This post has been sitting in my drafts for over a month, so now it's a combination of books that we read in April AND May. Because....life!
We actually have read a lot of picture books in the last two months, but I didn't include many of them in this round up because they are part of a sponsored post I'm doing with Beautiful Feet books. I also had a personal read that I didn't include here because I didn't think it was a good fit for you 🙂
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Cynical Theories by Helen Pluckrose and James A. Lindsay
I never paid attention to politics, but last March, with the world shut down, I had more time to start trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Some of the questions I had echo those that are mentioned in the synopsis of this book.
This book discusses theories that at their core, are made up of conflicting ideas and haven't been proven by research. For example, at the base of one of these theories is the idea that there is no such thing as human nature. All you would have to do to prove that wrong is look at patterns in history, nature, and people. Some of these theories echo the Gospel message- so couldn't that in itself be proof of human nature? The oddest part to me is that for years post-modern thought has said, "There's not such thing as truth!" and now some of these theories shout loudly- "But I am TRUTH!"
To silence, to undermine, to say that the whole system is broken and needs to be torn down, is going to end democracy. The authors claim that liberalism, which our system of government is built upon, is at risk because of the above issues. This book appeals to people all across the political spectrum, even though one of the authors is a liberal feminist-humanist.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
I absolutely loved A Gentleman in Moscow, which I read last year, so I was excited to read Towles's first novel, Rules of Civility. As first novels go, I was prepared to be a little less wowed, and that was the case.
This book takes place in New York City in the 1930's. Two young women meet a charming, wealthy man who takes them on adventures in the city. Although Katey, the main character, has her eye on this man, her best friend snags him away through a series of events. Katey and Eve get swept up into high society life, only to find out the fragility and fake it was.
This book felt like a beach read, and some elements felt forced, like the main character's last name (Kontent) and George Washington's Rules of Civility being used as a manipulative tool for the wealthy.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
I listened to the audiobook version of The Dutch House, narrated by Tom Hanks. It's brilliant to have a famous author narrate a story- he brought so much life to it!
Danny Conroy grew up in a big, daunting mansion that came to be known as the Dutch House. His mother left when he was young, and he was raised mostly by a team of housekeepers/nannies, and his older sister Maeve. Their life at the Dutch House is interrupted by their father's new wife, Andrea, who moves in and takes over. When Maeve and Danny are forced to leave, they can't let go of their past or the house.
I enjoyed listening to this book, but I felt like there were some parts that I wish had been tied up better, like Andrea's obsession with the house.
Marley and Me: Life and Love With The World's Worst Dog
This book has been sitting on the bookshelf since I met my husband 12 years ago. He got it right along with a new puppy that he invited into his home just before we met. I had always meant to read it, and 12 years later, I finally did.
The story is cute, but I think that if anyone with writing skills wrote a book about life with a dog, it would have similar anecdotes. Marley was particular good at escapism, destroying things, and stealing things. Part of it was a little frustrating because I had a few "Everyone knows THAT!" moments. I also didn't enjoy reading about the dog's bodily functions. Gross. Dogs do that, you don't need to go into detail about it!
This was a light read when I needed it, so I'm happy about that, but I don't feel the need to pursue any more of John Grogan's work.
This book is heart-breaking and stunning, and so beautifully written that despite the hard topics, I didn't want to stop reading. The author, Bryan Stevenson, began a non-profit law firm in Alabama to help defend an underserved population. His stories of helping people who committed minor crimes with major penalties, were wrongly accused of crimes based off of racist handling of cases, and were otherwise forgotten by society were gut-wrenching.
Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K White
I read White's first book, Managing Your Home Without Losing Your Mind, a few years ago, and enjoyed it. This book, while still good, had a lot of repeat points from the first book. It also was pretty repetitive, as it went through how to use her decluttering process in each room. I have used some of the ideas from the book recently, so that is a win!
