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December Reads // 2016

*Modified by Caitlin Shetterly - This was a book I read a lengthy review about in Taproot magazine, and I thought it sounded really interesting. It's about GMOs, written from a journalistic and memoir point-of-view. The author developed an allergy from a protein sequence that is found in GMO plants, and went on a 5 year research journey that became this book. I also found it really fun to read because the entire first section (out of three) because a lot of it takes place in Nebraska, and Iowa. At one point, she is interviewing a scientist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (my Alma mater!) at a diary store that is literally yards away from the arboretum where Stefan and I were married! This book is heavy with science terminology, controversy, and philosophy, which not only makes me love it, but hesitant to recommend to just anyone. A lot of people may not find the topic interesting enough, or the writing too heavy to get through.

*Upstream by Mary Oliver -Upstream is a short book of essays on writing and nature-what Oliver does best, and it didn't disappoint. I haven't read much of her prose, but what I have read I -gasp-didn't love, but when she writes about nature she's fully herself. A lot of these essays are also autobiographical. I'd love to read a biography about her someday, but my guess is she won't be the one writing it. One of my favorite essays was about where she called home for decades, Provincetown, and how the village has changed over the decades. If you're a Mary Oliver fan already, you'll enjoy it. If you've never heard of her, start with her poetry and fall in love first.

*Jasper and the Riddle of Riley's Mine by Caroline Starr Rose - I received this ARC from the author to read early and review, and I quite liked this juvenile novel about the Klondike gold rush, the Canadian wilderness, and a team of young brothers who try to brave the cold and beat the odds. I won't give too much away, but I have always liked Rose's writing, and this is no different. I know my son will love to read this when he's a bit older, because it's full of history, adventure, and a spunky kid who is street smart and determined to get rich quick with gold! Because of the fast pace, it didn't take me long to read, and I enjoyed it.

*In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney - I first saw this book online somewhere; which isn't surprising, it's by the creator of Design*Sponge, and it's full of creatives/makers interviews. I love the concept of this book, I loved the photography, and the short interview style. I did not, however, appreciate that about 50% of the women came from only 2 states, and in those two states (New York, and California), mostly Brooklyn and central LA. There were a handful of women from other countries, but jeez, there are creative women the nation over, they skipped a vast majority of the the nation, and that lowered the bar for me, from a 4 to a 3 for effort.

*Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng - This is our January book club pick and I was early enough that I didn't have to wait long for the library. It's a short book, just under 300 pages, and a lot of emotion, heartache, tragedy, and numbness go on between those pages. It's beautifully written, and character-and-emotion-driven, but at times I felt I just wanted to get on with the plot. What actually happened? First we had to find out every family member's background leading up to the death of Lydia (not a spoiler, first page sentence), and I wasn't very patient about it. The writing was superb and for that I'd give Ng another go-around with a second book, Little Fires Everywhere, which will be coming out in 2017.

*Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham - As a die-hard GG fan (Gilmore Girls, for those of you under a TV rock), who has been watching since the pilot episode, this was obviously going to be a book I immediately put a hold on when I found out the publishing date. I think I may have been the very first person to get this book, actually, because I've been waiting on it no less than 3 months! This is a compilation of Lauren Graham's (who plays beloved mom roles on both GG and Parenthood) early years, school theater, Hollywood blips, and then her big two roles, both as single moms on the aforementioned show. The book actually reads just like she talks on Gilmore Girls, so right there you'll either love it or hate it. It's not as funny as Bossypants, but it's got that fun Lorelai junk-food, pug-t-shirt vibe, and it's just fun. I read it in 24 hours, but it's only 200 pages, so that's pretty short. I really wanted more dish on the GG series, less on paper towels and Southern Methodist University, and felt totally ripped by the minuscule Parenthood recap chapter.

Read Alouds with Kids
*The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis - This was the third book I've read aloud in the series with the kids this school year, and although I thought it drug a bit in the middle, it really picked up and had an absolutely lovely ending. I read these books in college in a different order (I'm currently reading them in publication order) and I remember thinking a lot of the stories were confusing and I didn't connect many dots. Reading them in the original publication way is much better, and the kids haven't been confused by the story line. I don't know why Lewis wanted to change the order, but I do think that his character, Reepicheep, is one of the finest animal characters in all of children's literature. Loved it!


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