Anne (AMQS) reads in 2020 Chapter 2

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Anne (AMQS) reads in 2020 Chapter 2

1AMQS
Editado: Jun 15, 2020, 10:42pm

Welcome to my second thread!

My name is Anne. I am an elementary school teacher librarian in a little Colorado mountain school. My husband Stelios and I have two daughters: 18 and 21. All of us have tottering piles of books in nearly every room of the house. We love to hike, play games together, and travel. I read a lot of children's literature, and love audiobooks.

This is my 11th year in this wonderful group, and while there's no place I'd rather be, I found it very hard to keep up the last couple of years, but was encouraged by my sweet LT friends to return. I agree that it would be better to find some balance that includes this group in 2020 than to leave - it enriches my life so much.

What a year 2020 has turned out to be. Callia will begin her senior year at a university in Oregon and Marina will head to Pennsylvania to college in the fall. I have very mixed feelings about our impending empty nest and kids on opposite coasts - I would definitely feel better about it if we weren't having a pandemic!

We were able to visit the Oregon coast recently - definitely a happy place. Here are the girls:


2AMQS
Jun 15, 2020, 7:07pm

2019 was a good reading year but not a great one. Here are the numbers:
Total books read: 83 (not counting picture books)
Fiction: 73
Nonfiction: 10
Parmalee library: 38
Audiobooks: 32
Books I own: 14 (that's terrible!)
Places visited in books: France, England, Wales, Canada, Lithuania, Italy, Switzerland, Burma, Syria, Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Newfoundland, Ireland, Cuba, Kenya, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Dominican Republic
Sampling of audiobook narrators: Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Lin Manuel Miranda, S. Epatha Merkerson, Dylan Thomas, Levar Burton, Neil Gaiman, Sissy Spacek, Anna Popplewell

3AMQS
Editado: Dez 26, 2020, 3:26pm

2020 reading (second half):

December, 2020
96. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
97. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous
98. The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
99. This Boy: Memoir of a Childhood by Alan Johnson
100. The Magnificent Monsters of Cedar Street by Lauren Oliver
101. Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte
102. You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters by Kate Murphy

November, 2020
94. Bloom by Kenneth Oppel
95. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

October, 2020
86. Squirm by Carl Hiaasen
87. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
88. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
89. Remarkables by Margaret Peterson Haddix
90. Network Effect by Martha Wells
91. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
92. Sabriel by Garth Nix
93. Running on Red Dog Road, and Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood by Drema Hall Berkheimer

September, 2020
78. The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
79. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
80. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
81. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
82. The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett
83. The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution by Stephen Heyman
84. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
85. Revenge of the Red Club by Kim Harrington

August, 2020
72. Sunny by Jason Reynolds
73. The Little House by Kyoko Nakajima
74. Lu by Jason Reynolds
75. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
76. The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
77. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

July, 2020
56. Just South of Home by Karen Strong
57. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
58. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
59. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
60. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
61. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
62. Art in America by Ron McLarty
63. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
64. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
65. White Bird by R.J. Palacio
66. Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan
67. Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly
68. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
69. Transcription by Kate Atkinson
70. The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
71. Patina by Jason Reynolds

4AMQS
Editado: Ago 15, 2020, 1:44pm

2020 reading (first half):

January, 2020
1. Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
2. Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library by Scott Sherman
3. When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
4. The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey
5. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
6. Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

February, 2020
7. House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea
8. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
9. New Kid by Jerry Craft
10. A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée
11. A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry
12. The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
13. Becoming by Michelle Obama
14. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung

March, 2020
15. Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee
16. Beartown by Frederik Backman
17. Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
18. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden
19. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
20. Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy
21. Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
22. My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber

April, 2020
23. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
24. Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt
25. The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson
26. The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser
27. Stargazing by Jen Wang
28. You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino
29. Persuasion by Jane Austen
30 Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins
31. Lintang and the Pirate Queen by Tamara Moss
32. Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech
33. Tears of Salt by Pietro Bartolo and Lidia Tilotta

May, 2020
34. Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins
35. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
36. Corpse in a Gilded Cage by Robert Barnard
37. The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough
38. This is the Place: Women Writing About Home, edited by Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters
39. Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy
40. Lions & Liars by Kate Beasley
41. Frindle by Andrew Clements
42. I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day
43. Guts by Raina Telgemeier
44. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
45. Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott

June, 2020
46. Elizabeth and Her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim
47. The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch
48. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
49. Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler
50. Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
51. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
52. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
53. The Real McCoys by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr
54. Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Pérez
55. Tim Gunn: The Natty Professor by Tim Gunn with Ada Calhoun

5AMQS
Editado: Jun 15, 2020, 7:27pm

6drneutron
Jun 15, 2020, 7:19pm

Happy new thread!

7PaulCranswick
Jun 15, 2020, 7:29pm

Happy new thread, Anne.

8msf59
Jun 15, 2020, 7:38pm

Happy New Thread, Anne! Love the girls walking, the Oregon coast.

>5 AMQS: You know I love this too!

9figsfromthistle
Jun 15, 2020, 8:40pm

Happy new one!

10lkernagh
Jun 15, 2020, 10:28pm

Happy new thread Anne. What a lovely picture of your girls walking along the beach!

11AMQS
Jun 16, 2020, 12:15am

>6 drneutron: Thanks, Jim!

>7 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul

>8 msf59: Thanks, Mark - I thought you might! Owls are a favorite of mine as well.

>9 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita!

>10 lkernagh: Thank you, Lori. Our one day at the beach was just glorious, and it is really so beautiful. The day we went was very foggy - it gave an otherworldly appearance to a place that is already pretty otherworldly!

12vancouverdeb
Jun 16, 2020, 12:50am

Happy New thread, Anne. A lovely picture for your topper!

13lauralkeet
Jun 16, 2020, 7:33am

Happy new thread, Anne. I'm glad Callia is now safely settled back in Oregon, and that all is well in your world.

14BLBera
Jun 16, 2020, 10:23am

Happy new thread, Anne. I love the photo at the top and your owl (>5 AMQS:).

15LizzieD
Jun 16, 2020, 11:34am

Anne, I'm happy to see you and wanted to speak before your thread gets too long for me to catch up. Callia will be a Senior in COLLEGE???? Marina is headed to college herself????? Time has just gone nuts.
Best of reading to you! I also wish you well with whatever your school district decides to do about the fall.

16AMQS
Jun 16, 2020, 12:39pm

>12 vancouverdeb: Thank you, Deb! It's nice to see you.

>13 lauralkeet: Thank you, Laura. I sure didn't like leaving her there, but she's very happy and is doing fine. They will grow up, won't they?

>14 BLBera: Thank you, Beth! I enjoy making those. I toyed with a couple before settling on the owl. Here's another one I really liked:

It's a program called Word Art. I use it with my students a lot. Even 1st graders can use it effectively.

>15 LizzieD: Hi Peggy! Thank you for stopping by! I have been such an erratic LT friend, and wasn't able to visit too much in 2018 or 2019. Trying harder this year, and it helps to be on summer break. Yes, Callia will graduate from Willamette this year. I can hardly believe it. She's had ups and downs, but absolutely loves Willamette. It was such a great choice for her, and she has really thrived. She is grieving for the incoming freshmen - including her sister - as their college experience will be so different.

Our school district is mulling a few different scenarios, but I think it will come down to money. It doesn't sound as though returning to normal will be possible, and the hybrid versions of school - smaller groups of students coming on alternating days, the rest learning from home - seem not only like a scheduling nightmare (will siblings go together? How will students get legally required services from specialists who are themselves divided between more than one school? How are teachers supposed to teach face to face AND online at the same time?) but very expensive at a time when we're facing severe budget cuts. I will be very lucky to keep my job.

Happy reading to you as well!

17AMQS
Editado: Jun 17, 2020, 1:41am



48. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, audiobook narrated by Emilia Fox

I have been craving re-listens of Jane Austen books during the pandemic, perhaps, as Mrs. Bennet says, to soothe my poor nerves. But while I am not driving, it is hard to find the time to listen. This one we listened to on the way back from Oregon - Stelios gamely suggesting it, even though I had already listened until the part where Lizzie rejects Mr. Collins's proposal (Mr. Collins is one of my favorite characters in literature, I think). Though Stelios did not imagine himself disposed to be pleased by the book, he really was, and still talks about it, so much so that I think we'll bring Ms. Austen along on our next road trip, whenever that may be. I loved it as much as I ever did. Emilia Fox was perhaps not my favorite narrator, but it was still very enjoyable. Her women's voices were excellent (save Jane's), but I didn't enjoy her men's voices as well. Fun fact: she played the role of Georgianna Darcy in the 1995 BBC version of the book.

18ronincats
Jun 16, 2020, 10:27pm

Happy New Thread, Anne. Can't believe the girls are both going to be in college this year--that will be an adjustment for you! And hooray for converting Stelios to an Austen!

19RebaRelishesReading
Jun 17, 2020, 5:11pm

Glad to hear Stellos enjoyed P&P. We always listen to audio books when doing long drives but I can't imagine getting Hubby to listen to that. He will watch film versions though so maybe...

I'm very glad you're an LT friend! I'm always happy to see you no matter how often life allows you to post.

20alcottacre
Jun 17, 2020, 6:12pm

>5 AMQS: Love that! I am going to have to try that Word Art program.

21FAMeulstee
Jun 19, 2020, 6:59pm

Happy new thread, Anne!

22Donna828
Editado: Jun 20, 2020, 12:28pm

Love your new thread, Anne, topped by your lovely daughters on the Oregon beach. This will be a different year for you when Marina goes off to college. We all go through it, but it is difficult to let them grow up. (((Hugs)))

>16 AMQS: I will look into Word Art. It looks like my kind of thing. I'm glad you said your first-graders could use it because I'm not very tech savvy. I may wait and let Molly help me!

Ah, Jane Austen, as a way to salve your nerves. Great idea! I have been struggling a bit with my reading lately and may go back and do some rereads of favorite authors. It is hard for me to concentrate these days, and I'm afraid I have been too negative about some of the books I've commented on.

Happy Summer!

23AMQS
Jun 20, 2020, 10:56pm

>18 ronincats: Yes, Roni, it will be a huge adjustment for us. Very mixed feelings. We're now watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries, which Stelios is enjoying as thoroughly as the book!

>19 RebaRelishesReading: Thank you, Reba, I do love it here, particularly for wonderful friends like you!

>20 alcottacre: Yay, Stasia! It's very straightforward, but I am happy to help if you need it. I can't wait to see what you create!

>21 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita!

>22 Donna828: Thank you, Donna! I know we all go through the empty nest - it's hard to reconcile my anxiety about the pandemic with what would be my normal anxiety about it:)

The Word Art is just fun. Kids enjoy playing around with it. I typically do a Halloween one with 1st graders where they provide the words and I type them in a Google Doc. Then they get to practice skills like navigating between a few tabs (Google Classroom, Google Docs, and Word Art), selecting all, copying, pasting, etc. It's often a 1st grader's first crack at some of those computer basics, and they're highly motivated to do it so they can start playing around with the shape and font and layout. I've even done something of an app smash with older students where they create their own word art image (they have a large image library but you can import images too) and then turn it into a Thinglink with multimedia annotations of their word art picture. It's fun! I was looking for a welcome image on my first thread and couldn't find anything I thought was just right and then just decided to make my own:) Molly should make short work of it.

I am a pretty moody reader, and am even more so now. I have set aside more books than usual - afraid I won't give it the right frame of mind (or deciding outright that I can give the book away). Jane is a bit of a balm - they're so familiar.

24LizzieD
Jun 20, 2020, 11:12pm

*sigh* While I don't often decide that I can give a book away (my grandmama's "saving-ness" skipped a generation and landed on me with both feet), I am also a moodier reader than usual, Anne. How blessed we are if that's the worst of our current personal problems!

25PaulCranswick
Jun 20, 2020, 11:41pm

>23 AMQS: I am struggling a bit, Anne, as I just have spoilt myself for choice with my reading. I have a dozen or so books that I am flicking between and it just isn't conducive to get anything finished.

26AMQS
Jun 22, 2020, 11:44pm

>24 LizzieD: You're right, Peggy. One blessing of quarantine is that it has inspired me to read my own books! The past few years I have been much better about letting go of books, which would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. I'm still drowning in both the unread books and the read books that I do want to keep!

>25 PaulCranswick: No, Paul, it isn't. I hope something grabs you soon. I am all for giving books and authors a fair shot, but I am trying to be gentle with myself while everything is so anxious and giving myself permission to either set aside books for later or abandon them and move them out. Happy belated Father's Day to you - I'm sure it's hard having part of your family so far away. Thinking of you.

27AMQS
Editado: Jun 26, 2020, 1:58am



49. Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler, audiobook narrated by MacLeod Andrews

My first Anne Tyler (I've been meaning to read her for years). This book was recommended by Joanne, and I enjoyed it a lot. Micah Mortimer is a self-employed tech help guy who also functions as a building handyman in exchange for free rent in a basement apartment. His life is fairly straightforward and regimented - certain chores for certain days of the week, for example, a routine he is loathe to vary - but his world is shaken up when his lady friend faces eviction and the son of a college girlfriend shows up wondering if he is his dad. Micah is a kind and decent man - the reader is definitely rooting for him - but he can be a little thick, missing opportunities to show empathy at crucial times, not because he's unable to be empathetic, but he's out of practice caring for anyone besides himself. I enjoyed the visit with Micah and seeing his world anew as he reexamines everything.

28AMQS
Jun 23, 2020, 12:08am




50. Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig

This charming book can properly be called a yarn, I think. An inventive, storytelling boy takes an extremely improbable journey full of wonder, depravations, and the unexpected. Donal Cameron is 11, orphaned, and living with his grandmother, a ranch cook in Montana. One summer Gram must have a serious operation with a long recovery in a charitable home run by nuns, and Donal is sent east on the "Dog Bus" (Greyhound) to stay with Gram's estranged and formidable sister Aunt Kate and her husband Herman in Wisconsin. Herman and Donal both try to find peace and solace in Herman's greenhouse, but cannot entirely stay out of the way of Aunt Kate, a scorched earth kind of person if ever there was one. When Kate has had it with Donal, she sends him back on the bus, presumably to an orphanage, but once on the bus he discovers that Herman is making his escape also, and they join their forces for adventures - and misadventures - out west. The book is funny, charming, harrowing (in a good yarn kind of way) and definitely feel-good. I love Ivan Doig. I think my favorite is The Bartender's Tale, but this one's his last, and I enjoyed it immensely.

