I had ambitious reading goals in July. I thought I was going to read all the long books on my list because I was going to have so much extra time. Funny … I did have extra time, but between road trips and Bible studies and time with family and friends, I didn’t have quite as much reading time as I thought! I did get in two long books, a short book, and a medium-sized book that I kind of dabbled in all throughout July and committed to finishing right at the end.
But upon doing the math, I realized that if I want to reach my goal, that means I now have to read 5 books every month for the rest of the year. Which means actually committing to hard-core reading, not just casually fitting it in on the side! But back to July …
1. The Girls of Atomic City – The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan [Based on a true story]
This was by far my favorite book of the month – and definitely one of my favorites of the year. What a fascinating story – not only did Denise Kiernan detail all the processes and history of the making of the atomic bomb, she did so in an engaging, compelling way. She was descriptive and her stories about the women working in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, were real and authentic, making you care about them. To think that all these women [and men, but the story focused on specific women] were hired to work on this secret project and they had no idea what they were working on! It felt like reading an exciting science fiction novel – only the intriguing part was that it really happened. I definitely recommend this book. It makes for perfect plane reading!
2. Lord Brocktree – A Tale from Redwall by Brian Jacques [A book with nonhuman characters]
After hearing about the Redwall books for so many years from my mom and brother, it was finally time to read one. And Brian Jacques is such a beautiful storyteller, weaving delightful characters, poignant description, and wise life lessons into a tale you won’t forget. Even though books with animal characters aren’t necessarily my favorite, these books are well-worth a spot on the shelf. This quote sums up Lord Brocktree perfectly:
“‘Defend the weak, protect both young and old, never desert your friends. Give justice to all, be fearless in battle and always ready to defend the right … the Badger Lord of Salamandastron must always show a welcome an’ good cheer to all of true heart who come to visit here in peace. Our gates will ever be open to them …'”
3. Miracle by Elizabeth Scott [A book set in high school]
This was a fictional story about a girl in high school who survived a plane crash, and her subsequent issues dealing with the emotional aftermath. Parts of it weren’t my favorite – it was definitely intense – but it was real and authentic. The characters were well-developed and the story told truthfully.
4. A Guide to the Common Core Writing Workshop by Lucy Calkins [By a female author]
This was my teacher-y read for the summer – and just like a teacher, I gobbled it up, highlighting, sticky-note-ing it, and generally dreaming grand dreams about how much better I hope to teach writing this year. This is the textbook that we should have had in college to teach us how to teach writing. Seriously. So practical. So inspirational. As both a teacher and a writer, I came away determined to help my students embrace the writerly life. We shall see how it goes!
And that marks 26 books read for 2015 so far. One over halfway there. I’d better start reading faster!