June 2016 Book Banter

June has been the busiest month of my year so far. We have been working hard to get all of our boxes unpacked in the new house and have been making HUGE progress. It will take some time to get it exactly the way we want it, because we are missing some big furniture pieces, but I am so happy with our home! I also finished up my school year this month and spent about a week hanging out with my friends that visited from Arizona. Since I have been so busy, my summer reading took a backseat. I still managed to read 5 books which has been my average for a few months now. So without further ado let’s see what I read this month!

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

2728527 This book is a terrific summer read. It follows a female English writer as she looks for her next book idea and is set in the aftermath of WWII. She soon finds herself in correspondence with some people on Guernsey, an island between England and France, that was occupied by the Germans during the war (true story). This book is written as a series of letters between the characters.  I HIGHLY recommend getting it on audio. Since there are multiple narrators the audiobook has different people read the characters’ letters. It really helps you get a feel for the characters and understand their nuances. This book has been on my to-read list for over a year and I am so glad I finally read it. The stories of the characters are powerful, but not overwhelming. It shows how good friends can overcome the greatest obstacles and find happiness. Throw in quotes and tidbits from the characters favorite books and this is a history & book lovers dream read. It also made me want to take a trip to Guernsey!

2. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis 

I could not remember a thing about this book. I figured when I started reading it aloud to 638330my students my memory would be jogged, but it was not. So reading this book was as much of an adventure for me as it was my students. This book is the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia series and my students were very proud that we had finished the whole series during the school year. I did not like the beginning of this book, it seemed to drag on, but the story presented in the beginning is necessary for the pay-off during the middle and end of the book. So if you find this slow to start, just push through! It was delightful to see how my students related to story and understood its parallels to the Bible stories we studied all year. I also had my proudest moment with my read aloud voices, when a beloved character returns and the students recognized it was him just from the voice I had used for him in previous stories. Score! This is not my favorite Chronicles of Narnia books but it is necessary.

3. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

216363Anthony has been wanting to watch the TV series based on this book since he heard about it. I told him I needed to read the book first, so that I did. This book gives a little glimpse into what the world would be like if Japan and Germany had won WWII (scary, I know). I thought this book had great imagery and the characters were very intriguing. One thing I found very interesting was that Japan (who controls most of the west coast of the U.S.) had a very big interest in American artifacts like guns, art by artists that we would not not know as famous, and books. In fact, there is a book within this book that drives a lot of the action. I thought this book was just too dang short! The story seemed super unfinished and the ending was not satisfying. So if you need a book to wrap up nicely for you, I do not recommend this one!

4. Summer of ’49: The Yankees and the Red Sox in Postwar America by David Halberstam

So you may be noticing a theme for my reading this month. I read three books that had a 18867863WWII theme. There is just something about summer and books about war that always appeals to me. Super weird, I know. So combine baseball and the postwar era and I will be a happy reader. I have only become a baseball fan in the last two years. I used to think it was boring and now I don’t know if there is another sport as exciting, that takes such perseverance and lends itself to eating, the way baseball does. I love it. It also helps that I think it is truly American. And if you know me, you know I love my country (see my instagram @whitksmith for pictures of my double flag placement on my house). If you want to learn why baseball is so American you can watch this Prager University video. This book is so good. I loved learning more about Joe and Dom Dimaggio, brothers who played on opposing teams. Ted Williams was quite the player and the Yankees and Red Sox had quite the group of characters on the teams followed in this book. There are so many good quotes and so much passion in this book. If you like baseball, history or books about athletes I highly recommend this book.

5. We’ll Always Have Paris by Jennifer Coburn

17586505This book is another terrific summer read. Since it is a travel memoir is has the perfect summer feel. This particular travel memoir tells the tale of a mother and daughter who go on a European adventure every three years or so. Not only do you get a taste for the culture of the places they visit, but both the mother and daughter find out a lot about themselves. The author does a great job of using anecdotes from her travels and relating them to events from her past, mainly relating to her relationship with her father. It really felt like a seamless way to experience the flashbacks she was having while on the trips. There were some emotional parts in the book that took it from fluffy travel memoir to a memoir with substance. It is a terrific summer read and would probably be a fun audiobook!

June was full of good reads. I crossed a few books off of my to-read list and I am working hard to clean out my kindle and read books from my shelves at home this summer. Fewer trips to the library means more time for reading, and the Salem Public Library charges for parking which just doesn’t sit well with me. What have you been reading to kick off the summer? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

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