29AMQS
Jun 24, 2020, 7:36pm

Ooh, just realized yesterday (Tuesday) was my 12th Thingaversary and I missed it! Maybe I'll celebrate by reading on the deck with a glass of wine:)

30ronincats
Jun 24, 2020, 11:01pm

Happy Thingaversary, Anne! That sounds like a great celebration! Add a book!

31LizzieD
Jun 25, 2020, 12:03am

Belated Happy Thingaversary, Anne!!!!
I have several Doigs, have never read one, but *Last Bus* sounds absolutely charming! Thanks for the BB!

32msf59
Jun 25, 2020, 7:05am

Happy Thingaverary, Anne! I have Redhead by the Side of the Road waiting in my audio wings. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I also want to read more Doig.

33bell7
Jun 25, 2020, 9:41am

Happy Thingaversary! Glad to see you're enjoying some good books lately. I haven't read Anne Tyler either, but Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant has been on my TBR list for years since my brother recommended it, so when I get to one it will most likely be that title.

34rosalita
Jun 25, 2020, 12:38pm

Happy Thingaversary, Anne! A glass of wine sounds like a great way to toast your 13th year.

35RebaRelishesReading
Editado: Jun 25, 2020, 12:42pm

>29 AMQS: Happy Thingaversary! Take your computer out there with you so you can order your 13 books :)

Last Bus to Wisdom sounds delightful. Maybe audio -- I'll check. (Back to say it was available and is now mine in audio version -- seems like a good book to walk to)

36foggidawn
Editado: Jun 25, 2020, 1:12pm

Happy new thread, and happy Thingaversary! Glad Stelios enjoyed P&P -- I've had some fun times introducing my housemate to books he didn't necessarily expect to enjoy.

37BLBera
Jun 26, 2020, 9:58am

I didn't enjoy Redhead by the Side of the Road as much as you did, Anne. I wanted more. Still, Tyler is great with characters.

As my daughter and I were playing cribbage with her Jane Austen cards, we both commented that we had read Pride and Prejudice for a long time! Time for a reread.

While on vacation, I introduced Scout to Clementine, which she loved!

Happy Thingaversary.

I haven't used Word Art in school, but it's an idea...

38PaulCranswick
Jun 26, 2020, 7:17pm

>28 AMQS: Ivan Doig is really difficult to find in SE Asia but the couple of books of his I have read I thoroughly enjoyed.

39AMQS
Editado: Jun 28, 2020, 1:01pm

>30 ronincats: I did, Roni! That's the wonderful thing about teaching: reading on the deck on summer break:)

>31 LizzieD: Thank you, Peggy! Ivan Doig is a favorite of mine, though happily there are many of his books I've never read. My favorite is probably The Bartender's Tale. If you have several, you have several to look forward to when you get to them!

>32 msf59: Hi Mark! Redhead by the Side of the Road is a quick book and I enjoyed it. More Doig is always a good thing!

>33 bell7: Hi Mary! I know my mom has a copy of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant- I may need to go up to her house and borrow it. It seems to be an indispensable Anne Tyler, but is old enough that it's not easy to find, even in the library system.

>34 rosalita: Thank you, Julia! It is nice to see you! My husband is making noise about wanting to join LT. I don't see him as a having/visiting the threads kind of guy, but he has really increased his reading this year and wants to start cataloging his books. I told him he should have joined on June 23 so we'd have the same Thingaversary and his eyes rolled waaaaaay back into his head :) Just wait until he joins - then he'll see how awesome it is!

>35 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba! I imagine that with a good narrator that Last Bus to Wisdom would make an excellent audio. You'll have to let me know if it is. And enjoy! My book club just chose it as one of our selections for the year.

>36 foggidawn: Thank you, foggi! Reading takes us places we might never otherwise go, and that's what it's all about, isn't it?

>37 BLBera: Oh, Clementine - how wonderful! I'm glad Scout liked it so much! There are a few books, too, which is always nice for a reader to enjoy a book that is also a series.

I see what you mean about Redhead. On the other hand, she kinds of spares the reader the messy work Micah has ahead of him. I had to laugh, though, at the last scene, when he shows up at school - tensions are so heightened about school shootings and kids vulnerable to predators that no man can just show up on the playground and start talking to a bunch of students without the police immediately being called! Now of course the focus is on COVID, which has me wondering - most windows do not open and opening doors for the purpose of air circulation or cooling is strictly forbidden, and can result in principals being "written up," lowered effectiveness ratings for schools, and principals being held personally liable if something happens because of a propped open door. Will COVID air circulation trump shooter fears? Hard to know. I've digressed, of course, but the book's last scene made me LOL.

>38 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul! I can see that - Ivan Doig is definitely a writer of the American west, and I wonder how marketable he is elsewhere. I just love the books of his I've read.

40AMQS
Jun 27, 2020, 1:20am




51. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Oh my. I definitely join my voice with others who think this book should be required reading in American high schools. There are so many outstanding things about this book - the unvarnished look at life in a Black ghetto (though the author beautifully shows the good with the bad - a strengths-based focus rather than deficit-based focus that a lot of policy makers and educators would do well to examine too), the code switching and personality adoption the main character must make to move successfully between her home and neighborhood environment and her exclusive, mostly white private school, the unfair helplessness of systemic racism that leads to rage and destruction, the conscious and unconscious micro-aggressions, and the agonizing decisions parents must make between wanting to provide a safe and nurturing space for their children and wanting to contribute to positive change in their neighborhoods. The books is heartbreaking, eye opening, timely, and urgent. Difficult to read but highly recommended, particularly in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and current racially charged environment.

41AMQS
Jun 27, 2020, 1:39am

My book club met today. One silver lining for me with quarantine is that I have been able to attend book club virtually, as normally I can only attend when I am on school breaks. Our book club has been going strong for about 26 years, and was formed by colleagues in the Colorado Children's Chorale. For those of you who don't know, the Chorale has been a huge part of my life. It is a professional children's performing organization that serves the Denver area and beyond, produces its own major concert series, tours locally, nationally, and internationally, maintains strong school partnerships across Colorado, and is the organization used by other local professional organizations whenever they require child soloists or ensembles, such as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Opera Colorado, Central City Opera, the Aspen Music Festival, the Colorado Ballet, and more. I was in the Chorale as a child, worked in their graduate assistant program through high school, and have been on the artistic staff for 27 years - full time until I had the girls, and part time since then (though I mostly "retired" when Marina graduated from the performing program). June is typically a very busy month for me, with a performance and training residency in Vail for our touring choir, and opera rehearsals. Right now, I was supposed to be on a tour of Slovenia and northern Italy. But alas. The reason I can't attend meetings anymore is that the group meets on Friday mornings. Bizarre time, but the full-time artistic staff of the Chorale has Fridays off to make up for touring and weekend performances. Friday is our day. And as a public school teacher... that means I have not been a regular book club member for awhile. So silver lining and a long story. Today we ventured an in-person meeting - properly masked and socially distanced and outside is a large and shady yard. And we chose our next 12 months worth of books! They are:
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Art in America by Ron McLarty
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
American Spy by Lauren Wilkenson
Corpse in a Gilded Cage by Robert Barnard
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson
Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

I've read a couple of these, and I recommended several - mostly because members wanted some books that were not too heavy. I'll admit I'm not too enthused about Little Fires Everywhere based on some reviews I've seen here, but I'm going to try to keep an open mind. Should be another good year of reading!

42lauralkeet
Jun 27, 2020, 8:09am

Hi Anne, I enjoyed reading about your involvement with the Chorale. That sounds like a very big deal! I have been part of a feminist women's choir (amateur, volunteer) in Philadelphia for the past couple of years. We are devastated by the impact the pandemic is having on choral singing. It makes me sad, because I find singing in a choir so uplifting.

I'm glad you're able to meet with your book group, though. Silver linings and all that.

43AMQS
Jun 28, 2020, 12:15am

Singing in a choir IS so uplifting! And it's good for you, too. This is such a sad time for choirs and performing ensembles of all kinds. I'm worried many won't make it. And how will high schools have choir programs? For so many students, it's what gets them through the day.

44AMQS
Jun 28, 2020, 12:31am




52. One Crazy Summer by Rita Willams-Garcia

This one has been on my list for far too long. Delphine and her sisters Vonetta and Fern travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, CA in the summer of 1968 to get to know their mother who left the family. The girls have visions of Hollywood and Disneyland, but the reality is a hostile mother, free breakfasts at the Black Panthers Center followed by Black Panthers day camp and strict instructions not to return home until dark. Delphine is the oldest, and the responsible one, looking out for her sisters and making sure they're fed and safe. She deeply resents her mother's hostility and indifference, and only reluctantly learns about the Black Panthers and their fight. The journey to acceptance between mother Cecile (also known as the poet Nzila) and her three young daughters is a poignant one.

I am really glad I finally read the book, particularly on the heels of The Hate U Give. There are two more books in the series, and now I definitely want to explore the girls' relationship with their mother, father, and grandmother more. Having said that, I'm not sure this is is a very accessible book, at least for my students. A former colleague has used this as a book club book, and I think my population would definitely need support and context to more fully understand the history and the civil rights themes throughout. I've encouraged students to read this one for years, but I understand now why it has never caught on and will think about ways to make the story more accessible to my students.

45thornton37814
Jun 28, 2020, 10:55am

>43 AMQS: I was on praise team this morning at church. We still are not doing choir--and I don't think I'd be comfortable in one at the moment. We were spread out across the stage--maybe not quite 6 feet apart, but we weren't facing each other while singing and were staggered so I think we were reasonably safe. The balcony was mostly empty so after we sang, I made my way up there to sit for the service. I'd decided if there were more people than I was comfortable being around that I'd go home and watch the contemporary service on TV rather than staying for the sermon. Fortunately I saw I could be very socially distant in the balcony so I stayed.

46rosalita
Jun 28, 2020, 12:01pm

Anne, I do hope Stelios decides to join LT — we promise not to bite. :-) And really, it's just a nice way to keep track of what he's read, even if he never dips a toe into Talk.

Your RL book club sounds lovely — I've not read many (any?) of those books but they all look intriguing.

47Donna828
Jun 28, 2020, 3:05pm

Anne, what a great idea to hold your book club meeting outdoors. I recently had a small birthday celebration for a friend in a park with social distancing. It was so good to get together in person. Unfortunately, our hot humid weather is coming on in full force so it may be autumn before we can do it again.

I'm also a big fan of Ivan Doig but not familiar with The Bartender's Tale. I have a few unread titles by him on my shelves...and now I have another title to add to my TBR list. Unfortunately, the local library doesn't own a copy and interlibrary loans aren't being processed now because of Covid.

How exciting that we might have a new LT member. Keep us posted.

>41 AMQS: That is a good list for the upcoming 12 months. I am one who was disappointed in Little Fires Everywhere. It wasn't terrible, just didn't grab me. I think there will be plenty to discuss, however, so it is a good choice.

48BLBera
Jun 28, 2020, 6:11pm

Hi Anne - What a great list your book club has. I loved Behold the Dreamers - it was one of my favorites the year I read it. I have a couple of others on my shelf, so I might "join" in. :)

Yes, I was thinking the police were going to be called at the end of Redhead by the Side of the Road; I would have liked more of Micah's family. Tyler does families so well.

49AMQS
Editado: Jul 1, 2020, 2:15am

>45 thornton37814: Sounds like a good choice for you, Lori, and a good way to at least sing a little bit together. When this is all over, I think I would like to find a choir to join. I'm ready, and with my soon-to-be empty nest, I should have time... whenever it may be. For years I have felt fulfilled in that regard with my work for the Chorale - singing, conducting, and experiencing it in rehearsals and performances. But being *mostly* retired I am probably ready to sing again. There's a newish concept here - a beer league choir (they call themselves a drinking group with a singing problem) that seems fun and informal and I may check it out at some point. I may be too old, though...

>46 rosalita: Hi Julia, he did join LT! I doubt he'll join discussions or anything, though, but I may persuade him to come over here and say hello. He's been busy cataloging:) I really love my book club, and am happy that I can participate again for awhile. We've been at it for a long time. Book picking day is always a favorite, and I'm glad we could do it in person.

>47 Donna828: Hi Donna, Stelios did join and has been cataloging. As I told Julia, I doubt he'll post anywhere, but I may get him to come here and say hello:) His username is SteliosS. Yours isn't the only *meh* review of Little Fires Everywhere. I was able to get it on audio and will listen as I am painting (baseboards - woot...) and other jobs around the house. And I've told myself that if I hate it, I'll stop, book club or no.

>48 BLBera: Beth, it would be awesome if you joined in! The order listed in >41 AMQS: is the order in which we'll read them, beginning with Little Fires Everywhere for July.

I have only heard good things about Anne Tyler, and I enjoyed Redhead, so I definitely will read more. I know my mom has a copy of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. I am not sure yet if she'll come home this year - she usually spends the fall semester here and the rest of the year in Munich - and as much as I would love to see her I kind of hope she stays in Germany. They certainly are doing a better job of managing the pandemic there, and I would worry about her on a plane so long. And even more, she's worried she'll get stuck here and not able to get back. If she is out of the country for more than 6 months then she'll lose her work visa. But... her house is nearby and in the mountains, and on one or more of our scorching days we might head up there for relief from the heat. Our house does not have air conditioning. There are only a handful of days (more and more in recent years) that the heat is unbearable, and our choices are slimmer than usual (even if open I don't necessarily want to hang out in a museum, library, or other public space all day). So I may go up to the mountains and read Anne Tyler in the cool:)

50Copperskye
Jun 30, 2020, 7:48pm

I’m so glad you enjoyed your first Tyler, Anne. And happy to know Homesick Restaurant is nearby.

Such an interesting book club list. I’ve been meaning to read Behold the Dreamers and The Vanishing Half is on my list.

