Friday, February 4, 2011

What I am reading

I just finished my first adult book of 2011.  I wanted to link up with the 52 book challenge but I don’t need more stress and feelings of inadequacy in my life right now so I just challenged myself to record the books I read this year.  The 52-52 challenge does not consider children’s literature part of the challenge because of the ease of reading. Did you know that most newspapers are written on a 4th grade reading level?   

I consider children’s lit a wonderful genre that is often overlooked.  Quality writing is quality writing.  Sometimes it is nice to read a story free of sex, violence and language, where the focus is on family, friendships, and personal growth.  So as I write this, I am defining my own set of guidelines.  Therefore, I have not read just one book in 2011, I have read 4!  Wait.....that actually works out to one book a week.....which means I have not failed my own personal 52 in 52 yet!

The Spiderwick Chronicles: book 1 a field guide.  Actually Grace read this book to me.  I looked forward to her read aloud every night to see where the author would take this story.  There have been many entries into the world of fantasy/science fiction lately and I was curious to see how the plot would develop.  Because this is a series, the reader is left with an unresolved plot line and we are both looking forward to getting the next book this weekend.

Penny Dreadful - I came across this book on a book list.  I loved it.  Again, it is children’s lit.  It is a sweet story about a family who lives above their means in New York city and has the chance to start over again in rural Tennessee when her mother inherits an estate.  However, all is not as it seems because in order to accept this inheritance, great changes must be made in this family.  The themes are: what does being part of a family mean?  Are you willing to sacrifice for happiness?  What is really important, money or friends and family?  What is the meaning of friendship?  How do you define what is success?  I hope my girls pick this up and enjoy it. 

The Mother Daughter Book Club.   I wanted to like this book as it came so highly recommended.  I did like it.  I can see why it appeals to "tween" girls.    It centers on four pre-teen girls from different “cliques” who come together when their mothers start a book club.  

It was not the writing, or the plot, or the character development that left me feeling a bit empty. Rather it was my own dissatisfaction with the classic portrayal of teenage girls.  I am trying to find books for my girls that do not feature stereotypical pre-teen angst.  Did I enjoy Junior High?  Not really.  It is an awkward age no matter what.  But I did not experience bullying.  I was not picked on (except by one teacher who horrified me by commenting on how pale my skin was) by my peers.  As we move through our homeschooling journey, I want to move away from books that are set in schools where children must navigate through peer pressure, self image issues and bullying, and move towards books that are about self-discovery, character development and alternative education.  I would love some suggestions...books like Surviving The Applewhites!  Loved loved loved that book!

I just finished Water for Elephants.  You cannot help but love Jacob.  He reminds me of my elderly neighbor with the same surname.  Instead of teen angst, this book is filled with elderly angst.  I makes you want to walk, run, to the nearest nursing home or assisted living facility and tell the residents they are not forgotten, their lives had meaning, and they are valued.  But I wonder if some would recognize this as a lie.  For me, the story of the circus and the love triangle of three circus employees was secondary to the character of Jacob and how his story is told.  I have to admit, I look forward to this movie and an curious if Robert Pattinson can pull off Jacob.  I think Reese Witherspoon was well cast as Marlena.
I need to find my next great read.  What are you reading right now?


Theresa said...

I read Water for Elephants a few years ago and remember just loving it and feeling very emotional afterwards.

I read a ton of non-fiction in the fall, so have been rewarding myself with Jennifer Weiner's "Good in Bed". I had always found her too light, but lately, since I am also reading Ralph Fletcher's "Writing Workshop" (not that that is so deep) and a book about Healing through Art Journaling (I am considering starting art journals with the girls) I need something light and funny at the end of the day.

Have you read Gordon Korman's "Schooled" it's slightly about alternative education and self discovery, but the boy does get bullied.

When you get in to YA there are a lot of books about alternative education and self discovery and bullying takes a backseat.

My issue is that I don't like fantasy and my girls seem to be the same. I have a really difficult time suspending disbelief. I want to like Percy Jackson and so far, love the way it is written, but it's that element of "this could never happen" that gets me. Though I want to keep going with it.

Also, like me, my girls want multi-dimensional layered characters with flaws and problems and issues, so much of Juvenile Fiction, imo, has very one dimensional characters. We are always looking for suggestions with believable layered characters. Again, YA changes all of that. But there are issues in YA that my girls are not ready for.

After finishing the Mother-Daughter bookclub series, Allie is reading "Anne of Green Gables" and I am thankful that the series turned her on to some children's lit classics.

Jessica said...

Thanks Theresa! I love your suggestions. I have not read schooled. I am going to see if it is on the Nook right now!

Grace has the same issues with some fantasy. She loved Harry Potter but struggles a bit with Percy also - for the same reasons as you. Our faith also complicates it a bit. She does not get the concept of the gods. Are they real? Were they real? When they feature as such real figures, it is hard to connect it with the past and the original intention of using them to explain the unknown. This has started to come up with some bible stories. I told her that they too were used as a way to explain something that was not understood at the time.

Can you give me some YA book suggestions similar to the Applewhites? I did many google searches and came up empty and unfortunately our local librarians are not much help.......

Jessica said...
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Jessica said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for all of your encouraging comments the past few weeks! I does stink feeling like this. I e-mailed his teacher this morning, so we'll see what she thinks. I hate being so torn in what to do! Anyways... I love Jodi Piccoult and just finished reading "House Rules"....VERY good. My favorite book is "For the Children's Sake" by Susan McCauley Schaeffer. Have a great weekend!

Theresa said...

It's funny...every resource we use at the library that I checked lists Schooled as a recommendation if you liked Surviving the Apple whites.

I also did a search on characters that are homeschooled. A has been asking for this as well...saying that sometimes she feels like she wants to go back to school because all of the characters in books and movies are in school... She finished Mother-Daughter book club series and didn't like reading Anne of Green Gables (but at least she is familiar with it, I guess) we are off the library in a bit and I want to check some of these out:

mamak said...

I loved Jacob. I was sad when I finished that book and he exited from my daily life. Now I have Abileen and Minnie, and Skeeter as my current characters...
New books on my radar include- Shit my Dad says
and Cutting for Stone.

Karen said...

Penny Dreadful sounds like something we would like. Since I love simple living I love books about people rediscovering this. :)

We love fantasy books. It is funny because I know people exactly the same who don't like them because of the 'this could never happen'. It is like I tell Kei, "Just suspend your disbelief".

Monster of the Month Club is a cute book about a homeschool girl. Maybe 3-5 level? Not sure.

I am putting Water for Elephants on my list right now.

Check this out

Marcie said...

For adult reading...I haven't done much of that this year. Although I just picked up a Cesar Millan book. And I checked out Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World yesterday. J and I think we may have a visual-spatial child, so I am researching. With these two books maybe I can get along with the kid and the dogs better.

Janet said...

I LOVED Water for Elephants. It was so good. I also liked The Help and I'm reading Weird Sisters that's becoming very good too.

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