Bookends: March 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!

It would be so much cooler if I posted an April Fool’s post, but alas! I’m playing this one straight and patently uncool.

Despite my best intentions, I did not complete any books from my Cavalcade of Classics this month. It was one of those months when great books just kept sneaking into my currently-reading pile. As pleasant as it is to delve into four or five books at a time, it isn’t the most efficient way to actually finish any one of those books.

In other words, I’m still working on Gulliver’s Travels.

But I did manage to complete a fair number of books this month; that list follows. 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:

The Middle Passage by Tom Feelings (Picture book for adults and older children illustrating the capture and transport of slaves from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas.)

Stories: All-New Tales edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarantonio (a variety of supernatural or otherwise scary short stories written by a variety of authors. I got this on audiobook and have not listened to all of it. Once I finish it, it will show up on a later Bookends. Follow the link to my Goodreads review of what I’ve read so far.)

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (McEwan’s latest, written from the perspective of a young British MI5 employee in the 1970’s. Because it’s by McEwan, you know it’s got to have a twist (or two) before the final page. My sister and I read this for our “Sisters Book Club.” We intend to write a joint book review to post on Imperfect Happiness, but so far that seems to be more difficult than we expected it would be. We’re not entirely sure how to write a detailed review without revealing too much about the plot.)

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly (nonfiction; a series of vignettes written by two hospice nurses about the final moments of dozens of individuals and the similarities between their experiences.)

Walking Home by Lucy and Susan Letcher (memoir; the second of two books about the Letcher sisters’ travels on the Appalachian Trail. Their first, Soutbound, was about their trip from Maine to Georgia. This one is about their trip back north.)

Of these, I think I liked Final Gifts best. It offered me a new perspective on death and dying, and has given me much to consider. It was also surprisingly enjoyable to read.

Kids’ Books:

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai (fictionalized memoir of the author’s experiences as a Vietnamese refugee settling in Alabama; written in verse)

The Complete Book Of Dragons by Edith Nesbit (short stories about—well, dragons. And princesses and princes and naughty children and witches and evil kings)

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (written from the point of view of Ivan, a captive gorilla living in an indoor circus off the interstate)

Magic or Not? by Edward Eager (my favorite of the Tales of Magic series. This one introduces a whole new group of kids and a lot more ambiguity about whether the magical occurrences are truly magical or just coincidences.)

I’m not sure I have a favorite among these; they were all very good. Maybe Magic or Not? edges the others out a bit, although I feel a little strange picking it over a book that got the National Book Award and another that won the Newbery Medal.

Currently Reading

Like at the end of February, I’m still reading Some of My Best Friends are Black by Tanner Colby and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. I’m also reading the biography Fanny Stevenson: A Romance of Destiny by Alexandra Lapierre, which a friend at church loaned me (one of those books that snuck its way into my currently-reading pile).

My daughter and I haven’t started a new book since we finished Inside Out & Back Again, so we’ll have to decide what’s next on our list.

To-Read for April (and beyond)

In April (after we’ve reviewed Sweet Tooth), my sister and I plan to start reading The New Jim Crow together. We’re going to take it slowly and follow the study guide from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, so we will not have that one done by the end of April. I really want to finish Gulliver’s Travels, and I would love to start an finish another of the classics on my list. Next up will either be a re-read of Pride and Prejudice or Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist. As much as I love Dickens (and I do love Dickens), if I go with Oliver Twist I’m going to want to read something fun by a contemporary female author either at the same time or right after. What that would be, I really don’t know right now, but I’m sure I’ll figure out something. I might also end up reading The Fall by Steve Taylor with some friends. But I’m also planning to try to exercise and meditate more regularly, and I’ve recently starting attending a new discussion group, so I might need to de-prioritize frenetic reading.

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

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