Between the Bookends with GeekMom

Book stack photo: Flickr user austinevan
Book stack photo: Flickr user austinevan

It’s time for another look at the GeekMoms’ never-ending stack of books. Collectively, we sure manage to make our way through a fair number of pages, whether we’re reading them on dead trees or e-readers. This month we’ve read books about DIY hacks and learning, costuming and cosplay, and even listened to some audio options.

Cathe is not much of a reader, but does like to listen. While she is stumbling her way through the Skaven rulebook for Warhammer Fantasy in preparation for a large tournament in June, she is trying to decide between listening to The Guardians Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King or Fablehaven Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary or The Sisters Grimm: The Unusual Suspects. Even though all three are for young readers, Cathe enjoys listening to books before letting her daughter read the print version.

This month it’s not what Rebecca is currently reading, but what she’s waiting to read: Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb. She has reread all the books in the Rain Wilds Chronicles to get ready for the book. Rebecca is a big fan of Robin Hobb, especially the Liveship Trader series. Hobb is a rare fantasy writer that not only features a strong female character, but several strong female characters- each overcoming obstacles in her own way. And the dragons are so haughty and awesome! Blood of Dragons is out now, but someone is taking their sweet time in her library system, and Rebecca may have to go buy the book because she is desperate to know what happens!

Image: Basic Books
Image: Basic Books

Laura can’t rhapsodize enough about Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray. It’s a transformative book that reframes decisions about education, afterschool enrichment, and much more. She’s buying extra copies to give away. She’s also marking up pages in The Big Book of Hacks: 264 Amazing DIY Projects. Admittedly, her family’s favorite idea is installing a fountain on the top of the toilet that gushes each time the toilet is flushed. Ah, the joys of family projects.

Sophie spent most of the month ploughing through her latest book club read: The Host by Stephanie Meyer. The book had an excellent premise but in her opinion (agreed with by the rest of the book club members) desperately needed an editor to attack it heavily with a red pen. The story could have done with being shortened by at least a third to stop it dragging out so badly in the middle. During the rest of the month she read and reviewed 1000 Incredible Costume and Cosplay Ideas, and has also read the Strangers in Paradise series for the Gender in Comic Books course which sadly she did not enjoy at all. She has currently just begun the next book club selection, Jane Austen’s Persuasion which she hopes will be far less tedious than The Host.

And here’s just a sampling of what we were reading in April last year:

Patricia had to take a break from Chad Orzel’s How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog — she was thinking too hard for the book to be “light reading” and decided to hop on board this month’s GeekMom Book Club selection: Pilgrim of the Sky by GeekMom’s own Natania Barron!  So far it’s been such a fun adventure! This is also the first Kindle download she’s read in about 2 years. Which means she can turn on the white-on-black screen and read late late late into the night, yay!  She will return to How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog in May.

Judy Berna is now addicted to GoodReads and the amazing books it finds for her. Being a fan of non fiction, specifically memoir, having thoughtful suggestions has been a boost to her library list. In the past few weeks she’s read two noteworthy books. The first, My Lobotomy, by Howard Dully, is the story of a man who, as a 12 year old boy, underwent one of the infamous ice pick lobotomies, performed by the creator of the procedure, Dr. Freeman. The reason? His stepmother didn’t like him and convinced the doctor he was mentally ill. It’s a moving book, told candidly by Mr. Dully himself. The second book, on a much different note, was a moving story of marriage, disabled children, and a devastating Iowa flood. It’s called By the Iowa Sea, by Joe Blair. The language, description, and writing are beautiful. The anguishing story of how these three forces came together for Mr. Blair, and changed him as a husband and a father, is written so cleanly that it’s very hard to put down. Even if you’re not into memoir, this book is worth a look. You can read sample snippets at joeblairwriter.com.

Chaos Mandy is listening to her all-time favorite fantasy series, The Belgariad by David Eddings, via audio book. Epic and wonderful are both words she would use to describe this five book series that she has read probably 20 times since she found the first book, Pawn of Prophecy, on her father’s bookshelf when she was a teenager.

Laura, despite her best intentions to read lighter fare, adores the insights in A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster. It describes how communities react to tragedies of all kinds. People commonly show altruism, innovation, solidarity, and yes, joy–calling us to rethink our perceptions of humanity as selfish and violent when facing trouble. This is the perfect book to renew sagging optimism. Another less-than-jaunty book she recommends is Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why. Bought it as a potential gift for a high-risk loved one, Laura realized that it’s relevant to any of us who might wander off the trail or find our plane going down. The stories reconfirm what it means to live through our ordinary days as well, that it’s not all about the plan and who thrives isn’t necessarily the expert but the one who can adapt and even deepen into greater awareness of the moment at hand.

This month Kelly Knox happened across a picture book at the library called Wonder Woman: The Story of the Amazon Princess by Ralph Cosentino. Her daughter let out a squeal of delight when she saw the cover, so of course they had to check it out. This picture book tells the origin story of Wonder Woman with bold illustrations and simple words for young readers. Some of the concepts are over Kelly’s three-year-old’s head, like Greek gods and a baby fashioned out of clay, but it’s possible to skim over those parts and she’s none the wiser. She asked, “Why does Wonder Woman have an invisible jet, Mom?” “Right?!” Kelly answered. Kelly considers this book a great read for young superhero fans, and she recommends it for any young comic book reader. Batman and Superman picture books are also available from the same author.

glow
Image: Viking

Kris Bordessa seems to be reading multigenerational novels this month. Glow: A Novel by Jessica Maria Tuccelli is one of the most interesting books she’sread lately, speaking linguistically. The novel takes the reader from Washington, D.C. on the brink of World War II to the antebellum south, complete with slavery, hoodoo, and love. As the setting changes, so too does the dialogue, lending an authenticity to each of the characters as they are woven into the complex lineage of Ella McGee. Another story cascading through generations of rich and downtrodden, Fox’s Earth by Anne Rivers Siddons caught Kris’ eye after reading Fault Lines: A Novel, another book by the author. Fox’s Earth is again set in the south but is tinged with evil and a little bit of insanity couched in proper genteel society.

Melissa Wiley’s garden-lit rabbit trail has taken her to No One Gardens Alone, a delightful biography of Elizabeth Lawrence by Emily Herring Wilson. She has also been on a bit of a Miss Read jag lately, enjoying the quiet charms of Village School and Thrush Green. These mellow novels offer a glimpse of mid-twentieth-century English village life that has been a perfect match for the beloved children’s series Melissa has had the pleasure of introducing to her brand-new six-year-old this month: Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge.

We’d love to know what you’re reading. Feel free to add a bit about it in the comments section so we can all have equally precarious stacks of books on the “to be read” pile.

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