51AMQS
Editado: Jun 30, 2020, 8:43pm



53. The Real McCoys by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr

This middle grade book made me guffaw out loud, and it's been awhile since I've done that! I can see why this series is so popular in my library. It is the perfect book to bridge graphic novels and "real" chapter books (I hate writing that, but both teachers and parents worry about students who read nothing but GNs, as hard as I try to set them at ease). In this first installment of the series we meet Moxie McCoy, detective and crime-fighting 4th grader.

The name's Moxie. Moxie McCoy. If you didn't know already, Moxie means "force of character." It means "ultimate determination." It means "death-defying nerve." In other words, you've been warned.
I am ten years old. I am in fourth grade. I go to Tiddlywhump Elementary School. And that is all you need to know about me. At least, that's all you get to know. I like to be a little bit mysterious, thank you very much. It helps me do what I do.
And what do I do?
I solve problems, of course.
Favorite notebook missing? I will find it.
Someone took your lunch money? I'm on it.
Think you might be the long-lost heir of a legendary British earl and need definitive proof? I live for the challenge.

This story takes place over the course of one school day (and I read it in a single sitting). Moxie is missing her best friend and detective partner Maude, who moved away. Moxie comes to school prepared with interview questions for new best friend candidates (Question 1: Do you like soup?) but her detective skills are needed more than ever as the school's beloved mascot is missing. Moxie is definitely the kind of detective who needs a partner, and her best help comes from an unexpected source: her ultra serious first grade brother Milton, who in Moxie's words, is like a turtle mixed with a watermelon mixed with a pile of pinecones. And by that I mean he moves really slowly, has a great big head, and never has anything interesting to say. He follows every rule. He chews every bite of food 30 times before swallowing it. And he's the shortest kid in his class by about four inches. It seems almost impossible that Milton could be my actual brother.

So much fun. Recommended for 3rd grade and up.

52AMQS
Jun 30, 2020, 7:52pm

>50 Copperskye: Hi Joanne! You've been recommending Anne Tyler for years, and I have duly taken notes :) Now that I've enjoyed my first one, I have no excuse not to read more! Thank you.

I'm really looking forward to those two as well. We'll have to compare notes.

53AMQS
Editado: Jun 30, 2020, 8:10pm



54. Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Pérez

I have been wanting to read Ms. Pérez’s highly acclaimed book The First Rule of Punk for some time, but like a silly person, I didn't bring it home for the summer. I did bring home her latest. Recommended for 4th and up, this is the story of four girls who form a kind of alliance, if not a real friendship at first. Lane, a moody, brooding artist, contrives to invite three other girls to join a treehouse club, which she calls "The Ostentation of Others and Outsiders (Secret) Scout Troop." Lane is sulkily spending the summer with her wealthy but reclusive grandmother on her family estate while her parents sort out their divorce and their plans for Lane to live with her mother in New York while her two brothers stay with their dad in London. Ofelia is a wannabe journalist/muckraker whose opportunities to get the story are stymied by her extremely overprotective Cuban-American parents. Aster lives with her Bahamian professor grandfather, who has homeschooled her until now. She will be starting public school in the fall and is rightly concerned that she has no idea how to be a kid or to interact with other kids. Bird-loving Cat also comes from a Cuban-American family, and her parents would kill her if they found out she has quit the Floras, a girls' society she has abandoned on principle. Cat's principle becomes the focus of the group's attempt at community activism, and the girls learn a lot about right and wrong ways, and effective and ineffective ways of standing up for what you believe in. At times the book feels inauthentic and unrealistic, but overall a good read with additional information on each girl's passion, and steps to take if readers are interested in pursuing activism themselves.

54AMQS
Editado: Jun 30, 2020, 8:30pm



55. Tim Gunn: The Natty Professor" A Master Class on Mentoring, Motivating, and Making it Work! by Tim Gunn with Ada Calhoun, audiobook narrated by Tim Gunn

This one was recommended by Mary. Tim Gunn, of Project Runway fame, offers a guide for teachers and mentors here, and his key points of T.E.A.C.H. (Truth-telling, Empathy, Asking, Cheerleading, Hoping for the Best) are framed against anecdotal stories from Project Runway, the show (I think it's a show? I've seen Project Runway, but don't really watch TV so I'm not positive) Under the Gunn, and from his years teaching at the Parson's School of Design. Like most teachers, he is very opinionated, but like the best teachers, he is a lover of learning. Some of his views are so rigid I found much of his advice to be impractical for a public school elementary teacher, where often flexibility is the name of the game. His views on testing rankled, for example. He is totally in favor of standardized testing, and while I agree that there should be a way to measure what students have learned, standardized testing in its present form isn't even useful for that (soapbox alert: it's often culturally inappropriate and unbalanced for populations of color and the economically disadvantaged; its cost is ghastly and frankly sickening; the data is released far too late to help anyone (well into the NEXT school year); the time taken away from instruction to prepare and administer all required assessments is eye-popping - essentially instruction is over in March in my state; and it's a setup. Test security means no one can check for content and appropriateness, and low scores are incentives to purchase test prep and curricular materials from the same people who make the tests). But I digress. And so does Mr. Gunn. A lot. He has delightfully interesting and often snarky anecdotes about contestants, designers, and celebrities that are only loosely tied to the teaching/mentoring guide he is offering. He does NOT hold back. And he seems like a genuinely good guy who takes an interest in people, listens carefully, tips generously, and authentically champions diversity in fashion and education. I don't think it will revolutionize my teaching, but I did enjoy the book.

55bell7
Jun 30, 2020, 9:37pm

I don't think it will revolutionize my teaching, but I did enjoy the book.
Ha, yeah, as much as I enjoyed the book I kinda felt the same way. I didn't always like his opinions on homeschooling, for example (I was homeschooled, and while I agree it's not for everyone what he describes was NOT my experience), but he does come across as just an interesting guy I'd love to have a chat with over tea. And while I have little firsthand experience with standardized testing (I wasn't *allowed* to take our state standardized test when I was in high school, because homeschooling is private school), from what I know I tend to agree with you. It smacks too closely of reading levels *shudder* and I won't even start getting on that soapbox...

Anyway, glad it was an overall enjoyable reading experience for you.

56AMQS
Editado: Jun 30, 2020, 10:17pm

>55 bell7: OMG READING LEVELS DONT GET ME STARTED. That’s a hill I’m willing to die on at school. Thankfully my teachers respect or at least humor me there, and my principal completely supports me. Thanks for the recommendation, Mary!

57charl08
Jul 1, 2020, 2:57pm

Help wanted! I've sent copies of Sisters and Smile to a 10 year old and they've been a hit - I'm wondering if there is anything you'd recommend that might also appeal to a (sometimes) picky reader?

Your comments on levels - ha. This kid has been made to trawl through very dull books so she knows phonics, after coming to English late - but they're hopeless for her age (I think) - she needs something engaging.

58AMQS
Jul 1, 2020, 4:56pm

Hi Charlotte! I'm so glad those Raina Telgemeier books were a hit! I can wholeheartedly recommend other books by her: Ghosts and particularly Guts. Other excellent GN's for middle grade readers include New Kid by Jerry Craft- it was the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal, and it is outstanding, and particularly relevant right now. Also Stargazing, Real Friends, Roller Girl, and El Deafo. Excellent GNs for slightly older readers (not sure about her maturity level but I'd say these are appropriate for 11 and up) are Pashmina, Drama (also by Raina Telgemeier), and All's Faire in Middle School. If you're looking for books that bridge graphic novels and chapter books, I heartily recommend the one I just finished called The Real McCoys, which is the start of a series.

Other chapter books I recommend: The Penderwicks (series)
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (series)
A Good Kind of Trouble
A Night Divided
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (series)
Front Desk
Aru Shah and the End of Time (series)
The Wild Robot
Wishtree
The Perilous Princess Plot

Hope that can get you started... I will happily recommend more if none of these are quite right:)

59bell7
Jul 1, 2020, 6:01pm

>56 AMQS: I'm so glad your teachers and principal are good with your not going by level! As the public library, the only thing we have by "level" and even that is loose is our beginning readers, with one being the easiest, 4 being the hardest and the levels are usually determined by the publishers. I hate hate hate it when kids come in with an assignment that *must* be a certain AR level and don't even get me started on the random year we had to use lexile levels out of left field. I think it's only a couple of teachers, but it was so hard to find a book that qualified AND that the poor student wanted to read! I'm so thankful my mom let me read whatever I wanted within reason (there was some vetting for content, but no "that's too hard" or "that's to easy for you"). And then the parents come in and want to know where the level "B" or "J" books are, and I have no idea what that means... tell me an author or title, I will try to find something similar.

60AMQS
Jul 3, 2020, 3:18pm

Book levels are a great way to get me fired up. Even Fountas & Pinnell, who created a comprehensive leveling system recently decried the use of their system to label students rather than to guide teachers (https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=fountas-pinnell-say-librarians-guide-readers-in...). My school is a gifted and talented center school, and many of the students and their parents are uber-focused on levels. I try to steer both away from conversations about levels but it's a struggle. Usually it involves a 6 year old saying "I'm at level 40. What do you have for me?" I'll respond by asking what they like, and invariably they answer "well, I'm a level 40." Ugh. I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year telling kids that they can read anything they want in the library (we're a K-5 school so content usually isn't a problem). I tell 5th graders to read picture books if they want to, that my goals for their reading may be different from their teachers', and that they should read what they want:). I do restrict kinders to picture books, mostly for sanity purposes (mine), and introduce them to beginning chapter books in January. Then in 1st grade when I tell them they can check out any book they want they get so excited. Many of them spend a few weeks checking out the biggest books they can. Books they have no chance of reading. It makes them feel good, and when parents ask me about it I tell them I want them to feel good about books, and that soon this will pass and they'll check out books they can actually read. And they do.

As for lexile levels - it is not a reliable indication of difficulty or even appropriateness. The placement of punctuation can affect the lexile level, and books like Twilight can have a lower lexile level than many picture books.

And AR. Yuck.

61AMQS
Jul 3, 2020, 3:32pm




56. Just South of Home by Karen Strong

A summer spent in a tiny, sleepy southern town becomes not so sleepy when haints are disturbed and mysterious things start happening. Sarah is a space nerd, She is finally old enough not to spend her summer days doing chores for her grandmother. Her summer of reading and research in her beloved small town is interrupted with the arrival of her cousin Janie. Janie's stay is extended when her mother goes to Los Angeles for a screen test. Instead of going to enjoy celebrity and big city culture, she's stuck in the boonies and she takes out her displeasure on everyone. She's the one who disturbs the haints, but the consequences have far-reaching effects.

The first third of the book was extremely clunky, and reads a lot like the first novel that it is. The remaining two thirds hook you in with its ghostly themes and painful civil rights reckoning. I have very little tolerance for brats, and I wasn't sure I could spend 300 pages with Janie, but as a teacher I should know better: bad behavior is often what a scared and hurt child will use as armor. Janie comes around. So does the book and most characters (the grandmother is not ever either tolerable or credible). If kids can get past its shaky start, they will be rewarded with a spooky, feeling, and satisfying book.

62BLBera
Jul 3, 2020, 6:51pm

>60 AMQS: I think I'll send Scout to your school, Anne. My daughter and I were just talking about how school isn't encouraging her curiosity and creativity so far... Maybe next year will be better.

>51 AMQS: This one definitely sounds like one I'll save for Scout. She loves books about funny and brave girls.

63charl08
Jul 4, 2020, 4:07pm

Thank you so much for the recommendations, really appreciated. I wondered about El Deafo and Roller Girls but really good to have a long list I can ask if they want any.

I love the image of your first graders exploring the whole of the library. How exciting. I still remember that feeling (and still get it when I hit a new-to-me one).

64PaulCranswick
Jul 4, 2020, 11:13pm

In this difficult year with an unprecedented pandemic and where the ills of the past intrude sadly upon the present there must still be room for positivity. Be rightly proud of your country. To all my American friends, enjoy your 4th of July weekend.

65AMQS
Jul 8, 2020, 11:46am

>62 BLBera: Oh, I would love for Scout to come to my school! Under normal circumstances, I mean. I don't have any idea what things will look like this year.

The Real McCoys is just fun. Nothing deep or earth shattering, but very funny and very fun:)

>63 charl08: Charlotte, I have no idea what the library will look like next year. I've heard from other librarians across the country that they will be expected to push in to classrooms instead, which doesn't exactly create the magic of the library, but I will do what my district (and health department, etc) directs us to do. But yes, when the while library is opened to students in 1st grade they are very excited!

>64 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. I admit it is hard to muster patriotism and pride just now. But there are also many positive things happening, and I appreciate the reminder and the wishes.

66AMQS
Editado: Jul 8, 2020, 2:30pm



57. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

I enjoyed this one a lot. Immediately after the ceasefire of the Bosnian War, it is discovered that a brave librarian saved the famous and mysterious Sarajevo Haggadah, not only a priceless cultural treasure, but rare and unusual in that is an illuminated text. Australian book conservator Hanna is both respected and politically and religiously neutral to be trusted with such a treasure, and she goes to Sarajevo to inspect, document, and chronicle the amazing text. But not to restore. As Hanna herself avows, to repair and restore the book to its original state is to disregard its history. Instead, she stabilizes the book, meticulously records her findings, and analyzes the book, the parchment, the illuminations, and the damage sustained over its long history - a tiny insect wing, a wine stain, salt crystals, a hair. While she learns more about the provenance of each of these, the book's narrative returns to that time in the book's history, telling stories small and grand, and fascinating and tragic. An absorbing work of historical fiction. I love its simple dedication: For the Librarians.

67AMQS
Jul 8, 2020, 12:16pm




58. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, audiobook narrated by Jennifer Lim

I read, or rather listened to this book for book club with some trepidation after some unfavorable reviews here. But since I am not traveling this summer and largely housebound, I am doing some painting and other projects. It turns out this is a perfectly fine book to accompany me painting baseboards. The book describes the collision of two families - one well to do, successful, pillars of society kinds of people, and the other a nomadic, private single mother and her daughter. What begins as a tenant/owner kind of relationship grows as kids in each family find something that draws them to the other. The book takes a hard look at some difficult topics: motherhood, adoption, inter-racial adoption, custody rights, and more. It is not a book hat makes the reader comfortable, and this reader listened with sadness. Should be a rich discussion at our next book club.

