This may not be a word, but it is a perfect description of some books.
I am the type of reader that usually devours books in one sitting, but that is more of a reflection of my reading speed, rather than the merit of any books. When I find a book to be “unputdownable” it means that I start reading it after 9pm and do not go to bed until it is finished. It is a usual thing for my attention to be grabbed by a book in the daytime, but the real mark of a book’s “unputdownable-ness” is if I stay up past my teacher bed time to finish it.
Last night, I had this experience with Touch by Courtney Maum.
This book follows trend forecaster Sloane Jacobson as she engages with a big technology firm to workshop the latest technology. Her partner of 10 years is a French neosensualist and spends his days typing away on his phone or laptop, ignoring her.
I started this book at 10pm and finished it at 12:10am and barely put it down in between.
Because of this COVID-19 world, I was sucked into this book that focused on how we grapple with needing touch and personal connections in this world of technology and automation.
It was unputdownable because I wanted to live vicariously through Sloane and her physical experiences. As, Sloane tries to advocate for more touch and more connections and all I could think was “I want that too.” I know I cannot have that and will not have that at least for awhile, but I felt that momentary loss while reading. Hand shakes, hugs, making out with strangers…all frowned upon during a pandemic and taken for granted by us pre-COVID and by the characters in the book. I know that I never will again.
With all of the craziness surrounding back-to-school…and our remote/hybrid learning planning, I have found myself reading less and writing about books less. This is an unusual time, so I am gaining some unusual habits; habits that I hope to break.
A multiple award winner and I understood why. The story was powerfully told in verse, in an elevator. I couldn’t put this one down.
I have been doing a lot of reading on racism, antiracism, and reading BIPOC fiction authors and this one made also consider my role as a white teacher with BIPOC students. Tatum gives important information on how racial identity develops in people (especially adolescents) and where some of the most common stereotypes come from.
I wish I could have taken her course in education school, but I got a lot out of the book for my students now.
Challenge aside, I would read anything that Anna-Marie McLemore writes. To complete the category “Latinx Author or Book in Spanish” I chose their Wild Beauty.
Once again, I wanted to live in the world that they created. This time, the book followed the youngest of three generations of cursed women. Each women in the family blames themself for killing or making the person they love disappear. So, what happens when a mysterious boy appears in their magical garden? You will have to read to find out.
I will say it again…I adore Anna-Marie McLemore and want to live in the worlds that they create. The scenery and the book itself was lush, beautiful, and heartbreaking. I loved coming across the references to the” weight of feathers” and the cursed red shoes; both parts of her later books.
A spot of magical realism and strong women always make for a great read.
When I was in AP US History (not bragging,) my mind was blown.
Over the summer, our teacher required that we read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. I was appalled by all of the “lies” that I had been told. Why was I only learning now, at age 16, that Columbus was maybe not the hero I thought he was?
This idea could be a much longer post about the prevalence of classism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, elitism, the patriarchy etc. in our history books. And maybe I will make that post someday, but this post is about how I learned about important people and important facts that do not often make it into history textbooks. I read about women, BIPOC, queer people, and every one in between, often left out or rewritten in standardized texts. I read about struggles and triumphs. I read about the people who fought, voted, and spoke out. I read about events that became more real to me as I read about a historical figure with thoughts and feelings. Reading history beyond textbooks and beyond school humanized events for me. These “alternative history” books give readers, like me, the emotional connection that a textbook is often lacking.
Both were engaging and often moving reads. Both of these groups have been (and often still are persecuted) for who they are, but are such important parts of our country and our country’s history. I learned a lot from these texts.
Highly recommend picking up both books or either and expanding your historical knowledge base!
Ever since the Stay-At-Home orders went to effect, I have been buying books.
I traditionally am not a book buyer. With the immense volume of books I read per year, I normally rely on the library. After a few weeks without this wonderful community resource, I started to buy used books and then new books. I accumulated books from all over the country.
Now, the library is open for curbside pick-up and I am still buying books. This results in the reader’s favorite and least favorite problem: A rather large To Be Read pile.
Okay, this book is exactly what it looks like and I liked it.
And I don’t care what you think.
The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe follows Mamie Greene, the oldest of three sisters (the other two do get their own books and I am here for it) who leads a double life as uptown princess and Robin Hood of the tenement blocks. Her worried father has her followed by his lawyer…who is obviously tall, dark, handsome, smart, and secretive…and banter, tension, adventure, court cases, and everything else ensues.
