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July Titles // 2017

*Lab Girl by Hope Jahren - I'd heard about this book nearly a year ago from a magazine and I pinned it for later. For whatever reason, I was thinking about it a few months ago and put it on hold at the library. This book is quite slow the first half, but once it picks it up, it's fast! I hate that this book took me nearly 3 weeks to finish--that's like a lifetime to me re: books, but sometimes that's just the truth. I was on vacation the first week of the month (i.e. no reading-too much friend time!) and then it took me every bit of those two weeks. It's about a female scientist who studies plants; it's her memoir. She prefaces each 'relational' chapter (about herself) with a 2 page interlude that somehow relates to what's coming, only it's about plants, and those were my favorite bits of the whole book. The way she writes about plants is just breathtaking. It's easy to tell she truly loves her job and the questions that she hopes to find answers to.

*Olio by Tyhimba Jess - This book is the most recent Pulitzer prize winner in Poetry, and I make an effort to read that category every year. This year, I was blown away. This book is mutli-disciplinary; it is full of history, art, music, and of course, poetry. It's the story told in verse of Scott Joplin, a ragtime player who lived in the late 19th century. It's filled with interviews (actual interviews sent to W.E.B. DuBois), jubilee 'choral' pieces told in poetry, 'dueling poems' (side by side poems that you can read one side VS. the other or line by line and blend them), drawings, and even pieces of the poems that are perforated so one can take them out, glue them together per instructions in the back to create sculpture of words in various models. Thorough in research and creative both artistically and intellectually, it is without a doubt one of the most unique bodies of work I've ever come across!

*Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman - This book first caught my attention by one of my favorite 'bookie' instagrammers, Ma and Pa Modern. The subtitle is a bit more telling: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. The book's premise takes Aldous Huxley's warning in Brave New World seriously by explaining how, " Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As [he] saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think." Wow. I was intrigued enough to hear more! It's not a book I'd recommend to everyone as I'd say I maybe have 5 people in my life who would enjoy this topic enough to read 160+ pages on it, but good nonetheless.

Read-Alouds with the Kids

*The Doll People by Ann Matthews Martin and Laura Goodwin - I first heard of this book, I think, by Sarah Mackenzie's podcast Read Aloud Revival and when I spotted it at a thrift store I grabbed it for a buck. This story was okay. I didn't love but I certainly didn't hate it and the kids really enjoyed both the story (literally, about dollhouse figures coming to life) and the prolific illustrations, which is the point. I actually tried to put this one back in the donate box and my daughter grabbed it out and is now reading it again herself!

*The Girl Who Drank the Moon (audio) by Kelly Barnhill - This was an audiobook we checked out after hearing so many good things about it, but because we were always in the car listening to it (really the only time all of us listen to an audio book at the same time, my kids are audio nuts when they're in quiet time), but because I was always driving, I feel like I only got a good 65% of the story. My son really enjoyed this story, and finished it on his own in his room before it was time to take back, but my daughter opted out. It's about a girl who is given to a witch as a yearly tribute of a community, a dragon, heartbreak, and is told in fairy tale form.


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