Saturday, March 02, 2019

February Reading

There's more Florida to come (next up - a really amazing birdwatching day at the Myakka River State Park, shown above) but first, continuing on with my plan to keep track of my 2019 books, here's February's reading:

Barren Island by Carol Zoref: This was a find through the Sebago Canoe Club, one of our members read it and suggested a one-off book club type discussion. I would call it a coming-of-age story, it's about a young girl whose family immigrates to NYC and ends up being part of a tiny community whose men work for a rendering plant on Barren Shoal, a tiny sandbar of a place located off of the real-world Barren Island. An excellent fictionalized slice of history in the years leading up to WW II. PS - excellent teacher character!

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Loved this poetic ode to the life and death of Martin Luther King and the inspiration he left behind, with wonderful illustrations. Teacher friends - Great additional history and suggestions for classroom use at the end. I absolutely inhaled it, as I sometimes do when I'm hypnotized by a book, as I'm writing this I think I need to go back and take a little more time with it sometime. 

Island People: The Caribbean and the World, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro: A travelogue with intensive history. When I went to The Strand to see if they had Barren Island (they did, yay!) this was out on one of the theme tables, and it caught my eye because my Brooklyn neighborhood has a very strong Caribbean presence and I know some pretty remarkable people (friends, co-workers, and one really great boss back in my banking days) whose roots are in the Caribbean, so I have some sense of things I've learned from them, and this looked like a good book for learning more, which It was. It reminded me of Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes in that this someone who's not from a place (in Jelly-Schapiro's intro he refers to himself as "a white kid who'd grown up in snowy New England") but has taken the time to learn about it and now wants to share. It gives an interesting sense of the distinctions between the cultures of the different islands. This one was a slow read, it was interesting going from inhaling Marting Rising to this one, because this is very much a book that says "Slow down, there is a lot to learn here", and whisking over, say, the development of the political parties on an island on one page leaves you somewhat at sea a few pages later. I was able to get myself into the right careful-reading frame of mind fairly quickly though and did learn some interesting things, as I'd hoped. I think the next step would be to go back to that same Strand table and find something by someone who IS from there, for a more local take.

That's NOT what happened by Cody Keplinger: This is the March reading for the Scholastic employee book club. This is a story about 6 school kids who witnessed and survived a school shooting and how they come to terms with the mythology that sprang up in the aftermath - a mythology that left one of them a "hero" and one of them demonized. I'm a WTC survivor so this was, uh, shall we say, a highly accessible premise for me (see also Facebook every September 11th...always interesting feeling the nerves get going at the patriotic memes when it's still so real and personal for me and the myths are a really flattened version of my sense of the day). Loved it, looking forward to the discussion.

Finally - Ruff vs. Fluff by Spencer Quinn. My cousin Michael first told me about Spencer Quinn and then Scholastic started publishing kids' books by him. YAY! Tons of fun, crime stories with kid heroes, told from the point of view of their pets. I loved the Birdie & Bowser books I was able to get my paws on and this new one with Arthur the Dog and Queenie the Cat is also great. And that was February.

Right now I'm nosing around in a book of Grimm's Fairy Tales (not the Disney versions) and then with all of the anti-abortion stuff in the government, including some absolutely horrible legislation a relative who's just joined the Idaho legislature is working with a more experienced rep to try to push through (I've never prayed so hard for family to fail), I'm thinking it might be a good time to revisit The Cider House Rules.


Rebecca Olkowski said...

Your book list sounds interesting. I had no idea you were a WTC survivor. That's intense. I did a 3-week sailboat cruise through the Grenadines so that book sounds especially intriguing.

bonnie said...

Oh, a 3-week Caribbean sail sounds heavenly. I've been lucky enough to get invited on 2 1-week cruises, one in the BVI's, one in the USVI's with a day in Viecques.

The book was not a quick read, but I got a lot out of it.

I worked for a bank in the WTC until I got laid off in June 2001. I got a great severance package and spent the summer being a kayak guide. The work and the severance package were both going to run out in the fall. Part of the severance package was an outplacement workshop, held in the company office. There was one offered on Sept. 11th and that seemed like good timing for kicking off a fall job search, so I signed up. I was very lucky.