trying to find her "home" and learning more about her own family's history. Heartbreaking look at the way that the Native population was torn apart by US policy...a good introduction for younger readers.
The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen - like her first book, Waking Lions, this book explores the meaning of truth and how lies multiply and escalate. I loved the slightly dreamy quality of the storytelling and the way that lies create circles that ensnare everyone in them.....highly recommend this one!
American Dirt by Jeannine Cummins - okay, so this one has sat for me for a little while due to all of the controversy. So many people have derided this book for a myriad of reasons but I have also heard that it was readable, compelling, and powerful. So what's a reader to do? I decided to go for it, and I did find the story painful and interesting, well-told, and I very much appreciated the author's insight at the end of the book as to her own misgivings about writing a story that some might feel she doesn't "have the right to tell." All that being said, I think any book shedding light on important topics is useful and I'd be curious to examine it with a group of people who could really tell me about its accuracy. Also, I've added a few Latinx authors to my to-read list to maybe balance out the controversial nature of this choice. What do you think???
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater - Again, a recommendation from Yael, who is reading this book for her English class. Just this week, someone "misgendered" her (thanks to her newly shaved head) and it opened the door for us to have a really interesting conversation about gender and identity, all wrapped up in this story as well. This is non-fiction, but uses some really nice storytelling conventions like poetry, blog posts, news reports, etc, and multiple perspectives, to tell two really important stories of injustice that intersect in this one incident. I'm really really really looking forward to discussing with Yael and also to hearing/seeing how this is integrated into her 7th grade English class!
Here's January's list
What are you reading?
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