The Summer Stack Became a Competition
You see, while in Puerto Rico, we had no access to library services. In downtown Humacao, there was a very small library of Spanish texts. The parking downtown was abysmal and we did not speak or read Spanish well enough to utilize the books there. The kid's school library did not check out books the way a typical school does here in the states. Thus, we brought books from home and spent a good chunk of change buying books off Amazon for our year in Puerto Rico. We sorely missed the library. Sadly, our 6 year old did not even remember how a "real" library worked. When we explained to him that he was able to pick out whichever books he wanted (FOR FREE!), check them out and then return them for MORE books, his eyes got wide, asked several questions for clarification, then went around the library like a kid in a candy shop. All that said, I am SO thankful for the library system and think it is one of the absolute best uses of taxpayer dollars.
Not only is the library an invaluable resource, but they have upped the ante for summer with reading competitions. The boys were sucked into it first, then our 2 year old, and then I even got the bug. There are raffles and gift baskets to win, Bingo for the adults for reading various types of books (mysteries! book by women! books written by an author with YOUR name!) and various prizes for reading certain amounts of minutes for the kids. It is an outstanding program. We are reading more than we ever have and I actually have to make the kids stop reading and get outside to play. What a fun new stage of life THIS is!
Some of these are Amazon buys, some are library checkouts and some are preview copies from publishers for review. Let's start at the bottom of the stack and move up, shall we? The book on the very bottom is The Night Gardener and it is a picture book to read to the kids. I won't lie. I bought this book for myself. The illustrations are insanely beautiful and I prefer to read picture books that engage me AND the kids. This one fits the bill and is one of the most beautiful children's books I have seen recently published.
Next up is a library find that you will LOVE if you are a gardener or literature junkie. If you are not, you will probably think this book is boring as sin. One Writer's Garden is the story of Eudora Welty's life and garden (along with much of her mother Chestina's life and garden planning) and I ate it up. I think I read this book over 3-4 days and loved every second.
All the Light We Cannot See is a novel by Anthony Doerr that won the Pulitzer in 2015 and I came to it via Doerr's more recent memoir, Four Seasons in Rome. Four Seasons describes Doerr's life with his wife and twins in Rome as he was writing All the Light. I finished Four Seasons, liked it and thus All the Light is now on my MUST READ for summer. I haven't cracked the cover yet, but am excited to do so!
The light blue book that comes next in the stack is Around the House and Garden, another Amazon buy that I instantly knew I would like. You know how there are book "types" that you will always like? Maybe your "type" is a diary in an attic with a secret story to tell of generations past or perhaps you will always love an apocolyptic tale of survival no matter how well written it is or is not (those are types of my husband and I...bet you can't guess which is which...) or maybe your "type" is a good whodunit mystery. One of MY "types" is a good old fashioned story of someone's garden intertwined with their life and learning. It is not the type of everyone, but I think it just might by YOUR type if you are a fan of A Nest for All Seasons. Around the House and Garden is the story of Dominique's healing via the garden and it is a keeper -- already headed to my permanent bookshelves.
Those next two books sandwiched in there are two more picture books titled 1 is One and A is for Annabelle. They predictably teach children about their numbers and letters, but they fit through my filter of I NEED TO FIND THEM BEAUTIFUL while I read them over and over and over again. Both are illustrated by Tasha Tudor and I have been investing in my collection of Tudor books every few months. I hope to eventually collect hardcovers of all of her work. It is beautiful, sentimental and perfectly girly.
Next on the list is Gardening When It Counts, a text I found recommended on a prepping forum over and over again. It is written by Steve Soloman, former owner of Territorial Seed Company. The book is VERY detailed and written from deep knowledge of old gardening wisdom and current techniques in the seed, farming and garden industry. It is definitely a dry read, but I am very pleased to have this book in my reference library. IF something terrible should happen and there was no longer access to the internet, this book would be an incredible, invaluable resource for the home gardener growing their own food.
You might laugh at the next two choices, but let me explain. One of my boys is VERY into the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and another is VERY into Captain Underpants. While neither is traditionally great literature, they are FLYING through these books at the rate of 3-4 a week. Their eyes fly across the page and for the reading practice alone they are great. However, I do want to have some idea of what they are reading, so I like to throw a few YA books into my own stack to keep up with them.
I also previewed Firestormers and Be Light Like a Bird for the boys (both available in mid-late 2016). Firestormers would be perfect for kids interested in the fire/police/rescue fields or for children whose parents work in those fields. Be Light Like a Bird is a beautiful book and tackles the difficult subject of a parent's death from a child's point of view. This particular story follows Wren as her mother reels with anger after the death of Wren's father and they move from place to place afterwards. My son did not get into it at 10 years old, so perhaps save this book for 12-13 year olds or perhaps a child going through similar circumstances would find comfort in this book.
The next book is just for me :) Origami Chic is a new book by Sok Song that releases later this year. (It is currently available for pre-order HERE). It is marketed towards young adults, but I am enjoying it as an adult. I am not a papercrafter, so I am a beginner when it comes to difficult folding techniques. The book gives a slight introduction to basic folding techniques, then detailed step-by-steps for each project with photos. I have been able to follow along with no problem (and I have been known to get quite frustrated with origami instructions!)