Books I’ve Read In Spring 2020

Hello everyone!

Today I’m going to be going over all the books I’ve read in the past couple months. As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been keeping track of everything on Goodreads, which makes it much easier to make this post. If you’re interested in finding out what I’ve been reading and my opinions on each book, keep on scrolling.

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany – I don’t know how, but I was never really aware that this add-on to the Harry Potter series was a thing. I didn’t love everything about it (no spoilers here though) but I was happy to have anything added onto the series. In some ways, I think the series would’ve been fine without this add on, but I’ll take what I can get. I would love to see the actual play live someday. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  2. Child of the Moon by Jessica Semaan – My mom got this on Amazon as a whim and I read it after her. It falls under the umbrella of Instagram poetry, but since I write a decent amount of poetry in that style myself, I was still able to appreciate it. I also like work that relates to the moon/astrology so that was interesting for me. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  3. Almost Home by Madisen Kuhn – This was another book my mom ordered and I ended up reading. I thought the separation of the book into different rooms/parts of the house was clever, and I related to Kuhn’s sentiments about never really feeling at home, but I wasn’t particularly in love with any of the poems. Kuhn is another Instagram poet, so I’d avoid this if you don’t like that style. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding – I read this for English class, and I really enjoyed it. I had actually been thinking a lot about the nature of man lately just because of everything going on in the world right now and our (our meaning society’s) reaction to it all. It was a short and easy read, and I was able to pick up on the symbolism in it. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  5. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – We were supposed to read this in my English class but it got cut from the distance learning curriculum. I had already bought it in advance, so I read it on my own. Although I know the message behind the story is important, it was very hard for me to get through despite it being a short read. I rated it 3/5 on Goodreads.
  6. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer – This is an outlier on this list since it’s a spiritual self-help book, but I still wanted to include it. It’s enlightening but still in the way of being hard to take action and follow the book’s advice in everyday life. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.
  7. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – LOVED this. It was suggested but not required reading for my writing workshop. It was a super fast read and honestly my dream book since it incorporated supernatural elements with an otherwise realistic fiction plot. I rated it 5/5 on Goodreads.
  8. I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark – This is a book of poetry that’s required reading for my writing workshop. Clark’s poems are moving and I think everyone should read this and support her as a talented Black poet. I rated it 5/5 on Goodreads.
  9. Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson – This is a book with multiple short stories, all somewhat different from one another. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Nothing to See Here, but I definitely do love Wilson’s work and hope to read more of it soon. I rated it 4/5 on Goodreads.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about the books I’ve read recently, and that this inspires you go to spend some time reading. Whether it’s an old favorite or something new, reading is always such a relaxing and nice pastime. Plus, it’s summer! Congrats to everyone who is finishing up/has just finished their school year. Stay safe and healthy out there.

Brooke

My Childhood Favorite Books

Welcome back everyone!

When I was younger, I used to devour books. I would get ten at a time from the library, and read them all within a weekend- I lived and breathed to read. I still love to read, but I definitely can’t keep up with my younger self’s dedication to seeking out new books and series to binge-read (Is binge-reading a term? If binge-watching is, it should be…). As I mentioned in a recent post, I recently re-read a bunch of my old favorite books as I was figuring out which I was ready to part with and pass on to the next generation of young readers. If you’re interested in my list of the best kids’ books, keep on reading!

I would like to clarify that these vary in age-range. I read most of them between second grade and seventh grade, but I read at a higher reading level throughout elementary school, so the books I read in elementary school aren’t very different from what I read in middle school. Some of these recommendations are very basic, but I included them anyway if they were truly some of my favorites, since that’s the topic of this list.