Immediately after I started on our next (August) book on audio and while I am not very far into it, I thoroughly dislike it. Hoping things improve.

68rosalita
Editado: Jul 8, 2020, 1:08pm

>66 AMQS: Oh gosh, I just loved People of the Book when I read it (was that really back in 2011??) — well, actually I listened to the audiobook and it was really well done. I loved the way the historical narrative worked itself backward in time until we got to the creation of the Haggadah itself. Really beautifully done. I've enjoyed every Brooks novel I've read, but this is my favorite.

69lauralkeet
Jul 8, 2020, 12:46pm

I liked People of the Book, too. I'm glad it was a winner for you, Anne. And I liked Little Fires Everywhere even more. I thought the interconnected nature of the storyline was really well done, as well as the way little details ended up becoming important later. It would be a great book club book, with much to discuss.

70RebaRelishesReading
Jul 8, 2020, 12:49pm

I loved People of the Book too. It's one I would happily re-read if Mt. TBR wasn't so high. Little Fires Everywhere was OK but didn't really "grab" me for some reason.

Keep reading and painting and have a good summer.

71AMQS
Jul 8, 2020, 2:30pm

>68 rosalita: I've enjoyed them all, too, Julia (March, Year of Wonders) and like you, I think this one's my favorite. My husband read it years ago and loved it also, though he doesn't remember reading it - one reason he wanted to start cataloging on LT!

>69 lauralkeet: Hi Laura, I think it will make for a great discussion, if a little tender. This book was proposed for us last year, and one of our members who read it dissuaded us because another of our members has a son going through adoption trauma. Long, difficult story, but the family was in legal limbo for about 18 months before the adoption was finalized a couple of months ago. The adoption coordinator is serving a lengthy prison sentence. The book club member who had read the book thought the book might cut too close to the bone last year, and I think she's right.

>70 RebaRelishesReading: Thanks, Reba! Yes, I though People of the Book was a keeper, for sure. Today I am washing the walls of our living/dining room and will fill holes, etc. A good task to accomplish while listening. I just wish it weren't so beastly hot. No A/C here, so some days we really suffer.

72AMQS
Jul 8, 2020, 2:40pm




59. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

I had never read this 1959 classic, though at least one of my colleagues says it is her favorite children's book. It was chosen as a Battle of the Books selection for our 2021 competition, if we get to have one. I can see why it has endured. Now more than ever I would love to run away and live in the hollowed out trunk of a massive old tree away from the rest of the world. As long as I could have heat, and books, and not have to catch and gut and smoke my own food and grind my own acorn flour, etc:) Young Sam runs away from his overcrowded New York City apartment to the wilds of the Catskills to live on his wits and skill. I enjoyed his stay there, particularly his love for the natural beauty of the land. I found his extensive knowledge of plants and roots and hunting/trapping/falconing/cooking/preserving to be implausible, particularly for a New York City boy, but it also made me wonder about how far we have come... and I'm not necessarily talking about progress, either. I think my students will enjoy the book, and though they are mountain kids, many of them cannot button their own shirts or open their pre-packaged fruit cups, much less whittle their own fish hooks or make themselves a rabbit fur-lined deerskin outfit. I wonder if that old knowledge will make a comeback, either out of interest or necessity?

73lauralkeet
Jul 8, 2020, 4:01pm

>71 AMQS: wow, what an ordeal. I can't imagine.

>72 AMQS: I'm sure I read this in my youth, although I don't remember much of it. I'm glad to see it has endured. May I join you in that hollowed out trunk?

74thornton37814
Jul 8, 2020, 6:27pm

>72 AMQS: I haven't read that one since somewhere around 1970-1972. Definitely a classic though!

75scaifea
Jul 9, 2020, 7:09am

>72 AMQS: Oooh, one of my favorite Newbery winners! I'm glad you enjoyed it, too!

76BLBera
Jul 10, 2020, 6:39pm

I also loved People of the Book, Anne. I will get to Little Fires Everywhere one of these days. Great comments. I'll watch for your report of your discussion.

77AMQS
Editado: Jul 12, 2020, 1:35am

>73 lauralkeet: Yes, it was an intense and heartbreaking time for the family and everyone who loves them. And YES!! I will make sure there's plenty of room (and plenty of books) in my hollowed out trunk!

>74 thornton37814: It is a classic. I feel like I've missed quite a few that were written after I was the intended age, but this one I just plain old missed. It's a new way of looking at running away - it seems like people took it in stride, knowing the kids would soon be back. I remember my brother being really furious with my mom and running away when he was probably 6 or so. I was frantic, and so frustrated with my mom because she didn't seem to be taking me seriously. Until finally she turned to me and asked how far I thought he would go. Not far as it turns out:)

>75 scaifea: It was a good one, wasn't it, Amber? Kind of tempted myself if it weren't a whole lot of work!

>76 BLBera: My husband is rereading People of the Book now as he hadn't remembered reading it before. I think he remembers now, and remembers how much he enjoyed it the first time:). I'll be interested to see what the book club thinks of Little Fires. I am listening to our August book now (Art in America) - I started out disliking it thoroughly, and while it is growing on me, I still find it more bewildering than funny. I have a few hours left so we'll see. So far decidedly NOT a favorite.

78AMQS
Jul 12, 2020, 12:31am




60. All Systems Red by Martha Wells

I first heard about the Murderbot Diaries from foggi, but since then I've seen many enthusiastic recommendations here. I've been really making an effort to read books I already own, but when my library opened up for curbside pick ups of holds I couldn't resist! The little novella is everything it's been talked up to be - quick, engaging, action-packed, and very, very funny. Murderbot is mostly a robot contract killer for hire by its company, with strict rules about its transport, order following, etc, that Murderbot bends on the regular. And for a merciless killer, Murderbot has an annoying conscience that makes it do right by its clients, when all it really wants is to do the bare minimum and essentially watch its world's equivalent of Netflix all day. Recommended - so fun!

79AMQS
Jul 12, 2020, 12:38am




61. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

OK now I'm annoyed that I only reserved the first two of these addicting little books. I have rectified that, but now I have to wait until more holds come in. Murderbot went rogue after its last assignment (or maybe more accurately, went more rogue) and is on a personal mission to learn more about its violent past. The trouble is, a Sec (security) Unit cannot ever act on its own, being too valuable and too dangerous, so it must hack its way around to ride transports and stay off of security cameras. In this book it comes to rely on the assistance and expertise of a transport bot in what I hope is the beginning of a beautiful, annoying, and hilarious friendship. I love Murderbot!

80BLBera
Jul 12, 2020, 10:53am

Hmm - you got me with those "addicting little books," Anne. Off to check to see if my library has them.

81rosalita
Jul 12, 2020, 10:59am

>78 AMQS: >79 AMQS: Tor had a giveaway of the four Murderbot ebooks recently, so I'm excited to see your enthusiastic reviews. I need to move those up the list, clearly.

82LizzieD
Jul 12, 2020, 12:36pm

>54 AMQS: >55 bell7: Have you ever taught in a school where the average 11th grader found reading on a 5th grade level challenging? What would you do?
Meanwhile, I'm also a chorister even though my coloratura (!) top has disappeared, and I can now sing a respectable tenor with an ever-broadening vibrato. Oh well. Some of my happiest times have been spent as one of the chorus. I wish you may get back to it sooner than later.
That's an interesting and mostly unfamiliar looking book list, Anne. I think I'll beg off *Little Fires*, but I took advantage of the Tor offer that Julia mentions and look forward to Murderbot 2 and the rest.
Find the cool and enjoy! I'm sorry that your mother's visit is if-y. I'd be terrified for her to make the trip this year, but then, I've been ultra-conservative about dealing with my mom across the street.

83bell7
Jul 12, 2020, 6:01pm

>82 LizzieD: No, I'm a public librarian so my relationship with kids & reading is definitely skewed towards helping them find something they'll love and reading for fun. I don't know the levels, so I'd be asking a student to tell me what their interests are, if there are books and movies they've enjoyed, and try to find something similar.

Glad to see you're enjoying the Murderbot series, Anne! I got the free e-books during Tor's promotion, so I got to binge read a novella a day at the end of April.

84AMQS
Jul 12, 2020, 9:23pm

>80 BLBera: Beth, my next two are "in transit' and I'm really excited:). Hope you enjoy them. Sci-fi isn't normally my thing, but these are really fun.

>81 rosalita: Julia, they're quick and they're fun - enjoy!

>82 LizzieD: Hi Peggy, Well, yes. I've only done a practicum at the high school level, but certainly I've had 5th graders reading at a 1st grade level. Most high schools in my district have a very healthy collection of adult, YA, and even middle grade books, and kids do like checking them out. HS kids like reading books and authors they've liked for awhile - Rick Riordan, for example - so a student who truly needed a book at that level would hopefully not be afraid to check them out. I am a school librarian, but like Mary, my role, even in school, is not the same as classroom teachers. I really want students to love reading, and focusing on reading levels does not help that at all. Often my very low readers check out high interest nonfiction. The books may be above their level, but there is some outstanding nonfiction out there with fantastic photography or illustrations, and kids are really motivated to read or just interact with the books. And when a kid is motivated, amazing things can happen. A lot of times I'll get a request from a teacher to help a low reader find a chapter book they'll be able to read - they are out there - because the reader wants to *look like* they're reading chapter books just like their classmates are, and I can help them find those also. I often recommend pairing a book with its audio, which I can often find digitally at the public library (and our public library system is a fabulous partner with out district). Students can read along and be able to have expression, fluency, and more modeled. Kids can usually have listening comprehension at a higher level than their reading comprehension, which is why classroom read alouds are so important for all readers.

Sounds like we could harmonize together:). It looks like the Chorale has all sorts of things planned for the new season to engage their young singers even if they can't sing together. I really hope the organization survives.

We really loved spending the day in the cool! It felt like a mini-vacation, and we're planning to do it more regularly. We took a hike up in the open space at the top of her hill, but it was nearly 6:00 before we set out, so it was wonderfully cool and hardly anyone else was on the trail. Now Marina and I are enjoying out last bit of time here while Stelios does a couple loops in the open space in his mountain bike. I know I'll be really busy when school starts, but with the girls being both grown, all of a sudden we'll have more time to come up here, and it is so sad that my mom can't be here, too:( I think she's resigned to the fact that it is not a good idea to come. On the other hand, she has a 1 year-old grandson in Munich who is way more interesting than Stelios and I are:)

>83 bell7: Hi Mary! My binge-reading was brief... I guess that's the consequence of only requesting the first two books. The next two are in transit so I expect I'll be able to pick them up this week. And the novel-length one has a long, long hold, but I am on the list!

85LizzieD
Jul 13, 2020, 12:43pm

>84 AMQS: Always interesting to see another viewpoint, Anne - except that my big take-away from my first English methods course was that my number one mission as HS English teacher should be helping each student to build a Permanent Reading Habit. I bought into that completely, and then came home to a school system in which there were no high-interest/low-level supplementary books available. I'll stop my lamentation, but I did try to build a collection in each of the three high schools where I taught. (I'll also quote the English teacher, who took over my classroom and those books, "Get this **** out of here. I can't use it.") I wasn't sorry to retire although I loved teaching.
(I had to wince at "HS kids like reading books and authors they've liked for awhile." Sadly, that doesn't happen here because they've never read even one book.)

86AMQS
Jul 14, 2020, 11:47pm

>85 LizzieD: Oh, that makes my heart hurt, Peggy. It sounds like you were doing all the right things. But if a student has never read one book before high school, then I think their elementary teachers and librarians did them a gross disservice, even accounting for distressing circumstances or even trauma at home. By then it's too late. If a child in high school has learned that there's nothing for them in books... yikes. Book leveling is not going to help. I read your post to Marina. She doesn't think any of her English teachers would think it their mission to help students build a permanent reading habit. But her teachers have the luxury of teaching kids from a population that values reading and education. And they still try to kill the joy by sticking exclusively to classics, some of which I wholeheartedly support, and some of which I question. I think teachers do kids a disservice if they don't incorporate contemporary young adult literature into their curriculum. But to do that, you have to give something else up like Siddhartha or Catcher in the Rye or The Yearling AND you yourself have to read and appreciate contemporary young adult literature. Marina's teacher last year told the kids straight up that YA lit was garbage. What a huge missed opportunity, and what a message to send to kids: what interests you is garbage. And if all he knows is Twilight I can see why he would think that. There's so much amazing stuff out there that kids would actually like to read, but to teach it you have to read it yourself and stay on top of it, and that's a lot of work (as is teaching).

87AMQS
Editado: Jul 15, 2020, 9:12am



62. Art in America by Ron McLarty, audiobook narrated by Ron McLarty

I read (listened) to this book for book club. We chose our next 12 books at our last meeting, and were looking for some lighter fare. This one was recommended for its humor and its Colorado setting. I'll be curious to see what the other ladies think of it, but it was a solid miss for me. Maybe audio wasn't the best format? It was mostly just bewildering and gratuitously crude. There is a huge cast of characters, but at its heart is a perennially unsuccessful middle aged New York writer who is hired by the historical society of Creedemore, Colorado (probably based on the read Creede, Colorado) to write a grand retrospective play of their town's history, to be performed at the end of the summer. The history, as it is with most western towns, is a tangled one of Native Americans, Spanish Conquistadors, and legendary characters such as Kit Carson, with foundational roles given to geology, minerals, and mining, and especially water. The book shows tiny mountain towns as they really are: an often contentious mix of cowboys and ranchers mixed with the more yuppie tourist types and the recreational industries that cater to them - dude ranches, rafting operations, gourmet coffee houses, and fine and performing arts festivals that are often the backbone of the summer season, as is the case with the real Creede, CO. But these characters are wild caricatures - the yokel cowboys who casually spout off racist and homophobic epithets, the extreme liberals who contest the very notion of private property and are aiming to sabotage the lifeblood of the town to make their point, the former Boston cop now sheriff in rural Colorado who maintains a running dialog with his deceased former partner, the clueless writer, the ultra-serious historical society members, the terrorist plot, the Boulder hippies... it was a great and close to home concept taken waaaaaaaay too far into caricature. The guns!! OMG! I am no gun lover, but I do know that most rural westerners are not as kooky with their guns as they are here, though you might be forgiven for thinking otherwise based on our newest candidate for US Congress. Official word of the book: cock-hound (since I listened to it I'm not sure if it's hyphenated or what, only that is is said is the book approximately 40,000 times).
Not recommended, at least on audio.

