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Things We Read: June Edition

Reading Listamy sharonyComment

I am completely, shamelessly nosy about what other people are reading, so I figure turnabout's fair play. If, like me, you frequently fall up the stairs because you are trying to read and walk at the same time, you might be interested in some of the summer reading happening at our house. And if you want to share your what-you're-reading in the comments, that would be even better. :)

On Our Own

Slammerkin
By Emma Donoghue
 

I usually love Emma Donoghue -- her lyrical storytelling always makes me feel like I'm reading a grown-up fairy tale -- but this one just didn't click for me. I think my issue was that I never really connected with Mary, the teenage protagonist (based on a real historical figure) who dreams of a better life in 1750s England. Her life as a prostitute and later as a servant is beautifully written, but Mary herself remains elusive. Perhaps that's part of the point, but it kept her at an arm's length so that any sympathy I had for her was cerebral rather than emotional. We're doing a history of fashion study next year, and when I heard that this book is about a girl obsessed with clothes, I thought there might be something interesting to add to the class. There's not -- the subject matter really felt way too adult for my 12-year-old.

 

 

We are serious pigeon lovers in these parts.

 

All Four Stars
By Tara Dairman
 

My daughter lucked into a review copy of this book about a food-loving sixth grader who accidentally lands a gig as a restaurant reviewer. She says "I love that it's a book about another girl who is obsessed with cooking."

 

Wuthering Heights
By Emily Bronte
 

My daughter read this one through to the last page with her lips pursed, closed it firmly, and said, "This was awful." I remember liking it at her age. (Maybe you'd like to read some good Bronte books instead?)

 

Another on my daughter's summer reading list -- she gulped this one down and went on to read the second and third books in the series immediately after. The fourth one is on her night table. So I'd say this book -- about four friends who share a pair of jeans over a transformative summer apart -- qualifies as a hit.

 

 I've been obsessively watching Mr. Selfridge on Amazon Prime, so it only makes sense that I would want to read the book about the formative years of Britain's department stores and what life was like for the women who worked there. I like this sort of book usually, and this one was no exception. (I especially love the bit about the girl whose job was basically to stand at the top of the escalator with smelling salts at the ready in case any sensitive shoppers were so overcome by the new-fangled machinery that they needed to be revived.)

 

Rose Revived
By Katie Fforde
 

Fforde's frothy books are my summertime guilty pleasure for poolside reading. This one, about three young women who meet and start a cleaning business, is  classic rom-com, but I read it in a British accent, which automatically makes it 20-percent more highbrow, no?

Together

I was surprised by how much we enjoyed the first book in this series about an alternate England where ghosts wreak havoc on the living and kids with psychic  sensitivities are the only ones who can keep them at bay. This second entry, about a competition between the rag-tag, scrappy Lockwood & Co. and the bureaucratic, adult-led Fittes Agency to see who can be the first to put down a particularly nasty haunted mirror, is similarly enjoyable.

 

The kids have been trying hard to love the adventures of a turn-of-the-century Canadian orphan who finds a home and a family on Prince Edward Island as much as I do.

 

My daughter read this book in one of those great gulping gluts of reading that bookish folks know all too well and insisted that we make it our next bedtime read. Boy was she right on. We've been loving this curiously quirky fairy tale about practical, science-minded Ophelia who finds herself in the midst of a grand adventure. (Read the full review)