  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – What would this list be without the Harry Potter books? I read them starting at the end of first grade, but didn’t finish the later and longer books in the series until second grade. These rocked my world and made me fall in love with the fantasy genre, and every time I go back to read them again I’m reminded of the magic they held in that first read. My personal favorite has always been the Goblet of Fire.
  • Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This is another classic series that I started in first grade but didn’t finish until later in elementary school. My grandmother adored these books and bought me a box set of the first few for Christmas one year, and I remember being fascinated by them, wanting to experience prairie life for myself. My grandmother has now passed away, and although I haven’t read these in quite a few years, I know that when I eventually revisit them I will be reminded of her.
  • The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch – I forget how I stumbled upon this series, but all I know is I loved every minute of it. The humor (especially coming from the narrator) and the mystery are perfectly intertwined, and each book actually gets better rather than worse as in some kids’ book sequels. It’s a fairly intricate storyline in terms of trying to sum it up, but the reveals towards the end of the series are worth waiting for and actually not predictable (I’m bad at predicting events though, so maybe find out for yourself on that one).
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I actually didn’t like this book at first. I’m still not the biggest fan of the other books in the series, but I will say this book grew on me more than I ever thought it would. The world Madeleine L’Engle creates is mind-boggling yet completely realistic (funny how that works) and made me appreciate science and theoretical thinking more. I love how the Murry family is relatable in some ways, yet incredibly special in their talent and intellect- it’s the perfect balance and makes you want to root for Meg and Charles Wallace even more.
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funk/e – I got this book in a random store in upstate New York the summer after second grade, looking for a book to read during long car rides on that trip visiting my grandparents. I wish I had the same ability to make words come to life that Meggie does, but reading this book was magical enough. However, I didn’t enjoy the other two books in the trio (Inkspell, Inkdeath) nearly as much.
  • The Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle – This book series isn’t a classic or a series with a complicated plot, but it meant a lot to me as an anxious pre-teen awaiting middle school. It’s a fairly accurate portrayal of late elementary school and middle school, and I went through a lot of the same things that Winnie did. I recommend it for girls who are in the pre-teen age range and just need something light and fluffy to relate to.
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech – My mom loved the plot of this book so she read it out loud to me in early elementary school. I think it teaches some important life lessons with a creative manner of events unfolding, and the twist at the end was both unexpectedly beautiful and heartbreaking. It’s a sad one, but the ending only shows how great the beginning of the book/everything leading up to the end is.
  • Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass – As someone who’s been having an existential crisis since forever, it made sense I would love this book. When I re-read it a few weeks ago, I cried just as much as I did the first time. I saw a lot of myself in Jeremy, and you’ll enjoy following his journey- it’s a really beautiful storyline.
  • A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass – This book is another sad one, but it’s just as beautiful. It follows the story of Mia, an eighth grader with synesthesia (someone in The Secret Series also has synesthesia!) and her discovering what exactly that is and how it relates to her self-identity. I found this book fascinating as it introduced me to something new, but it also managed to be relatable just because everyone struggles with their identity in some way. It perfectly captures those growing pains.
  • A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin – Another heartbreakingly beautiful book my mom read to me when I was younger, this story is set in a 1960s summer where a small-town-girl meets her mentally-ill uncle that was previously hidden from her. The ending is abrupt and sad, but twelve-year-old Hattie was all too relatable to me at the time of reading this, and her growth throughout the story is inspiring.
  • A Year Without Autumn by Liz Kessler –
  • Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman – I remember liking this book a lot, but I didn’t even realize how wonderful the plot and the protagonist’s journey was until I re-read it a couple weeks ago. It follows ten-year-old Allie moving cities (to a street named Strawberry Hill) and experiencing the struggles of making true friends as well as anti-Semitism. It clarifies what a true friend is, and it also has a couple cute pictures in my version of the book.
  • The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall – I LOVED this series when my second-grade teacher first introduced me to it. I always wanted sisters (I just have a younger brother) and I envied the Penderwicks’ tight-knit family. It’s a fun read that still touches on life lessons and serious issues like most kids’ books do.

I hope this list helps anyone out who’s looking for good kids’ books! Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or just someone who likes to read and was curious on if we shared the same favorite kids’ books, this list should have something for everyone. Honestly, I enjoy most of the books I read, and I’ll dabble in pretty much any genre if someone encourages me to read a certain book or I’m gifted one. I could’ve included more, but these are the ones that I would re-read again and again and that really stuck out to me. Let me know what your favorite children’s books are/were!

Brooke

What I Learned From Rereading My Childhood Books

Hello everyone!

Due to all the free time I’ve had at home, I decided I would declutter my bookshelf in my room. I had an idea of which books I had long outgrown and would be able to part with, but I kind of wanted to read them one last time before letting go of them, just to reflect on what my younger self saw in them. I thought it would be interesting to share my thoughts on what I read and how I felt during this little process of decluttering, so if you’re interested in hearing my thoughts and possibly doing this yourself, keep on reading!

