Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 Reading Goals Recap

This year I made an awful lot of reading goals for myself, and I met them all by the end of September. I had fun tracking the goals, because I’m that type of person, but as I work on my goals for next year, I think the list will be shorter. So here’s a recap of my goals and how they went.

 

Finish reading the Bible (Jeremiah through Malachi).

Completed: April 12

I am relieved to finally have gotten through the Bible. Much of it, I must admit, was difficult reading. My favorite part was the Gospels, and the hardest part was the first several chapters. I was struck with an overwhelming feeling that millions of people have read the Bible through, study it daily, and love the word of God as laid out in the scriptures. And yet, we have numerous religions (and various beliefs within those religions); there are many interpretations of who God is from Love itself to the great judge and punisher; and the list of prohibitions among the faithful are as numerous and varied as the professors of faith themselves, everything from dancing to coffee to dating before marriage, from owning a television to short hairstyles to using medicine. It’s remarkable that there isn’t more misunderstanding than there is considering the followers of the Bible all seem to be following different things.

 

Read Jane Eyre.

Completed: February 5

I loved Jane Eyre. I don’t know why it took me decades to read it.

 

Read or listen to Gone with the Wind.

Completed: July 23

Ooph! Gone with the Wind. This is the longest book I’ve read, and I wished I would have loved it, but I just didn’t. There was no character development—perhaps intentional, I don’t know—and I didn’t like Scarlett or Rhett much at all. But the book did a great job of telling what the south was like before, during, and after the Civil War.

 

Read or listen to Emma.

Completed: April 2

Emma is not one of my favorite Jane Austen novels. I didn’t hate it, but I just didn’t love Emma Woodhouse.

 

Read Tarzan of the Apes.

Completed: August 26

I really enjoyed Tarzan of the Apes. I was pleasantly surprised by it and would recommend it to anyone.

 

Read Crossing to Safety.

Completed: Jan. 23

I fully expected to love Crossing to Safety, but I just didn’t. I know I’m in the small minority here, but I have to be honest. I just couldn’t get close to the characters though I got to know them well.

 

Read at least 10 books from the library. [Audios don’t count.]

Books read: 26

Completed: April 20

This was a fun challenge, but I sort of lost interest after awhile. I just like to own the book I’m reading. I like to support authors by buying a copy of a book I want to read, and I always feel kind of guilty reading a library book. Most of what I borrowed were children’s books and books I wasn’t sure I was going to like (e.g. comics for the out-of-your-comfort-zone challenge).

 

Read 10 books at/over 400 pages, including two biographies or autobiographies.

Books read: 14

Completed: September 4

Two of the books I read for this challenge were audiobooks, the rest were read in paper, which averages out to one chunkster each month. I loved almost every one of the chunksters I read this year, which makes intimidatingly long books much more pleasant.

 

Read 5 children’s classics.

Books read: 5

Completed: August 25

I read: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The House at Pooh Corner; Harriet the Spy; Farmer Boy; and Anne of Avonlea. I felt kind of meh about all of them.

 

Read a book everyone else has.

Books read: 3

Completed: April 14

I read: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, A Man Called Ove, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I loved Ove and Harry, but I kind of detested Fikry.

 

Read 2 books to fill knowledge gaps.

Books read: 2

Completed: July 19

I read Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (physics) and 50 Paintings You Should Know (art). I loved the art book.

 

Read 2 books from genres out of my comfort zone.

Books read: 3

Completed: May 30

I read Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal and Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why (comics) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (fantasy). I loved them all. Yay for pushing oneself!

 

Read 1,000 poems.

Completed: July 24

Poems Read as of Nov. 29: 1430

I read 1430 poems, 1320 in books and 110 loose (online, magazines, etc.). I hope to write a post of its own on this challenge, but to make a long story short: I loved this challenge. I loved almost always having a poetry collection going, loved exploring new poets and poems, and finding gems among the hundreds of poems read. And I loved going back to my poetry home, one of the places I feel most at home in this world. A fantastic experience.

 

In honor of election year, read 12 [amended to 20] books about presidents, first ladies, the White House, presidential families, politics/politicians, candidates, American history, etc. (Begins Sept. 2015 and runs through Nov. 2016.)

