Bookends: January 2013

The first day of each month, I’m posting a summary of what I read the previous month and what I plan to read in the coming month. I would love if this could become a conversation in the comments about what’s on your reading list, too!

Here’s the list of books I finished in January. I had hoped to make a more impressive start on my Cavalcade of Classics reading list (like actually finishing at least one book from the list), but I’m more than halfway through The Pilgrim’s Progress. February is totally my month.

Links are to my reviews, either on this site or on Goodreads. Titles without links are books I’ve not reviewed yet:

Grown-ups’ Books:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (Wonderful, amusing book about the history, use, and misuse of punctuation)

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (Essays in Sedaris’s unique style)

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (Non-fiction; a history of race and racism in United States law, and how that history leads directly to the inherent racism of our current criminal justice system. Outstanding. I’ve not written a review for this yet. There’s so much in this book, and I’m not really sure where to begin, but I’ll link the review once I write it.)

Kind of Kin by Rilla Askew (A novel about an Oklahoma family caught in a new anti-immigration law.)

What Are People For? by Wendell Berry (Awesome collected essays; everything from book reviews to instructions for sustainable eating)

Kids’ Books:

The Time Garden by Edward Eager (#4 in the Tales of Magic series, in which four children travel through time with the help of enchanted herbs. No, not that kind of herb. Read-aloud.)

The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food by Stan and Jan Berenstain (I’ve read a bazillion of these, but this is the one one I’ve reviewed)

Beautiful Warrior by Emily Arnold McCully (A Buddhist nun teaches a girl how to fight to defend herself.)

The Hunter: A Chinese Folktale by Mary Casanova (A hunter must choose between saving his village and saving his own life.)

The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen (An over-looked princess demonstrates her devotion to her father.)

The Legend of the Persian Carpet by Tomie dePaola (A king becomes so depressed when his diamond is stolen that he is unable to rule; the whole community pulls together to help bring color and joy back to his life.)

Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave by Marianna Mayer (Russian Cinderella tale)

Raisel’s Riddle by Erica Silverman (Jewish Cinderella tale)

Wolf Story by William McCleery (A father’s multi-day story for his young son.)

Anna’s Wish by Bruno Hächler (Anna wishes for snow in a town that hasn’t seen snow in decades.)

Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager (#3 in the Tales of Magic series, in which four siblings—aided by a talking turtle—wish on a magic lake.)

Fa Mulan: The Story of a Woman Warrior by Robert D. San Souci (Chinese folktale about a young woman who fights in a war in her father’s place and ends up becoming a general.)

Marco Polo by Demi (biography)

Ten Queens: Portraits of Women in Power by Milton Meltzer (Brief biographies of influential women throughout history. We read the section about Eleanor of Aquitaine.)

Magna Carta by C. Walter Hodges (Maybe the only children’s book ever written about the Magna Carta.)

This list does not include most of the picture books that I read to my kids every day, just the ones I’ve reviewed (which is mostly the ones I’ve read to them as part of my daughter’s homeschool history lessons).

What are People For? by Wendell Berry is my favorite grown-up book for January. This book totally blew me away. Not only did Berry discuss subjects that were interesting and timely for me, he demonstrated great skill in the art of essay-writing. It was a pleasure to read this essay collection, on many different levels.

I’m currently reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose is still on my currently reading list, but I’ve not read any of that since November; I’m just not ready to call it quits on that one yet. After these I have Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels from my Cavalcade of Classics list.

And for non-classics? My sister and I are doing a mini “sisters” book club and reading Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth together. Well, “together” meaning 700 miles apart but at the same time. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Maybe Fanny Stevenson, the biography of Robert Louis Stevenson’s wife by Alexandra Lapierre that a woman at church loaned me. And there will definitely be more kids’ books this month—Magic or Not? by Edward Eager and The Enchanted Castle by Edith Nesbit are in the queue; more will likely find their way onto the list.

It’s funny: I had the feeling I’d not read very much at all this month. Looking at this list, I wonder where I got that idea?

What have you enjoyed reading in the past month? What’s on your to-read list for February? If you blog your answer, please post a link in the comments (or link back to this post, if you’re so inclined, and your link will show up as a pingback in the comments).

6 Replies to “Bookends: January 2013”

  1. I love this idea! I have heard a few good things about The New Jim Crow now and I’m thinking that means it’s time I check it out. I’m interested in Eating Animals, too, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for your thoughts. I love Safran Foer’s writing.

    At the moment, I’m reading Understanding the Human Being, a Montessori Book on the first 3 years of life, and I’m rereading Anna Karenina for the pure pleasure.


    1. Anna Karenina is on my list for sure (literally…it’s #12).

      I do like The New Jim Crow. I bought a study guide from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, and I hope to go back through the book with that and maybe digest a little more than I did the first time through. There’s so much information in Alexander’s book.

      Eating Animals has been great, but I’m kind of at the point that I want to cry “uncle.” It’s like, I get it already; I don’t want to hear any more about abusive treatment of livestock or millions of tons of pig excrement dumped into North Carolina waterways. A neighbor made spring rolls with shrimp in them yesterday, and all I could think about was the 26 pounds of “by-catch” for every two pounds of shrimp that’s caught. On the plus side, though, I see why so many vegans I’ve met are so shrill about food choices, so it’s fostering some empathy for my fellow humans. Of course, I’m also in danger of becoming shrill myself.


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