I’m not going to go too into depth about each specific book that I reread, but in case you’re curious, here’s the list for reference:

  • The Winnie Years series by Lauren Myracle (Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Thirteen Plus One)
  • Canterwood Crest series by Jessica Burkhart (20 books so I won’t list them all!)
  • The Fashion Disaster That Changed My Life by Lauren Myracle
  • The Clique by Lisi Harrison
  • The Ashley Project by Melissa de la Cruz
  • Ten Rules for Living With My Sister by Ann M. Martin
  • Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin
  • A Corner of The Universe by Ann M. Martin (this one’s more serious and sad)
  • Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman

They’re all pretty childish, each centered on girls around 10-13. I read them all in the later portion of my elementary school years, but remained attached to them in middle school. I haven’t looked back on any of them in a few years at least, but there were many other books I’ve donated and let go of since I was younger; these were kind of the stragglers remaining on my bookshelf from long ago. Reading them was a huge awakening as to how much I’ve matured, considering I used to think they were such thrilling storylines packed with drama. Now, a few of them just seemed like, well…typical young person problems. Don’t get me wrong, a couple of them tackle more serious issues for youth and teach important life lessons, but a lot of the books were simply obnoxious (The Clique, The Ashley Project).

It was crazy to think about how the girls in these books (middle school age) seemed so old to my fourth and fifth-grade self. Honestly, now I know why- because middle schoolers don’t act like that. At least in my experience, I didn’t have the independence a lot of the book characters did, and that greatly influences the events in the books/what the characters do. The types of books I read also said a lot about the person I aspired to be. A lot of the books focus on privileged, independent preteens with some sort of exciting lives (boarding school, living in the city, take your pick). This is not exactly the type of life I’ve experienced, but I am 100% okay with that now.

I find these books could greatly skew a young, impressionable child’s impression of middle school, but it’s all in good fun. Even as a child, I don’t think I took them too seriously. However, I’m glad I decided to reread them and experience them one more time before letting go of them; I was worried I would get too sentimental and want to hang on to them, but reading them only confirmed I was ready to pass them on to someone else who can enjoy them. The feeling of clearing space on my bookshelf and that these books will get read by others is super special. I’m not sure where to donate them yet and will obviously still be hanging onto them because of the current quarantine, but I’ll figure it out soon.

Overall, I can definitely see how much I’ve grown as a person through even the books I’ve gravitated towards reading. Most of these books were realistic fiction, but now I prefer to read almost anything but realistic fiction, as books are truly an escape. However, at the time I read them, I think these books still were an escape to me, an escape to my ideal middle school/preteen life. I also learned how important it is go through your books and belongings in general to donate things you’re no longer using. I hadn’t even questioned getting rid of these books before, but I’m glad that I finally did since they’ll go to much better use.

I used to be extremely attached to everything I owned and hesitant to get rid of/donate anything, but now I’m almost the opposite and am eager to give away anything I feel I’ve already gotten my use out of. I suggest you also go through your books, reflect on the person you used to be when you read them for the first time and how they helped you grow, and pass them onto someone else if you’re ready. It’s rewarding, I promise!

I hope you enjoyed hearing my perspective on this. I didn’t want to go too into detail on each book since that’s not the most relevant part of this little process, but let me know if you’d like to hear more about any of them 🙂

Brooke

Books I Read in 9th Grade: Ranked Worst to Best

Welcome back everyone!

I love to read, but I don’t have time to read for pleasure as much as I would like to. Luckily, I’ve actually really enjoyed most of the books I’ve read in my English classes throughout high school so far. Since we’ve only read two books so far this year, I figured I would only rank the ones from ninth grade. I know it’s not a lot, but ninth grade is the only year without summer reading, and we also read a lot of short stories (my favorite was A Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe).

5. The Odyssey by Homer – We didn’t read the full thing in class, we only read excerpts from our textbook. I think that’s why I didn’t really enjoy it; if I read the piece as a whole and in order, I could probably connect to it more and make more sense of it. I usually enjoy Greek mythology, but I’d never read a formal work like this. It was also the first thing we read at the beginning of freshman year, so I don’t particularly remember it.