12 Books Completed: June 8

20 Books Completed: September 28

Books read: 22

I completed this challenge in June and I was having so much fun, I decided to extend the challenge to 20 books. I will really miss this challenge next year.

 

Read at least 10 books over 30 years old.

Completed: July 31

Books read: 15

Interest in this challenge waned. I had so many book titles saved up for this one, but I just didn’t get to them. Almost all of what I read here fulfilled other challenges.

 

Read 10 contemporary novels.

Completed: August 9

Books read: 16

I’m not sure I need a challenge any more to read nonfiction. This was on last year’s list of goals to force me to read novels, but I’ve found my fiction legs, and I probably no longer need to push. I loved most every novel I read this year. I’m picky about what I choose because there’s nothing more claustrophobic to me than reading a novel I don’t like. It really does make me miserable.

 

The novels I read this year:

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Remains of the Day

Ella Minnow Pea

A Man Called Ove

The Summer before the War

Miller’s Valley

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag

These High Green Hills

Death Comes to Pemberley

Lily and the Octopus

Delicious!

Girl Waits with Gun

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

The One-in-a-Million Boy

A Gentleman in Moscow

 

Read 2 “manly” books, not used for any other challenge.

Books read: 2

Completed: September 14

I read In the Heart of the Sea and I Never Had it Made by Jackie Robinson, and I didn’t love either.

 

Read 5 books I’ve been courting awhile.

Books read as of Nov. 29: 13  

Completed: April 14

I did this challenge to help me make some decisions about books I’d been waffling on, and it worked—I read double the amount of books in the goal. Three of these, A Man Called Ove, For the Love, Girl Waits with Gun, and Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure I ended up loving.

 

Re-read at least 5 books.

Books read: 9

Completed: April 4

I lost interest in this challenge pretty quick. I loved re-reading last year, but this year there were so many books coming out that I just adored, I didn’t want to re-read. Of the nine books read, five of them were on audio. When I had no good audiobook ideas, I’d just choose a favorite book instead.

 

Read 10 books from my 2015 TBR.

Completed: July 28

Books read: 13

I lost interest in this one, too. I went into the year knowing which titles I would read, so this ended up being a checklist.

 

Read 10 [20] books published in 2016.

Completed 10 Books: June 22

Completed 20 Books: August 31

Books read as of Nov. 29: 34*

I had a blast with this challenge, and it will re-appear next year. More than a challenge, this was a treat—I encouraged myself to read new books while they’re still new. I felt so refreshingly current sometimes! This is the best year for new releases I’ve ever encountered. Almost every one of my favorite authors put out a book this year. It was heaven.

 

*I anticipate reading nine more books before Dec. 31 that will qualify for this challenge.

 

Read 5 books from the Goodreads Top 100.  

Completed: May 30

Books read: 6

I think I’ve now read everything on the Goodreads Top 100 list I want to except Frankenstein. Titles read: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; And Then There Were None; Jane Eyre; The Holy Bible; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; and Gone with the Wind.

 

Re-read a book within 12 months of its first reading.

Completed: July 20

Books read: 1

I re-read Killing Reagan because I needed to see if I’d missed anything, feeling vaguely disappointed in it the first time. It felt very much the same the second time around. I also watched the National Geographic movie version, which was pretty good.

 

Read 12 contemporary children’s books, including one by Kate DiCamillo.

Completed: September 29

Books read: 15

I added this challenge several months into the year. I enjoyed this one very much.

 

Titles read:

This Strange Wilderness

Appleblossom the Possum

The Story of Diva and Flea

How to Build a Car; How to Build a Plane; How to Build a House 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Clementine’s Letter

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

Waylon!

Raymie Nightingale

Grover Cleveland, Again! 

The 50 States

Firefly Hollow

Skunked!

 

Read or listen to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Completed: May 30

I added this challenge late, too, and I’m so glad I did. I really enjoyed Harry Potter. I’m not sure that I’ll go on in the series, and I am quite sure I’ll never finish it, but I’m delighted to know how well-written the books are. 

 

 

OTHER GOALS

 

Other goals is where I failed, failed, failed. There were all good goals, things I should have done, but I could feel I wasn’t committed to them. Plus reading over 100 books is probably enough of a goal without adding other goals. I’ve realized my time for blogging is limited, and I seldom have time to do more than the minimum one or two posts per week.

