I’m not finished with my summer reading, but this post will get me caught up with all of the books I have finished so far since school got out. My plan/goal is to keep reflecting throughout the summer, especially since some of the books I am reading I am dragging out over quite a long time. Those are mostly professional books about teaching although there are a couple of others that are difficult or challenging reads for me and so I’m taking my time.
Sherri’s recent post made me stop in my tracks. She wrote about her summer reading and the way she described what she was doing as a reader resonated so strongly with me:
I am experiencing my reading as immersive, as feelings-laden. I’m reading for more than pleasure. I’m reading to participate in life from a variety of vantage points while also testing some theories within.
I’m not sure I can claim all of that, but the idea of reading ‘to participate in life from a variety of vantage points’ puts it so well. That’s one of my biggest goals as a reader.
So, the last three books I have finished recently.
I think I heard about this book from Franki and put it on hold. When it arrived, I’ll admit I was a tad hesitant to read it. It didn’t sound like a fun book. Which, of course, it isn’t. But I’m glad I pushed myself forward and read it. Honestly, I think the fact that I struggled to get into Minor Feelings and decided that it was because I don’t read a lot of Asian or Asian-American authors, helped me realize that I needed to read this one.
I knew nothing about Vincent Chin before reading this book. Given that he was murdered during my lifetime that is pretty shocking to me. This book also taught me a lot about what it means to be Asian-American in this country, something that is especially important to understand these days. The book is written for young adults and the way Yoo tells the story has an interesting twist.
I don’t read a ton of books for young adults because it is harder for me to justify the time I spend reading them. I do, however, read plenty of middle grade books and early chapter books. Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly was a great one.
Kelly has written a number of fabulous books for older readers and won the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space. Not all authors can move from writing for older readers to writing a book for emerging readers. Kelly definitely did. This book will be a perfect fit for many of my third grader readers this fall. Marisol Rainey and her best friend are absolutely fabulous characters, as are the members of Marisol’s family. Marisol is eight years old and quite creative as well as having some fears that hold her back. She’s definitely a character my students will connect with. The book has illustrations throughout, supporting emerging readers. I’m hopeful there will be more books about Marisol.
Finally, the book I finished most recently was My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, a Nigerian author.
I was a bit hesitant about this book because I was afraid it would be something of a horror or suspenseful story in a way that might not work for me. I love mysteries, but I don’t really do gore, lots of violence, or psychological thrillers. I like to sleep and nightmares are too easy to happen for me. So this book felt a little risky. I needn’t have worried. Korede, the narrator, is the older sister and a nurse. Ayoola, the younger sister and the serial killer, is beautiful and beloved by all. Korede keeps helping Ayoola cover up her murders. Korede tells the story in a very reflective, introspective way. The background with their father slowly comes out. Korede is in love with a doctor at the hospital and when he and Ayoola begin dating the story really gets interesting. I really appreciated how complex a character Korede is and how much my thinking about her shifted again and again as I read.
There are still stacks of books waiting for me to read them in the weeks before school begins. And I haven’t reflected on any of the picture books I have read. Writing these reflections has helped me think through my reading choices more thoughtfully and it has pushed me to pick up books that I might otherwise have let slip by. That’s definitely a positive in my mind.