August was our first month home and I wasn't sure whether I'd keep up with my reading or not. One thing kept me motivated, which was finishing the BookBar Summer Reading (Without Walls), which I did! I always love a contest, but this really resonated with me because it forced me to read outside my comfort zone. I can't remember the last time I picked up a book of poetry, nor have I read many political memoirs or works of literary criticism. I've included my complete BINGO board below - I hope you all get a laugh out of my "middle grade" read (The Babysitters Club, a favorite of my youth). The hardest for me to finish was a book of poetry (The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson). When I read, I enjoy getting wrapped up in the story, which is why I find poetry difficult -- you have to stop and think about each word. I suspect that reading poetry is good thing for me to do that I ought to do more -- I don't slow down well -- perhaps I'll give another poet a try. The most pleasant surprises were Colorado author, Colorado publisher (Stars Go Blue), El Deafo, my first graphic novel, and Madam Secretary, Madeline Albright's political memoir. In the upcoming month, I plan to read all of the incredible new releases stacked on my nightstand: The Four Tendencies, Forest Dark, My Absolute Darling, and Home Fire.
Madam Secretary - I loved this political memoir written by Madeline Albright. I particularly loved reading about her childhood, education, and family life -- she grew up in Denver and her father was a renowned professor at the University of Denver. She had three daughters (including twins) and didn't have her first "real" job that would lead to her becoming Secretary of State until she was 39! If that isn't inspiring, I don't know what is. I was less interested in the detailed account of her foreign policy work, but still enjoyed the entire book.
Franny and Zooey - I read this because it is a friend's all-time favorite book. I enjoyed the short story, Franny, but didn't enjoy Zooey, the novella (they are related), nearly as much.
Hum If You Don't Know the Words - A poignant look at Apartheid-era South Africa through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl who has lost her family. I wanted to rave about this book, but it didn't quite live up to its potential.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl - This is an autobiographical account of Harriett Jacobs' journey against all odds to escape slavery in North Carolina and reunite with her family in the north. This isn't an enjoyable read, but an important one nonetheless. I read this for my "classic by an author of color" book after I failed miserably at trying to read Beloved. I just could not get into it!
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson - There were some really beautiful poems in this collection, but poetry is just not my thing. I'm accepting that and moving on.
Stars Go Blue - Laura Pritchett lives in Colorado and sets her novels here as well. I devoured Stars Go Blue. The novel is set on a ranch on the Colorado plains and focuses on a family with a complicated past and present. It was heartbreaking and riveting and Pritchett painted such vivid descriptions of the characters that I felt like I knew them. I'll be reading more of Ms. Pritchett's books and love that she is a local.
Wonder - This book was magical. August Pullman, the main character, was born with a facial difference that has previously prevented him from attending traditional school. This book traces his first year of school and offers the perspectives not only of August, but of his family and friends as well.
The Island - It wouldn't be the last month of summer without one more Elin Hilderbrand book and I particularly enjoyed the one set on the rustic Nantucket Island of Tuckernuck. If you want to read your first Elin Hilderbrand book, I'd recommend this one.