End-of-school Reading: 8 Books that Started My Summer


Yesterday was the first day of summer for my kiddos. Man, Connecticut goes well into June before summer break starts and that is so strange to me! I grew up in Arizona where school is in session from early August and ends in May. And of course we were in Georgia previously -- Atlanta keeps a schedule similar to AZ. So to start school in September and go all the way in to June was weird for me. However it seems to match the weather well. We went to the beach today and it was a cool, breezy day. Barely summer.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you what I've been reading lately, as my kids wrapped up school.

For book club:

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen -- I didn't get very far into this one, maybe a little more than 50 pages. There was just too much nudity and swearing for me, and I wasn't in the mood for it. I took it with me to the doctors office though and the receptionist was like "ooh, good book!" and many of the book club members seemed to enjoy it. It is a light romance about a woman reconnecting with her sister and falling in love with a neighbor with the help of her magical heirloom garden.

The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski -- Also didn't finish this one, but it was more interesting to me. It details the rise and fall of "the dress doctors," who helped women in the U.S. dress well, learn to sew etc. It's a thick book, and sometimes I feel like it's a dry lecture (but maybe that's because I read that the author is a professor?). However I did read several anecdotes I really enjoyed before passing it on to a group member who needed it. I wish it was a little more prescriptive, I have to say. I just want someone to dress me, honestly.  

On my own:

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown -- This one is a graphic novel I had heard a lot of good buzz for. And, being a huge fan of The Princess Bride, I was interested to learn more about Andre and his wrestling career. Ultimately, I was saddened by this book, though. The storytelling is great, the art is good, I just felt sorry for Andre. I feel like some of my sadness about his life came from his condition, acromegaly, some from the way people treated him, and some from the choices he made. It was a good book, but it was kind of a downer. I much preferred learning about Andre in As You Wish.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Laura Markham -- I found this one because my friend Rachel, whom I consider to be a wonderful mother, shared this on Facebook:
"People say there's no manual for parenting, but I argue this is it! I feel so empowered as a mom having read this and the guidance throughout rings truer to me than any other parenting book I've read. If I were to sum up the message of this book in one word it would be: empathy. But, there's so much more. I would even go so far as to say that I look forward now to tantrums and challenges my kids present because it gives me an opportunity to show unconditional love and model how to handle distressing situations healthily. That sounds crazy, but it's true!" 
I was like "Whoa, I've gotta read this book!" So I put the audio on hold at my library and it came in pretty quickly. I really enjoyed listening to it in the car, and the funny thing is that most of the time my kids were riding and listening along with me. It brought up a LOT of great conversations. I definitely feel like a better parent for having read this book. It did bother me a little bit to do it on audio because I couldn't flip back and read something again easily, os skim over parts that didn't apply at the moment. So, I finished the audio and put the paperback on hold. :) I've also got my hands on a copy of a book that is recommended in Peaceful Parent Happy Kids, that's called Playful Parenting, and I'm really enjoying that. I read a story from it at dinner tonight, in fact, and we ended up playing all evening.

I'm glad I found both of these books because I've been worrying about summer with the kiddos. I love my kids, but last summer, when we moved, was totally crazy and also the longest summer ever (because there was no school from May to September, see above). Add to that the fact we didn't know many people or many places and it was kinda rough. I feel like we're definitely getting settled here (in fact today marks one year that we've lived in CT!) and I'm glad I've been reading these books because they've been helping me make good plans for how to deal with summer.

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson -- I know this came out a while ago, but Jacob and I finally got us a copy. So much fun to read. I loved it. I won't say too much about it, since it's the end of a trilogy, but I'll point you to my review of Steelheart, which is book one, and I'll tell you that Jacob and I both like the series. Dystopian YA, lots of special ops missions and a little bit of romance. No swearing, no sex. An engrossing read with, of course, a huge twist at the end.

With the kids:
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin -- I've been reading this one aloud to the kids. So great for read alouds because it's interesting and fun and the chapters are short and the illustrations are occasional and lovely. It is the story of Minli, who goes on a quest to change her family's fortune and meet The Old Man of the Moon. It won a Newbery Honor. After about two pages Benjamin was hooked. He read ahead and finished the book. Levi has read ahead some, but the book is pretty far above his reading level, so he's enjoying hearing me read it, too. Jubilee listens in as well. And it's been a few years since I read it myself, so I'm thoroughly enjoying the refresher.

Yo Gabba Gabba board comics -- Just had to mention these because Jubilee made me read Gabba Ball to her at least ten times on Monday. Jacob saved me, eventually, and read it to her a few more times. I reviewed these years ago.

Anyway, that's it for now! It is much harder to find time to blog now that Jubilee isn't napping. What have you been reading? And I love to read your comments and thoughts, whatever they are.

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