4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – This book just made me sad. That’s pretty much it; I felt for the characters and I thought it was interesting insight into the harsh realities of a working man’s life during those times, but it was too short for me to get really invested. That being said, I can’t imagine writing a meaningful/classic story in so few pages, so I’m in awe of Steinbeck for that.

3. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – I know it’s a play, but we read it in book form. It’s obviously a classic that everyone knows and I personally enjoy Shakespeare, so this was pretty enjoyable for me. It just didn’t excite me that much since I already had the basic plot points outlined in my head. It was an easy read at the end of the year after we finished A Tale of Two Cities.

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – This was extremely difficult to understand (shoutout to the Spark Notes line by line translation that I would read alongside my book) but one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read. I wasn’t expecting to like it since it was the most challenging book of the year and there was a lot to keep track of, but I came to love every twist and turn. The ending saddened me a bit, but I think it tied the many plot lines up well.

1.To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I loved this book. It was the first “classic” I’d read that I actually understood (it was towards the beginning of the year too), and I think it’s important for everyone to read it. I grew close to the characters while reading, and I liked the emphasis on law and the court process since one of my (possible) dream jobs is being a lawyer.

I feel silly ranking these books since they’re all extremely famous classics that you guys probably know and have read as well, but I figured I would give my input in case any freshmen are curious as to what you might read this year, or any middle schoolers are looking ahead. I might make one of these ranking books I’ve read in middle school, as my middle school English teachers actually picked some great books for us to read.

-Brooke

5 Teen Book Reviews in 5 Sentences

Welcome back everyone!

For today’s post I had a random burst of inspiration; I was rereading one of my old favorite book trilogies last night and this morning, and I knew I wanted to do something related to books. I used to constantly devour new books but in the past couple years I’ve rarely gotten the chance to read anything that’s not required for school. However, in summer I have the free time to explore and revisit some comforting favorites! I stayed up until 2 am reading the first book in the previously mentioned trilogy last night, and I finished the other two before getting out of bed this morning.

Clearly, I read in long and intense spurts. I will admit most of my favorite books and the ones I’ll mention today are more YA fiction and not necessarily “mature” picks or classic works, but I’ve always looked at reading as an escape and I am a teenager; therefore, I can easily get sucked into any interesting world portrayed in a story, and I do get attached to the characters found in these novels. Also, all of the books I’ll discuss are nicely lined up on my bookshelf right across from me at the moment and have been held dear to me for a while, so they’re definitely not new!

I wanted to talk about some of the books I’ve loved for quite a few years, but not have to go too in-depth or explain the plots. I actually read a lot of these for the first time in late elementary school or middle school so they’re not the most advanced, but I was an avid reader and had a slightly higher-than-average reading level back then so do with that what you will. I will review each book with one sentence summing up my favorite thing about it/the overall enjoyment I got from it. That’s why I came up with this idea; I can suggest a few books to you guys and explain why I liked them/how they made me feel, but it will be (VERY) short and sweet. Now that I’ve given you some background on my reading style and preferences, here are the reviews:

  1. The Selection Trilogy by Kiera Cass (the aforementioned trilogy): These books made me long for a prince of my own (stereotypical, I know), the characters annoyed me at times but I overall became very invested in the protagonist’s love life.
  2. Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie: My main introduction to dystopian novels, the classic plotline of breaking free intertwined with a love triangle was enough to keep me intrigued throughout the main character’s journey.
  3. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass: The ending (aka the reveal of the meaning of life) disappointed me at first but at the same time was the perfect conclusion to a touching story, it really did make me think about the meaning of life and how we find it in ourselves.
  4. A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin: I read this a longggg time ago, but it was one of the first books to make me genuinely cry at the end; the setting of an old-timey boarding house and carnival was portrayed so well and the beautiful yet tragic ending broke my heart.
  5. The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch: This series was different than most of the ones I read in that it was just randomly adventurous, but I enjoyed the narrator’s sarcastic tone and all the twists and turns through the books; a bunch of unlikely events led to a couple young kids making insane discoveries (I often wished I was in their exciting positions!).

I hope you guys enjoyed this new idea (I may do it again in the future or something similar but still changing it up) and learning a bit more about me and what I like to read! Definitely check out some of these books if you’re interested, or at least just take this as a sign to find something new to read. 🙂 Let me know if you’ve read and enjoyed any of these books and if you have any other book-related content ideas!

-Brooke