Thursday, July 30, 2020

July in Review

My Reading

# of books read: This kind of depends on how you count. Let's say eleven. I skimmed one, re-read one, finished sections of a few more...

I ordered The Fifth Season from Black-owned Eso Won Books in LA, because I've never read any Jemisin, and she keeps winning Hugos. It was SO GOOD that as soon as I finished it, I started trying to find the next book, The Obelisk Gate. I was able to get the ebook from my local library, but when I was ready for the final book in the series, The Stone Sky, it was already checked out. So then I went into the website of another county's library system, and they had it, but I couldn't find my card, so I made my daughter loan me hers. I really prefer reading physical books, because they cause less eye strain for me than continued computer use, but these books were worth it! As a lover of YA fantasy, I kind of hate to say it, but I'd almost forgotten that adult speculative fiction can be so rich and complex. Game of Thrones is like a boy band in comparison. 

I am terrible at all types of reading challenges, because somehow they make me feel bossed around, even when I set my own challenge. However, this summer I'm trying to read two books by BIPOC authors for every one white authored book, and that's been going quite well. The Broken Earth series tied in so amazingly well with Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism and You, which I finished this month, and How to be an Anti-Racist, which I started.  I'm planning to post a series review that dives into this. Don't, like, hold your breath or anything, but if that sounds interesting, check back later in the month!

Bookish Events and Happenings

Hmm. As with much of normal life, there is not a lot happening here. 

On the Blog

Or here.


Well, my city has been overrun with fascist mystery soldiers, Breonna Taylor's killers still haven't been arrested, the pandemic death rate continues to climb, I spent the past two months growing increasingly stressed out about having to teach in classrooms with at least some students whose families didn't "believe in" Covid-19. I guess no news would be good news, but 2020 is ALL NEWS ALL THE TIME and it's just as horrible as can be. 

I did find out this week that our governor is putting health guidelines into place before each county's schools can re-open. Guess how many counties in our state currently meet the guidelines? ONE. Guess what the population of that county is? Under 1,500. There are about 530,000 people in my county, and we are second in infection rates and fourth in death rates out of 36 counties total. So we will NOT be opening in person, which means I find myself in the weird position of being very, very happy and relieved to be planning for online teaching, which is a ridiculous way to teach reading and leaves a lot of families in very difficult situations. Like, yay? 

But it's not all doom and gloom. Here are my monthly photos of good times with, well, pretty much the same two people almost all the time.

Seen at the local school on an evening walk.

Fresh produce from our garden

I laid this tiny landing pad off our back deck.

We've used our fire pit more this year than the previous five years combined!

Our family took a day trip to the beach on the one rainy day all month.
My husband has been watching cooking shows. These are salads done up to look like a man in a hat and a mountain at sunset.

My kid made me this GORGEOUS and DELICIOUS cake for my birthday.

We went to a tiny hike on the Clackamas River.

And I got my chance to float outdoors, which is a summer requirement for me that I didn't get to last summer. This little section of riverside was sectioned off so it was deep and safe! 

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight, as are terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole and Shannon usually put together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!

Monday, July 13, 2020

TTT: Books That Make Me SMILE!

 TTT (Top Ten Tuesday) is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: books that make you smile.

I really needed this right now. I am so anxious about the upcoming school year and so frustrated with those who continue to deny the reality of what is going on in this country, that I struggle to find joy. Thinking about this topic was a great way to snap out of it for awhile! It even made me realize that I could easily put together a list of picture books that crack me up as an adult reader, so that will be a fun project to keep in my back pocket for the next figuratively rainy day. 

A classic that has charm and humor and is not terribly outdated and problematic! Plus, Anne best describes my standard pandemic response to "How are you?" 

#BlackJoy at its finest. Doesn't this cover just make you smile?

You Should See Me in a Crown

Oh my gosh, this graphic novel about a gay southern pie baker who joins the ice hockey team at his New England college is so adorable! Now I just need to wrestle book two away from my teen so I can read it too.

Life, Love and Hockey (Oooh, And Pie) In 'Check, Please!' : NPR

Laini Taylor is great at breaking hearts and writing doomed lovers. Turns out, she can also write frothy delightful young love that ends in mutual happiness. I listened to this one on audio, and the accents were so charming! The author's husband illustrated the book (really well!), and check out this adorable dedication:

Okay, so the beginning is rough--Ben's family kicks them out when they come out as non-binary, and it's all pretty awful, but by the end, you'll be smiling, I promise!

It's the otters. Sure, Roz is charming as well, but...the otters!

MCAS 2019 Released Items English Language Arts, Grade 5

I love everything Jason Reynolds does, and this middle grade collection of loosely linked stories is terrific. There's a falling school bus in each story, and his characters all have both realistic flaws and hopeful story arcs. 

