July 2020 Reading Update

This month was a balance of summer fun reading and ensuring I was continuing to educate myself. In July I read:

  • Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner – This was another “good summer read” recommended a few months ago that just became available on my library e-reader. I haven’t read a Weiner book in a few years, and at first I was annoyed and felt that I had finally outgrown her. The characters all still seem to be 20-something women with low self confidence, with weight issues, with parent issues, with not-yet-fully-formed careers, struggling with men. However, there was a bit of mystery and some fun mixed in, so I stuck with it. Daphne and Drue were high school friends until Drue’s true colors finally hurt Daphne enough to end the friendship, and begin her social media influencer lifestyle. When Drue returns out of the blue and asks Daphne to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, it was ridiculous that Daphne agreed.  Once I got past that, I was able to enjoy the insane wedding details, the cute romance elements, the nice family and friendship stories, and to get to the bottom of the mystery. Not my favorite by a long shot, but a quick summer read for sure.
  • Stealth by Stuart Woods – Every few months I check for a new Stuart Woods book; sometimes I find I missed one (though I try to read the Stone Barrington series in order).  I always enjoy the fast-paced mysteries that Stone gets himself involved in. This time, his CIA buddy Lance Cabot recruits him to become a CIA Deputy Director, instead of just a consultant. This leads to attempts on his life and a near-death experience (with some romance along the way). Another fun read!
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds [audiobook] – After reading Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist last month, I looked back at his previous books. I decided to read this YA version of his adult Stamped book, to see how the message plays out for students. I also decided to listen to it, and I’m so glad I did because Reynolds, who is a great children’s author, narrates the audiobook and his reading is incredible!  They call this a not history history book, and they take you through hundreds of years of American history – the real history of Black America. If I was still a middle school teacher, I would be planning to read this with my students in the coming school year. This is one of many ways we can adjust our curriculum and help young people learn things that many adults are just now learning around our country.
  • Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan [audiobook] – I loved this book! I love this author, and her gift for beautiful storytelling with rich, vivid language! I had the amazing opportunity to join a 4th grade class on a Zoom call with the author back in May. She shared about her writing process and a little about her latest book, so I immediately had to download it. I listened to it on a recent road trip. Young Max’s story of searching for details about his mother, wanting to be a soccer star, and wishing his father would see how grown up he is, was a sweet story. This is another book I would put in my classroom library if I was still a teacher (and if we were back in regular school!).
  • Treason by Stuart Woods – Once I get back into a Stone Barrington kick, I read a few of these stories in a row. I love that I’ve been reading this series long enough to know all of the main characters, their characteristics, and I can look forward to a random adventure, especially now that Stone works more directly for the CIA. The only disappointment in this book is that it ended with a cliffhanger, which is not usual for a Woods novel.
  • Me and White Supremacy: How to Recognise Your Privilege, Combat Racism and Change the World by Layla Saad – This is another book in my self-education, that I highly recommend to all White people. This book is really meant to be a self-reflective practice, with the reader journaling answers to questions at the of each chapter. The book is designed to be read one day at a time for 28 days, providing enough time for reflection. I wrote a lot in the beginning, and then began to do more thinking and less writing as it went on, just because I wanted to finish the book! The author recommends you go back and reread and respond to the questions over and over as you learn more, so I will plan to do that again in the future. Reading this not only gives you an understand of the key elements of white supremacy, but a deeper understanding of your own role in the system. It’s hard work to consider how you have harmed BIPOC in your life, but if you don’t start the work with yourself, you cannot contribute to dismantling white supremacy.
  • When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal – I love discoverng new-to-me authors whose writing style I enjoy! I can’t remember how I found this book, but I loved the bittersweet story of Kit, Josie, Dylan, and their dysfunctional childhood, and how that impacted their lives as adults on different continents. It was a beautifully told story and I really want to visit New Zealand now!

This year I’m also keeping track of the stats of the books I read. Here are July’s stats:

Fiction: 5

Nonfiction: 2

Young Adolescent: 2

Audiobooks: 2

Author is of or plot addresses a different race/ethnicity, orientation, religion than me: 3

Female author: 4

Male Author: 3

Nonbinary Author: 0

About Amy's Reflections

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