Today is an important day in the book world, something that has stayed relatively the same despite the novel coronavirus keeping most of us inside. For starters, the Pulitzer Prizes were announced today. I haven’t read any of the winners or finalists, but I’ve heard a lot about The Nickel Boys, which won for fiction.
For those of you in the KidLit world, today marks the beginning of Children’s Book Week. This was always a big deal when I was teaching. It’s a little different this year since most kids are basically homeschooling because of coronavirus. If you’re home with little ones, you can find book lists and other resources on the Every Child a Reader website to make the week fun. Or at least different from last week 🙂
Speaking of coronavirus, the last few months have been weird. To say the least. I know there has been a lot of binge watching in my house, but we’ve also been doing a lot of reading. And let me be the first to say, my reading has been ALL over the map. Here are the books that have been keeping me up at night (when I’m not dreaming of giant pokey balls shoving their way down my nose and throat!).
I realize I’m a little late to the party here. This book came out five years ago and pretty much became an instant bestseller. I can see why. I didn’t know what it was about when I picked it up, but it sucked me in right away. Loosely based in part on the heroic actions of a Belgian woman who helped aviators and others escape France during WWII, the novel is truly epic in scope. Even if you aren’t a fan of historical fiction, the action and the heart of the story make it a compelling read.
Another historical novel, this one takes place in Mexico during the Spanish Flu pandemic. Again, I had no idea what the book was about before I started, but the topic made it especially relevant right now. The author used simple, but poetic writing to enhance the magical realism of the novel. I found myself savoring her choice of words and phrasing. A beautiful piece of storytelling.
This British novel surprised me. I thought it would be your typical rom-com so I didn’t expect the depth of characters that it had. While there’s obviously a certain level of predictability, I more than enjoyed the journey. These were wonderful people to spend several hours with.
I love the way this story moves through time. The way it tied the characters to historical events and people reminded me a bit of The Hundred Year Old Man. But while that book went for comic effect, this one just has all the feels. It also questions whether life is fully lived if you don’t allow yourself to form attachments to other people, regardless of how much time you have with them. Beautifully written. I didn’t realize before I started reading that this is being made into a movie with Benedict Cumberbatch. It’ll be interesting to see how it translates on screen.
I don’t typically go for audiobooks, but this is one story I’m really glad I listened to. Keeping track of multiple characters and perspectives could have gotten confusing. But having all the characters voiced by different actors really helped keep everyone straight and the emotion and expression they put behind the words was perfect. It felt like an extended audio only episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. Great story, great audio production.
I love these characters, their struggles, the nuance, the layers, everything about this book was perfect. People don’t always make the right choices or do the right thing, but they also don’t need “a big moment” to tie it all up or figure it all out. Sometimes it’s a lot of little moments building to change. And that’s exactly how this story felt. Lots of little moments building to a lot of wonderful. Highly recommend.
Ok, so this one isn’t a novel. It’s nonfiction, but it really hits home for anyone worried about education in America. Having worked in schools for more than two decades, I can give you a whole list of what’s wrong with the U.S. education system. What’s nice about this book, is that the author actually offers up some answers. A former teacher and current principal, she helped create a new school model that gets students, teachers and parents excited. I hope it leads to more changes throughout the country.
Those are some of my top recommendations from the last few months. What have you been reading?