A little (or a lot) late to the party

When patrons ask me if I’ve read a new book, I often joke that I haven’t, but it’s on my to-read list and I’ll get around to it in the next three to 10 years.

I may be joking around when I say that, but it’s not entirely inaccurate. I’m usually not one to be the first on the list to read a new book, although I admire and am in awe of the people who are. I tend to put a book on my list and let it sit there until the time is right, or I decide I’m never going to read it and delete it.

As a result, I tend to be a little late to the party when it comes to popular books. While it’s not always the case – I did read “Gone Girl,” “The Girl on the Train,” and “The Hunger Games” when they were still relatively new – I’m typically not one to be reading what’s all the rage.

I am currently reading “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” to my daughter at bedtime. Last night, she said something about me already knowing what happened in the book. I told her I did not know what was going to happen, and she was shocked to learn that I had never read the Harry Potter books before. This led to additional questions about how old I was when the first book came out (19), and why I hadn’t read them.

I told her honestly that when they came out, they just weren’t really my cup of tea. I was in college, and didn’t get to read for enjoyment all that much. I knew the books existed, I just didn’t really have any interest in them.

When I got older, I tried to read the first book not once, but twice. I found myself unable to get into it, and decided that I had been right all along – this series just was not for me.

Then, nearly two years ago, my daughter chose “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” as our bedtime read. I figured I would certainly have to finish it if I were reading it aloud. I did, and I liked it. We didn’t start the second one right away, waiting until this summer to pick it up. I find I’m enjoying this one even more, and now we are planning to start book three immediately after we finish. I think I may officially be a Harry Potter fan, albeit 20+ years later than everyone else.

Am I sad that I waited this long? Nah…I think part of the reason I’m enjoying the books now is because, even though I couldn’t discover them as a kid because they didn’t exist then, I can now discover them with a kid, and I think in this case that’s the next best thing. Sometimes being late to the party isn’t such a bad thing.

Happy reading!

~Val

Favorite Reads of 2020…So Far

It’s hard to believe we are over halfway through the year already. It has been a challenging year in many ways, so this week I have been trying to focus on the good. That includes the good books I have read so far this year.

Here are my stand-out reads for 2020 so far.

A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan

“A Visit From the Goon Squad” is a difficult book to describe. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it. The story primarily centers around aging rock star Bernie Salazar and a woman named Sasha, who works for him. Although these are the central characters, we learn about them through the eyes of others whose lives intersect theirs. I tend to like that sort of thing – each chapter is almost more like a short story than a chapter in a book. It’s a quirky book that kept my attention from page one.

This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel

“This Is How It Always Is” is about a family with a transgender daughter. The reader is brought along every step of the way as Claude becomes Poppy. Each family member deals with the transition differently. They end up moving to a new city and keeping the fact that Poppy was really born Claude a secret. Of course the secret comes out eventually, and the family has to deal with the repercussions. “This Is How It Always Is” is a family drama with lots of heart.

Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Beverly Cleary

It’s no secret that I love the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. My daughter and I have been working through them for a few years now. In “Ramona Quimby, Age 8,” there are some major changes taking place in Ramona’s life. Her father has gone back to college, and her mother is working full-time. Ramona has to go Mrs. Kemp’s after school with her friend Howie every day, and has to deal with his little sister Willa Jean. On top of it, Ramona feels like her third grade teacher at her new school doesn’t really like her. I vividly remember reading this book when I was a kid, and was surprised at how much of it I remembered. Something about this book made me feel every bit of it as if I were a third-grader again.

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America, Michael Eric Dyson

“Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America” is a short, yet powerful book on race – which is at the forefront of our minds this year. Like many people, I am making an effort to read more about this difficult topic, and am trying to improve myself in the process. That’s exactly what Dyson argues that we need to do in this book – face difficult truths in order to make significant and lasting change. I listened to the audiobook, read by the author, and would highly recommend it.

Loving Frank, Nancy Horan

I have developed a Frank Lloyd Wright obsession this year. Wanting to know more about the man behind the architecture, I have delved into both fictional and non-fiction accounts of his life. “Loving Frank” is historical fiction about Wright, his relationship with Mamah Borthwick, and the shocking crime that took place at their home, Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Historical fiction is probably my favorite genre, and “Loving Frank” is a great book that seamlessly weaves fiction and the truth together.

Will these books make it to my “favorites” list at the end of the year? It’s hard to say, but I do know that they are the ones that have affected me the most so far.

Until next time, happy reading!

~Val