January's books

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A little while ago The Man attempted to do the math on how many books I've read in my lifetime and how many I've read to the children.  Though I appreciated the attempt, I know this is an impossible task.  How can you average something that has a thousand variables - type of book, length of book, emotional and physical state of reader, time available, and so forth. 

Or how to quantify the time that goes beyond the actual reading of a book but still is a part of the reading experience?  The time I spend pondering something I've read, the things I learn that I apply to my life, the perspectives I've gained and gems of wisdom that have saved my soul countless times.  The bonds I've developed with the children through our shared reading and invaluable commonalities of literary experience and thinking that forms the basis of our lives together.

Too much to try to crunch numbers on.  I'd rather go read a book.

But then I began to wonder how many books I actually do read in a month or so?  Just for idle curiosity's sake?  I decided I would document the books that I read for a little while, just to see.  A little experiment.

To save myself from having to spend my day writing lists, I am choosing to include only:

1. Books with stories - fiction, memoirs and particularly well written essays included but not the hundred and one diet/nutrition/wellness books I also like to read or skim.

2. Books that contain at least two chapters - no picture or young children's literature, I read about ten or so every day to the kids, unless they are particularly charming or grim and read for my own entertainment as much as the childrens'.

I've been keeping track since a few days before the new year.  To be honest, I haven't actually counted how many books it is, but it is fun to see how my interest has wandered about over the last few weeks.

Would you like to see what I read this month? 

Books I've read to girl child:

Michael Buckley's The Sisters Grimm series books The Everafter War (7), The Inside Story (8) and The Council of Mirrors (9).   I would highly HIGHLY recommend this series to any young reader, about age 8-12, particularly to girls.  If you can, read it aloud.  It's funny, interesting, knowledgeable and has a good sprinkling of romance for the unromantic.

Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda and Nurse Matilda goes to the Hospital.  These are the books who inspired the Nanny McPhee movies.  Absolutely funny and must be read with an English accent with all sorts of dramatic voices, for all of those who enjoy playing up the characters.

Philip Ardagh's The Awful End.  The first in a trilogy, we've just about finished the first book.  It's filled with word play and silliness.  Girl child and I have received some very odd looks when we've sat in the coffee shop giggling like goons over Mad Aunt Maud's stuffed stout.  Can't wait to read the next in the series.

Picture books of note:

I will probably always tell you about any Edward Gorey books we read because I will never grow tired of his bizarre grim sense of humour.  Gorey sort of reads like a mix of Roald Dahl and H.P. Lovecraft.  This month we read Gorey's Evil Garden and snickered our way through The Gashlycrumb Tinies again.  Girl child has gone to some effort to memorize The Gashlycrumb Tinies and has been teaching it to boy child.  I believe I read somewhere once that everyone should try to memorize at least one poem in their lifetime.  Perhaps I should try to memorize it as well?

Children's literature I read just to me:

I am unabashedly a huge fan of children's literature.  For my personal reading, I aim for something more complex than girl child is ready for and I favour straight out adventures without a whole lot of angst. 

I started the list with Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society and am now reading his second book in this series, The Perilous Journey.  There is, admittedly, a little angst in them, but I find it dismissible enough to read through to the danger and adventure.

Daniel Pinkwater's Bushman Lives!  Beautiful.  Perfect book for quiet afternoon.

John Bellairs' The House with a Clock in its Walls.  I have to admit I was a little creeped out by the end of this book.  I had to restrict myself to daytime reading since the writing is vivid and encourages paranoia.  Good stuff!

Debi Gliori's Pure Dead Wicked.  Silly and fun, with a nasty ending for the bad guys, I think I'll read this to girl child soon.

Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar.  Ack, a child wrote this book and it is amazing!  Read it. 

Colin Melroy's Wildwood and Under Wildwood.  I can't say enough good things about this series.  The incredibly charming illustrations are done by Melroy's wife Carson Ellis, who also illustrated The Mysterious Benedict Society.  I would of read these books just for the pictures alone.  It's an amazing story, with war, attempted infanticide, coyote soldiers, bird politicians all overlaid with nature magic.  I'm on pins and needles waiting for the third book to come out.  Plus, I need to visit Portland.

Adult books:

Jacob Tomsky's memoir Heads in Beds.  Having worked in hotels before, I found this amusing and frighteningly familiar. 

Cheryl Strayer's Wild.  I am actually on the last chapter of this memoir of Strayer's summer long hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Strayer has made me laugh, despair, and shocked the heck out of me.  And I'm not easy to shock.

Alice Ozma's The Reading Promise.  Beautifully well done memoir by a young woman about her father's daily (never, ever missed) out loud reading to her from the time she was in grade three to when she left for college.  Best argument for reading out loud to your children far beyond the time when they can read to themselves.  As a bonus, Ozma and her father are hilarious. 

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Have you read any good books this month?


