What a busy week of reading! It was a really busy week of writing, too, but I succeeded in finishing several books this week. I promised myself that MWiB posts would be short and sweet but some of the books really grabbed me this week, as you can tell.
Trenches, Treaties, Mud and Blood, by Nathan Hale
Part of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, I could justify buying this one for myself since it’s about World War I, so it’s writing research. The problem is, I loved it so much that I need all the others now, especially Donner Dinner Party. I especially appreciate how it brought some aspects of the conflicts of the war into perspective for me. My nerdly huge book on that war, The Great War and Modern Memory, by Paul Fussell, came into play to look up more information about battles I hadn’t heard of or things I wanted to understand better. I am particularly pleased because my husband is reading his first graphic novel now.
El Deafo, by CeCe Bell
I received this as an ARC from a fellow Nerdy Book Club member who offered it on Twitter. The book releases September 2nd. I’ve been plotting how to pay this advance copy forward. This is one of the best memoirs I’ve read in a long time, a graphic novel autobiography sharing how the author became deaf, and how her life was affected by her deafness. She doesn’t flinch away from anything, but it’s not harsh. It’s a great book for middle grade students, and I will be recommending it to many people. Bell not only tells her own story, but in the afterward, helps others understand that not every deaf person deals with their deafness by following the same path. This wonderful book, with its bunnies as the main players, opens a window for us, showing us how a challenge like deafness doesn’t have to disable a person. So…if you are interested in reading an advanced reader’s copy of El Deafo (in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that the release is in full color, which this one is not), leave a comment and tell me why it interests you. Also, please tell me who you think you might share it with after you read it. Please pay it forward! I’d love to see how far it can go. It’s already crossed the continent, so we could make it travel all over the place. As a further, treat, visit Bell’s blog for El Deafo Extras, photos and drawings which take us deeper into the process and her own experience.
Tiny Quest, starring Princess Sassafras, by Matt Youngmark
I bought this great little book from another participant at a book festival this winter. I got it for two reasons. One was that I love tiny things. The other was that I felt the heroine, Sassafras, looked like me, and that made me feel good. Also, the premise is fun. Who doesn’t love a quest story with a feisty little girl at its center? The author wrote it as a birthday present for his wife, who requested “something tiny.” He told me that he made her go on a scavenger hunt throughout the house to find each of the chapters. He doesn’t know how he’ll top it as a gift, though.
The Blood of an Englishman: an Agatha Raisin Mystery, by M.C. Beaton
I got this one as an ARC from Netgalley. As usual with Agatha Raisin, I loved the plot twists paired with main character Agatha’s absurd forays into unfortunate relationships. Mysteries are major escape reading for me, and have been for years, whether they are for kids or for grownups. I have to admit that this time, there were a few wobbles in the writing which distracted me. I do love a good story, though, and this one entertained me.
The Lilac Bus, by Maeve Binchy
I’m on a bit of a Maeve kick, lately – such lovely characterizations she paints – they just feed me! This is another on audio, and it’s lovely. It’s my grownup comfort reading. This one touches on the lives of every person who rides the bus home from the city every Friday night. It’s delightful to see how the stories begin to intertwine and circle back into one another as one goes through the book.
Dash, by Kirby Larson
I also got Dash as an ARC from Netgalley. I loved Kirby Larson’s Duke. I loved it as I’ve loved all her others, but I was especially happy because I felt that it dealt with war in a way even younger students (middle grade, 3rd-5th or so) could process. There aren’t many that fall firmly in that age group and I have had students who needed just that sort of push. Here is another one, about another dog, Dash. It deals with the World War II internment of Japanese people in Washington state so very gracefully, not hiding from the realities but making them accessible to younger readers in a developmentally appropriate way. I felt my empathy grow three sizes when I read this book. Local to the Seattle area? This coming Thursday, August 28, if you are free (sadly, we aren’t), Larson will be at the Japanese Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island, Washington, at 3:30 for a special event. That evening, the book launches at Eagle Harbor Books with a reading and signing at 7 p.m.
Did you read a book which opened windows for you this week?