My May Reading Pile

We are now into month six of 2012 – soon to be halfway through another year. I am assessing how I have been doing on the goals that I set for this new year. Things look pretty good, and for those places where I am still not on target, I at least have some good and reasonable hopes.

My reading goal is 50 books for the year. Right now I am saying that I can surpass that. I tend to do most of my heavy lifting reading on the weekends (often combining it with a nap). Because my television jones is arrested with rerun season, I am now making some changes to do more weekday reading. Unfortunately, it means getting into bed earlier to read and that makes me sleepy. Good intentions for reading may actually lead to more sleep. That isn’t all that bad.

My reading list for the month of May, included some good ones. While I realize that this kind of post may not be very exciting for someone coming to the blog, it does fit the intention of the blog – to write about the things that make me happy. I also find that if I write about a book that I have read, it helps me to process it better.

Newbery wise, I only got in two. This could call me out for not getting to the gym as much as I should have, but actually, I think it had more to do with going for more walks outside. I will write about the two Newberys separately, but of the two I finished, When I Reach You by Christine Stead beat out Gayneck by a mile.

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons is a page-a-day book written by Mo Willems. Mo is best known now for the kid’s books that he writes. He is awesome. He wrote/drew this book several years ago when he took a year to travel the world. Each day he drew a picture and wrote a little blurb about something that he saw or heard. Some are funny. Some charming. His style is fun, with lots of angles and extremes. He travelled light and frugally so his experiences involved lots of living among the locals and just getting by. I am inspired to do something like this when I take trips, but I don’t  know that my drawing talents could get me too far. If I saw a lot of teddy bears and daisies on my journeys, I could probably be able to make it work.

Staying in the illustration genre, Krazy Kat & The Art of George Herriman: A Celebration by Craig Yoe, was a book I picked up on a whim at the library. It is the kind of book that I am drawn to: graphics, ephemera, photos and words. I recognized the Krazy Kat cartoons, but I really had no clue about their content or the man who drew them. The Krazy Kat strip gives the reader the adventure of Krazy, a mouse(Ignatz), and a police officer (Offissa Pupp)(who happens to be a dog). Their relationships are complicated by the fact that Krazy loves the mouse, the mouse is always out to get Krazy, and Officer is fond of Krazy. Hijinks ensue. Herriman started drawing the strip in 1913 and continued for thirty years. They are fabulous in so many ways – the art that depicts landscapes in stunning ways, the smart and silly language, and the story lines that are funny and sharp. I am a fan and now want to find some Krazy Kat stuff!

Talk Talk by E.L. Konigsburg ended up in my hands because I was so taken with her Newbery winning books and I wanted to know more about her. This is a series of talks that she has given through the years. I don’t know if I gained much more insight through the read, but the one that really stuck with me was her first Newbery acceptance speech. She discussed how kid’s books during her childhood were filled with children and family who lived lives that were so different from hers – perfect families, homes, friends. Her own was not like them. Was she not normal? She understood later that she was the normal one and the books just didn’t depict normal. She wrote her books with the intention to show it like it is – warts and all. She said, “I believe that the writing of it makes normal of it.”

[sic] a memoir by Joshua Cody was another library pick up. Cody was diagnosed with cancer as a young man and ended up going through chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and a bone marrow transplant (another book that panders to my interests). His treatment story is pretty horrific – as was some of his healthcare experiences. I had a hard time with this book, mainly because Joshua does not write himself as a very nice guy. Maybe that is important. Every cancer story does not have to be a heartwarming tale of heroics. Everyone can be there. The way the scenario plays out depends on so many things. His story is a different kind of cancer story.

Along with the books, I read some great magazine articles in May. My habit is to purge stacks of magazines every now and then – tearing out the articles that I wanted to read but hadn’t gotten to, and recycling the rest. Tina Fey wrote an article for Esquire back in 2010 that was funny and very Tina Fey. It made me laugh. The other great one was Adam Gopnik’s Sweet Revolution published in The New Yorker in 2011 which visited the topic of the new sweets and the great chefs who make them. Adam Gopnik flew to Spain to eat desserts prepared by some of the most innovative chefs in the world! He describes a dessert created to capture the joy that a famous soccer player feels when he scores a goal. It is outrageous. I think Adam Gopnik is one of the luckiest people on earth.