It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 1/7/19

On the blog:

In reading:

I’m a bit late to the party with Louisiana’s Way Home. I put it off because I hadn’t finished Raymie Nightingale (or particularly liked the parts I did read), but Carrie and Julieanne assured me that I didn’t need to read Raymie to fall in love with Louisiana, and that’s exactly what happened. Perfect Kate DiCamillo sentence after perfect Kate DiCamillo sentence, such wisdom and sadness and hope on every page. And now of course I have to go back and try Raymie again.

No Time to Spare is a collection of blog posts and essays from Ursula Leguin. The subtitle is “Thinking About What Matters,” and that’s exactly what she tries to do here. (It pleased me that there are several pieces about her cat!) (And it’s called No Time to Spare because she’s writing these pieces in her 80s!) She also writes about aging and writing and books and politics and how we might live in the best way. There are a couple of excellent pieces, most are very good or good, and one or two are only fair. But overall, a strong and thought-provoking collection full of sense and with occasional bright spots of humor.

I’ve been steeped in life after 80 this week, because that also describes Donald Hall’s collection, Essays After Eighty. Hall’s life and thinking seem rather more circumscribed than Leguin, but writing continues to be his way of living in the world. A couple of these pieces are superb, most are interesting, a couple had to be skimmed. I think this book will be most interesting to those who are familiar with Hall’s earlier writing. His focus is often more on aging and the challenges of being old, and his take is by turns sobering and comical.

The Middle Route Run is the second book in Ben Costa and James Parks’s series about Rickety Stitch, a sharply dressed skeleton who can’t remember who he was when he was alive, and his faithful companion, the Gelatinous Goo, who looks like a quivering dish of jello and who speaks but can only be understood by Rickety. For the first third or so of the book, it didn’t bother me that I hadn’t read the first book. While I could see that this story was building on that one, detailed knowledge of what happened in the first book wasn’t really necessary. But the further along I got, the more lost I became, as characters and plots from the first book reappeared. The art is full-color gorgeousness, and it’s all fairly rip-roaring, but ultimately too hard to follow for those who haven’t read Book 1. And that’s why you don’t jump into a series without reading the first book!

Joseph Bruchac shares the story of Chester Nez, one of the 29 original Navajo codetalkers, in this picture book biography. The text is on the longer side but still written with simple clarity for a younger audience. Some of the scenes of Chester’s early life are so painful, especially his boarding school experiences, where he was forced to answer to an English name, cut his hair, and repeatedly told that his Navajo language was useless and bad. But he stays committed to the ways of his people, and eventually he is asked, with other Navajo volunteers, to develop an unbreakable code to use in World War II. This is a fascinating and balanced portrait and an important story. I wish the art had been stronger. So many of the images were unnecessarily dark and fuzzy.

Some good silly fun that also has a message that might be useful to hear about how we have no reason to fear what’s on the other side of a wall. I might have to read this one out loud in my Children’s Lit class before I return to the library, as it seems like it would be a good read-aloud.

Superb story about the ways that the Cherokee people use the phrase “otsaliheliga” to express gratitude throughout the year. There is a focus on seasons with descriptions of the experiences, rituals, and celebrations appropriate to each season shared. Some Cherokee words are taught throughout. There is a good glossary and fascinating Author’s Note in the back matter as well as the Cherokee syllabary. This is also my first completed #MustReadi2019 title!

13 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr 1/7/19

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed Louisiana’s Way Home (I definitely liked it better than Raymie Nightingale). And I agree — you SHOULD read The Wall in the Middle of the Book to your Children’s Lit class. Such a timely message (even if you don’t explicitly say so ;)). We Are Grateful looks so good! We don’t yet have a copy at any of the three local libraries, but we’ll see what 2019 brings. Congrats on completing your first #MustReadi2019 title!!

    • I’m definitely going to read Raymie now and expect to like it at least a little better now. I need to get a different classroom for Children’s Lit–nobody can see the book as I read in the classroom we’re in and there’s no space for a gather round!

      • Ugh. That’s not good. I did not care much for my music ed class. It was a huge auditorium-type room, big enough for 80+ people. Even when I had people sit only on the first two rows, they went way around the sides of the room out of my line of vision, at times. I wished I could get everyone to sit on the floor in a circle, but with back problems and such I worried about making people uncomfortable. I hope you’re able to get assigned a better room — that would be ideal!

  2. I enjoyed Louisiana’s Way Home, too and The Wall In The Middle of The Book is one I also just read and shared, a timely picture book for sure. I know of the Le Guin & Hall books, may some day get to them, but just have too much to read otherwise right now. I enjoyed your reviews of them, Elisabeth. Thanks!

  3. Will have to read Le Guin’s book (especially because you mentioned cats). I loved The Wall in the Middle of the Book, primarily because I enjoyed the characters’ expressions. Read The Nowhere Emporium. I was enjoying this book since it reminded me of The Night Circus (another favorite). Then it took a dark turn and I was less enthusiastic. Also read Facing Frederick by Tonya Bolden. I became interested in Frederick Douglass after listening to David Blight’s brilliant Civil War lectures. Douglass is remarkable. Can you imagine growing up in a time when Douglass, Lincoln, Whitman, and Dickinson walked the earth? On a different note,
    Robert Macfarlane has a fascinating/exquisite podcast in which he hikes the Cairngorm Mountains using Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain as a guide. A must-listen.

  4. Although I was not a big Raymie Nightingale fan either, I fell head over for Louisiana. Now I am heading off to put a hold on the Leguin title. She is one of my writing heroes from my teens and early twenties. I’ve started rereading her work beginning with the Earthsea Cycle.

  5. I, too, loved Louisiana! It is such a special story!
    I own Rickety #2 but not #1 for some reason; thank you for letting me know that I probably should get the first one before reading the 2nd.

    Happy reading this week, and happy new year!

  6. I’ve been meaning to read No Time To Spare for our #WomenReadWomen2019 reading theme! I own a copy of it and been dying to read it! I have a few books in my stack right now, but moving this one up the pile, thanks for sharing your thoughts on it! 🙂 Happy New Year!

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