Even though September is always a busy month, between the new school year starting up and my birthday, I still managed to read a lot this month. In fact, I have now officially read 100 books in 2022 already! This month I read:
- Five Little Indians by Michelle Good – Through the Currently Reading podcast, I heard about this Canadian novel and knew I needed to read this. The author is a Cree woman whose mother was sent to a residential school. This book tells the story of five young children torn from their families, forced into abusive “schools” and what became of them when they left the schools. The stories are sad, bittersweet, hopeful, and full of real life. This is an important window book for any of us who are not Indigenous and have limited understanding of what those residential places did to children and families, in both Canada and the US.
- How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny [Gamache #9] – While this is #9 in this series, it’s the first that I’ve rated with 5 stars. I am now so deep into the Armand Gamache world that I was hanging onto every word! I wanted all the sad parts to wrap up nicely, I wanted Jean Guy and Armand to find their way back to good health and a good working partnership, I wanted the corruption to be discovered and eliminated, and all to be well. This was a fast ride to a beautiful conclusion (though more drama awaits, I’m sure!). I LOVE the world Louise Penny has created!
- Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard – I heard an interview with the author and loved hearing about her process for writing in general, and for this book in particular. I ordered my copy from Fabled Bookstore, who hosted the author interview and got a signed copy! This is one of her “fun, fluff” books that she wrote for her own enjoyment, and it was a fun read! In this book, we are reading about an actress set to play a role in a low budget film, based on a book. Throughout the book we see parts of the film script, the book within that script, the acting, and what is happening to the characters in real time. There are a variety of twists and we rush to the collision course at the end!
- One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Having loved Taylor Jenkins Reids last few books, I think I put this backlist title on hold with my library awhile ago. It came up at the end of a long weekend, which was perfect for a quick, palate cleansing read. This is a cheesy romance, not nearly as good as her later books, but still a sweet story overall. Emma and Jesse have a perfect love story, until he is in a helicopter crash. Emma grieves and finds her way to a new life, only to have Jesse suddenly found in the ocean YEARS later (with limited details on that time, btw!). She must choose between her past and her present, thereby deciding her own future.
- The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System- And How to Fix It by Natalie Wexler – I keep telling all of my educator friends to read this book so I have people to discuss it with. An educator in my Currently Reading group shared it recently and her description made me want to read this. This book is making me question so many things I know, I thought I knew, and I wonder about our education system. The author goes deep into the teaching of elementary reading, deep into Lucy Calkins and her Units of Study and her workshop fame, then does an overview of federal education from A Nation at Risk to No Child Left Behind to today, and then explores a few individual classrooms doing something different that she supports. Her big premise is that we have done reading instruction wrong by focusing on skill and strategy instruction instead of knowledge instruction. She recommends that our curriculum be focused on building students knowledge of content (i.e. bring Science and History back to elementary!) with specific units/texts doing deep studies into big content areas to build students knowledge. “Core Knowledge” is a curriculum she is supporting in this context. As an educator who attended Lucy Calkin’s Teachers’ College Workshop training, ran reading and writing workshop in my class (in middle school), reading this made me angry, made me question my own practice and what I was taught, and had me learning, agreeing and disagreeing at different times. Education in America is such a challenge because we don’t have a federal system, and each state can make different decisions. Then within a state, districts have a lot of local control. For many educations, this feels freeing and we are able to personalize to the students in front of us. However, that leaves open gaps based on our own experiences, our resources, and how we interpret the state standards. We aren’t doing it all well, but we also aren’t completely broken either! Every educator I know is here for the right reasons, doing their best, and wanting to grow and learn. What this book did well is make me THINK!
- Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt – What a beautiful book! This story follows an interesting cast of characters, including Marcellus the octopus, Tova the widower, and Cameron, the lost soul. As we get to know each of these beautifully real and flawed individuals, we learn to love them and hope they find love as well. Octopuses are fascinating, intelligent, adventurous creatures and Marcellus is a delight! I don’t want to give away anything that happens, but this book made my heart happy!
- The Long Way Home by Louise Penny (Gamache #10) – I love this series, but this book was not my favorite! Clara is finally ready for Peter to return home, after their year of separation. Gamache has retired and moved to Three Pines (love this!). But Clara needs his help to find Peter. Their search takes them all over Canada, in some unbelievable travel situations with some weird people. The characters annoyed me in this one, and the ending made me a little annoyed and a bit sad.
- Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson [audiobook] – I listened to the audiobook version after a teacher told me about the book. The story follows a group of 6 young students who all go to a special class together. The teacher gives them Friday afternoons to spend time together, with no adults, to talk about whatever they want. Over time, the kids begin to share their personal stories, which include their parents deportation, jail, death and more, and their own fears and struggles. The Audible version had a conversation with the author and her young son at the end of the book, and it was a beautiful conversation to hear. This was a window book for so many reasons!
- Tumble by Celia C. Perez [audiobook] – This was an unexpected surprise, by an author new to me! In this story we meet Addie, who lives with her mother and stepfather. When they ask her if she is okay with her stepfather adopting her, it brings up all the questions her mother has never wanted to answer. Who is her father? Where is he? Why doesn’t he want her? Addie goes on a research quest to figure out who her father is, and finds family in many places and ways. This has a fun cast of characters, some New Mexico flare, some wrestling fun, and more!
- Book Lovers by Emily Henry – If you love a good, cheesy Hallmark movie, you will love this book! Nora is a NYC book agent, a tough “City Person” whose last 4 relationships have all ended with her ex boyfriends running off to live in a small town (a la Hallmark). When Nora’s sister Libby begs her to take a month off, to spend time in Sunshine Falls, NC (where a book she edited was based off of), she agrees only because of how much she loves her sister. Small town adventures follow, and romance blooms in the typical trope of enemy to lover, all while Nora names all the typical tropes of romance books. This is fun, funny, romantic and ridiculous all at once!
Favorite Books This Month
Fiction: Five Little Indians & Remarkably Bright Creatures
Nonfiction: The Knowledge Gap: The Hidden Cause of America’s Broken Education System- And How to Fix It
This best way to start a new week with optimism, hope and a smile was reading this today! I love that I hear your voice talking me through each book! Thanks for putting some cheese in there too! It makes me feel more accepted in your literary world! 🙂
Andrée Grey, Ed.D.
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