Wednesday, December 30, 2020

December 2020 Books #MyLifeInBooks

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn - I've never been a huge romance reader, but these books have come up several times and now there's a new Netflix series coming out...I only planned to read the first one but now I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. Fun and silly and delightful.

And then....The Viscount Who Loved MeOffer from a GentlemanRomancing Mr Bridgerton all by Julia Quinn - not much to say except that these are just as much fun as the new Netflix adaptation. I had planned only to read the first one (see above) in preparation for the series, but now I'm hooked. 

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline - I really loved the first book - I thought it was mind-bendy and cool, with some great pop culture references. We've been recommending this one to nerds for years. The second book was...fine. It felt mostly unnecessary and a little bit pale in comparison to the first. I'm pretty sure we don't need a Ready Player Three.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates - this was so hard to read because of the painful story; beautifully written, a little odd on the storyline, and overall a worthy read. The magical elements didn't really work for me, and I think that the story could have almost worked without them...

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane - I definitely saw this one coming but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. A little showmance followed by falling in love...what could be bad?

Girl Serpent Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust - Re-imagined fairy tales are one of my favorites, and this one was pretty good. 

The Midnight Library by Matthew Haig - What might your life have been like if you'd taken another path? An extended version of Sliding Doors....a little preachy but definitely worth reading (and probably sermon material...)

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender - sweet and sad, so many different Big Ideas addressed here, but in a fairly safe way. It's middle-grade fiction, so it all gets wrapped up in a lovely way - but I can imagine that this book, in the right young hands, could have an immense impact. And the descriptions of grief are so well done.

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb - wonderfully told memoir of a relationship of a granddaughter and her grandmother. I loved the conversations that Bess created with the woman who clearly had a major impact on who she became.

Marjorie Ingall wrote a piece for Tablet Magazine listing the top Jewish kids' books for 2020, and this list below is basically what happens when I decide to read my way through a whole list. (A couple of exceptions but similiarly genre'd so I put them on this part of the list too)

The New Queer Conscience by Adam Eli - this very brief volume was a wonderful essay drawing on the Jewish concept that "every Jew is responsible for all others" - and bringing this concept to the Queer community. Thought-provoking and worth reading.

Fish Out of Water by Joanne Levy - I really liked this sweet story about a boy who just wants to do his own thing. His mom signs him up for water polo, when he really wants to dance. And he's told that knitting is for girls. You can imagine how this one goes, and it's well done.

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder - I'm a new fan of the graphic novel memoir and this one tells about a young woman as her mother dies of cancer. Sweet and humorous, and very comforting. 

Becoming Brianna by Terri Libenson - I liked this, because I'm always looking for well-told Bat Mitzvah stories. I'm always a little annoyed by stories of B'nai Mitzvah who are only marginally connected to Judaism...and then they feel put-upon in to learn, etc. But I liked how, in the end, it really was all about the learning and growth, so that's good, right? 

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon - I loved this one, even though I saw it all coming. Of course it's a haters-to-lovers story. But it's well-told and the Jewish elements just made me happy. The characters had some depth and overall, just a fun read. 

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz - Reading through the list above reminded me that I've been wanting to read this one for a while, so it fit the list! A wonderful story about a young woman wrestling with two parts of her identity - her Black Baptist mom and her white Jewish dad are getting divorced and she's trying to figure out how she fits in. Aside from my typical irritation with a few mishaps in the Jewish telling, this was very timely and a good read.

Sidetracked by Diana Harmon Asher - while reading all the other books, I was also cleaning house and found this PJ Our Way selection on a kid's shelf. A really good look at what it's like to be inside a socially challenged kid's mind as he navigates middle school and learning some new things about himself. I liked it!

A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan - I really enjoyed this one. Two sixth grade girls become friends, bonding over their immigrant parents and their love of food. I like these stories of cultural representation and finding your own path even when you feel a little torn between different parts of your identity.

Not Your All American Girl by by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and Madelyn Rosenberg - Honestly, I think that A Place at the Table did this story a little better, but still enjoyed this one. I was a tad confused by the timing (it's set in 1984 and they see Sixteen Candles in the theater) and to be honest, I think a middle grade reader might actually find all of that a little confusing. Still, I think this was a well-told story of personal identity and how to balance different elements of who you are. 

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui - While reading all of the other graphic novels above, I mentioned to David what I was doing...and he handed me this book, which he read in one of his college classes this past semester. I never like to turn down a book handed to me by one of my kids! This was a really remarkable and beautiful book - I think the graphic memoir genre is really cool, and I loved reading about a culture that is so very different from my own. 

Full Year's List Here

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