I guess? This is a modern classic? Even though I didn't read it until I was an adult? Which makes me feel really old? Gary Soto's short stories tend to be slice-of-life and unvarnished. This poetry collection, however, is celebratory, which I guess is what makes them odes. Summer is a great time to pick this book up if you haven't before; three of my favorite odes are to the ice cream truck, running through the sprinkler, and fireworks. 

I loved this one. Meredith Russo follows her two characters, born on the same day in the same hospital, through several years of birthdays together. 

When I finished this book, I gave it a big hug. Not all books get that reaction!

Hug a Book Week Celebration | District of Columbia Public Library

I hope these books bring you smiles as well! If you need some more help, here are a few Twitter jokes I've collected recently. This first one describes me a little too well...

Then we have a book joke!

And another one that might be a little too on the nose. 

Finally, a practical suggestion!

Monday, July 6, 2020

TTT: My Most-Read Authors Throughout My Life

TTT (Top Ten Tuesday) is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: authors I've read the most books by. Goodreads gave me a good idea, but there's also the fact that a lot of books I authors a ton of as a kid might not be recorded there very well, so I can't swear that this is The Definitive List. Also, series authors will clearly have an advantage here, even if I don't LOOOOVE them as much as another author.

I counted 106 authors that I've read five or more books by. It's hard to evaluate which ones to count, so in classic Falconer's Library fashion, I'm giving you groups of top ten lists. I listed the number of books I've read from each author.

13: Beverly Cleary
12: C. S. Lewis
11: Judy Blume
10: Dr. Seuss
9: Roald Dahl
9: Lloyd Alexander
8: Laura Ingalls Wilder
6: L. M. Montgomery
5: Louisa May Alcott
5: Joan Aiken

32: Mo Willems
15: Cynthia Rylant
12: Gary Paulsen
8: Jane Yolen
8: Patricia Polaccio
6: Gary Soto
6: Dav Pilkey
6: Allen Say
6: Jacqueline Woodson
6: Cynthia Voigt

30: Reginald Hill
22: Elizabeth George
20: Laura Lippman
16: Walter Mosley
14: Charles Todd
14: Agatha Christie (this is likely a gross underestimate, as I read everything I could find by her in middle school)
13: Sophie Hannah
13: Ellis Peters
and unknown, but large, numbers of Anne Perry, Dorothy Sayers, Martha Grimes, PD James, Sue Grafton, Ruth Rendell, and Janet Evanovich. 

12: Neil Shusterman
11: Robin McKinley
11: J.K. Rowling (including her books for adults)
10: Matt de la Peña
10: Neil Gaiman
10: Margaret Peterson Haddix
10: Chris Crutcher
9: V. E. Schwab (writing as Victoria Schwab as well)
9: Laurie Halse Anderson
8: Patrick Ness

24: Brian K. Vaughan (kind of unfair since he writes comic series, which mean one good novel is spread out over 14 volumes)
21: Terry Pratchett (give or take a few)
11: Barbara Kingsolver
9: William Shakespeare
9: Douglas Adams
7: Charles Dickens
7: Armistead Maupin
7: Anne Lamott
6:  Roddy Doyle
6: Ray Bradbury
6: Jane Austen

And for my number one most-read author, I am proud to announce that this honor belongs to my all time favorite author, Ursula K. LeGuin. 

Ursula K. Le Guin

I've read 37 of her books, and have plenty more to go!

From Goodreads: Ursula K. Le Guin published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation. So that's what, 59 total? As long as she was translating INTO English, I think I can do it.

I enjoyed working on this list, because I came across several fun surprises along the way, like "oh, that author writes YA and picture books!" or "Why have I never gone back and read more by this author that I loved?" or "What do you mean I've only read four books by this author I consider a fave?"

I'm also noticing that a grand total of 3 of the above authors are members of the global majority, and all the rest are white. There were more BIPOC authors on the full list, but they didn't tend to be the ones I'd read more than ten of. Something to keep working on for sure! My plan for the near future is to read two books by a BIPOC author for each book I read by a white author. I tried that in June and had a 8:3 ratio, which was quite satisfying. 

Who are your most-read authors? Do you consider them your favorites, or have they just churned out a lot of decent books? Has your list changed over time? 


Saturday, July 4, 2020

I Pledge Allegiance

Just found this poem I wrote two years ago, which seems even more appropriate today.

Happy Fourth.

I pledge allegiance
To the flag
Of the United States of America

I pledge allegiance
To no flag
No banner, no scrap of fabric.

And to the Republic
For which it stands

Nor do I pledge my heart to any republic.
Empires rise, then crumble into the sea.
Indifferent to the lives of those within and without.

One nation
(under God)

Joe McCarthy’s Red Scare God is no deity for me.
As for indivisible-- 
we all know that red and blue divide us, while white still claims the rights.

That leaves us with the coda:

I pledge allegiance to these ideals:
That liberty is meant for all,
That justice will uplift the downtrodden
That in my home and in your home
On this blue planet
We must keep fighting 

For liberty
And justice
For all.

With liberty and justice

For all