It’s that time again, time to discuss what we’ve read, are reading, and will read. Can you tell I’m an ESL teacher? Next week, we’ll discuss the difference between “should” and “must,” or “have to.” For homework, I want you to write sentences using the present perfect in contrast with the past simple and the present simple.

Wasn’t that fun?

Meanwhile, back at the original blog post, we were discussing books. Much better. This month, I read:

A Heart for Freedom. Chai Ling was one of the student leaders at the Tienanmen Square massacre in Beijing in 1989. Remember that? She has written her memoirs, which include her life up to that point and some fascinating details of how events unfolded. The story of her eventual escape from China, including minor plastic surgery to disguise herself, is gripping. She goes on to describe her gradual disillusionment with her former friends and their infighting and desire for glory, finding a faith that sustains and heals her, and her current work to end China’s One Child policy, which she calls gendercide. It’s a really good book.

Heft. I loved this book. There are 2 narrators; Arthur Opp, who weighs 550 pounds and hasn’t left his house in years, and Kel Keller, a 17 year old baseball star who’s being considered by the pros. What they have in common is Charlene, Arthur’s former student and the love of his life, and Kel’s mother. They don’t know of each others’ existence because Arthur and Charlene’s relationship has been mostly conducted in letters, and neither of them are entirely open and honest with the other. It’s really well written and a really good story. I absolutely cared about the characters in it, so much that I broke my heart over Kel, a fundamentally decent kid who carries big burdens. Additionally, it isn’t maudlin or sentimental and it doesn’t turn out like you think it will, but it’s much more satisfying even if the ending leaves you wanting more. It’s just really really good. Go get it.

The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence Mysteries). So I was sick, really sick, and I could hardly raise my head off my pillow. And I discovered that if I just sort of squinted one eye open I could read books on the Kindle app on my iTouch, which lay on the bed beside me. I didn’t have to hold a book, just move my finger occasionally (frequently, since the itouch screen fits about 2 paragraphs) to “turn” the page. Don’t I sound pitiful? Please send chocolate. It helps.

Anyway, I also discovered that there are stacks and STACKS of free Kindle books THAT I WANT! So I got quite a few of them. I don’t really like reading on my iTouch because it’s too small and also I haven’t converted to ebooks, possibly because I don’t really have an ereader, possibly because I like real books. Regardless, I read this delightful early Tommy and Tuppence while I was sick. I think it was the second book Agatha Christie ever wrote. Lots of fun! Then I threw up, but it had nothing to do with the book. Also I got it for free, even though the link says 95 cents. I also reread Pride and Prejudice, which you’ve all read umpteen times so if you want to discuss it in comments you can but I hardly think you need a plot synopsis at this point.

The Old Romantic A story about families and second chances. Nick left his working class family behind 20 years ago when he went to Cambridge and changed his name, but now they want back in his life although everyone is unsure about it. Unsparing, well-written,  funny, heart-warming without being sentimental or expected.

The Demi-Monde: Winter The army has created the Demi-Monde as a simulation for training purposes, but it’s become its own world and a nasty world it is, populated by all of our world’s most horrible people without regard for time period. The president’s daughter from our world is captured and another young woman is sent to rescue her. There are millions of puns and echoes of real-life events and it’s very clever. This book is really well done but I didn’t like it all that much, although the plot was gripping enough that I had to finish it. Then, of course, it was a cliff hanger. Sigh.

Reading:

A Good American: This one is rather delightful so far. It’s telling the story of the protagonist’s family’s arrival in the US, starting with his grandparents. They’re German, fall in love over music, flee her disapproving parents, end up in Missouri. I’m only about 1/4 in.

To Read:

Carry the One

Forgotten Country

What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness

Bess Crawford Read Along I’m really excited about this one. I read The Confession last month and enjoyed it and was happy to have found a new author to love (actually, Charles Todd is a mother-son team which you have to admit is a really fun idea. And yes, I did tell Elliot my new plans for our lives). They’re doing a mystery series about Bess Crawford, a plucky ww1-era nurse. So far they’ve got 3 out; the 3rd will come out in paperback in May and a new one will be released in June. To celebrate, Book Club Girl is doing a read along, and I’m doing it too. Join me!

 

What have you been reading, or are you about to read, or have you read, or will you have read by this time next month?

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