88BLBera
Jul 15, 2020, 10:38am

>86 AMQS: Amen, Anne. One of my most satisfying moments as a teacher of college English was turning a student on to reading. I still remember him. He was a young man who liked hunting, being outdoors and had no time for books. Then, we read The Things They Carried, and he went on to search out books by Tim O'Brien on his own.

Sci-fi isn't normally my thing either, and my library has the Wells books, so I reserved the first one.

89LizzieD
Jul 15, 2020, 11:48am

Amen, Anne. I fondly remember a student in the wild, early 70s saying to me, "You get high on reading, don't you Mrs. Mac?" And I had a few successes, but it got harder and harder.
Enough of that except to say that I was the only English teacher in my local HS who assigned "independent novels" and gave reading time in class. *sigh* I also ended up moving my focus to clearer thinking/clearer writing, but it all works together.

90Donna828
Jul 17, 2020, 11:18am

Kids that don’t enjoy reading break my heart. I’m so glad there are teachers and librarians out there that have a mission of finding the right book for the right child.

And, speaking of the “right” book, I think your ‘discovery’ of Anne Tyler is a good one, Anne. I’ve always thought of her as an okay or in-between author. Right now, I am thinking of her as one example of a perfect author to read during a pandemic. Her characters and family situations may be quirky, but they are always entertaining and provide a lovely respite to the situation we are in.

91AMQS
Jul 19, 2020, 12:20am

>88 BLBera: Beth, that's awesome! And Tim O'Brien wrote so many great books. I hope that young man went on to read more and more! I hope you enjoy Murderbot. Stelios is one book behind me, and we're having some really great conversations. They're not heavy, but funny, engaging, and very thought provoking about the future of AI.

>89 LizzieD: Peggy, many reading experts (such as Donnalyn Miller) say that it is critically important to give kids in-class time to read, but who has time? I appreciated when a few of Marina's teachers would read aloud - it really helped bring texts to life, but I can't see that anyone has time to have kids read independently in class. Such a shame.

>90 Donna828: I hope there are, Donna. I love connecting kids with books. Sometimes it takes awhile, but even the most reluctant readers love graphic novels, and they're often a gateway of sorts.

I got two Anne Tyler books from my mom's house. I will keep them in mind. I have been more willing to set aside books during this pandemic than I usually am. But if I'm reluctant to pick it up, that's a sign. And I tell myself it's not forever:).

92AMQS
Jul 19, 2020, 12:24am




63. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

More Murderbot. I just love these books. Murderbot is a rogue SecUnit conducting its own research. But being rogue and considered dangerous, it has to impersonate augmented humans and interacts with humans of all sorts way more often than it wants to. This book gets deeper into the ethics of humans and intelligent bots, and why bots do what they do. Also per usual, totally sarcastic and very funny.

93AMQS
Editado: Jul 19, 2020, 12:47am



64. Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

I am so sad I've come temporarily to the end of the Murderbot road - there's a long hold list for the next book in the series, which I understand is novel-length. There's another due to be published next spring. I just love these. For a series that seems like the perfect escapist pandemic read, it is surprisingly thought provoking. Stelios is one book behind me (so currently reading this one), and we have very interesting conversations about the future and ethics of AI, and the rights, the motivations, and the relationships of intelligent bots. Murderbot's world seems very futuristic, but in many ways we're not so far behind. I just love this series!

Editing to add that Stelios read this article aloud to me last night: https://www.technologyreview.com/2017/04/11/5113/the-dark-secret-at-the-heart-of.... Many of the same issues profiled here are touched on in the Murderbot books. Fascinating.

94AMQS
Editado: Jul 19, 2020, 12:49am



65. White Bird by R.J. Palacio

This is a 2021 Battle of the Books selection. A beautiful and heart pounding graphic novel featuring a character from Ms. Palacio's Wonder asking his grandmere to share her experiences as a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in Vichy France. The parallels to many current situations is unmistakable. To be truthful, it was easier for me not to think about all the restrictions placed upon us. I was still desperately trying to hold on to a sense of normalcy. As heartbreaking as a Holocaust story is, it is an important portrait of people who do choose to do something - even something small - to defy evil and cruelty in the world. Because evil and cruelty will persist as long as people let them. Recommended.

95BLBera
Jul 19, 2020, 11:11am

I can't wait to get my first Murderbot book, Anne. They seem to be popular in my library as well.

White Bird sounds like a good one.

I hope you are all well.

96LizzieD
Jul 19, 2020, 12:20pm

>91 AMQS: You're right about Murderbot being the exactly right level of reading to relieve pandemic stress, Anne. I'm sort of hoarding them since I got the Tor-for-free deal on the novellas. I'm happily reading the second one now and pacing myself so that I don't finish it too quickly.
About reading in the classroom! I taught HS in the 90 minute 4X4 block in which we were supposed to complete a year's work in a semester. That was not doable, so I felt free to give reading time. I also confess that if I wanted a regular class to deal with an adult book as a class, I had to read it to them. Nobody supports that as best practice, but nobody really speaks to having 30+ kids for 90 minutes a day who can't read their textbooks either. I worked hard, and I rejoice daily that I'm not having to deal with all the problems now. Mine were quite bad enough.

97AMQS
Jul 22, 2020, 2:29am

>95 BLBera: Hi Beth - have you tried Murderbot yet? No pressure :). White Bird is a really important book - even more so as it is a graphic novel and should have a wider audience at my school than a chapter book might.

>96 LizzieD: Peggy, I reluctantly returned all of our Murderbot books back to the library today. Hoping my hold of the 5th one comes in soon! Yes, I can very well imagine your struggles in the classroom. I had not really thought of retiring until recently, and not because of normal classroom conditions, but rather because of the pandemic and the crazy push to open school like "normal." Ugh. But I do know that what you described made a huge difference in kids' lives. Reading aloud is a gift, especially for older students, as is independent reading time. How else are they supposed to do it?

98AMQS
Jul 22, 2020, 2:43am




66. Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan, audiobook narrated by Jane Collingwood

Tilda arrives in Brighton to sort through her estranged mum's affairs following her death. What she really wants to know is why her mother sent her to an unhappy existence at a boarding school after the happiest period in Tilda's life. The books is told both by the adult Tilda and the child Tilly. A confused, child-like narrative about sorrow and secrets, kindnesses and betrayals. Tilly was a little girl when her dad inexplicably went away and then died. Tilly shared with her dad the ability to see and talk with the dead. After her dad's death, Tilly and her mum found a loving home at the unconventional Paradise Hotel, where they both lived until Tilly was sent away. As an adult, Tilda navigates memories and ghosts and her mother's diaries in an effort to both understand and make peace with the past.

This was an engaging read but also a mixed bag. Other reviewers have noted uneven pacing - lots of time spent wandering through the past and rushed important scenes. Mostly I had a harder time forgiving, or perhaps understanding Tilda's mother and her choices than Tilda did. The narration was excellent, and the text was diverting, if uneven.

99AMQS
Jul 22, 2020, 1:24pm




67. Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly

This is a middle grade fantasy/quest story set on a tropical island that has fallen on hard times. The island is severely restricted by superstitions, traditions, and a kind of caste system, and now is beset by drought. Lalani, an otherwise unremarkable 12 year old girl accidentally brings even greater misfortune upon her island by going into the forbidden mountain and striking a bargain with a creature living there. To right the wrong she has committed she sails across the northern sea in search of the golden flowers of still another mysterious mountain. This is the same journey taken annually by three of the strongest men in the village, none of whom have ever returned (though their wrecked boats have). But Lalani is not continuing a tradition - instead she is looking to atone for her actions and to help end the suffering of innocents. The narrative chapters are interspersed with folkloric stories of magical creatures with fearsome abilities and ancient grudges. It is a Moana-like story about doing the right thing, even when it's hard.

100BLBera
Jul 23, 2020, 1:40pm

I'm # 5 on the Murderbot waiting list, Anne.

>99 AMQS: This one sounds good.

101AMQS
Jul 23, 2020, 6:46pm

>100 BLBera: Hi Beth, Erin Entrada Kelly is definitely a middle-grade author to watch. She won the Newbery recently for Hello, Universe, and You Go First is a standout too. In this book and Hello, Universe she weaves in Philippine folklore, which I love.

102AMQS
Jul 23, 2020, 6:56pm




68. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

This book is really lovely. I may keep it and read it aloud (with publisher permission, of course) if we have to switch to remote learning. I do love books that tell a compelling, good story while also incorporating elements of international/multicultural folklore. This one does it beautifully (and is beautifully illustrated). Young Minli lives in poverty with her parents who barely make ends meet. Ba shares stories with Minli, which frustrate Ma, who is bitter about their poverty and their hard life. Inspired by Ba's stories and her parents' sacrifice, Minli sets out to ask the Man in the Moon how her family can change its fortune. Her leaving devastates her parents, who attempt to follow her for a time, before accepting that they must just trust that she will return to them. Minli, meanwhile, undertakes a thrilling and dangerous adventure with magical creatures and unexpected kindnesses along the way. Many lessons in the book, and although told in the style of a fable it never feels didactic, rather just enchanting and fulfilling. There are two highly-rated companion books to this one, which I will be reading as well. Highly recommended.

103AMQS
Editado: Jul 23, 2020, 8:02pm

The goings on. It's been a rough week around here. I consume news obsessively, which I know is not good for me. My anxiety is through the roof, so much so that Marina eyes me warily like I'm going to melt down and hugs me a lot. Callia is in Oregon and is not well. She was tested for Covid on Sunday, but test results are coming in very slowly. She first felt like she had a cold. Her congestion/cold symptoms have gradually cleared up, but for a week she has been plagued by body aches, headaches, and extreme fatigue. It's killing me. She has a boyfriend who was also sick and has since recovered (he was tested the same day), so she's not alone, and she checks in with us about twice a day.

Dickinson College has made the announcement that they will be remote and will not be bringing students to campus unless they're international or have special circumstances (can't live at home, etc). Their decision was partially based on the fact that testing backlogs make testing really ineffective. Since they'e committed to remote learning they seem very thoughtful and strategic about delivering high quality, personalized instruction, as well as campus life and community building activities, including clubs, arts and crafts, exercise and dance opportunities, residence hall bonding activities, etc. Marina considered deferring, but is planning to give remote learning a go, though she is less than thrilled about still living at home in a year when she has had to give up so much. I just ache for her, though I confess I am relieved that I don't have to fly her out to Pennsylvania, dorm shop while there, fly back, and possibly have to figure out how to bring her home. We are so disappointed and as much as we hate it, we were not surprised and feel it is the right decision. Willamette is continuing with in-person plans with a remote option. I'll keep my fingers crossed that measures they are taking will keep their community safe. Callia lives off-campus and is planning just to power through and finish. In fact, if she drops the thesis portion of her major (which she can do, although hadn't planned to) she might even be able to finish in December. We'll see. Not the end to her otherwise wonderful college experience she wanted.

Stelios had another bike crash onto the same shoulder blade he broke in a crash three years ago. He is still in quite a bit of pain with serious bruising, soreness, and road rash all over. He's had a telehealth appointment and an option to take x-rays, but he's thinking he's just really banged up, not broken. However, the crash was his fault and he's mad as a hornet.

Our Whistler is declining fast. He just turned 12, which is old for a racing greyhound. He spent the day at the vet - we're trying to help him with pain as much as we can, but yesterday he stopped eating or moving. He's had problems with his hips, and x-rays show spine/disc issues also and the vet thinks he's not eating because he's in too much pain. We're upping his pain meds and depending on lab results may consider injections if appropriate. Poor dog.

I have another couple of weeks before my next ultrasound to check on my ovary. Hoping the hormones are doing their thing. My district released another reopening plan today that has everyone upset. My start date is August 7 and teachers are back August 12. They're giving us an extra week to prep and plan, though we're not really clear on what. The first week of school for students will be remote. The second week will have students coming to school in small groups for "orientation" about new in-person school and what it is expected to look like, and also regular beginning of year assessments. Everyone else is remote (who will be teaching while teachers are orienting and assessing no one has said). Then week three of school is 100% in person with a remote option for families who do not want in-person. The response rate for my school's families has about 17% requesting remote learning, which actually means about 3 kids per class. So... not really enough to make conditions safer inside the building and one-room schoolhouse kind of conditions for the remote learning folks K-5th. The district has announced safety measures to be applied "when possible," and I can tell you right now their measures are not possible. Distancing? No. Masks? Kind of toothless, but my administration is prepared to fight that one hard and tell parents if they're not onboard with masks then they'll be remote learning. The district released a statement today saying that HVAC and ventilation has been upgraded (I'll believe it when I see it - ours is a huge district) and that "down the hill" schools have air conditioning and mountain schools have functioning windows. EXCEPT THAT OUR MOUNTAIN SCHOOL DOES NOT. No classroom inside the main building has windows that open, including mine. I do not feel safe, I feel that my life is cheap, and I can't see how this is going to work. Marina worked for a children's theater camp this summer that did an amazing job of protecting safety. They halved their participants and had two casts for each show. They moved their rehearsal sites entirely outside and mandated masks and distancing measures. They even had a staff member who thoroughly cleaned the bathroom after each use. And the camp still had to shut down twice in two weeks - first for a week because of a family member of a camper being positive, then for two weeks when a camper tested positive (not in Marina’s cast). They went on Zoom for a few days before going back face to face, but the first day back face to face is when the child's test came back positive and they shut down again. So how they expect schools to function safely...

Ugh. That's the story from here. If you've read this far you deserve a medal!

104LizzieD
Jul 23, 2020, 10:43pm

Dear Anne, I'm sorry that everything seems to be jumping on you at once. I find just being ordinary is hard enough. You have worries about your girls, Stelios, your Whistler, and your own health, responsibilities, and fears for everybody at your school. So far from being cheap, you know that your life is essential to holding so much together!
I'm a pray-er and have added you and yours to my list.

105Copperskye
Jul 23, 2020, 11:35pm

Oh, good lord, Anne, I’m so sorry you’re all going through such a rough time. My heart goes out to you, Callia, Marina, Stelios, and Whistler. A rough week indeed. I guess the health issues are most important and hope everyone recovers quickly (and that Callia’s test is negative). Poor Whistler, I know you’ll do whatever you can for him.

