You’d think that after taking several weeks off of Monday reading posts to focus on other challenges I’d have plenty of books to share. But I returned my last stack of picture books to the library unread and otherwise have way too many books started to finish many.
I really enjoyed Weike Wang’s novel, Chemistry. It’s told from the perspective of a Chemistry grad student whose failed research project causes one of those midlife-in-your-twenties crises. It’s a novel about being stuck–our unnamed narrator has been essentially fired from her graduate program and can’t make any kind of decision in her life, including responding to her boyfriend’s marriage proposal. For a novel about being stuck and fairly unhappy, it’s really energetic and even fun. There is wry humor throughout, a very strong voice, and an interesting mix of observations about science and life. I think Wang is especially good at exploring the pressures and challenges of being the child of immigrants and having so many expectations placed on you to succeed.
His Majesty’s Dragon is Jane Austen meets Patrick O’Brien’s Master and Commander with dragons. It’s the first in a fantasy alternate history series about the Napoleonic Wars, and the alternate part is that in addition to the naval corps, Britain has an air corps of dragons and their handlers. Naval captain Will Laurence is inducted into this semi-secret world of dragons and aviators quite against his will when a dragon’s egg he has captured from the French unexpectedly hatches and Temeraire, the new hatchling, decides that Laurence would be the most appropriate handler. Novik writes so well, and the characters are well-drawn. These are highly sentient dragons (Temeraire enjoys Euclid for bedtime reading), and their dialogue and interactions are at least as fascinating as what the humans get up to.
I nearly skipped Game Changer! because I just didn’t think I needed to read another book about book access for all. Talk about preaching to the choir! But I thought this was an exceptionally well-done professional development book, a must read for teachers newer to teaching but with plenty for veteran teachers as well. It’s especially strong in incorporating research and covering all aspects of book access, including topics that are frequently left out of other PD books, such as the importance of book ownership.
Tight was my latest read-aloud with my son. We both loved the characters, the voice and the sticky ethical situations, and he kept interrupting my reading to warn me that Mike, Bryan’s new friend, was not all he seemed to be and was certainly going to get Bryan in trouble. Which he did. This is a surprisingly interior novel for a middle-grade, where the trouble Bryan gets in is mostly feeling like he has disappointed his mother and himself in not acting like the person he wants to be. There is enough action to keep the attention, I think, but the real draw here is Bryan’s thoughtful reflections on the action.