April 2016: Month in Review

This month, I finished seven books:

April 2016 books

 

  • A Tangle of Gold (The Colours of Madeleine #3) by Jaclyn Moriarty
  • The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Princeless, Vol. 3 by Jeremy Whitley
  • Princeless, Vol. 4 by Jeremy Whitley
  • Demigods & Magicians by Rick Riordan
  • Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud

I did way better reading toward Diversity on the Shelf this month. I’m at 47% of books read so far counting towards the challenge, which means I’m much closer to my 50% goal than I have been. Also, 5 out of 7 of the books I read this month count. I’m not counting Tangle of Gold, though I probably should. There’s a great commentary on Ko and her dad’s race/ethnicity in the book, and since she is a POV character and owns my heart, I really really should count it. My hesitation is just that it comes so late in the series. But still. I’ll have to give it a little more thought.

I was going to say I feel vaguely dissatisfied about my reading, but that’s not true. I think it’s just that I’m not excited about reading anything else yet. I have book club books lined up, which is both a plus and a minus because, usually, once the semester is over, I do not want to do ANY assigned reading of any sort, even if I had a hand in choosing the books. So we’ll see how that goes. But I have nothing that I’m super looking forward to reading. I should probably change that.

Most of my April books had a real touch of whimsy and fun to them, and I want to keep that going. I NEED FUN BOOKS. I need whimsy, darn it.

I also probably need a nap.

 

Armchair BEA

 

Looking ahead, I have signed up for this year’s Armchair BEA. If I learned nothing else from the A to Z Challenge, I now understand the importance of planning ahead, so I am going to start working on those posts this week. Right after I finish prepping for my summer course that starts next week (on Monday!). And writing my A to Z wrap-up/reflection post.

Armchair BEA 2013: Children’s Literature

Ah, here we go. Children’s literature is kind of my jam. I’ve always, always read it and when I figured out I could study it in college and grad school, well.

So, basically, I love children’s literature is what I’m saying. My favorite thing about children’s literature is that most of it lacks the pretentiousness of adult literature. That doesn’t mean it can’t be serious or deal with serious issues, but just that, usually, I’m getting a good story without that air of trying too hard.

I have so much to say about this topic, but I’m going to try to keep it simple. Please keep in mind that these lists are by no means comprehensive. My daughter is 14, so I’m going to draw on what she used to read for the bulk of this list, except for the YA. Also, I want to apologize in advance to any books I may have unintentionally left out.

Picture Books My Daughter Loved

  • Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe
  • I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
  • Don’t Forget to Come Back! by Robie H. Harris
  • But No Elephants by Jerry Smath
  • The Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole

Question: I asked her about her favorite books, and we cannot remember the name of this picture book series that starred animals that all lived in the same neighborhood, and their names started with the letter of their species (e.g., Alan the Alligator, Ziggy the Zebra, etc.) (Of course, we can’t remember any of the characters’ names, sigh.) We remember two storylines clearly: one was about this dirty cat who wanted to throw a party so her friends came and cleaned up for her. Another was about the zebra or alligator whose bathroom tub overflowed. Then there was one about an animal who was trying to build a shed or something. Does anyone have ANY idea what I’m talking about? We read the entire series A-Z, and now I can’t remember them! Ugh.

Picture Books I Loved as a Child that I Shared with My Daughter

  • Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
  • The Snowy Day by Jack Ezra Keats
  • The Great Big Elephant and the Very Small Elephant by Barbara Seuling
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  • Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff

Chapter/Middle Grade Books My Daughter Loved

  • Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  • The Wedding Planner’s Daughter series by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
  • Eleven (and the rest of the books about Winnie) by Lauren Myracle
  • The Frog Princess series by E. D. Baker
  • The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Ok, now when it comes to Young Adult Lit, there are TOO MANY to list. So just a handful of my favorites that I have reviewed here:

I left so many books off. It kind of hurts.

Armchair BEA 2013: Nonfiction

The genre discussion of the day is nonfiction! My initial response is always that I’m not a fan, but that is untrue. According to my category label, I read a lot of nonfiction. And I am always interested in nonfiction, especially if it falls under one of these two categories:

  1. Memoir
  2. Self-help

Memoirs are awesome, especially if they read like fiction, which is why I preferred Zora Neale Hurston’s autobiography to Angela Davis’s. For example. I also dig graphic novel autobiographies/biographies like Maus and Persepolis.

As for self-help, I love that stuff. I think mostly because I’m on a quest to be a better person. Also, because I love when books tell me something about my life. Plus also, I think a lot of self-help books say the same things in different ways, and it’s always interesting to see which one clicks.

Peace from Broken Pieces by Iyanla Vanzant actually combines memoir and self-help (LOVE HER). A book that has been particularly helpful for me lately has been Cheryl Richardson’s The Art of Extreme Self-Care. I am so terrible at self-care and need to do better and just thinking about her book helps.

I also like books about religion and spirituality, and a lot of times they fall under the self-help category.

Armchair BEA 2013: Literary Fiction

Ugh, I have such a chip on my shoulder about literary fiction. In fact, when I say it, I make it sound all fancy and hoity toity. You know, ~*literary fiction*~ that beautiful special snowflake.

I realize I have issues. Most of those issues, I think, stem from all of those years of studying lit and then doing the creative writing MA. You may not know this, but, in a lot of creative writing programs, the goal is to produce literary fiction, and genre fiction is pooh-poohed. In fact, in my undergrad creative writing classes as well as my graduate ones, we were often explicitly told not to write anything but literary fiction. And all we read as examples was literary fiction.

Which led to me becoming sort of a reverse snob. I tend to avoid literary fiction on purpose. If critics love it, if it’s lauded as a feat in literature, I’ll avoid it. I find a lot of those kinds of books boring and overworked and annoying. And I’m also annoyed that people tell me they’re supposed to be good when I tend to enjoy, say, young adult lit or even chick lit more.

Like I said: issues.

(Side note: If you ever needed another reason not to go to grad school, now you know it makes you crazy in so many ways. I haven’t even really talked about my experiences studying lit yet.)

ANYWAY. All of that said, I do find myself enjoying literary fiction from time to time. I classify literary fiction as adult realistic fiction that doesn’t easily fit into a subcategory. So! Some I have read, reviewed, enjoyed:

Armchair BEA 2013 Intro

Greetings, fellow Armchair BEA participants (and regular friends of the blog)! Pull up a chair and let’s get acquainted!

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Well, according to this quiz over on Oprah’s website, I am “the rock in a storm, the one others lean on” and “loyal and committed in [my] relationships.”

But if you just meant the regular stuff, then I’m Akilah, and I teach writing and lit to college students. I’ve had this blog since August 2009, which is a lot longer than I thought. (That’s almost four years. Holy crap.) Before, I posted my book reviews to a personal blog, but I wanted to separate my book blogging from the more personal blogging I did over there.

2. Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? What brought you back for another year? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?

First timer here! I want to go to BEA. Like, a lot. But since I can’t, I figured I’d do the next best thing. I’m usually too insanely busy to participate (and I’m not less insanely busy this time), but I figured I’d go for it anyway. Some of the other blogs I read have participated in Armchair BEA, and it seems like a fun time.

3. Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?

If I only have to pick one, I’d go with my review of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

4. If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

Tina Hakim Baba from The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. First, she would catch me up on all the gossip. Second, and more importantly, we would talk for hours and hours about everything that’s important and by that I mean television and other pop culture stuff. I mean, I just know she has lots and lots of opinions on Scandal.

5. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

I was going to say The Florida Keys because I am hankering for a beach vacation, but then I remembered Powell’s exists. So. Powell’s, final answer.