Marina has been weathering so much disappointment but I feel your relief at her not heading out to PA next month.

I think opening the schools is nuts. Frankly, I feel we should lock everything down for a month, pay everyone to stay home, and then gradually reopen. Putting teachers in such a precarious position is crazy when we can’t even get testing results for a week.

My own Chris opted to come home to CO a few weeks ago. His classes this fall semester will all be held remotely so he sublet his apartment in Champaign and has a 6 month lease on an apartment in Denver. Economically, it’s going to be tight for him (apartments being more expensive here and oddly, I can’t convince him to continue staying in our basement) but he hopes he’ll be able to go back in January (but really has no expectation of that). He’s especially glad he’s in a three year program and maybe his third year will be almost normal. We’re all glad he’s closer to home. I’m thankful I don’t need to worry about him teaching this year (although he’ll be actively going to protests).

Has your vet mentioned Adequan injections for Whistler? It works well for arthritis and I guess I’m assuming that’s one of his issues.

Sending hugs to you! xo

106RebaRelishesReading
Jul 24, 2020, 1:10am

>103 AMQS: Oh good heavens Anne, what a lot you have on your plate and it seems to just keep building doesn't it? I'm so sorry. I'll be holding all of you in my heart and wishing there was more I could do. (((Anne)))

107lauralkeet
Jul 24, 2020, 6:54am

Anne, I'm so sorry to read about all the "stuff" going on in your life right now. As Reba said, I'll be holding all of you in my heart. Hopefully, little by little, there will be progress towards resolution on each front. Hang in there, and know that we are here for you.

108scaifea
Jul 24, 2020, 7:33am

Oh, Anne. So much stuff going on and I completely understand your anxiety levels. Big hugs for you and yours.

109rosalita
Jul 24, 2020, 7:34am

>103 AMQS: Anne, I made it all the way to the end (no medal required) and I'm so sorry so many things are hitting you and your family at once. It really seems unfair, but then if we've learned anything this year it is that 2020 does not play fair! I can't do anything except send lots of good thoughts your way, but I promise those are flying between Iowa and Colorado (and Oregon) right now. I really hope your school district comes to its senses because that "plan" sounds like a recipe for disaster. As Laura said, we are all here for you.

110BLBera
Jul 24, 2020, 12:07pm

Anne, I also made it to the end. I'm sending good karma your way. Fingers crossed that your tests come back showing good therapeutic results. I am so sorry for Stelios and Whistler.

I hope they figure something out with school. I think our governor is going to announce plans next week. My daughter thinks they will be wholly online. I'm not so sure. This is a stressful time, for sure. Virtual hug.

111bell7
Jul 24, 2020, 8:35pm

Also chiming in to say I'm so sorry to hear about everything going on, from your daughter sick to the school reopening "plan" and everything in between. Thinking of you & your family.

112RebaRelishesReading
Jul 25, 2020, 1:16pm

(((Anne and family)))

113foggidawn
Jul 27, 2020, 12:03pm

Goodness! So sorry to hear that things are hard right now. On the other hand, glad you enjoyed Murderbot -- and, way back upthread, My Side of the Mountain. I loved that book as a kid, and had big plans to live like Sam did in the woods above my grandparents' house. I went back for a visit not long ago, and the little "fort" that I built (not in a hollowed-out tree; none of the trees on that property would be anything like large enough!) is still there! I didn't have all of Sam's skills, but I loved imagining the adventures I might have had.

114SandDune
Jul 28, 2020, 3:01pm

>103 AMQS: Oh Anne that sounds a lot to deal with all at once. Very much hope Marina’s results come back negative - or if it is positive she has a very mild dose. It must be so worrying to have to wait for the test results - they were taking a long time to get back here at first but now the vast majority come back within 24 hours which is much more useful. And Stelios having an accident as well! Sending all my best wishes.

115LizzieD
Jul 28, 2020, 3:32pm

I'm just checking back and hoping you are feeling all the support from this group.

116PaulCranswick
Ago 1, 2020, 11:44pm

>103 AMQS: Have been waiting for updates since your post.

How is Callia?
How is Whistler?

How is the diagnosis/tests on your good self?

Tell Marina to stick at things!
Tell Stelios to get off and walk!

Please take care Anne. xx

117AMQS
Ago 6, 2020, 2:07pm

Dear, dear Peggy, Joanne, Reba, Laura, Amber, Julia, Beth, Mary, foggi, Rhian, and Paul, Thank you all so much for your words of support. I can feel the love here in Colorado, and boy, do I need it. It turns out that what I wrote on July 23 was just a warm up. My family has been turned upside down. Firebombed. We're really struggling right now and are seeking professional counseling to help us navigate what we're going through. And yes, I am going back to school tomorrow. We've always been so proud of the girls and even enjoyed their teenage years very, very much. No problems, no issues, no rebelling... so maybe it should not be a surprise that we're going through it now. With Callia. Only now she's an adult and we are helpless to do anything. And of course, she knows everything so we can only sit back and let her make major mistakes. It's too tender to say more just now. I just wanted to tell you all how much your support means to me. I am so very grateful to all of you.

118RebaRelishesReading
Ago 6, 2020, 2:28pm

>117 AMQS: Oh Anne -- this sounds awful and things were already tough. My thoughts and heart are with you.

119charl08
Ago 6, 2020, 2:39pm

Sending good wishes Anne. So sorry to hear you're going through it.

120foggidawn
Ago 6, 2020, 2:47pm

>117 AMQS: Oh, dear! *hugs* So sorry to hear you are going through a rough time.

121katiekrug
Ago 6, 2020, 2:59pm

Hugs to you, Anne.

122Copperskye
Ago 6, 2020, 3:56pm

Oh, Anne, such a helpless feeling when they're adults. Hugs to you all.

123LizzieD
Ago 6, 2020, 4:04pm

Dear Anne, more prayers for all of you, but especially Callia and you. In other times I'd think that going back to school might be helpful to you. Work often is. Now I can't say that. What I can say is that you will find inner resources to do what you have to do, and so will Callia. We believe in you, and you believe in her. Hold on.
Meanwhile, I'm praying.

124lauralkeet
Ago 6, 2020, 9:05pm

Anne, my heart goes out to you and your family. I agree with Peggy, you will all find the inner resources to do what you have to do.

Sending hugs and, as the Quakers say, holding you in the light.

125PaulCranswick
Ago 6, 2020, 11:34pm

Dear Anne, (Stelios, Callia and Marina), my hopes, prayers and best wishes are winging their way from tropical climes. As you know my girls are a similar age to yours so I can appreciate some of the issues you have to face. xx

126scaifea
Ago 7, 2020, 7:04am

Oh, Anne. Sending all kinds of supportive hugs your way, friend.

127FAMeulstee
Ago 7, 2020, 3:00pm

So sorry, Anne, sending comforting thoughts and hugs across the Atlantic.

128drneutron
Ago 7, 2020, 7:16pm

Definitely praying for you and your family.

129bell7
Ago 7, 2020, 7:58pm

Nothing I can add to what others have said, but want you to know I'm thinking of you & your family.

130rosalita
Editado: Ago 7, 2020, 8:31pm

Anne, you have lots of friends here who are hoping for the best for you and Stelios, Callie, and Marina. And also hoping your return to school goes as smoothly as possible. We'll be here if you need to talk, or just be among friends for a little while. Peace to you.

131BLBera
Ago 8, 2020, 12:05pm

Anne - I'm sending thoughts and prayers your way. Good luck. You will come through this. Good luck with the return of your school year. My semester starts in two weeks, and it is extremely stressful right now.

132RebaRelishesReading
Ago 8, 2020, 12:55pm

(((Anne and family)))

133SandDune
Ago 9, 2020, 11:02am

So sorry to hear this. Sending all my best wishes!

134Donna828
Ago 10, 2020, 4:24pm

Oh my. Dear Anne, I am sending my belated love and support to you and your family. What a hard time for all of you. I know it is distressing to be away from Callia. Good decision made by Marina's college. Sadie goes off to Kansas State on Thursday. Gulp.

I don't know what the best solution is for school. Hope (in Brighton) will be schooled online for the entire year--unless things change drastically. Her aunt is the school librarian at Bromley Charter School and has opted not to be a traveling librarian visiting the 800 students in their classrooms. I guess 800 is the normal number, not sure how many have opted for the online option. We are doing the hybrid thing here in Springfield and no one seems happy with it! Haley and Molly will attend seated classes on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is sanitizing day. Thursday/Friday will be for the second half of the alphabet to attend in person. They will have online instruction the days they are not in the classroom. I volunteered to supervise my girls one day a week as I am very concerned and curious about their learning. They were not very productive with the online program thrust on them this spring. Hopefully, Round 2 will be an improvement.

135lkernagh
Ago 22, 2020, 12:00pm

Hi Anne. Stopping by to get caught up. Sorry to learn all that has been happening since my last visit in early July. Sending {{{hugs}}} for you and your family.

136RebaRelishesReading
Ago 22, 2020, 12:35pm

Think of you Anne.

137BLBera
Ago 22, 2020, 12:42pm

I hope the beginning of the school year works out for you, Anne. Our classes start on Monday, a combination of hybrid and online.

138PaulCranswick
Ago 22, 2020, 11:47pm

No update from you Anne which is worrying.

Love to you and Stelios and Callia and Marina.

139LizzieD
Ago 23, 2020, 12:52pm

Hope you're finding some peace for yourself, Anne, and maybe even a little joy as a surprise from time to time. We're thinking of you.

140figsfromthistle
Ago 23, 2020, 1:36pm

Just catching up with you.

University classes here are 90% online. Elementary school children are returning in the fall with very little guidelines and procedures. I personally thought that all students should go through mandatory testing once a week. My workplace does it, so why not for the children's safety?

Sending lots of hugs your way.

141PaulCranswick
Set 5, 2020, 10:49pm

((((HUGS))))

Thinking of all of you.

142PaulCranswick
Out 27, 2020, 11:04pm

Anne do please come and update us all soon. xx

143BLBera
Out 29, 2020, 3:05pm

Anne - I hope all is well with you and yours.

144Donna828
Nov 1, 2020, 2:02pm

Dear Anne, we miss you! I sure hope things are getting better in your world.

145PaulCranswick
Nov 6, 2020, 8:53pm

((((((HUGS))))))

146PaulCranswick
Nov 20, 2020, 8:41pm

Miss you Anne. Hope you and Stelios and Callia and Marina are all doing much better and that whatever ills have been intruding upon you are banished.

147AMQS
Editado: Nov 24, 2020, 7:37pm

Dear, dear friends,
I am so grateful to each and every one of you for your words of comfort and support. Some of you have reached out to me privately and I thank you. I've been meaning and wanting to return and explain and update but we've had a very rough time and of course, the more time that goes by the more the task and the burden of the task seems to grow. I have felt the love and support over the months and it has meant so, so much to me. Here's an update:

Callia got married in July. It was fast, and secretive, and in pursuit of a visa. I think she knew that what she was doing was reckless and she took care not to speak with anyone who might tell her so or try to dissuade her. We have always been so very close and being cut off and cut out was like an awful amputation. Fast forwarding through some pretty difficult months, the things that we tried to get her to consider have come to pass: marrying did NOT solve the problem they thought it would. We worry that she is vulnerable and manipulated but are powerless to do anything about it. While things are getting better, at least as far as communication goes, we're still struggling. I feel like I need parenting advice now more than I ever did when the girls were little. And poor Marina, who should be off enjoying her first semester of college is stuck at home with us dealing with everything. This is a changing and evolving story, of course, but that's a snapshot of what happened and where we are now.

Other news: that bike crash I wrote about above has actually done some damage and Stelios now has chronic physical pain. He will see an orthopedist soon. My hip is officially bone-on-bone (or technically bone-on-bone-on-bone since there is still that chunk of bone that had broken off and is part of the crunchy, painful mix). I need a hip replacement but can't schedule the surgery now because COVID is seriously impacting hospitals.

Teaching has unexpectedly been a bright spot, though this is definitely the most difficult and challenging school year any of us has ever experienced. I am beyond busy, which helps me not just sit around and be miserable like I was before school started. But we've had cohorts have to quarantine twice due to positive exposures. The first involved a third of our school. The second involved me: I have been teaching from my bedroom for two weeks while my students have been in the library, and after Thanksgiving break my district will be going remote until after winter break at least. So while remote teaching is hardest of all, I don't have to worry about COVID exposure at school for awhile.

Another bright spot has been Marina. I so wish she was at school, but she is doing so well with all of her classes, and is a delight to be around. After much deliberation we got a kitten, which has been so much fun - particularly for Marina. Marina named him Win - short for Winslow (and sometimes Winnipeg).


Whistler is hanging in there - he seems to be feeling better on a special kidney diet, but he has started having seizures, which are scary. Maya's life of ease and indolence has been upended by Win. I think my mom might have stayed in Munich this year, but I think she determined to come hope to try to support us through everything. Now we worry she may not be able to go back. A few months ago it would have seemed impossible, but Callia does want to come home for Christmas. We're trying to figure out how to do that safely, especially as my mom is here a lot, and Raja may come, too. If they can figure out what to do with his emotional support cat. I don't know what to wish for. We want to meet him and observe the two of them together, but I also think it might be good for her to be apart from him for a bit. We'll see what happens.

Thanks for listening, and thank you especially for being here for me. Even though I am not here I can feel the love and I am so grateful.

148AMQS
Nov 24, 2020, 9:51am

My reading has been sporadic, but I've managed to finish:
69. Transcription by Kate Atkinson
70. The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
71. Patina by Jason Reynolds
72. Sunny by Jason Reynolds
73. The Little House by Kyoko Nakajima
74. Lu by Jason Reynolds
75. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
76. The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
77. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
78. The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
79. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
80. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
81. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
82. The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett
83. The Planter of Modern Life: Louis Bromfield and the Seeds of a Food Revolution by Stephen Heyman
84. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
85. Revenge of the Red Club by Kim Harrington
86. Squirm by Carl Hiaasen
87. American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
88. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
89. Remarkables by Margaret Peterson Haddix
90. Network Effect by Martha Wells
91. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
92. Sabriel by Garth Nix
93. Running on Red Dog Road, and Other Perils of an Appalachian Childhood by Drema Hall Berkheimer
94. Bloom by Kenneth Oppel
95. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

I don't think I can manage reviews, but standouts were The Little House, the Katherine Arden books, The Planter of Modern Life, and Running on Red Dog Road.

