Summer Reading: Microreviews

I read six books this summer.  I wish I had read more, but there it is.  And here they are:

Quiet Americans by Erika Dreifus

I absolutely loved this book, about the long shadow cast on twenty and twenty-first century Jews by the Holocaust.  I think what I loved most, beyond the writing, were the different human angles to this tragedy that the stories take. I even convinced my book club to read it and they seemed to enjoy it too.  So go read it; you’ll not regret it.  I promise.

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal  The whole family listened raptly to this book on our summer travels; in fact, our older son was so enamored of it that when we dropped him off at an academic camp in North Carolina for three weeks, we had to promise not to listen to it again until we picked him back up so he wouldn’t miss anything.  It is unquestionably a game changer (pun intended, I guess) and I highly recommend it.

The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure  Thoughtful, fun and a must- read for anyone who loved the book series.

Composing Ourselves as Writer Teacher Writers Starting With Wendy Bishop Edited by Patrick Bizzaro, Devan Cook and Alys Culhane A wonderful tribute, overflowing with insightful looks at Wendy’s life and work from every conceivable angle.  Emotional too, though; (I’m tearing up just writing this) as I re-considered the indelible impact she had on our field I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t been taken from us so young.  It made me ache with missing her; missing her work, really, since I didn’t know her that well.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

This is a graphic memoir about growing up with a closeted gay father who committed suicide when the author was in college and was coming out herself.  I’d heard about it for years and finally got around to reading it.  Needless to say, it has only increased my admiration for the power of the graphic novel–the marriage of word and image–to tell these kinds of intense stories.

Alligators, Old Mink and New Money: One Woman’s Adventures in Vintage Clothing by Allison Houtte

Knowing I’d be without web access while on Nantucket, I downloaded a pile of books to my nook to ensure I wouldn’t run out of reading material.  I forgot about the Nantucket Library, though, and how much I love visiting their stacks; I always find books there my library doesn’t have.  This was one of them and it was a fun beach read.

The Architect of Flowers by William Lychack

I’m cheating a little because I finished reading this last April, and while I’ve talked about it a couple of times here I’ve never gotten to say how much I enjoyed it–it’s a truly incandescent (and I invoke that phrase rarely) and diverse group of stories.  Read them to see how it’s done.

Okay, so technically that’s seven if you don’t mind counting April as sort of the beginning of summer.  By the time you read this, though, I plan to be deep in a hotly anticipated new read, Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck.  The Invention of Huo Cabret changed everything in children’s literature about four years back; based on the reviews I’m reading, we should get  ready for it to happen again.

According to UPS tracking, it’s in Hodgkins, IL and will arrive Tuesday.  Tuesday!!! Argggh!

Bye y’all,


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