Most of my reading this month was in order to compile a reading list of books for the main character in one of my middle grade novels. There were some other books, however, and I’d like to share them with you here.
Actually, two of them are books I’ve already posted about this month, so when I mention them, I’ll include links to my posts.
Word After Word After Word by Patricia MacLachlan — (Yes, THE Patricia MacLachlan who wrote Sarah, Plain and Tall.) This is a wonderful book about kids learning to express themselves, and to work through the challenges in their lives, through writing. Here’s my blog post about the book.
The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo — What a wow of a book. Gentle and fierce, poignant and powerful, it tells the story of a young boy and his father learning how to keep on after the mother’s death, and of a caged tiger that comes to symbolize much in the boy’s life and thoughts. I highly recommend this book. Highly.
My Nine Lives: a memoir of many careers in music by pianist Leon Fleisher (that link takes you to an article from 2010 which, although not about the book, certainly gives you the basic themes of the book) — This is a fascinating account of the many ways Fleisher reinvented his musical career over the course of his life. You can read more about it in my post linked here.
They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson — This is the true, heartwrenching, uplifting, plumbing-the-depths (pun not totally intended) account of a year and half in Plum Johnson’s life: the time immediately before her mother’s death and the time after it, in which Plum lived in her mother’s house, sorting through the detritus of her mother’s life, and sorting through her own mental, emotional and spiritual reactions to her parents’ lives and deaths and belongings. I highly recommend this one, too.
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper — This was the only adult fiction I read this month (I read very little fiction at all this month — nearly all those research books I mentioned were non-fiction.) Through chapters that go back and forth between characters and time periods in the characters’ lives, from present to childhood to war years and back to present, the author not only tells us the characters’ whole stories, but also shows how their aging minds are bouncing back and forth from present to past, not always quite sure which is reality. It’s the story of a prairie woman who wants to see the ocean before she dies, and sets off to walk (!) from Saskatchewan to Halifax (a distance of about 2000 miles). It is also a story of love, and of desperation, of war, of hope, a story of fear — fear of death, fear of stagnation, fear of aging — and of reconciliation, and of taking chances no matter what your age.
Mindset: the new psychology of success by Carol S. Dweck — This book has already had a profound effect on my thinking, and I expect (and intend) that its effect will continue for a long time to come. Dweck’s thesis is that there are two mindsets from which we respond to life and its experiences. One, the fixed mindset, keeps us fearful and limited, while the other, the growth mindset, frees us to learn, grow, and become. I highly, highly recommend this book. The link embedded in Dweck’s name leads you to the Mindset website, which gives the basics of the theory. This one needs to be re-read. And possibly re-read again.
What have you read this month?