11 May 2014

March & April Reads 2014

 Since I wrote blog posts about the majority of the books I read the past two months, I decided to combine my March and April 2014 reads into a single post. In March I read all nonfiction because nonfiction continues to be my favorite, and it worked out well for two of four books to be in e-book format for ease with work travel.  The only book I didn't blog about was probably my favorite from March.  Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo had been on my want to read list for well over a year.  I knew it would be powerful, but I didn't expect it to be so powerful that it would leave me without words.  April brought several volunteer experiences and events with my children, and two of the texts I read connected in some way to those events.  Again, I wrote about all but one of my April reads, but I didn't write about We Sinners by Hanna Pylväinen because the content was too familiar to the way I was raised, and it brought flashbacks to a childhood filled with financial struggle and fundamentalist Christianity.

This #bookaweek goal is taking me to the library more frequently and also stretching my experiences of e-reading more than ever.

I selected to read Thinking in NumbersOn Life, Love, Meaning, and Math by Daniel Tammet after seeing it on the shelf at a local bookstore while I was browsing one afternoon.  Since it was available only in hardback and I didn't want to spend money on it, I borrowed it from the library. The connection between math and poetry, language, and art attracted me to this book and opened my mind to the bigger picture of math.

 As an introvert, I enjoyed Cain's book and used it to help me think about my indivdual growth plan for work.  Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Won't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (read e-book).

How to Blog for Profit (Without Selling Your Soul) by Ruth Soukup. Always trying to improve my blog, I attended a blogging training in March and also read this e-book about blogging.  Though I have no intention of trying to make a profit from my blog, the tips offered in Soukup's book were relevant to improving the way I write and promote my work.

Katherine Boo won a Pulitzer Prize for Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity.  This nonfiction book about residents of a present day slum neighborhood in India takes us into the culture of the people of Annawadi and tells their individual stories with compassion and honesty.  The juxtaposition of the slum against the luxury hotels is Mumbai is a startling reminder of the disparity and inequity in our world.

As a mom, I'm always looking for ways to continue teaching my sons about art, literature, poetry, history, global issues, music, science and technology, and I prefer to teach them through experiences.  Since April brought two big school projects for my youngest son, we explored through books and events.  We dug in deep to learn about the Battle of Perryville for his history day project.  This historical event happened not too far from where we live, so we were excited to find books specifically about the battle. We borrowed  Perryville Under Fire:  The Aftermath of Kentucky's Largest Civil War Battle by Stuart Sanders from the Lexington Public Library.  We borrowed other books as well, but this was the only one I read from cover to cover as I sought to understand Kentucky's history in the Civil War.  I needed to understand the battle and significance of Kentucky in the war if I was going to help my ten-year old son with his project.

Shortly after the history day event, I accompanied my son on his fifth grade field trip to Mammoth Cave, and since we had been there previously and learned about a book of Mammoth Cave poetry  I decided to find the book and read it.  Sharing poetry with my child was a highlight of national poetry month for me. We found Ultima Thule by Davis McCombs at the public library and spent the week before our trip reading poems each night. With the events, reading, and blogging I started to fall behind my book a week goal toward the end of the April, but it didn't take me long to catch up again because I downloaded the e-book version of A Sliver of Light:  Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran by Shane Bauer, Josh Fattal, and Sarah Shourd and read the book in just a couple of days.

On Easter Sunday, I was reading The New York Times and came across an archived excerpt of the book We Sinners by Hanna Pylväinen.  Since I enjoyed the excerpt, I decided to download the complete e-book version for my final book of the month.  This was also my opportunity to try reading fiction in e-book format again since previously I've only been able to read nonfiction electronically. As I mentioned above, I haven't managed to write a full post about the book because the content was too familiar.

I think what I'm enjoying most about my book a week goal is the chance to read and become part of different worlds with each text.  This is probably the same reason I read so often as a child--it was a chance to experience to a new place, meet new people (characters) and explore new ideas. 

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