  1. I need to read more to myself for pleasure, but I tend to start and not stop till the book is done.

    I am happy to say that my kiddo has finally realized that she can read, and is gaining confidence every day. The turning point for her was a Brave Golden First Chapter book. It's so exciting to see.

    We do a lot of audio books. I've looked at our library for a lot of the books you recommend, but our library doesn't carry them. Grr. I also just realized that our library doesn't purchase paperback kids books. So, a lot of the series that we have started, we can't finish because the library doesn't have or won't get the rest of the series.

    Ok, I'm done. Love your book related posts!

  2. Tina, have you checked to see if your library can do interlibrary loans? I get quite a few of my books that way.

  3. Our public library limits free interlibrary loans to 5 or 6 a year. With homeschooling, and a horse obsessed child, we have already used up 3 of our 6 for the year.

    We do have a library through the AF base that does free interlibrary loans, but they would prefer that they be for a specific need (such as homeschooling). I think once we have built up a relationship with the librarians on base, I would probably o.k. just requesting books for pure pleasure. Or, I could just claim that they are necessary for our home education :0)

  4. Your reading habits are very similar to my 10 year old, she reads avidly (even in the bathroom!) and I'm always looking for good books for her. She loved the Sisters Grimm, which I found out about from another blogger and just started the second Mysterious Benedict Society so I shall take a look at the Wildwood series but not the House with a Clock in its Walls as shes very sensitive and didn't want to read Benedict books at first as they was a 'creepy picture on the front cover!' Luckily our library is great and the kids are allowed to take out 20 books at a time and keep them for 3 weeks, if only the books lasted that long! Going to the library is a life saver for us as theres no way we could buy enough books to keep her going. If only I could get 7 year old girl to catch the bug, more of a reluctant reader...

  5. Tina, I must remember to hug my librarians more often. I really appreciate my library and they not only do not have a limit on loans nor on interlibrary loans, but they also have ordered dozens of new books for the libraries (we have two branches in town) that I have recommended.

    Louise, girl child also loved Lemony Snicket's series of unfortunate events but she does tend to run towards the dark and grim side. She's just started the spiderwick chronicles and that is a series that scared me o.o

  6. I could also mention that The Man has been working his way through the Magic Treehouse series with boy child, which, for a four year old, I'm feeling pretty impressed.

    Girl child, for the record, hates magic treehouse. Matching the subject and style to the child is very helpful in making that initial spark. Reading out loud with big, dramatic voices and funny characters, lots of gestures and physical humour helps when boy child's limited attention wanders. The physical side of story telling reels him in and hooks him on particular books and series.

  7. Thanks for posting this! So many excellent things to add to my to-read queue. I'd seen Wildwood and wondered if it was worth checking out - guess I'll have to do it now.

    Of course these are all for me for the time being. Babytron is too young. I can't wait until I can read him chapter books...

  8. Charity, we were super spoiled by our last library (Ames, Iowa). The children's librarian would interlibrary loan as many books as I wanted throughout the year, the only limit was it need to be 5 or less at a time. They also purchased a bunch of the books we recommended, and we got first dibs on them! I was ecstatic when they put there book request form on-line :0)

    I might have to chat with the librarian here to see what we can do. If we can't suggest and implement some changes, well, we'll only be here for 3 years, and I guess we'll have to up our book budget each month.

    Hmm, I wonder if I can set up a book exchange somehow...

  9. Dear Alice I read the illistrated "Winnie the Pooh" books to my grandson before he was one and several times since. This post made me think it was time to start again, he is 7. Love this idea it would be great to see how many in a year!

  10. i love when you post about books! right now we are reading a lot of mo willems piggie and gerald books because my kindergartner is learning to read on her own. my son enjoys neil gaiman and the spiderwick chronicle series. i am reading the twelve by justin cronin a sequel to the passage.
    i love my library we are there once a week and i love my sister, she is a librarian. :)

  11. My 6 year old's favorite book at the moment is 10 Little Zombies. He asks for it every night before going to bed. Corduroy is the one that my 3 year old likes more though.

  12. I love hearing about kids who love reading! I was/am an avid reader and as a teacher I love reading the young adult fiction stuff. I just finished "The Subtle Knife" - 2nd in the Golden Compass trilogy. I lived in a town with no library and the library at the school I moved to in grade 2 would not allow grade k-3 to take out novels - I'd been reading kids chapter books since grade 1 before we moved across country, I think my parents spent a fortune on books but we also scoured yard sales and traded with my friends older sibblings.

  13. I loved reading this post - I kept flipping between it and the library website and amazon :) I have put several things on hold and ordered The Reading Project for my dad for his birthday. He used to read to me every night before bed. We didn't quite do it every night as I got older, but still did occassionally even when I was home from college on breaks.
    Anyway, I discovered Jasper Fforde's books recently. He's got some for kids and some for adults, but I've adored every one that I've read so far. If you haven't read something by him before, I highly recommend trying!