 

1. Investigate audiobook options (iPod? Kindle?).

Completed: Jan. 9 – Bought external speaker w/AC adapter.

This has worked very well. There are a couple of irritants that I’ve had to accept. For one, I still have the problem of the CD player running on batteries, so occasionally the audio will cut out in the middle of a sentence. Another dilemma I still have is that I have to play books pretty loud to hear them over the shower and blow dryer, so my husband has to crank up the sound machine while he sleeps in across the hall from the bathroom. Luckily, he’s a good sport. I really like the speaker I bought this one. I’ve used it for music as well, and its sound is superb.

 

2. Create a poetry month feature.

FAILED—I tried to think of something, but I just couldn’t think of something I really wanted to do.

 

3. Try PicMonkey for blog images and to create a package of monthly images (months, monthly reading lists, monthly wrap ups, Top Ten, etc.).

FAILED—I kind of knew I’d fail at this one. It’s something I want to have done, but not something I want to do.

 

4. Create a weekly or monthly feature.  

FAILED—I thought I’d start a feature of answering a bookish question, but I never launched it. I still want to do this, and it’s a reasonable goal. Maybe next year.

 

5. Do something in honor of election year.  

Completed: June 8

I did a political reading challenge (see above) in which I read 21 books. I loved this goal.

 

6. Collapse my blog reviews onto one page.

I’m still working on this. This isn’t the easiest thing to do in Blogger.

 

7. Read one of Charles’s lectures.

This was a spiritual reading goal that I recently finished.

 

8. Memorize a poem.

FAILED—It’s not like I didn’t try! I even chose the poem, but memorization has never been a skill I’ve had. It was so frustrating that I abandoned it.

 

9. Complete a favorite poems anthology.

FAILED—I got as far as choosing the poems, but I didn’t put them together and print and bind the collection, which was what I had in mind. I was frustrated with this goal, because I couldn’t decide that the anthology should be. Favorite poems? Touchstones? Poems on a specific theme?

 

10. Review books read in a post at the end of each month. 

PASSED! I didn’t reach this goal as written, but I did review books each week. Every week. And somewhere along the way, they became real reviews, too. I’m proud of this. I feel like I finally found a reviewing system that works for me and isn’t onerous. And that’s worth all the FAILED grades on the other goals!

 

11. Interlibrary Loan a book from another campus/library.

Completed: April 1

And now I interlibrary loan all the time!

 

12. Read at least 50 picture books.

Completed: May 25

Books read as of Nov. 29: 102

I found some gems and some stinkers. I’ll post my favorites later.

 

13. Read 100 books.

Completed: October 11

Books read as of Nov. 29: 117

Yippee!!

Monday, November 28, 2016

What I'm reading this week (11/28/16)

What I finished last week:


Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey had been on my TBR list all year. In an effort to clear some items by the end of the year, I did a search for holders-on like this one in audio at my local library. Thanks to audio, I get to books I have a hard time starting in paper. The book is the biography of Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon, during the late 1890s through the Great War. Very Englishy, very moneyed lifestyles, lots of name-dropping, and although I was a little bored at first, it really picked up when World War I hit, and Lady Almina turned Highclere Castle into a hospital for wounded soldiers. But what made me love this book was the huge surprise when Lord Carnarvon, who mounted many archeological excavations in Egypt, made the greatest archeological find in history when he discovered a very famous King's tomb (yes, THAT King's tomb). I was flabbergasted, because I really didn't expect much to happen plot-wise. This was fascinating to me.
     I enjoyed the audio version of this book. The voice sounded very much like Isobel Crawley on Downton Abbey. Very properly English. What I was expecting was some connection between Lady Almina and her family and the Downton Abbey franchise other than the show being filmed at the castle. I expected that Julian Fellowes had created his plot based on the life of Lord Carnarvon and Lady Almina (suggested by the title of this book), but the only plot that seemed to overlap was the turning of Highclere into a hospital during the war. There seems to be no connection other than the very physical one of the castle itself. Good read (listen), especially if you're interested in English aristocracy. My rating: 3 stars.

