Book Review!!

I wrote this and don't have time to proofread it. Sorry. If there are typos or weird rambling sentences it is because I'm tired…and pregnant [hey, I can only use that excuse for less than 3 months now so I'm still milking it!]

2011 has come and gone. I was going to write a truly spectacular post about all of its intricacies... but decided against it. I mean, really, it was going to wow the socks right off ya! Instead, if you really want to know what I did/wrote/shared/thought in 2011 you have two options: Come over to my house and I'll tell ya over a nice meal, OR move your cursor over to the right hand side of these here blog-o-mine and click on "2011;" my thoughts and pictures and life events are neatly organized there. :-)

So in summary, it is now 2012 and I'm just a-gonna keep on truckin' unless you ask specifically about 2011. As for my "New Years Resolutions": Have a baby. Figure out life with baby.

It has been awhile since I have done a book review and would like to do one now [this paragraph has no transition into a new thought, so hopefully your brain is trackin' and moved from new years to books]. The reason I like to post book reviews is: 1) it is a virtual memory board for me to remember books and keep a list of what I've read and enjoyed/not enjoyed and 2) I always like having a good book recommendation so maybe you do too...if that is the case, consider this post for you.

Without further adieu.

#1: "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Nelle Harper Lee. Again. With my sophomores. Love it every.SINGLE.time. [This book may be a theme on this post...watch out!]

#2: "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald with my juniors. [Fun fact: did you know he was named after a distant cousin, Francis Scott Key, who just so happened to pen our national anthem?] Not a HUGE HUGE fan of this book, but still think it is a classic piece of literature that is worth reading. [Another fun fact: my students were doing an activity with this book where they rotated around the room and had a "book chat" on paper with one another. One student wrote, "Who do you think is going to die?" Another student wrote, "Why do you think someone will die?" Student one wrote back, "Because this is Mrs. I's class...people always die in the books we read in here!" Sigh. Classics are classics because they make us think about reality and relate with the world around us. Sorry, folks.]

#3: "At Home in Mitford" by Jan Karon.
I knew that a friend/ former babysitting employee/ fellow BLOGGER really enjoyed reading the "Mitford Series" by Karon. Since she was an English teaching major in college, and we've had similar tastes on other books, I thought I would give the series a try when I found that my school carried them. I will say that after reading some heavy classic literature, as well as some biographic literature, this lighthearted, fictional story was a joy. Set in picturesque Mitford, this book chronicles the daily happenings of a beloved pastor in the town. Single and fighting diabetes, he takes up running, adopts a stray dog, takes in a nearly orphaned and cantankerous boy, falls in love, and tends to the many people in his congregation. It is an easy read, but also well written, and peppered with scripture and Christian messages. It was a good book to pick up and read before going to bed in the evenings and I plan on reading the next book in the series soon.

#4: "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak.
Let me preface this by saying that some of you who will adore "At Home in Mitford" may not have the same feelings for this book…but I found this book simply A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I had several friends recommend this to me over the past year or so, but always forgot about when looking for a book to read. And then I remembered. And I was so glad I did. I wrote a post inspired by this book already HERE, and that was before I'd really even gotten into it. It's tough to try to even summarize what this book is about, because there is no way I can capture the beauty with which Zusak writes the story, which is the true art of the book. The narrator of the story is Death. Which is interesting, I know, but hang with me. It is set in WWII Germany, and chronicles the story of young Leisel, who has been turned over to a new "Mama" and "Papa." She begins stealing books at crucial junctures in her life, but does not know how to read. Her new and loving papa stays up with her at night and though he only reads at a fourth grade level is able to teach her enough to instill an insatiable desire in her to read more and more. Words become powerful to this young German girl as she sees the war coming closer and closer. There is a lot of action in the story, including a hidden jew, the death of a close friend, and various attempts to steal more books. I DEVOURED this book. It is one of the best books I have read, not just recently, but period. It made me think. It made me question. And it made me appreciate the beauty of the written word again. I could use nearly every sentence as an example of great writing for my students, such as "Outside the world whistled. The rain was stained." Very few books move me to tears, but this one…oh this one… If you like WWII literature and love beautifully written words, read this book. I'll leave it at that. [But seriously… it was awesome.]

#5: "I Am Scout" by Charles J. Shields.
I've been wanting to read this book for awhile now and Brent gave it to me for Christmas. And then I read it over the course of three days. A biography of Harper Lee [the author of TKAM], I found this book fascinating as I uncovered facts about my favorite author. How much of TKAM reflected her own life? How did she go about writing it? How did she feel when it became infamous nearly over night? And why did she never write another novel? All these questions and more were discussed in the pages of this book. For any TKAM fan, this is a must read! [I did warn my kids that I read this and they already are used to me spouting out facts I learned while we finish our unit :)].

#6: "Scout, Atticus & Boo" By Mary McDonagh Murphy
Another book on my Christmas list I received from my parents, this book is truly for the die-hard TKAM fans. It is, in a sense, a "celebration" of the book and movie, and how it has affected our world over the 50 years it has been published. Filled with bits and pieces of interviews from different people, some famous, some connected to Harper Lee or the film, it takes the reader through various reasons why this beloved book has stood the test of time. Some talk about how Atticus inspired them to become lawyers…or better parents. Some reflect on how Scout seemed like their best friend when they read TKAM for the first time. Others discussed the timeless themes of childhood innocence, justice, and racism. The best way to describe this book is by the LA Times quote that is on its back cover: "Reading this book is like attending a big book club meeting with twenty-six lovers of To Kill a Mockingbird." It truly is. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie at least 5 times, do that first before picking up this book though!

Well, those are what I have read in the past 2 months. The next book that is laying on my nightstand is "Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls.
I mentioned "The Glass Castle" in my last post on books I'd read HERE , and this is essentially the "prequel" that memoir as it covers her Grandmother's life. I've read the first chapter, and just like when I read "The Glass Castle", I am immediately being swept away by the ease with which Walls is able to tell her Grandmother's story. I look forward to finishing it soon!

What about you? Read any good books over your Christmas? Any recommendations? Have any of you read any of the books above and had different feelings/reactions towards them? Please share!!

And yes, I know I missed my baby bump letter for week 27. I'll still post it, just late. Don't worry, everything is still going well.


Ashley said...

I'm bookmarking this for future reference. I'm in the middle of Our Town. Again. If you havent read it, you should. It's actually a play, but its soo good. I've probably read it 30 times. Seriously. I own 3 copies.

*carrie* said...

Yay, so glad you tried Mitford! I think I will check out The Book Thief. Not my usual genre, but that's why I think I should pick it up. Thanks for the suggestion.

Hannah said...

I love some of those books! And I am going to have to read The Book Thief, it sounds amazing!! I might also have to steal your paper chat idea for when we read our next book in class :)

Kyle said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these books. Loved the cover for Half Broke Horeses. Looks good to me too. We Were Soldiers Once..and Young - Hal Moore is one of those books I would place in my all time best list along with 1776 by David McCullough. The Long Knife by James Alexander Thom is great historical fiction. Centennial by Michner is good too. :)


Micah Wolf said...

love love Half Broke Horses, glad you are finally reading it.
Can't wait to read The Book Thief and would probably love the TKAM books as well.

currently starting over "extremely loud and incredibly close" so I can read it before I see the movie.

bonbon said...

another good one for TKAM fans is "Mockingbird." An English professor of mine promoted it hard core for anyone who was interested in Harper Lee... I haven't got quite to it, but it's on the list!

What did you think of Half Broke Horses? I loved the beginning but then thought the end got quite slow. I like Glass Castle quite a bit better.