Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What We're Reading: April / May 2017

I haven't done one of these posts for ages, but it used to be really fun to look back on what we were reading at various points, so I thought: why not.

Reading is, as always, a central part of our lives in this house. We are a bookish family, although my partner prefers listening to audiobooks rather than reading text. I don't feel right at all if I am not reading, and reading rather voluminously at that; I seem to have passed on this trait.

One thing that's changed a lot in the last 6-9 months is the youngest (8 year old's) transition into being a skilled reader rather than just a competent reader. She is now able to extract both meaning and enjoyment from reading in a way that was still elusive for her a year ago, and this has greatly expanded the range and volume of books she reads.

So what's been on the literary menu lately?

Me: I am reading 4 books at the moment -
  • Elizabeth Strout's Anything is Possible, which is a companion novel / sequel to the wonderful My Name is Lucy Barton. I am in love with this book very seriously.
  • N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season, which I have been urged towards by many nerd friends. I started this one early in April but am dragging my feet with it a bit. 
  • Ursula Le Guin's classic, The Dispossessed, which I read twenty years ago but haven't revisited since. (It is as good as I remembered.)
  • Steven Amsterdam's The Easy Way Out, which I am reading for monthly online book club (it's also on the Miles Franklin list). I'm just starting this but the first few pages are intriguing.
This is a very diverse set of works, and I am getting different things from each  of them, although I am finding I am only handling the Jemisin in small doses. I am really loving Anything is Possible and will do a double-header review of it and My Name is Lucy Barton once I finish it, as I think I have some ideas to unpick there.

In the last month, I've also read Ken Liu's short story collection, The Paper Menagerie, which was lovely; and I indulged in one of my periodic re-reads of Pride and Prejudice.

Top of my ever-growing TBR pile (ie the next three books in my list) are:
  • David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon, a historical true-crime study of the wholesale murders of the Osage people in the early twentieth century and the appalling cover-up that followed.
  • Ryan O'Neill's Their Brilliant Careers, another Franklin listee which I am really looking forward to.
  • John Safran's Depends What You Mean by Extremist, which I am intrigued by. Safran can be hit and miss on screen, but I really loved his previous book, the true crime (but more) Murder in Mississippi (marketed in the US as God'll Cut You Down). He's actually a very, very good writer, and I am interested to see how he tackles this more complex and explosive material.

Partner: My partner has just finished listening to the e-book of Thirteen Reasons Why. He reports it was good, but disturbing. He's also watched the TV show and says the show is much more graphic than the book.

13.5 year old: The eldest is reading a lot of fanfiction on Wattpad (in The Mortal Instruments fandom, mostly). She's recently finished Tomorrow, When the War Began, and is now reading The City of Ashes (a book in The Mortal Instruments series). She's also reading non-fiction in the area of world mythology, a subject she has become very interested in.

12 year old: The middle kid has been reading original fiction on Wattpad by an author called arcticstars - they apparently write slice of life fiction that she really enjoys. She also recently re-read Alice Pung's Laurinda, a favourite of hers, and read and really liked Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall. She often revisits her Horrible Histories books when she needs a bit of relaxation of an evening.

8 year old: The youngest is very, very taken with books about adventure, nature and animals. Books that combine all three are absolute top of the pops. She and I are reading Jean Craighead George's wonderful My Side of the Mountain series - about Sam Gribley, who runs away from New York to live in the Catskill Mountains by himself with his peregrine falcon, Frightful - and we are both loving it. She reads a chapter to me, then I read one to her. We're almost finished the second book now. With her dad, she's reading The Adventures of Tashi, and to herself, she's ploughing through Famous Five titles and kid-focused science books about geology, animals, and paleontology.

So that's our reading life at the moment!

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