Currently Reading

Now that the semester is over, I have had a little extra time for reading. Here are a few of the books that I’ve just finished or am currently reading:

Paint the Wind by Pam Munoz Ryan

This was chosen by the 5th grade book group for their December meeting (which, sadly, was cancelled due to snow).  This is one of those books that I had been meaning to read for years – the paint horse on the cover has been taunting my internal younger self ever since I added the book to the library’s collection – but somehow I had never gotten around to it.  I’ll admit that I was a bit disappointed by the book; there was too much melodrama for my taste, and some of the plot points didn’t quite make sense.  But, I also know that my 5th grade self would have loved the book: horses! interpersonal relations! an earthquake!  I’m looking forward to discussing this book with the 5th graders at our January meeting; it will be great to hear their perspectives on it.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie

I picked up this book at my local independent bookstore, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, when I was there one day browsing with a friend. For the first third of the book I was skeptical, and frankly not a fan, but by the time I finished the book I loved it. It’s rare to find a well-done ghost story for middle grade readers, but this one delivers. It’s great to have this in my back pocket as a recommendation for readers who are looking for something a little spooky. (And, as a side note, this is the book that I stayed up until one in the morning reading as the snow fell outside in the season’s first big snowstorm.)

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann

This is another book that I’ve been meaning to read for a while, since I’ve known many 5th and 6th grade readers who have gobbled up this series, and who keep reminding me that a new book in the series is out. I’m about two-thirds through the book right now, and I have been enjoying it. It’s an intriguing premise (which I won’t give away here, since half the fun is diving into the book without knowing what to expect), and McMann builds a well-thought-out world that feels eerily prescient at this point in our history.

The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris

This book is on the docket for this weekend, chosen by the 4th grade book group: we’ll be discussing the book on Monday. I’m looking forward to reading it, since I have a lot of respect for Neil Patrick Harris, and I’m hopeful that it turns out to be a good children’s book and not just another celebrity children’s book.

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

This book is also on my schedule for weekend reading, since we will be discussing it at Tuesday’s 6th grade book group meeting. I chose this book for the group because I wanted to share this awesome series with this group of readers. As a children’s librarian, I mostly read just the first book in a series; it’s rare for me to read beyond a first series book since I’m always trying to have a broad overview of children’s and young adult literature. But I broke my own rule with this series, since I love it so much. I’ve read all twelve books in the main series, I’ve dipped into a few of the Brotherband Chronicles series, and I’ve read both of the prequels to this book. It’s been a few years since I’ve read The Ruins of Gorlan, though, and I’m looking forward to revisiting it.

And on the horizon for my vacation week which will begin a week from today are two books that I’ve dabbled in over the years, but want to read in their entirety now: Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry and A Cure for Gravity by Joe Jackson. Stephen Fry is amazingly smart and funny, and I’ve loved the bits of this book that I’ve read in the past.

And anyone who knows me knows that I’m a HUGE fan of Joe Jackson – I’ve seen him play live five times (twice this past May), and his songs and talent speak to me in ways that few musicians do. If you think that Joe Jackson is just his hits from the late seventies and early eighties, think again. Jackson is hugely talented, with an amazing touch on the keyboard, and the writer of lyrics that are simply amazing. (Yes, I used “amazing” twice in one sentence, but justifiably so!) At the time of going to the two concerts in May I joined a Joe Jackson fan Facebook group and noticed that a lot of the members talk about Joe’s memoir, A Cure for Gravity. First I requested a copy from a library in the CWMARS network, and both Jim and I enjoyed it so much that I went on the hunt for a hardcover copy to buy (the book is out of print). By some miracle I found a pristine first edition copy on Abe Books that – brace yourself – has been SIGNED BY JOE JACKSON. This, of course, became my birthday gift to myself, and I’ve carefully stored it in the middle of the pile of books next to my reading chair so that the cats, who have an uncanny sense of what is important and valuable, won’t chew it or throw up on it. I’ve been waiting for classes to end and this vacation to come so that I can read it cover to cover…my special treat to myself.

And I’ll leave you with this link to a sample of Joe Jackson’s writing, his latest entry in his “What I’m Listening To” blog. I was reading this entry last evening as I listened to Drums and Wires by XTC, which I’m proud to say I have on vinyl…and which hopefully we’ll be listening to tonight after work.

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