I do not want to give too much away, but this book was a good escape, especially on a deck, with a coffee . I always go into books like this (guilty pleasure reads) wanting to find ridiculous speeches and descriptions to share with my bookish pals, but I always end up getting kind of sucked into the story.
This is a great introduction to some fascinating, fierce, diverse female leaders throughout the history of the world, some that I had not heard of until I opened the book. Each page had so much to look at and gave me some new people to research. I had just been reading Stamped from the Beginning and A Woman of No Importance (Virginia Hall,) so it was also nice to see some familiar names, names that I am intrigued to read even more about.
The only thing that didn’t always work for me was the narrative surrounding and connecting the history bits. The class traveling through time to see these women was a very cool concept and often worked really well. I also liked the dialogue about race that the student’s had with each other, as they learned the history bits. However, sometimes the students asked a question and the instructor said “We will come back to that” or “You’ll find out more later” and they didn’t. I get that it was a lot of material to juggle and it didn’t ruin the reading experience. Just something I noticed.
Definitely worth a read and some book-inspired future reading.
I had just finished Erik Larson’s new book on Winston Churchill and found myself wanting, no, needing to know more about the veritable force that was his wife Clementine. One of Goodread’s recommended books on her was Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict.
I was very excited to jump in, but to be honest, I did not love what I eventually jumped into.
The stories were interesting. I liked to see her point of view of her husband, her role in politics, and in the women’s suffrage movement. However, the story was told in first person, present. I am not the biggest fan of this form a narration and it influnced my reeading experrience.
Did I learn about her? Yes. Did I love the reading experience? Not exactly.
But if you want to read more about Clementine and you do not mind this type of narration, this may be a great read for you!
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about why and what I tend to re-read. There is one book that I have been re-reading for the last 20 years.
That is a very strange thing to be typing.
The book picture above is the one that has always stuck with me: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. This epic retelling of the King Arthur legend through the point of view of his mother, his sister, and his aunt was recommended to me by a friend when I was in seventh grade. The mini-series had just come out and the book had magic, strong women, and sex in it. Needless to say, I was in.
If I ever have to pick a favorite book, I usually say this one. Is it perfect? No. Is it controversial? Oh yeah. But, I pick it not for what others would rate it, but because it is the one that I cannot stop thinking about. It is the one that reflected some of my adolescent thinking and my adolescent struggles.
Even at the time, I realized the profound effect that book had on me. I saw strong and smart women struggling for their independence against an emerging patriarchal society. Something I was noticing women in the world around me doing in the early 2000s. I saw women at the center of a religion, healing, and caring and eventually overcome by war and foreign men during a time when I was questioning the religious tenants that I was being raised by. I saw one of my favorite legends through the eyes of a misunderstood, young woman trying to find her place in her family and society, something I thought I was. And of course, in my emerging awareness of sex and hormones, I was addicted to the love stories. I realized all of this at the time. Although, I’m not sure I would have used these words.
Because of this book, I felt like I had the power to conquer anything. I became more interested in world religions and women’s history. Even though the book is fiction, I felt like I was learning that women had a role in history. And I was very into the kissing. Needless to say, I read it again the next year and my friend group passed it around. Mostly because of the kissing. Unfortunately, my mother had seen the mini-series, and told me not to read the book any more because it was “not appropriate.”
I did stop reading it, but neglected to mention that I had already read it. I bought a copy for myself like two years later and she resigned herself to the fact that I was reading it and going to continue reading it. She must have been horrified at the thought that a book with sex, strong women, and paganism was in my hands and that I was empowered by this book to be more vocal about who I was and what I believed. I was relieved. That book came to me at the exact right time.
From that point on, I have re-read the book every few years and my reactions have reflected my own experience at the time. In my teens and early twenties, I identified with the same strong, upstart characters and was still very interested in the kissing. Mostly the kissing. In my mid-late twenties, I hated those characters and was ambivalent towards much of the kissing. All the drama. No one was following any rules. The older characters were too controlling. The younger ones were too whiny. All the men were the worst, except for one, very liberal thinking one.
In my thirties, I have read it once and I find myself with much less anger and frustration towards the characters. I am more in-tune with where all the character’s emotions are coming from. I understand the tough choices the older generations must make. I understand the frustrations of the younger generations, who just want to change. I’m little over the magic and the fantastical elements, although I think they are beautifully written. I still like some of the kissing, although it seems a little uncomfortable to be doing it while lying in the grass or the hay.
This is a book that I know I will read forever. I will carry my memories of the reading experience forever. My reading experience will change and grow forever. This is a book that grows with me and I with it…even though I am not super into fantasy anymore.