Today’s book is The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. I haven’t read this book (as I don’t read much middle grade fiction), but it is on my list because it sounds fascinating. The Birchbark House has been described as the Native version of Little House on the Prairie, which I loved as a child. And it’s a full series, so you can more fully get into the world of an Ojibwe girl, with this book taking place around the year 1847.
Here’s the Goodreads link for more information on The Birchbark House and the rest of the series: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/159666.The_Birchbark_House .
Today’s book is one that both my 4 year old and I enjoy. The title is Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey and Tom Lichtenheld. It’s the sequel to Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site which used to be a favorite of my son’s (before he got into his bugs and dinosaur obsession). Mighty, Mighty Construction Site is well illustrated and the story theme is teamwork, which I like a lot. Even though my son usually no longer cares for construction or truck related books, this one is a hit with him. And it’s a hit with me, too.
(Here’s the Goodreads link for a full description and a sample: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34107577-mighty-mighty-construction-site )
It’s Children’s Books Week. I’m the mother of a 4 year old boy who loves libraries and being read to. And I like to follow what’s happening in the lit (including kidlit) world. So, I thought I’d share a book every day this week that I recommend.
Today’s book is Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History and Future by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl. This book gives a brief summary (one page each) on each woman, so it’s a good introduction to a wide range of women you may not know about. As a woman with young family members who have autism, I was especially happy to see Temple Grandin for the letter T. It’s 64 pages long and Amazon says it’s for ages 8-16 year olds.
Here’s a Goodreads link for a full description and sample.
When I first read about The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky, I thought it was a book about a woman who inherits a red car and goes on a road trip of self-discovery à la Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. A woman does inherit a red car in this book, but otherwise it’s not like what I expected. It’s a meandering story of a woman at a turning point in her life, doing a lot of self-reflection on the life she used to have. I really enjoyed it and gave it 4 stars on Goodreads. It’s a short book, so a quick read. And a diverse cast of supporting characters, which was nice to see.
This was a short fiction weekend for me. It was a nice change of pace. I have never checked out a comic book from the library before, but I saw Saga, Volume One in the library and decided to check it out. Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan, has gotten a lot of rave reviews and I can now see why. It is a fun comic book, though I only recommend it for adults. While it’s a comic of adventure, there are serious story lines within. My only complaint is there were at least two incidences of offensive dialogue.
The other short fiction of this past weekend was the award winning novella Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I am not a huge science fiction and fantasy reader, but that appears to be another theme of this weekend. This was a fun SFF ride through space and with aliens. The second book in the series comes out soon and I plan to read it as soon as possible. I highly recommend this one, and not just for adults. This book is great for those seeking diverse/inclusive stories as it features a black girl and by a black author.
One of my frequent complaints with books is that the story might drag in places or I just think it needed tighter editing and some parts of the book cut out entirely. The beauty of comic books and novellas are that there isn’t really space for drag or unnecessary parts.
The Tumbling Turner Sisters become a family of vaudevillians after their father is injured and can’t work. Four sisters are acrobats, while their mother travels along as their manager. The book is a fun look at vaudeville and family drama in the 1920s.
I like historical fiction, especially around this time period in the U.S., so this book is right up my alley. The characters are well written and I cared what happened to them throughout the book. The main characters are two of the sisters, Winnie and Gert, who are also alternating narrators. The look into vaudeville was fun (while also highlighting some realistic negatives) and I appreciated seeing an author’s note explaining what was factual or based on reality. I liked how the book ended and I highly doubt the author plans to make this into a series, but I would love another book focused on all of the sisters or even just one of them.
I’m not sure when they started to become popular, but I started seeing pictures and hearing talk of book subscription boxes last year. Most of them do not seem to have diverse representation, so new subscription box businesses are starting to fill that gap. I’m all for inclusive rep. and thought I’d share the links to those subscription boxes in case you are interested. (And if you are like me and can’t afford something like that at this time, there’s still Twitter and Instagram to follow along with them and see what they offer each month for ideas on diverse reads to add to your TBR list.) This is not a sponsored post in any way.
My Lit Box: “A monthly book subscription box celebrating . | Color. Conversation. Community. | Founded & owned by ” (Twitter bio)
Noire Book Box: “A monthly subscription box committed to diversity and inclusion, and books that reflect the world around us.” (Twitter bio)
Call Number Box: “ is a library-inspired book celebrating contemporary and .” (Twitter bio)
There are probably more diverse book box companies out there, but these are the ones I’ve been seeing discussed online. Book of the Month Club seems to have at least one book of diverse representation as part of their book selection each month, though they are not strictly for inclusive books.
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to books and blogging this year. I still love reading and think it’s important to review books, especially diverse books. But I have limited free time and I don’t get paid for blogging. I’m also not the type of person who is a natural fit for blogging either. I’m not good at the social aspect where you go visit other book blogs, leave comments, and engage in discussions on Twitter. And I’m not sure if it’s being a mother to a young child or it’s just how I naturally am regardless, but I don’t have the mental energy for long, detailed, professional-seeming reviews. And, frankly, I’m not interested in becoming a professional book blogger. I like short reviews when reading reviews from others and I like my own book reviews to be short. So, all of that to say I’m not sure how much blogging I’ll continue to do. I may continue as I am, hobbyist blogging or I’ll quit the blog entirely and stick to Goodreads and Litsy (and maybe Amazon) for my reviews. (Reminder that I’m also Bookish Shelly on Goodreads and Litsy).