Harry Truman's Excellent Adventures has been on my radar since it was re-released in 2011. It looked "cute" but I was never sure it was very serious. I mean, a whole book about Harry and Bess Truman driving from Missouri to New York and back in 1953? How good could that be, right? But I have developed a love of all things Truman over the years, and I finally decided to sneak it in before the year ended. Let me tell you, I adored this book. It was just such a fun read. It's full of odd trivia about Truman and history as well as the author's own retracing of the Truman road trip. I had a blast with it. I mean, a former president and first lady in a big ole Chrysler New Yorker in the middle of June with no AC, no protective service (this wouldn't be available to former presidents until later), and very little money (presidential pensions would come later, too), stopping at diners where people inevitably recognized the couple, staying at the newest thing in lodging--motels, it was all just so nostalgic and fun. I love Truman because he is very much a regular guy with Midwestern values and the usual human foibles of such a man. He was personable, witty, impatient; he could hold a political grudge; he was a spendthrift; he drove too fast and called Bess "the Boss". Plus, he kind of looks like my Grandpa Hoagenson (my other grandpa looked like Reagan). I love it when books surprise me. I had a big goofy grin on my face the whole way. My rating: 5 stars.

 
This week I continue with...


Still enjoying The Boys in the Boat, the young reader's edition. The team has not yet been chosen.

And still loving How to Celebrate Everything. Definitely one of my favorite books about food this year.


My new audiobook:


I bought the hardcover of Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling when it came out in January, and then it languished for months on my shelf. I finally decided audio was the way to go (even though Bryson doesn't narrate this one himself) if I was going to read it yet this year. Enjoying it so far!

Next up:
 

Another book that had been on my list all year is Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. I've wanted to read it because everyone says it's amazing, but I kind of wanted to read it during the winter. Since it's already snowing here (Wisconsin), I guess it's time.  
 
 
 

Monday, November 21, 2016

What I'm reading this week (11/21/16)

Happy Thanksgiving week! Although it seems to have been a tough year for the world, there's still so much to be thankful for--not the least of which: good reading!


What I finished last week:


I really enjoyed my time with Roger Housden's anthology Dancing with Joy. I've read several poetry collections edited by Housden, and I think this is my favorite. It's a nice mix of poems, and it's nice to have a whole book of poems about joy. So many poetry collections skew toward the dark and dramatic; this one was refreshingly upbeat. You really can't go wrong with a Housden collection if you want to read good poetry that's a nice mix between new, old, and ancient and of well-known and lesser-known provenance. My rating: 4.5 stars. 

I also finished Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures last week, and it was a struggle. On the one hand, the writing is excellent, but on the other, I just wasn't terribly interested. Several times last week I contemplated abandoning the book, but then it would get interesting again, and I'd keep going. I finally just decided to finish it because I'd gotten so far. This is destined to be a movie (release date: Jan. 17), and I wanted to finish the book before seeing the movie. It's the story of how black women mathematicians at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia ushered the country into the space age. I enjoyed reading the women's stories and the swell of patriotism a book like this evokes. Where I think the book failed is in letting an interesting story be interesting. There was a sense of detachment for me, like the author couldn't decide if this was a biography or a treatise on racial tensions of the 1940s and beyond or a science book. It's an important story, and I was frustrated that I didn't like it more, especially given the excellent writing. Maybe I should have read the young reader's version (by the same name). For the record, I'm prepared to admit that my frustrations with this book are all me. If you enjoy books about race, mathematics, and the space program, no doubt you'll enjoy this book. My rating: 3.5 stars.
 
I started this last week:


This year I'd meant to read a young reader's edition of a book I'd read the adult version of, and with time running out, I chose The Boys on the Boat. I recently gave the adult version to my mother who really liked it, and I kind of wanted to read the story again. Forever interested in how a story is put together, I've been interested for some time in how the two versions would differ, and I'm about to find out.
 
 
This week I continue with:


Still loving How to Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey has been and interesting read. I wasn't sure I was going to like it at first, but I'm listening right now to the account of World War I, and I'm finding that fascinating. I didn't really realize how many areas of the world was engaged in the fighting now how dismal it looked all along for the British and French.
 
 
Next up:


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What I've added to my TBR lately: The Animal Issue

Looking at the new additions to my TBR, trying to find some themes, I realized I had eight books about animals on the list, including books featuring dogs, cats, horses, elephants, skunks, sheep, and penguins. Instant blog list! So, if you're looking for a book with non-human characters, try one of these. I intend to. Someday.


