February 2020 Reading Update

Each month I blog about what I’ve read for my own records, and to share my recommendations with anyone interested.  My reading goal of the year is to broaden the type of books I read, exposing myself to cultures beyond my own. This month I read:

  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – Another book recommendation from my favorite podcast, 10 Things to Tell You.  This was not what I was expecting at all.  Based solely on the title, and the fact that there is a sequel called Olive, Again, I assumed this was going to be all about the life of Olive.  And it was, but not in the traditional storytelling manner.  This was a lot of little snippets about life in a small town in Maine, and the unique characters who come into contact with Olive.  So often I would become interested in one storyline, only to have that chapter end and never to hear of those characters again.  It was interesting and disappointing. I loved the way we learned more about Olive as we met people who knew her, and learned their perspectives on her personality.  This was a well-written story.
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson- I haven’t read a book by Woodson in a long time. I love her YA books and her writing style is so unique. This book was told by various characters and not in chronological order. I appreciated how each chapter gave you another detail of the life of the characters across three generations. However, Woodson also makes the reader infer a lot – she doesn’t go into great detail and you have to work! It’s a bittersweet story of a Black American family.
  • My Life Has Been A Bowl of Cherries by Louise Bond Dowling Vincent – This was not my usual reading material.  This is actual the autobiography of my grandmother’s cousin, who, with the help of her daughter, wrote her memories out when she was 99.  She is still with us today and over 100 years old! It was fun to read about her life, and to read small snippets about my grandparents and my father through the years. I know I met Louise at at least one family reunion event when I was a teenager.  She and my grandmother were close throughout their lives. I wish I had paid more attention to the family history when I was younger.  The older I get, the more I treasure the stories and memories from our family’s past. This was a special treat, especially because of all the amazing family pictures that were included.
  • The Institute by Stephen King – I haven’t read a King book in many years, though I loved his books as a child and I loved 11/22/63 sometime in the last decade. This book, while being over 600 pages long, was amazing! It was suspenseful, intriguing, and I couldn’t put it down (though sleep and work forced me to do so a few times!). Young children with some extraordinary powers are kidnapped and brought to the institute, where they are forced to endure medical tests and torture as mad scientists try to harness their powers.  The main character Luke, was such a great protagonist.  I loved this book!
  • Miracle Creek by Angie Kim- I loved this book! It was a quick-paced mystery that made you question every character’s motive and actions, as each chapter gave you just a little more information and a lot more to doubt. Young and Pak created Miracle Submarine, a hyperbaric chamber to help children with autism and various diseases. A fire causes a great tragedy in the first chapter, and the rest of the book is the trial about the fire mixed with flashbacks as we get to know each of the characters and their lives inside and outside of the submarine. Everyone was so real and flawed, and each had motives and guilt. I loved the way the author weaved together this bittersweet story.
  • On The Come Up by Angie Thomas [audiobook] – I loved The Hate U Give by Thomas, and knew I would love this YA book too. Bri is a black teenager whose father was a famous rapper killed many years ago.  As her family struggles to survive, Bri is determined to make her own way as a female rapper. This story explores school security, the differences in discipline given to white students versus students of color, poverty, gang issues, friendships, teen romance, and the influence music has on our lives. It’s a powerful story with many lessons.
  • Open Book by Jessica Simpson [audiobook] – I love a celebrity-read autobiography! While I’ve never been a big fan of Jessica Simpson, I have been a fan of pop culture and have known parts of her life over the years.  There was much about her life that I didn’t know, and I appreciated her honesty about her childhood trauma, her relationships, her demons, and her search for love. She is a successful businesswoman, and a wife and mother with a full life. I enjoyed her story.

This year I’m also keeping track of the stats of the books I read. I am not surprised that I read more fiction than nonfiction and books by more women than men authors.

Fiction: 5

Nonfiction: 2

Young Adolescent: 2

Audiobooks: 2

Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me: 2

Female author: 6

Male Author: 1

Nonbinary Author: 0

About Amy's Reflections

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services in Southern CA, taking time to reflect on leadership and learning
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