Now it’s picture book time. I like picture books. They have sweet stories, great illustrations, and are quick reads. The two that I particularly enjoyed reading to my son this past week are Counting with Barefoot Critters and Giraffes Can’t Dance. Counting with Barefoot Critters is my favorite counting book. It’s got a cute story of friendship and fun, though it’s a little too long for babies and many toddlers, but great for preschoolers like my son. And the illustrations are wonderful. Giraffes Can’t Dance is a cute story with a good message and apparently quite popular because we checked out a special 15 year anniversary edition from the library.
3 Things is now Bookish Stuff. My Bookish Stuff posts will be the place each week where I will post book news links that I find interesting or important, any personal book news, and short mention of the picture books I am currently reading. I decided to rename my weekly post from 3 Things to Bookish Stuff because one of my followers said she did not really understand the 3 Things post and I hope the Bookish Stuff title better shows that it is a general/miscellaneous book post. Titling has never been my strong suit.
Bookish Links: Book lists are a part of the book community throughout the year, but at the end and the beginning of years is a particularly hot time. So, the bookish links this week will be book lists.
Here is a list of books that booksellers do not think got enough attention in 2016: The Year’s Best Overlooked Books, According to Booksellers
And here are two lists of most anticipated books of 2017: The 25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017 and Most Anticipated: The Great 2017 Book Preview From these two lists, I am most looking forward to the release of Hunger by Roxane Gay, All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg, and Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller.
Personal Book News: New year means a lot of people talking about their Goodreads Challenge goal number. And this year, some people are talking about their shock (and some disapproval) at seeing 200+ books read goals. My goal is 365 books. If someone just looks at that number, they may think all kinds of thoughts that are incorrect about me or my choices. This year I decided to include all of the books I read, including the picture books I read to my son. I have no idea how many books that will end up being, but I thought 365 sounded like a fine number. I’m curious to see what the final number will actually end up being. I don’t have any negative feelings toward people who read hundreds of books purely for themselves. If someone is passionate about books, is a fast reader, and has the time, why shouldn’t they read a lot of books if they can? People watch a many hours of television and movies every year, but we don’t criticize that.
Picture Books of the Week: The picture books I’ve been reading to my son this past week included This is Sadie by Sara O’Leary and Whale Trails: Before and Now by Lesa Cline-Ransome. I love This is Sadie. It has wonderful illustrations and the story is great. Sadie is a girl who has a great imagination and enjoys books. My son and I also enjoyed Whale Trails for different reasons. My son just likes animals, so a whale story book is his kind book. I’m a former history major and I really liked the dual story of whales and human society now vs in the past (with the past being in a yellow, almost sepia tone). I was also pleased to see Whale Trails had a black author and the main family (father and daughter) were black. It can be difficult to find diverse story books for my son at the library, so this was a great read overall.
My first book read in 2017 (for myself and not my 4 year old) is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I saw this book at the library at the end of last year and decided it would make a good first read of the new year. I checked out a 25th anniversary edition, which made it a bit more attractive and reminded me I need to read more books that are not new releases.
It is the story of a boy (though young adult or older teen might be better terms, “boy” is how he is referred to throughout the book) who has a dream that leads him on a spiritual and adventurous journey. The book has a big lesson and some smaller ones in this parable. The Alchemist is good and mildly inspirational to me. I think it would have had more personal impact if I was in my late teens or early 20s. I am in my late 30s and married with a young child. So, I am not exactly in the stage of life to pursue my dreams in a big way or even feel excited about an adventure. I mostly want a bit of peace and to settle down.
However, even an old (in spirit probably more than age) and unadventurous person can find things for them in this book. And the beginning of a year did turn out to be an excellent time to read this book, as this is the time for goals and thinking of how a person wants to go forward in the new year (and in life in general). The lessons I took were to be open to what is around me, live in the present (which is harder for me since I am a planner and really want live more in the future), listen to my heart (as the books says or as I think of it “listening to my instincts”), and have courage (which has never been my strong suit).
While I think this is good if you or someone you know is looking for inspiration (like a recent or upcoming high school or college graduate) this is a good one, it is also a fun fantasy novella.
If you are looking to check off categories for a reading challenge, this book is a novella (less than 200 pages), it is a translated book (originally published in Brazil), and it provides a diverse/inclusive perspective since Paulo Coelho is Brazilian.
I was sick yesterday, so I’m typing and posting this today/Monday. I was thinking of skipping this week because of that, but with holidays approaching and everyone talking about best books of the year, I thought I’d use this week’s 3 Things for that.
I’ve read quite a few good books this year. But there are some that have stood out as something special. Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen was my favorite book of the year. I finished the book feeling so satisfied. My second favorite that I feel like is so buzz worthy, but getting so little to no buzz is Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. I’ve seen a lot of people request diverse books to read and Juliet Takes a Breath is the one I can’t help, but recommend to everyone. It’s just that good.
These are the other best books of my reading year: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, Jam on the Vine LaShonda Katrice Barnett, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Leave Me by Gayle Forman, Uprooted by Naomi Novik and Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.
I don’t want to leave children’s books out of best books of my reading year. Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk is a sweet book for babies and toddlers. One series that I really enjoy for myself, but my son also likes is Maple and Willow by Lori Nichols. I also personally enjoyed Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke and Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty. I asked my son which story book was his favorite and mentioned some titles. His response is, “sharks”. We’ve read several shark books this year. So, I guess my son recommends reading a shark book of your choice.