 
War Animals


Elephant Company is about a soldier responsible for war elephants in Burma during World War II. This sounds like a great adventure story.

Sgt. Reckless is about a Korean War military horse. Reckless was awarded two Purple Hearts and was promoted to staff sergeant twice, the only animal in history to have been.


Washington Wags
 

I've read several books about the Secret Service thanks to the amazing former agent Clint Hill, but now there's a book about Secret Service dogs (with a forward by Hill, of course).


Bird's the Word


Every book blogger who's read The Penguin Lessons has loved it, so it's time for me to check it out. This is a memoir of a man's penguin friend, Juan Salvador.


Girl Vet


One of my favorite books of the year, for adult or children, was The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, and now the author has released a chapter book about Calpurnia's adventures as a girl vet (Skunked!), with another one due out next April (Counting Sheep).


Shake It Off
 
 

And then there's Shake Cats and Shake Puppies, the photographic follow-up books to Shake (featuring dogs).
 
 
 Have you read any of these? Let me know what's good.

Monday, November 14, 2016

What I'm reading this week (11/14/16)

Last week I finished:


I'd never read a book about the West/East Germany split. Forty Autumns filled that knowledge gap for me. What a heartbreaking, yet fascinating part of human history. The ideology behind walling in your citizens, forbidding contact with the outside world, telling half-starving citizens that they have all they need and should be grateful to the government for it, brainwashing them from the cradle to believe westerners and consumerism (i.e. modernization) are evil. It's amazing that such a thing could happen in a modern world, but look no further than North Korea for a current example of the same thing (I recommend Nothing to Envy for a great introduction.). Forty Autumns tells the story of a family divided. The author, who, coincidentally, was stationed in East Germany in the 1980s, tells the story of her mother's escape from East Germany as a young woman and her eventual emigration to the U.S. but also the stories of the large family she left behind. A very good story. The writing here is what I'd call "serviceable"--nothing wrong with it, but it doesn't engage the reader, it only gives the story. At times that felt tedious, but the story always carried me along. My rating: 3.5 stars.



This week I continue reading:


I am loving Dancing with Joy. I'm unfamiliar with most of the poems, so I'm finding some wonderful new "friends" including Hafiz's "I Am Really Just a Tambourine" which is one of my favorite poetry finds this year.

And I'm really enjoying Jenny Rosenstrach's How to Celebrate Everything. I was afraid the book might be a little staid and gimmicky, but it's not that at all. It makes me think about my family's food celebrations and traditions, and it makes me want to develop more. This is a great book for the approaching holiday season.

My audiobook:


Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey FINALLY came in at the library. While I was audiobook-less, I was listening to Christmas music, so the wait wasn't all bad, but I had hoped to finish it this month which may not happen.

Next up:

 
 
 
 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: What I've added to my TBR lately


Nonfiction


I'm unsure if I'll get to Les Parisiennes any time soon, being completely burned out on World War II stories at present. This is the story of the women of Paris during the Nazi occupation. Likely not an uplifting read.

Dava Sobel's Longitude probably has the distinction of being on my TBR list longer than any other book. I added it when I was in college taking my technical editing courses. It's a short, short book, but I still have not cracked the cover. Perhaps to assuage the guilt a bit, I've added her upcoming (out Dec. 6) The Glass Universe to my list. It's about the women of the Harvard Observatory who "measured the stars."
 

Did you know Anne Lamott has a new book coming out next April? Onto the list goes Hallelujah Anyway, because I could use a little mercy in my life.

And Mary Oliver has a new collection of nature essays out called Upstream. I love that cover.
 
 
Presidents


I've been courting Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure for a couple of years now. There's something about Truman that fascinates me, and this story about him and Bess taking a road trip after his presidency strikes me as a good romp. I mean, look at the cover photo!

Worst. President. Ever. is a recent release explaining why James Buchanan is generally agreed to be the country's worst president. I've just got to know.

 
Fiction


So, it's no surprise to see Amy Stewart's follow-up to Girl Waits with Gun, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, on the list given how much I enjoyed Girl. Maybe I'll try to sneak it in before the end of the year.

The paperback edition of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper comes out in January (I adore this paperback cover), and I'm putting it on my 2017 fiction reading list.

