The girls arrived home from their first day of school with Scholastic packets from the teachers and new book recommendations from their classmates.
M is dying to read Magyk by Angie Sage, the first book in a series that a friend raved about. I appreciated her enthusiasm, but part of me wishes she didn’t want to plunge into another series of huge, long books. Much of the last year’s been taken up with the Harry Potter books and books by Rick Riordan. Don’t get me wrong: they’re all really great books, but I noticed that once M tried a shorter novel for a change (for her book group that I was telling you about–the next selection is Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan), she began reading much more. My theory is that when she’s say, 220 pages into a book with another couple hundred more to go, she keeps reading at a steady pace. But when she’s 150 pages in and she knows that in a mere 70 pages she’ll learn everything that’s going to happen to these characters, she’s more motivated to not put the book down for a moment. She’s been tearing through Dear America books. Have I mentioned that I freakin’ love the Dear America books? I’m a huge historical fiction fan, so I’ve been stocking the home shelves with these books whenever I’ve seen them at cheap sales. In fact, it was because I had a collection of them that I loaned to my niece T that M bothered to take a look. Because of course Cute W’s and my recommendations are worse than meaningless. Examples: M resisted Harry Potter for years, and she has yet to read A Wrinkle in Time, the book that I loved so much in third grade that it made me decide on my first-born daughter’s name then and there. In any case, we’ve reached this awesome phase in M’s reading life when she wants to read books that I’d like to read, too. And I’m a sucker for gathering up books, so I trekked over to the library at 7:45 last night in search of Magyk. It was supposed to be there, but the librarian and I couldn’t find it. After some book chatter she pressed the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio on me. Apparently it’s the hot read-aloud among the 5th and 6th grade teachers. I started a bit of it with M last night, and we were both laughing within a few pages. She was back into it this morning, and when she tried to give me an update, I shushed her, because I think that I’m going to have to read it myself.
I’m suffering from book envy right now because I’m doing my Snobby Book Group “required reading,” Half a Life by V.S. Naipul. I’m liking it alright, and of course it’s good for me to read–something described as a Nobel Laureate’s “finest novel to date” is an excellent addition to anyone’s reading list. But because it isn’t something that I’d naturally pick up, it feels a bit like eating eggplant to me. I’ll do it, it’s good for me, blah, blah, blah. I threw in a couple of recent good books for the picture just in case you need recommendations. I haven’t finished Anna Quindlen’s essays–they’re too close to real life, so I can’t read them at bedtime. I’m a pure fiction or completely foreign-to-me nonfiction girl at bedtime, and that’s when I get most of my reading done. I even have trouble sleeping after reading a magazine, because I start pondering recipes or organizing tips or workout suggestions and next thing you know I’m not sleeping. With my beloved Anna, even if her essay topic doesn’t make me contemplate my life, my sheer desire to be as cool as her becomes an insomnia-inducing meditation. And I’ve been on a bit of an Amanda Eyre Ward tear lately, because her novels are light without being stupid. That top book’s a short story collection, something I rarely like, and I really enjoyed these. She has some of the most awesome first lines ever.
J, meanwhile, was also in raptures over the Scholastic order form, although she was distressed to learn that the super-cool Goddess Girls multi-pack with GG charm bracelet contained books that she’s already read. She’s deeply committed to that series as well as the Fairies books by “Daisy Meadows,” who is not a single author but a group of writers who are paying for their groceries by subjecting parents everywhere to the same insipid story of two girls outsmarting the stupid-clumsy-selfish goblins and helping the fairies. I’m sorry that I’m being so negative, but I have to let it out somewhere. I keep hoping that my clever almost-8-year-old will tire of the same plot after reading it with limited variations at least 30 or 40 times. And I’m not exaggerating. It’s especially bad because M will insult the books, and then of course I have to back J up, but good gravy, I can’t wait to get over these. I remind myself that they are two girl heroines, which is nice and feminist, and that being able to figure out and draw conclusions about the plot is a satisfying and developmentally-appropriate thing for young readers. Plus, they’re easy enough for her to read all by herself. But I wish she were done with them. The Goddess Girls are a slight improvement, I suppose. Almost all of the mythological references fly over J’s head, but the subtext offers the parents a little extra entertainment value. The other day J asked me to read her The Hunger Games and I said that she could read it herself (more on my policy here), but I would not read it to her. She stomped off in a huff. Maybe I should try to get M to sell her on some of the Dear Americas as read-alouds?
Meanwhile, Cute W and the girls have just tossed off the shackles and finished the 15th book of the Guardians of Ga’hoole’s fifteen-book series by Kathryn Lasky. They really liked the books, but I think that they liked them about 12 or 13 books’ worth, so in the end there, they were just trying to prove a point. I think that they were all excited to move on to something new, and for now that’s Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Ugh! It was only when I created a link that I realize that that starts a series, too!
How about the rest of you? Reading anything good lately? I know I’m skewing old/girly, but that’s what I’ve got in this household.