Monday, July 11, 2016

My Summer Reading Thus Far

As I've mentioned before, my summer job at the beach allows me a lot of time to catch up on my reading. We used to have wi-fi too, so I could blog, but no wi-fi this year yet. That's fine with me, because I'm reading so much more than I would be if I had constant access to Facebook and Google. But  I wanted to do a quick update about the books I've read so far this summer:

I was in high-school when Eric Harris and Dylan Kleobold made Columbine, Colorado terrorized their school, killing 13 of their classmates as well as a teacher before taking their own lives. Those images I saw on the news have been burned into my memory, and I struggled to understand how two people my own age could be so malevolent and carry out so much violence on their own community. The first year I worked at a school, Adam Lanza massacred 20 elementary school children and six adult staff members, and ever since then I have been forced to remember that my working in a school carries a grave responsibility, protecting the lives of the children entrusted to our care.  Shriver's novel is told through a series of letters from Eva to her husband Franklin, regarding the events and the years that led up to their son Kevin killing sevens students and two staff members in his highschool.

I took a break from Picoult novels after the last one I read, because it was so suited to me I swore it was slightly biographical. I wasn't sure another book could measure up after that experience. But this one had been on my shelf for a while and it didn't take long for me to get hooked on it. What was the hook this time? It wasn't a woman who works as a librarian, nor a young woman who moves to New England to attend Simmons College, nor the description of a little boy's neck being the most perfect curve on his little body- it was an old Native woman. Ruthann is an elderly woman who enjoys finding things in the trash and at yard sales, and giving them new life. She sells them and calls her business Second Wind. That's the character that pulled me in, for obvious reasons.

I knew the story, but I think it's because I saw the movie so many times. I was refreshed by how much the movie matches Dahl's story.

Once again, I'd seen the film already, but I wanted to read the story that's responsible for it. Again, I was pleased that the movie mirrored the text so well.

Like Girl, Interrupted but with a guy. Not that that's a bad thing either, because I love stories about asylums and psychiatric hospitals.

I wanted to read this story as soon as I saw the cover. It looked like a horror story, but it's not. The monster in it is intimidating, but not really horrifying. The illustrations are amazing though, and they perfectly capture the sense of foreboding that oozes from the story.

My husband brought this book home for me from his school's library after it was discarded. The pop-art like cover makes it seem like it'd be a mid-century type of pseudo feminist romance story, but it's actually a biographical account of Sarah Hale, a school teacher from New Hampshire who went on to become the first woman editor of Godey's Ladies' Book, the magazine. It was really interesting, especially because I've always enjoyed learning more about women's history and the early achievements of American women.

 I picked this one up at Goodwill because I needed something new to read and it looked interesting. I've always enjoyed true crime stories. This book is the account of a young man who suffered a brain injury, and thus experienced some changes in his personality as a result. I've always been fascinated by neuropsychology, ever since I first found out about the story of Phineas Gage, the man who survived an iron rod impaling his skull and frontal lobe.  The changes that were noted in his behavior following the accident led doctors to a deeper understanding of how our brains are responsible for our memories, tempers, and moods. Gage's skull is on display at Harvard Medical School. Anyways, Tony Ciaglia also survived his brain injury, and the changes that resulted from it led him to a greater understanding of the darker side of human nature. I also must confess that this book satisfied my passion for Rochester NY history, because one of the serial killers he corresponds with, and eventually meets, is Arthur Shawcross. Shawcross, known as the Genesee River Killer, murdered women, mostly prostitutes in the late 1980's. He was arrested at a nursing home in my own little hometown of Spencerport. And I just recently learned that he was born in Kittery, Maine, not far from the New Hampshire town where I've made my new home. Some parts were a little disturbing to read, but that's the deal with true crime.

This graphic novel was an adorable, kid-friendly Gothic take on a typical princess tale. The main character reminds me of Wednesday Addams. I'm going to put it on my library's purchase list. 

I haven't finished this one yet, but I'm working on it. I always try to read a classic book during summer, and this is one I hadn't read yet. I can only read it in small doses because there's only so much action on an uncharted island that's inhabited by a sole man, so the story is alot of "I went out to hun- I killed a wild goat-I marked another day on the calendar- I carved into a stick and I read the Bible that survived the shipwreck" but I like feeling like I'm accomplishing something by completing a historic piece of literature. But for the record, I think I prefer Castaway.

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