 
Poetry


In some poetry workshop long ago someone compared my poetry to William Stafford's, and he's been a favorite ever since. I plan to buy his Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems, edited by his son, Kim, for my 2017 poetry challenge.

I've only read a handful of John Updike's poems, so I'm adding his Selected Poems to my list.
 
 
Decorating


Anyone remember Vern Yip from Trading Spaces? Well, he's come out with a new decorating book that looks pretty good called Vern Yip's Design Wise.

And I've long been looking for a tutorial for mixing colors, patterns, and textures in home design and my wardrobe, so I picked up Living with Pattern recently to see what it has to offer.


 

Monday, November 7, 2016

What I'm reading this week (11/7/16)



Last week I finished:


You guys! I need look no further for my favorite book of the year, for my book boyfriend, if you will. A Gentleman in Moscow is it. It's the story of Count Alexander Rostov, a Soviet Union "former person," who is sentenced to house arrest in a Moscow hotel for life. The brilliance of the book is that this is all it's about, but this is hardly at all what it's about. I cannot gush enough about this book and the reading experience. It's one of those books that just can't be long enough (though this is over 450 pages), one that you both want to read quickly because it's so good but also want to read slowly because you want to savor every word and detail. Seldom have I read a book that is so well-written, characters so human, plot so effortless, prose so intelligent, details so well-appointed, it's really unparalleled. It's all those cliché book adjectives: brilliant, charming, stellar, luminous. It's witty and so smart. I could go on and on. Just read it, please. I think you'll love it. My rating: 5 enthusiastic stars.


I really enjoyed listening to Monica Wood's The One-in-a-Million Boy. It was well-written, the characters were good, especially the boy and Ona, and it was engaging. It's the story of a boy scout who passes on after befriending a 104-year-old woman, Ona Vitkus. The boy has a unique way of engaging with the world, and he and Ona become close. After his death, his largely absent musician father, Quinn, takes over the boy's scouting duties with Ona. The boy is obsessed with world records, and he and Ona hatch a plan to get her into the Guinness records book. It's an interesting story, full of humor and generally real-life situations, interactions, and feelings. I did feel that it ended abruptly, and I thought maybe I'd missed a CD, but I hadn't. I'd recommend this one to someone looking for an engaging story with good characters. My rating: 4 stars.

 

I am one of the thousands of people in love with a little Instagram raccoon named Pumpkin. I check the site every day for a new photo of Pumpkin and her adoptive dog sisters, Toffee and Oreo. The photos are adorable, and the captions are hilarious. It's my daily lift-me-up. Unfortunately, the book, released earlier this month, didn't have the feeling for me. I expected to see familiar photos (I've seen them all, I think) from the Instagram account, but I didn't recognize many at all. Some were of poor quality, and the captions weren't nearly as funny. I really expected a compilation of the online photos and captions, but the book let me down. I hate to say that, though, because I'm such a fan of that little raccoon. Still, the book was cute and made me happy, which, after all, was it's purpose. I'd just reserve my highest rating for Pumpkin's Instagram site. That's where she shines. My rating: 3 stars.

I am a huge fan of Jacqueline Kelly's Calpurnia Tate books, so when I happened upon her chapter book that has the same characters and situations, I bought it immediately. In Skunked!, Calpurnia's little brother Travis takes in a pair of baby skunks. The two kids have to hide the pair from their parents, brothers, and family dog, and nurse the smallest skunk back to health. Capers ensue, culminating in a schoolhouse chase of the stinky little critters. I enjoyed it immensely. I recommend these books for kids--especially girls--interested in science and nature. They're wonderful. Another chapter book, Counting Sheep, comes out in the spring. My rating: 4 stars.

This week I continue with:


Last week I devoured the first 100 pages of Dancing with Joy. It's a good collection of joy poems, which makes you keep reading. Don't worry, the poems are not floofy or clichéd.

So far I'm adoring How to Celebrate Everything. Like her first book, Dinner: A Love Story, it mixes recipes and a heavy dose of family life, so it's very personal and approachable. Enjoying this one a lot.

 
And next up:


Forty Autumns is the memoir of a family divided by the Berlin wall.

As soon as the library gets me an audio copy of Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, I'll be set to go. I finished out last week with no morning audiobook, and boy did I miss it. (I listened to Christmas music instead.)