149drneutron
Nov 24, 2020, 10:47am

I don't have any parenting advice, but I will be praying for you and your family for the best possible outcome of all these things.

150Copperskye
Nov 24, 2020, 10:49am

As always, Anne, wishing you all strength and love. Hugs to you!

(Little Win is adorable.)

151RebaRelishesReading
Nov 24, 2020, 11:19am

Thank you for sharing your story. You certainly have more than your share on your plate right now. But I can see a few bright spots on there and hope those continue to comfort you. Hugs and warmest thoughts for you and your family.

152lauralkeet
Nov 24, 2020, 11:21am

Anne, welcome back. My heart goes out to you, working through such a challenging situation. I am glad there are some bright spots, and will continue to hold you in the light as you navigate such uncharted waters with Callia.

Win is adorable.

153BLBera
Nov 24, 2020, 7:01pm

Hugs Anne - You are a great mom with two wonderful daughters, so I'm sure things will be sorted in the end. I am sorry to hear about your orthopedic issues. I hope you can get some relief soon.

You have managed to read a LOT! In your shoes, I think it would have been a very short list.

Love Win! And I am not really a cat lover.

154scaifea
Nov 25, 2020, 9:29am

*Hugs* for you and yours, friend.

155PaulCranswick
Nov 25, 2020, 11:02am

>147 AMQS: ((((((HUGS))))))) to you all Anne. Callia and Marina are such splendid girls and in times of utmost difficulty I am sure that you will all stick together and find a way through things.

I am not going to try to give advice - parenting is the toughest job we face - but the fact that you care so much will always give you an edge.xx

156katiekrug
Nov 25, 2020, 12:15pm

Oh, Anne, lots and lots of hugs to you! Thinking of you...

157SandDune
Nov 25, 2020, 3:05pm

Anne, I’m sending love and hugs. You think when they grow up parenting will become easier but it doesn’t seem to work out like that sometimes.

That truly is one of the most adorable kittens I have ever seen by the way!

158ronincats
Nov 25, 2020, 10:07pm

Anne, I came to find your thread and thank you for your lovely message on my thread, and discovered that although I had your first thread starred, for some reason your continuation was NOT starred and I have missed all your news since mid-June! On the book front, My Side of the Mountain was one of my very favorite books in middle school, I am so happy you are loving the Murderbot books and finally got to read the last one, and I also really loved Where the Mountain Meets the Moon with its multiple levels. Hope you enjoyed Sabriel--I thought it very original--and Lirael, the next book in the series, is my favorite.

Schools in time of COVID are very difficult. Glad I am retired but my sister, nephew and his wife all work in school systems in Kansas and have had multiple cases in their schools. Stay safe.

Glad Marina is hanging in there with you--LOVE that kitten!! So sorry about Stephos' re-injury and hope some pain management is available. And shocker about Callia--can totally understand the shock to your equilibrium that brought about.

Thank you again for your lovely message on my thread and definitely, when this COVID thing is under control, I plan to be in your area at some point. I have a cousin in Colorado Springs and I still would like to go up to that inn in the mountains near Evergreen that I saw as a child.

((((ANNE))))

159LizzieD
Nov 25, 2020, 11:36pm

Goodness, Anne! You are all being tested, and apparently, you are all doing what has to be done. I wish the best for all five of you AND Maya and Win! He reminds me of our gray Katie, a lovely, long ago kitty.
I don't know what's helpful, but I'll tell you briefly about my life-long friends Ro and Joe. Their son married a very insecure young woman who kept him away from them for more than two years. In fact, they were assigned to the Green Zone in Iraq (both being CIA, which is how they met). When Chuck came back to the states on furlough, he allowed her to dictate that he not see his parents. Now, they and their three children live within visiting distance, and they are as close as they could wish. We couldn't have predicted this in the time of separation, so I wish you patience and fortitude. All may be well. Meanwhile, courage to the three of you at home! You are doing most important work, and long may you flourish!
Long may you also continue to be present here! Long may you read and let us know what you think!

160RebaRelishesReading
Nov 26, 2020, 11:33am

Thanksgiving hugs to you and yours, Anne. Wishing you peace, happiness and health. (((Anne)))

161PaulCranswick
Nov 26, 2020, 9:09pm



This Brit wishes to express his thanks for the warmth and friendship that has helped sustain him in this group, Anne.

162foggidawn
Nov 30, 2020, 9:56am

(((Hugs))), Anne! You are certainly going through it. I've been thinking of you often.

163witchyrichy
Nov 30, 2020, 11:43am

>85 LizzieD: >86 AMQS: I was determined just to stop by and say hello after being away for months. But I caught a glimpse of the conversation about reading. I also believed that my goal in both high school and middle school was to help kids build that permanent reading habit. I am old enough to have been around when Nancy Atwell was writing about the reading/writing workshops she was using with her students. The middle schoolers I taught had only ever known basal readers, and the idea of picking their own books and then actually being given time to read during class was a shock to their systems. Most of them came to love the reading workshop approach and three days a week, we would settle in to read for 25 minutes. They shared in various ways and I only wish I had had the internet as there would be so many more opportunities for them to share and connect with their favorite authors. Not every kid left a permanent reader but I felt like I had done my best.

164witchyrichy
Nov 30, 2020, 11:43am

Now I will say hello and dropping off a picture of my holiday tree for some inspiration on this dreary Monday morning. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

165bell7
Nov 30, 2020, 4:48pm

(((hugs))) and prayers for your family, Anne. That is a LOT to be going through all at once.

We've had a bit of overlap on reading, and I especially enjoyed Jason Reynolds' Track series. I'm assuming you enjoyed them as well since you read all of them :) The Murderbot series has been a fun discovery as well.

166FAMeulstee
Dez 1, 2020, 6:43am

>147 AMQS: So sorry to read all you are going through, Anne.
(((hugs)))

>148 AMQS: Congratulations on passing 75!

167PaulCranswick
Dez 4, 2020, 9:10pm

Wishing my good friend and family a peaceful and comforting weekend. xx

168figsfromthistle
Dez 4, 2020, 9:32pm

What a whirlwind you are going through. Sending hugs your way.

Also, congrats on surpassing 75 books read!

169LizzieD
Dez 4, 2020, 11:44pm

(((((Anne)))))

170RebaRelishesReading
Dez 5, 2020, 11:41am

Thinking of you and hope things are getting better. (((Anne)))

171AMQS
Dez 6, 2020, 1:22pm

Dear, dear friends, your words mean so much to me. Thank you so much for visiting. This is a long, strange emotional journey. Things are getting better, but Callia and I have something of an arms-length relationship now, which I suppose is a start, but still feels awfully wrong given how extremely close we were just months ago. Every time I see a post here I am comforted, which is a blessing, indeed. I am feeling the love and savoring the hugs. Thank you, Jim, Joanne, Reba. Laura, Beth, Amber, Paul, Katie, Rhian, Roni, Peggy, foggi, Karen, Mary, Anita, Anita.

We had a very quiet and low-key Thanksgiving. My mom joined Stelios, Marina, and me. She is home from Germany and only sees us. It was a nice holiday. Since Marina's semester started remotely, Stelios gave up his office for her so she had a lot more space, a larger monitor, etc. and Stelios set up his office on the dining room table, with this garish Christmas fleece blanket protecting the table from the equipment and all of the stuff. Eating Thanksgiving at the dining room table was out of the question, so we ate at the kitchen table, which was casual and intimate and maybe helped me miss Callia a bit less. I had been teaching at home for two weeks while in quarantine, but this past week everyone was home, and that is much, much harder. I have two more weeks of remote teaching until winter break, and no determination has been made yet for school in January. Dickinson College will try bringing students to campus in January - just 1st and 2nd year students from January through spring break, then 3rd and 4th year student from spring break until the end of the year. I wish there was a way she could stay the entire semester instead of just 6 weeks, but we'll take what we can get, She wants and deserves this so very much.

Stelios will start a course of PT and pain meds to try to get his pain under control. Mine (hip) is really bad today. I'm hoping it's just a bad day and not a sign of a new normal. All I can really muster is sitting here moping, which fortunately is reversed by visiting LT.

Love to you ALL.

172AMQS
Editado: Dez 6, 2020, 1:25pm

And books!


96. The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

A delightfully complex and whirlwind fantasy rooted in middle eastern lore and mythologies. I'm sure I heard about this book from Micky, though I didn't know when I read it that it is the first book of a trilogy, and now I need to read the others! Recommended for lovers of fantasy and intrigue.

173AMQS
Editado: Dez 6, 2020, 1:55pm



97. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by anonymous, audiobook narrated by Gabra Zackman, Lyle Lovett, and J. Smith-Cameron

OK I think I would have gotten a lot more out of this book if I were on Twitter and I followed Duchess Goldblatt, but I have no interest in adding any more media to my life. Still, I was intrigued to read this story about a broken woman at the depths of despair after divorce, painful custody arrangements, financial insecurity, and the loss of most connections, particularly her husband's big, loving family she loved being a part of but who dropped her when her husband did. Wanting to try social media but wanting to participate anonymously, she started a Twitter account belonging to Duchess Goldblatt (a friend's "drag queen name" concocted from one of those meme formulas involving a pet's name and a mother's maiden name). For her picture she selected a 17th century dutch woman whose name has been lost to history and whose portrait hangs in the National Gallery of Art. As Duchess she dispenses daily witticisms and responds lovingly to each visitor from the fictional town of Crooked Path, NY. As Duchess grows in stature and renown, her creator gradually heals and comes to discover the nature of love and acceptance for yourself and others.

Apparently Duchess has a large and devoted group of followers, many of whom have become real life friends of each other and of Anonymous, including the singer-songwriter-performer Lyle Lovett, who narrates part of the book. Theirs is truly a beautiful friendship, and he champions Duchess AND her creator for the loving community she has developed. Since I don't follow Duchess, it is hard to get a sense of that. Duchess in the book speaks in quasi-philosophical bursts that were amusing but not life changing. Yet one thing struck me powerfully - out of an anonymous online community grew a very close and very real one, so very like our magical LT community. Duchess is fictional and her fans know it. LT is real, but it's hard to explain how it is sometimes easier for me to bare my heart to this online community than it is to share with people I see in real life every day. This is a safe, unconditionally welcoming community for which I am so grateful, and in that way I can understand some of Duchess's gifts. Apparently Duchess Goldblatt's account is a beacon of light and positivity and LT is too.

I don't know about recommending the book. I definitely do if you follow Duchess. It has made me a fan of Lyle Lovett, though until now I really only knew him from that charming Texas tourism commercial from years ago. And it has made me an even bigger fan, if that's even possible, of this community here, which means ALL OF YOU.

174klobrien2
Dez 6, 2020, 6:18pm

>173 AMQS: I recently read "Duchess" and really liked it. Didn't know what to expect when I started, but it was great, comforting read.

Wishing you health and happiness!

Karen O.

175lauralkeet
Dez 7, 2020, 7:36am

"Duchess" sounds like an interesting book although, like you Anne, I lack the Twitter context to fully appreciate it. I do like Lyle Lovett though!

176AMQS
Dez 8, 2020, 8:33am

>174 klobrien2: Thank you, Karen. I wasn't sure what to expect either, but it did intrigue me. I'm glad I listened. Thanks for visiting!

>175 lauralkeet: Laura, I certainly like him now! I was enjoying but not necessarily loving the book until Lyle entered, then that's when it really picked up for me.

177AMQS
Dez 8, 2020, 8:34am

Forgot to tell >158 ronincats: Roni that Evergreen is my hometown and very near where I work. If you are able to come I would love to see you.

178AMQS
Dez 8, 2020, 8:43am




98. The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead

I read this middle grade realistic fiction book in one sitting. It is a quick read but there is much more going on than meets the eye. 10 Year old Bea is explaining to the reader what happened at her dad's wedding and to do that she needs to back things up a couple of years so the reader gets the full picture. Backing up we see that Bea is an adored only child who always wanted a sister. That Bea's world was rocked when her parents announced they were divorcing but that they started her List of Things That Will Not Change by writing that each of her parents loves her very much always. We see Bea struggling with anger and impulse control issues and talking through strategies with an outstanding counselor. We see Bea adjusting to her new life in two homes, and Bea embracing her father's new partner Jesse with her whole heart. And Bea's delight in learning that she will have a sister in Jesse's daughter Sonia and her plans for intimate sisterhood while Bea's counselor attempts to temper Bea's expectations by pointing out that Sonia also has had her world and family rocked and may embrace the changes differently than Bea. The book is funny, touching, and compulsively readable. Recommended.

179foggidawn
Dez 8, 2020, 9:50am

>178 AMQS: I always love Rebecca Stead's books. I'll have to get to this one soon.

180BLBera
Dez 11, 2020, 10:29am

The Stead book sounds good, Anne. I'll add it to my Scout list.

181LizzieD
Dez 11, 2020, 12:42pm

Well, Anne, I'm glad that your Thanksgiving was reasonably good and hope that you and Stavios are dealing with diminishing physical pain. My 3 back places were giving me fits together in all combinations last week but have calmed down some. I'm grateful!

You have given me a BB with The City of Brass. I'm pretty sure that I have looked at it before and rejected it because I don't need to start one more fantasy series. Now I'm pretty sure that I do. Thank you!

Take care! Be as frequent a resident here as you can, please.

182AMQS
Dez 23, 2020, 2:51pm

>179 foggidawn: I enjoy them, too, foggi.

>180 BLBera: Hi Beth! Rebecca Stead is a great author for middle grade readers - you really can't go wrong. Another author that I really enjoy is Erin Entrada Kelly - she's on a roll! I brought home her latest book from the library to read over break.

>181 LizzieD: Hi Peggy, I'm so glad your back issues have subsided somewhat - hope that's still true. Stelios and I still struggle with pain. I have some days that are better than others with my hip but the bad days are really bad and I have started to use a cane. It does help, but it is frustrating because I feel like a third of a person. Stelios and Marina are so good about jumping in to help but I hate to transfer all of the household tasks to them. I hope you enjoy the City of Brass series! I will be getting to the second book here soon I think.

