The Random Writings of Rachel: The Great 2015 Book Spree

The Great 2015 Book Spree

I've mentioned before that here in China, I don't have any books, and the English language book options in libraries or stores are severely limited. I don't think I realized how much I was craving books themselves until we reached Malaysia, where over the course of 6 weeks I read nearly a dozen books--and I only wished I had more time to check out a few other intriguing titles that my family has scattered on their well-stocked shelves.

I don't have any pictures of me reading, so here's a picture of sister Anna reading Alas, Babylon instead. Close enough.
Here's what I read between January 18-February 26:

My Father's Daughter by E.L. Konigsburg
I really like this author and the intriguing tales she comes up with. This one deals with a masterful con job, special education, and sibling relationships.

Why Aren't You In School? by Lemony Snicket
He's in the top 3 of my favorite authors of all time, and though I wouldn't say this book is his best, there were several parts that thrilled me with their cleverness, including the test for a good uncle--when he takes you to the movie theater, does he buy you popcorn or tell you it's too expensive? The correct answer: Neither. He teaches you how to sneak it in under your coat.

Daring to Live on the Edge: The Adventure of Faith and Finances by Loren Cunningham
This one is all about trusting God over your bank account, by someone who actually lives what he preaches. I found it fascinating.

Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang
This is a memoir written by a lady who was in school during the Cultural Revolution. Many of her memories focus on how the Cultural Revolution affected her schooling life, and this was especially interesting to me after spending time in the modern Chinese school system recently.

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen
Fascinating, fascinating read. Reading this at the same time as helping my 3rd grade sister read her very traditional, patriotic, heroify-ing, and extremely boring American history textbook was an especially eye-opening experience. Personally, I tend to believe that moving away from glorification of historical events and towards truth-telling is a very good thing in education--but will it happen? That is something I don't think anyone knows.

The Wave by Todd Strasser
Inspired by a true story of a classroom experiment in creating a secret society that went very, very wrong.

Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl
I don't tend to read sci-fi often, but this was one that that really hooked me.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler
The title tells you everything--it gives you practical tools to facilitate having difficult conversations with a higher rate of success and a lower rate of broken relationships. Not as thrilling of a read as a novel, perhaps, but very useful.

Matilda by Roald Dahl
Another one of my favorite authors, but this is one book of his I'd never previously read. I particularly enjoyed his description of the used car salesman's dastardly tricks, although it didn't make me look forward to buying a car someday.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
This book was written by a professor from my alma mater, so I'm inclined to have fond feelings for it. This was a re-reading, aloud to the family on a long car trip. If there would have been room on the floorboards, we would have been rolling on them due to laughter. As it is, we were packed in like sardines.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
My youngest sister got this for Christmas, but it turned out to be above her independent reading level, so we had 'book club' and I read this aloud to her over a few weeks. I'm partial to stories that involve familiar fairy tales with dramatic twists, and found this to be very funny and suspenseful, if also sometimes disgusting. I am very squeamish and don't like "ewww" factors in books (think: excessively vivid descriptions of slimy or smelly stuff)...but I am looking forward to reading the sequel!

Have you read any of these? Apparently I was alternating between quirky YA, historical memoir, and educational non-fiction, with a little sci-fi thrown in. I'd say this is a pretty good description of my reading tastes...

If you're looking for a little something to read, I would, without shame, recommend my own book, Staying on Topic is Hard (eBook, Paperback), but I warn you, it fits none of the genres I mentioned.

19 comments:

  1. I've bought Lies my Teacher Told Me as a gift on two occasions and have yet to read it myself. I really need to.

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  2. I love Matilda when I was a little girl! This makes me want to go back and read it again... =)

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  3. I haven't read any of these other than Matilda, but I loved that book! <3 I'm going to have to check out some of the others!

    Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High would be super helpful. I feel like I can be rather terrible at talking to people! :x

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  4. My son is hooked on Lemony Snicket! And Roald Dahl!

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  5. I love Matilda! Roald Dahl is such a good writer!

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  6. Gotta love a good reading binge! I actually haven't read Lemony Snicket since I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events, but if he has more out there, his work sounds like it's definitely worth revisiting. Thanks for the list, Rachel!

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  7. Gotta love a good reading binge! I actually haven't read Lemony Snicket since I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events, but if he has more out there, his work sounds like it's definitely worth revisiting. Thanks for the list, Rachel!

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  8. Now I have new books to add to my extensive "to read" list! Thanks for the share Rachel! Stopping by from SITS.

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  9. my favorite of the year so far has been All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

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  10. Oh dear. My only common book with you on this list is Matilda.I'm so ill-read. That said, I just borrowed 2 local books from the library on Friday and I'm glad to be able to read during pockets of time.

    Jo
    Jo's Jumbled Jardinière

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  11. Sounds like an awesome eclectic reading binge! What about the other expats in your area? In Busan, some of us would get together and have a book swap every once in a while - you should start one!

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  12. I love it! Reading is seriously the best!
    Melanie @ meandmr.com

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  13. i haven't read any of these titles - even the popular ones - maybe something that needs to change! i read a lot in the winter, but this winter even more so with all the book club requirements. are you on goodreads? i wanna see what your favorite books are :))

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  14. You have some really good books on this list. i have to add some to my list!

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  15. I LOVE Matilda! It's one of my fav books from growing up and now it's still one of my fav movies!

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  16. Wow! You've read a lot in that span of time! I haven't read any of those, but I sure could benefit from Living On The Edge!!

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  17. I'm always looking for new books to read even though I own thousands on my Amazon account. I see some books on this list that I would enjoy reading. Thanks for sharing these suggestions. I'm glad you were able to get some of you book fix taken care of.

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  18. I haven't read any of those but we're going to Florida at the end of next week and I have been looking for book recommendations so this is perfect

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  19. Dear Rachel,

    There are very few English book options here in Southern Mexico and the books that are here are $8USD used!

    What about an ereader? I just got one (after 10 years travelling in Mexico!) and I now carry over 100 books with me at anytime. All you need is an internet connection to purchase more and there are tons of free ones too.

    Thanks for stopping by Journeys of The Zoo and sharing a piece of your story. Looking forward to following along with your adventures.

    Besos, Sarah
    Journeys of The Zoo

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