Scattered to Focused by Zac Grisham
This was probably the most helpful book I've read in a long time. It's about helping children develop Executive Functioning skills, written by a counselor who had to tackle his own executive functioning issues growing up as an ADHD child. Although it mainly focuses on ADHD, any differently-wired child could benefit from this book.
Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott
This is my first reread this year- probably my first in many years. It feels so wasteful to read through a book again that I've already read before since my time is so limited! But I read this book in college when I was becoming an elementary school teacher and it felt incredibly irrelevant. I wanted to spend time on it again now that I have a logical reason to learn about writing.
I didn't love it, or really even enjoy it. It seemed like the author was more intent on making herself out to be a a brilliant but kind of crazy writer than she was interested in teaching others how to write. She also seemed intent on proving that she wasn't one of "those" Christians which was kind of annoying.
It was more about the writing process than writing itself, and it could have had about 100 less pages, which is why I gave myself permission to skip the end!
What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
This book was on the Reshelving Alexandria "Books to read to boys under 6" list, and it was a huge hit over here. There are tails, eyes, noses, from different animals, presented in a way that keeps you guessing which animal it is. My boys loved this! Then it describes what the feature is used for. It's a great non-fiction book in a lyrical style.
Rags: Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story by Margot Theis Raven and Petra Brown
We loved this book about a dog who was rescued on the streets during World War I, then became a companion to a soldier. It's a somewhat sad story, but beautifully told and illustrated.
Tumtum and Nutmeg- Pirates Treasure by Emily Bearn
This was the third and final Tumtum and Nutmeg story that I read to my son recently. This was very fun and especially engaging for a little boy! I think I'm getting a little burned out on these characters though, and will be happy to have a break from them!
Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John
Confession: I repeatedly get this book mixed up with Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. I was researching World War II books for my daughter, and ended up with this one, which is NOT a WWII book. Haha! However, neither of us were disappointed by that fact- we both loved this story set in the Swiss alps. It reminded me of a book a read a couple of months ago: Heather and Snow by George MacDonald. The author over-spiritualized some points and had some theological that didn't make sense, but it's one that we'll hang onto and read again.
By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
We are taking our time getting through the Little House series. This book has been very pleasant, although there isn't much going on. It's so interesting to think of them settling into the new town of DeSmet, South Dakota.
Blackout by John Rocco
This book is written in a comic book style, and has little text. But the pictures are engaging and the message is important. It's set in a big city, where everyone is too busy, including a little boy's family. They don't want to play a game with him because they're on the phone, computer, or other device. But when the power goes out, they find the importance of being together and getting outside.
Animal Camouflage by Sam Hutchinson and Sarah Dennis
This is a gorgeous seek-and-find style book that my boys really enjoyed. The pictures are monochromatic so looking for different animals is a challenge!
A Voyage In The Clouds by Matthew Olson and Sophie Blackall
My five-year-old boy really enjoyed this book about two frenemies who each wanted to be the first to make an international flight in a hot air balloon. When plans don't work out as they ought, they have to get creative to solve the problem. There's a little bit of potty humor here that normally wouldn't appeal to me, but it made sense (mostly because it actually happened!) and my child thought it was hilarious.
Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling
A few years ago I snagged this book on Amazon for less than $10, but I really had no clue when I would use it. (I piece together my own curriculum!) This year, I saw it on Reshelving Alexandria's list of books to read to boys 6 and under. This seemed like the perfect read for my boys, 3 and 5, and I knew their older sister would love it, too.
It definitely was a book that we all enjoyed! I've heard that if you take Holling's books too slowly, you can lose momentum. So we kept a pretty good pace of a chapter or two a day (the chapters are 1 page long). My children were captivated by Paddle's journey, and were interested to learn the geography of the Great Lakes. I think I would normally give this book 4 stars, because it does seem to drag in some places, but we had such a wonderful experience with it that I have to give it 5!
1000 Tracings by Lita Judge
When we looked for World War II books to go with our Homeschool Garden morning time plans, there weren't a whole lot of picture books at our library. The librarian helped us find this one, and it was delightful. It's based on a true story of a family that tried to help war victims in Europe