Marina will finally get to go to college - I can't remember if I wrote about this earlier, but Dickinson College is bringing back freshmen and sophomores for the first 6 weeks (January until spring break) and then juniors and seniors for the last six weeks or so. It doesn't feel like enough, but it is a start, and that is something. She had to sign up for a move-in time and is allowed one person to assist her for 2 hours. If she had been able to move in last August it would have been me - I want to go so much! But she understandably has decided that she wants the person who is actually capable of walking and carrying things :) I will have to be content with lots of pictures.

183AMQS
Dez 23, 2020, 3:08pm




99. This Boy: A Memoir of a Childhood by Alan Johnson

As is the case with most Americans, I think, I am woefully uninformed about political leaders of other countries beyond (but sometimes including) presidents and prime ministers, etc. So I had never heard of British politician Alan Johnson before reading the memoir of his childhood. Mr. Johnson is a member of the labour party and served as Secretary of State for the Home Department from 2009 to 2010 and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2010 to 2011 (what's a Shadow Chancellor?). Despite being completely unfamiliar with him, I was absolutely riveted by the story of his early years. Despite his childhood in positively grinding poverty and squalor, his book is positive and extremely generous. At its core is the story of two extraordinary women: his mother, beaten down by physical labor, poverty, abandonment, debt, and failing health; and his sister Linda, whose grit, determination, and resourcefulness at an astonishingly young age is simply, well, astonishing. I couldn't put it down. The book leaves off with Alan at 18 stocking shelves at Tesco and marrying very young. I am dying to know more, and to know how he got where he did. Fortunately there are two more memoirs - I love that they're all named after Beatles songs, which is fitting considering Alan's obsession with them as a teen - Please, Mister Postman and The Long and Winding Road. Unfortunately since they are not intended for US audiences I cannot get them through our library system or its wider ILL system.

184AMQS
Dez 23, 2020, 3:30pm




100. The Magnificent Monsters of Cedar Street by Lauren Oliver

This was recently picked as a Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal, and I was excited to read it because I have enjoyed Lauren Oliver's work. I guess I should clarify that I have loved Lauren Oliver's young adult books but her middle grade books haven't quite worked for me, including this one. Which is not say that I didn't enjoy it, but it won't end up on my best of the year list. Young Cordelia lives with her father in a crumbling Boston home sometime in the late 1800s. Her father is a veterinarian by training but business has dried up as he focuses all of his attention on rescuing and sheltering monsters - pixies, dragons, squelches, diggles, and more. One night Cordelia's father vanishes, along with all of the monsters in their home save a newly acquired and injured dragon and another monster whose name I can't remember. With the help of a street urchin named Gregory and his zuppy (zombie puppy), she embarks on an adventure to find and save her father - and the monsters.

The book's larger point is about acceptance. Monsters are more misunderstood than dangerous. Immigrants of all kinds are met with suspicion, Jews are barred entry into stores, etc. This is definitely an important theme in children's literature. I just wish it were conveyed in a book that wasn't so clunky and contrived. I almost didn't read the book at all when I realized that the first 25 or so pages were just encyclopedic-style entries about monsters and their habits, diets, taxonomies, and other random terminology - without a story to make the reader care about the dozens of monsters listed it was a slog to get through and an extremely questionable way to start a book (a better way to do this is to introduce creatures - fantastical or mythological - gradually, or as needed by the story. This is done much more effectively in a book like Lintang and the Pirate Queen). The crumbling, shadowy Dickensian atmosphere was a plus, but not enough to save what was ultimately an unsatisfying story.

185msf59
Dez 23, 2020, 3:42pm



Merry Christmas, Anne! I hope things keep moving in a more positive direction for your family. And fingers crossed for a much better 2021!!

186AMQS
Dez 23, 2020, 3:47pm




101. Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte

This is another book on the SLJ Best Books of the Year list, and unlike The Magnificent Monsters of Cedar Street, it really is! I could not put the book down. This book takes place in the early 1800s on Martha's Vineyard and is told by Mary Lambert, who is deaf. In fact, as many as 1 in 6 of the residents of her town is deaf, a phenomenon that occurs worldwide in small, isolated communities where genetic variations are passed down and passed on. As with all of those communities, they develop their own sign language - in this case MVSL or Martha's Vineyard Sign Language - which is "spoken" fluently by the deaf and hearing alike. Mary's description of life on her island is charming and idyllic, but her family is mourning the accidental death of Mary's brother George, and there are tensions and conflict between the English settlers and the native Wampanoag people over land ownership and religion. These serious and complex issues are handled with skill and sensitivity. A little heavier hand is used to show the prejudices and misunderstandings about the deaf off of the island. This is brought terrifyingly to life with the arrival of a young scientist to the island, who is determined to find out the source of the "infirmity" afflicting the island's deaf. He takes soil and water samples, grills the women about the tightness of their stays during pregnancy, and ultimately takes Mary as a "live specimen" and subjects her to cruel treatment and experiments. Mary must struggle to save herself while also contemplating for the first time the nature of a disability and whether it makes the disabled less than full people. Though the book is set over 200 years ago the issues are as relevant as they ever were. This book is terrific and fascinating.

187AMQS
Dez 23, 2020, 3:49pm

>185 msf59:, Mark, thank you. Do you know I have never seen a cardinal? Merry Christmas to you, too, and thank you for your visit and encouraging words.

188BLBera
Dez 23, 2020, 9:44pm

Anne - I am so sorry you have so much hip pain. Are you waiting for a replacement? I hope you get some relief soon. Hooray for Marina going to college. She will be great.

Merry Christmas. Take care.

189SandDune
Dez 24, 2020, 8:39am



Or in other words, Happy Christmas! And have a great New Year as well. Here’s hoping 2021 is better than 2020.

190charl08
Editado: Dez 24, 2020, 9:01am

>183 AMQS: Our cabinet (made up of members of the winning party) has opposite numbers in the unsuccessful party - they get money from the state for their salaries which are higher than normal members of parliament. It's supposed to support a successful opposition.

https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/shadow-cabinet/

I'm not sure you should beat yourself up about not having heard of Johnson - I am not that sure how many people would know Johnson in the UK now - his time as a major minister is more than ten years ago.

ETA I'm wrong, apparently it was 2011. Maybe it just feels like longer given politics went in the other direction after that.

191lkernagh
Dez 24, 2020, 12:35pm

Oh Anne, this has been quite the year for you and your family. Sending you virtual {{{{{{Hugs}}}}}}.

Wishing you peace, joy and happiness this holiday season and best wishes for a better 2021.

192witchyrichy
Dez 24, 2020, 12:39pm

193SandDune
Dez 24, 2020, 1:08pm

>183 AMQS: I really enjoyed This Boy - at one time Alan Johnson was spoken of as a future leader of the Labour Party, but I believe he was not interested in running for that position. I remember being shocked at the slums in which he was brought up. He’s only 10 years or so older than me and I genuinely didn’t realise that housing conditions in some parts of the country were so bad.

194Copperskye
Dez 24, 2020, 11:37pm

195PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 12:58am

>183 AMQS: To answer your question Chancellor is in effect the Finance Minister or Head of the Treasury.

196PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 12:59am



I hope you get some of those at least, Anne, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

Give my love also to Stelios, Marina and Callia and I fervently trust that 2021 will see you all reunited.

197Donna828
Dez 26, 2020, 12:29pm

Anne, I have been thinking of you and your family during these troubling days. So sorry you and Stelios are taking turns suffering from physical pain. And then there’s that emotional pain... I really don’t know what to say except that you’ve raised two wonderful daughters and, having undergone my own pain from a strong-willed eldest child, just know that they find their way home eventually. I’m glad Marina will get her freshman college experience. Sadie’s roommate at Kansas State will be online next semester so she will have a private room. No spring break either. It’s been a crazy year all around. Wishing and hoping for a much better upcoming year for all of us. (((Hugs)))

198AMQS
Dez 28, 2020, 3:36pm

>188 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. Yes, I need a total hip replacement. I took a day off from school in November to consult with a surgeon and he told me hospitals were not scheduling because COVID rates were so bad and they were struggling even more than in the spring. He said *maybe* if I can definitely go home the same day, which I'm not crazy about (I would sort of like the German model with a week or so in hospital followed by a week or so in a rehab facility followed by a couple of weeks at a spa but alas). Our COVID rates have improved - Colorado is currently light orange - but I'm going to wait until after the Christmas travel rush before seeing if I can schedule. As it turned out, as I was walking in my house after that appointment I got a call from my principal saying I was in quarantine for two weeks. I couldn't even return to school for supplies. What a year.

199AMQS
Dez 28, 2020, 4:10pm

>189 SandDune: Rhian, thank you!

>190 charl08: Thank you, Charlotte! I feel a little silly as I could have just googled it, but I was mid-review:) That is so completely different from the way our government works. We could definitely use a healthy opposition. Our current system is anything but healthy. Not much about the States is healthy.

>191 lkernagh: Thank you so much, Lori. It has been a terribly difficult year. I'm trying to keep things in perspective by remembering how much I have to be grateful for, particularly with so many grieving and suffering in unimaginable ways. But yes, we are hoping for an easier 2021. I hope yours is happy.

>192 witchyrichy: Thank you, Karen! What a beautiful photo.

>193 SandDune: They were bad, weren't they, Rhian? I suspect there are lots of housing conditions all over America just as bad, which is a huge civic failing. What a story to emerge from a childhood like that. Have you read any of his other books?

>194 Copperskye: Thank you, Joanne.

>195 PaulCranswick:, >196 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. I clearly have some research to do. I appreciate your support and your wishes. We're reunited in a way now as Callia is home for a few days with her husband. I honestly wondered if this day would ever some. It's not how I would wish but all I can do is love her.

>197 Donna828: Donna, thank you. 2020 has been really difficult all around. I never want to wish pain on anyone but honestly it helps to hear of other people's struggles with their children. Honestly, we've had it really easy until now, so perhaps we're due. Our punishment for truly enjoying their teenage years?

I'm so glad Marina will get to go also, and though I would never wish it to be as it is, the extra time with Marina has been a gift for me. She will only be there 6 weeks, which feels like hardly anything. Her roommate will be there the whole semester, having successfully petitioned to stay on campus for the remainder of the term. That's truly intended for students with food or housing insecurity, which is not the roommate's issue. Rather it's that she is the oldest of 6 kids at home and the strain on the wifi with so many users in remote school and work has made college hard. She is from Colorado (which is nice, as she and Marina have met a few times) but has grandparents about an hour away from Dickinson, which will help Marina with storage, etc, plus the grandparents have already purchased a refrigerator and microwave for the girls to use in their dorm - handy in case of quarantine, and also relieved the pressure of buying and either shipping or storing these appliances! I hope Sadie has a good term and is not too lonely.

200AMQS
Editado: Dez 28, 2020, 4:24pm



102. You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why it Matters by Kate Murphy, audiobook narrated by Kate Murphy

I have been wanting to improve my listening skills for some time. I can certainly get distracted by devices, but more than anything I think a busy brain wanders away from conversations and I want to work on that. I saw this book recommended in a newspaper and gave it a try. I was surprised that it struck exactly the right notes for me, and I may purchase a print copy to be able to refer to it later.

Kate Murphy is a longtime contributor to the New York Times, and an accomplished listener. She delves into all sorts of aspects of listening, conversation, and connection is this thoroughly researched and compulsively readable (listenable?) book. She covers isolation, social media, listening and early brain development, listening and neurology, the actual mechanics of hearing, the benefits of listening to opposing viewpoints and more while relaying instructive and very entertaining anecdotes and wisdom of people who could be considered professional listeners: CIA interrogators, hostage negotiators, focus group moderators, investigators, psychologists, couples counselors, NPR's Terry Gross, and a memorable furniture salesman. One thing they all seem to have in common is their genuine enjoyment of learning about people and asking questions - for the purpose of what they can "get" out of the conversation, but more for the pleasure of learning and connection. The book was just the right one for me at just the right time. Recommended.

201BLBera
Dez 28, 2020, 8:25pm

What a year, indeed, Anne. Well, I hope 2021 brings you a new hip!

202witchyrichy
Dez 29, 2020, 1:02pm

Finally managed to actually read your thread: I am so sorry for all you and your family have endured this year and am sending love and healing thoughts your way for 2021. As for the new hip: I hope for it to come sooner rather than later. I am a year out from mine and feeling so much younger! I can walk the dogs together on the farm, ride my bike, and even have a virtual yoga coach.

203AMQS
Dez 29, 2020, 8:53pm

>201 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. I imagine it will. Once New Year's is over I'm going to call and see if there's a possibility I can schedule.

>202 witchyrichy: Karen, thank you. This has been a really difficult year for so many people. I'm trying to keep that in mind but honestly our family was traumatized and it's still really hard to understand and to live with. I'm so glad to hear about your hip! I am feeling like a young person in an old body and I hate saying "no, I don't think I can do that because of my hip..." but of course in 2020 I'm not having to say no to too many things. I was worried about my hip last year when we went to Germany and it felt surprisingly good-ish. I would not be able to make that trip this year. I will not be able to go with Marina and Stelios to move Marina into her dorm in Pennsylvania. They're giving each student a 2-hour window by appointment to move in with only one helper allowed. Marina sensibly chose the parent who can actually climb stairs and carry things at the same time, but it's killing me a little.

Happy New Year!

204RebaRelishesReading
Dez 31, 2020, 2:01am

So glad to hear that Callia and her husband have been home and that Marina is finally getting to go away to school. Very sorry though that you and Stellos are suffering so. I hope you can get that hip replaced soon. Having had my knees replaces several years ago I can tell you it can make a huge difference! You're in my heart and on my mind for continued progress for the girls and relief from the physical pain for you and Stellos.

205AMQS
Dez 31, 2020, 5:52pm

>204 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, thank you. Your words of encouragement mean a lot to me. You're making a completely new start in 2021, and I'm so thrilled for your next adventure.

206PaulCranswick
Editado: Dez 31, 2020, 9:32pm



Anne

As the year turns, friendship continues

207AMQS
Jan 1, 12:41am

Thank you, Paul xoxo