Friday, October 31, 2014

What I Read in October

View from the Amtrak train ride from Seattle to Bellingham

I didn't think I'd finish much in October, but I actually surprised myself. My best friend from Nebraska came all the way out to see me and stay for a week, and then we had guests after that, much less just settling in for the past 5 weeks; it was a busy and full month. Here are the books I read and enjoyed in Ocotober.

Hope Runs by Claire Diaz-Ortiz was a side-by-side memoir between an American tourist and a Kenyan orphan. Throw in the mix a non-profit helping kids get started running their first marathons, and you've got a really good, under 200-page book. I enjoyed Claire's book and won a beautiful hard-back version on a blog contest earlier in the year. I know just the woman I'd like to pass this onto, as well, whom I think will also enjoy it. This story follows an American tourist around the world, landing, very surprisingly, in a Kenyan orphanage for a night. From this one night comes many months, and years, of supporting the children and staff of Imani, and presenting one amazing young male student with a great opportunity--studying the rest of his high school years in America and also becoming a foster-son of sorts with said American girls. It's a bittersweet memoir in many ways, but also a story that encourages you to do what you can, with what you have, where you're at.

The first memoir I finished this month was actually by the long-time president of MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers), Elisa Morgan. Her book is called The Beauty of Broken and it was a tear-jerker. This was Morgan's memoir about so many things: her relationship growing up with her parents (divorce, addiction, perfectionism), the relationship between her and her husband (infertility, etc.), and then her children, who've fought demons of their own, starting with each of them facing the biggest wound of a life-time, being given up for adoption. I had also won this paperback in a blog giveaway, and already sent it to it's next home, where I thought it might be enjoyed. I'd definitely recommend this book to someone who doesn't need cheering up, necessarily, but needs to know they're not alone.

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma is (SURPRISE!) another memoir. This is getting a little funny. I had never heard of this book or the author until hearing an interview with Alice on one of my favorite podcasts, The Read Aloud Revival hosted by Sara Mackenzie. This book is the story of a single dad reading aloud daily to his little girl from the age of 11 until her first day of college. It's the story of growing up, good books, a librarian father, and an audacious promise. I really enjoyed this book, though I found it a bit slow at the beginning. It's also got a pretty great bibliography in the back, and I won't lie--I see myself as Mr. Ozma, nightly reading aloud to my kids from the treasury of good books to enrich their lives. I truly connected with this idea.

Lastly, I finished YA fantasy-novel Re'and by budding author Victoria Wilson. You can find a full review here, but I read this book quickly. It comes with great description, tons of characters, and a fast pace, so I enjoyed it, even though I don't read fiction much.

Current Read:  The Giver by Lois Lowry // When I saw that Lowry's acclaimed book was going to be turned into a movie, I knew I needed to start in on the cover-less copy that I owned. I'm really enjoying this anti-utopian, futuristic novel about a boy named Jonas and his perfect commune.I just got to the part where Jonas becomes the new Receiver, so I'm excited to just sit with this book for another hour and finish it up, before I see the movie, of course.

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