It hasn’t felt like I have read much at all this past month. Basically I read a little bit at breakfast and that is it! I miss the times that I could just tuck away and read for as long as I wanted, but that has been a few years ago that I have had that. Here is what I read in May. Seems like I read more than I thought!
Native American Songs and Poems by Brian Swann – In this carefully chosen collection, encompassing traditional songs and contemporary Native American poetry, readers will find a treasury of lyrics verse composed by Seminole, Hopi, Navajo, Pima, Havasupai, Arapaho, Paiute, Nootka, and other Indian writers and poets.
Selections range from the beautiful, traditional Seminole “Song for Bringing a Child into the World” to the cynical, knowing “How to Write the Great American Indian Novel.” Permeated by the Indian’s deep awareness and appreciation of nature’s beauty and rhythms, these poems deal with themes of tradition and continuity, the Indians’ place in contemporary society, love, loss, memory, alienation, and many other topics.
Taken together, these poems offer an intimate, revealing record of the Native American response to the world, from time-honored chants and songs to the musings of urban Indian poets coming to grips with twentieth-century America.
What I thought: I really enjoyed reading a lot of these poems. Some of the more modern ones I didn’t like as much as the older ones though.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and once girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weight survival against humanity and life against love.
What I thought: This isn’t my first time reading this book, but it has been forever so it was nice doing a re-read. We also watched the movie after and that was fun.
The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle – When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.
At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.
As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn.
Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a modern romance for our times. Bon appetit.
What I thought: Parts of this book seemed to creep along, but yet I was wondering where it was going and it kept me reading. It wasn’t a favorite book, but I enjoyed it all the same.
The U.S. Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction by Linda Greenhouse – For 30 years, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Linda Greenhouse chronicled the activities of the U.S. Supreme Court and its justices as a correspondent for the New York Times. In this Very Short Introduction, she draws on her deep knowledge of the court’s history and of its written and unwritten rules to show readers how the Supreme Court really works.
Greenhouse offers a fascinating institutional biography of a place and its people–men and women who exercise great power but whose names and faces are unrecognized by many Americans and whose work often appears cloaked in mystery. How do cases get to the Supreme Court? How do the justices go about deciding them? What special role does the chief justice play? What do the law clerks do? How does the court relate to the other branches of government? Greenhouse answers these questions by depicting the justices as they confront deep constitutional issues or wrestle with the meaning of confusing federal statutes. Throughout, the author examines many individual Supreme Court cases to illustrate points under discussion, ranging from Marbury v. Madison, the seminal case which established judicial review, to the recent District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which struck down the District of Columbia’s gun-control statute and which was, surprisingly, the first time in its history that the Court issued an authoritative interpretation of the Second Amendment. To add perspective, Greenhouse also compares the Court to foreign courts, revealing interesting differences. For instance, no other country in the world has chosen to bestow life tenure on its judges.
A superb overview packed with telling details, this volume offers a matchless introduction to one of the pillars of American government.
What I thought: Well, I guess it was as interesting as it could be. I did enjoy learning a few things that I didn’t know previously though.
Becoming a Citizen Activist by Nick Licata – Basically all the book is about it in the title.
What I thought: I have no desire to become a citizen activist so this book was not for me. I did enjoy some of the stories though.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.
What I thought: This was a cute story, it came highly recommended and I am glad I read it. I love reading about different time periods and especially about people that enjoy books as much as I do.
1776 by David McCullough – In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence – when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.
Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, an his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.
At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books – Nathaniel Green, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of Winter.
But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost – Washington, who had never before led an army in battle. Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough’s 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history.
What I thought: I enjoyed reading this book.. I don’t think I would like to watch the movie though. The back and forth between the two sides was sometimes hard to follow unless I paid close attention, I tended to be lazy with this book.
Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill – Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom―and of the knowledge, she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan, Aminata helps pen the Book of Negroes, a list of blacks rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. There Aminata finds a life of hardship and stinging prejudice. When the British abolitionists come looking for “adventurers” to create a new colony in Sierra Leone, Aminata assists in moving 1,200 Nova Scotians to Africa and aiding the abolitionist cause by revealing the realities of slavery to the British public.
This captivating story of one woman’s remarkable experience spans six decades and three continents and brings to life a crucial chapter in world history.
What I thought: This book was fantastic, the writing was great, the main character was very interesting to follow. It all tied in so well together, definitely recommend this book!
The United States Constitution by Jonathan Hennessey – Our leaders swear to uphold it, our military to defend it. It is the blueprint for the shape and function of government itself and what defines Americans as Americans. But how many of us truly know our Constitution?
The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation uses the art of illustrated storytelling to breathe life into our nation’s cornerstone principles. Simply put, it is the most enjoyable and groundbreaking way to read the governing document of the United States. Spirited and visually witty, it roves article by article, amendment by amendment, to get at the meaning, background, and enduring relevance of the law of the land.
What revolutionary ideas made the Constitution’s authors dare to cast off centuries of rule by kings and queens? Why do we have an electoral college rather than a popular vote for president and vice president? How did a document that once sanctioned slavery, denied voting rights to women, and turned a blind eye to state governments running roughshod over the liberties of minorities transform into a bulwark of protection for all?
The United States Constitution answers all of these questions. Sure to surprise, challenge, and provoke, it is hands down the most memorable introduction to America’s founding document.
What I thought: It was ok for a graphic novel. The book got the point across but it wasn’t a favorite to read. Some of the graphics were silly, but I guess that is to be expected.
The Herd by Andrea Bartz – The name of the elite, women-only coworking space stretches across the wall behind the check-in desk: THE HERD, the H-E-R always in purple. In-the-know New Yorkers crawl over each other to apply for membership to this community that prides itself on mentorship and empowerment. Among the hopefuls is Katie Bradley, who’s just returned from the Midwest after a stint of book research blew up in her face. Luckily, Katie has an in, thanks to her sister Hana, an original Herder and the best friend of Eleanor Walsh, its charismatic founder.
As head of PR, Hana is working around the clock in preparation for a huge announcement from Eleanor—one that would change the trajectory of The Herd forever.
Then, on the night of the glitzy Herd news conference, Eleanor vanishes without a trace. Everybody has a theory about what made Eleanor run, but when the police suggest foul play, everyone is a suspect.
What I thought: It was an ok book, decent to read, but it wasn’t a favorite. I did want to read to see ‘who done it’, but I could easily put it down and get back to it later.
Finally, this is what I read in May. I didn’t realize it was so many books. At least I put a dent into my reading challenge! Last month I was a few books behind!