It’s Monday! What are you reading?: More Five-star Books!

First things first: A Month of Faves is back for this year! Yessssssss. It is one of my favorite blogging events, and I look both for it and forward to it every year.

I did my last update post in July (!), so here are some things that happened since then:

  • I attended a taping of Yvonne Orji’s latest HBO special
  • My tap teacher hosted a live Q&A with tap legend Arthur Duncan. He’s the dancer that when white viewers wrote in to tell Betty White they would stop watching her show if she kept featuring him, she told them to kick rocks. He’s also the first tapper in this scene:
  • I went to an LA Sparks basketball game. I had fun, but they are…not good.
  • I went to a screening of Blonde, probably the worst movie I’ve ever seen
  • My friend had a birthday party where she screened two of her favorite movies: Clue (also one of my faves) and Valley Girl (which I had never seen before but obviously loved)
  • I saw Clueless in the movie theater for the first time
  • I went to see Shonda Rhimes & Betsy Beers in conversation with Katie Lowes (Quinn from Scandal). They liked the question I submitted the best (naturally). Also, Katie was a fantastic moderator.
  • I saw Lizzo in concert. She was AMAZING. I would definitely go see her in concert again.
  • I deactivated my Twitter account so if you were following me there, I am still here and on Instagram and Goodreads.

I wrote two posts:

I am kind of torn on posting my other five-star reads this close to the beginning of A Month of Faves. However, I think we all should have the opportunity to read a five-star book before the end of the year. So. Five-star reads since July!

AftermathAftermath by Emily Barth Isler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am very glad that this book exists, and I am very sad that it has to.

The narrator is an outsider, new to town, but who also carries her own grief. In that way, the book is an excellent look at grief and trauma and how it affects different people in different ways. It is also an excellent look at COLLECTIVE grief and trauma and how that can also affect different groups of people in different ways (i.e., Lucy and her family; the students in her class; the town as a whole). You can also add to that the different ways PTSD shows up.

Also, I deeply appreciate that the aftermath encompasses the children as well as the shooter’s family.

I wish a copy of this book could be sent to every member of Congress/governor/person who opposes gun safety laws and they were forced to read it. Maybe then, they would care.

I also feel it’s important to add that I knew the first review I read on this site about this book would question how appropriate it is for young readers because it deals with heavy topics so let me just say that everything in this book is children’s lived reality. It doesn’t matter whether or not we THINK the topics are “appropriate”; what matters is that a book like this, written at their level, gives them an opportunity to process the world they live in. “I don’t know if I want children reading a book about a school shooting” is not it since mass shootings happen at schools almost every day in this country. “I don’t want children living in a world where they have to worry about getting shot at school” is. Kids are sad sometimes, kids deal with hard things sometimes, and kids deserve books that honor both of those things.

View all my reviews
A Song Called HomeA Song Called Home by Sara Zarr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Quiet and melancholy, sad and hopeful — Sara Zarr for middle grade basically does all the things Sara Zarr for YA does for the younger set. The characters and setting and the emotional arcs are visceral and real. I think Zarr perfectly captures the conundrum of being eleven and living with alcoholism: adults and older siblings not behaving the way they SHOULD and the way you want and being completely stuck because you don’t even have the freedom to go to the mall with your friends on your own, especially once your mom moves you out of the city and into the suburbs.

A super engaging read.

View all my reviews
Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of FreedomTeaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Did you know that this is an available as an audiobook read by none other than Robin Miles? I did not either until I stumbled upon said audio when I looked to see if I had logged what page I stopped at the first time I tried to read this in 2020. I did not, but the library extension showed me there was an audiobook version, so I had to check it out.

Miles’s narration is flawless as usual, and hooks’s writing is accessible. What I liked the most is that even though the book was apparently first published in 1994 (!), it feels and reads very current. The issues hooks discusses are issues we still deal with in the classroom. I wish hooks had community college experience because I would have loved to see how she tackled a lot of these ideas when working at a school where teaching IS the priority.

I seriously cannot believe I waited so long to read/finish this, but I am so glad that I finally did.

View all my reviews
The ABCs of Black HistoryThe ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is stellar. Not only does it introduce important names, dates, and concepts in the text, but the illustrations are chock-full of important names, dates, and concepts. For example, on the pages devoted to W (for writers, wisdom, words, and worlds), the bookshelf has the names of writers on the spines–and not just children’s book writers. There’s also the backmatter where the terms and figures listed with each respective letter are talked about in more detail, which makes this not just an ABC book but also an excellent reference book for children, caregivers, and educators. It can be used as a springboard for further research and discussion. This is a must for any bookshelf.

View all my reviews

That’s it for now. Maybe next time I will discuss some of my four-star reads. Also, remember to participate in A Month of Faves, starting on Dec. 5–either on your blog or your Instagram!

Have a great week, everyone!

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