Welcome to the Octber 2019 edition of An Open Book, hosted both at My Scribbler’s Heart AND Catholicmom.com!
An Open Book is all about what my family is reading this month, from the adults down to the little kids. Share what you’re reading by linking up your blog post below. Simply write about what you’re reading. You can make it personal or, as I do, extend it to the whole family. Your post can be as simple as a few lines about the book or as in-depth as a 700-word review. That’s entirely up to you. You can even forego writing all together and record a video or simply post cover photos.
No blog? No problem. Please share what you’re reading in the comments.
While he’s driving about, my husband has been listening to a variety of books, including Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw. (We were born and raised in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh, so this has particular interest for him.) If you’re not familiar with this titan of the Industrial Revolution, Carnegie emigrated from Scotland at thirteen and became a wildly successful businessman and philanthropist. Even on audiobook, my husband says this work is daunting, clocking in at more than thirty-two and a half hours, or nearly 900 pages in paperback.
And to illustrate his varied interests, he’s also listening to Monsters Among Us: An Exploration of Otherworldly Bigfoots, Wolfmen, Portals, Phantoms, and Odd Phenomena by Linda S. Godfrey. I could use this as research for one of my works-in-progress, but I digress. Godfrey has written a dozen books on this topic (including one mentioned here) and is a frequent radio and TV guest expert on cryptozoology.
Not entirely unrelated on the otherworldly spectrum is Manual for Spiritual Warfare by Paul Thigpen. This, however, is less about entertaining curiosities and more about practical advice. It’s highly rated on Amazon (and a good number of the few low-star reviews are download or binding issues not related to content). There is an unseen battle going on around us, inside our families, our homes, and our hearts. Important stuff here.
His last selection is one for beer nerds and foodies (because it’s tied to the Slow Food movement): The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution. If your town is like ours, craft breweries and beer pubs have been popping up like dandelions in the spring. This movement, however, has been brewing (see what I did there?) since the 1960s. Interestingly, the author, Tom Acitelli, is a Jim Beard Award finalist, which gives me a perfect segue into what I’m listening to!
The Saturday Night Supper Club by Carla Laureano features a Jim Beard Award-winning Denver chef who is bought out of her upscale restaurant when an essayist’s screed against the coarseness of public discourse on social media goes viral, slandering the chef by hyperlink. And that’s as far as I’ve gotten, though I’ve seen many positive reviews of this book.
The Butterfly Recluse by Therese Heckenkamp was a quick read with a sweet romance and a suspenseful twist I didn’t see coming. We’re tending some Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars right now, so the butterfly element was right up my alley.
David Liss’s The Whiskey Rebels wasn’t at all what I expected, but I loved it just the same. My interest was piqued by having grown up within miles of the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. (See Andrew Carnegie above.) This novel, which includes fictional and historical characters, is filled with intrigue and financial machinations. It follows disgraced Revolutionary War patriot and spy Ethan Saunders and widowed frontierswoman Joan Maycott. I dare say I laughed outloud more during this book than any I’ve read. Ethan Saunders, while hardly a paragon of virtue, has a fantastic dry wit. Kudos to David Liss for Saunders’ dialogue! (For sensitive readers: there are some scenes of non-graphic brutality and a few instances of coarse language.)
My high school junior is reading The Crucible by Arthur Miller. I haven’t read the play since high school, but I think I also read it in the fall, which seems appropriate for the run-up to Halloween. My son enjoyed the first act, but by the second act, he said he loved it. Witchcraft accusations are flying left and right by that point. I feel a re-read coming on.
In middle school, my daughter’s sixth-grade class is reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. This Newbery Award winner concerns an orphaned boy and tackles issues of racism, poverty, and homelessness. I confess I’ve never read this one, but my daughter is enjoying it as much as her brother did when he was in sixth grade.
While looking at the library’s selection of puppy books for my younger daughter, I came across Lydia the Patriot: The Boston Massacre by Susan Martins Miller. We visited Boston this summer, a treat for our colonial-history buff daughter, so I thought she’d enjoy this. Turns out it has Christian themes as well, so, bonus!
In the second grade, my younger daughter’s class has already covered several books, starting with Freckle Juice by Judy Blume. I was treated to a re-telling of the awful freckle juice ingredients (said to produce freckles): grape juice, vinegar, mustard, and more.
You could say the second grade in our parish school is frog-themed because their teacher has an affinity for frogs – or F.R.O.G. (Fully Rely on God). Our Principal is a Frog! by Stephanie Calmenson seems like a good fit for the class! My daughter thought this was a fun book.
In the first grade, my son’s teacher has been reading some Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park. At home, we’re reading Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Graphic Novel by Natalie Muglia and Sam Estrada. It’s a beautifully illustrated story within a story as St. Juan Diego’s encounters with the Blessed Mother are re-told to future Cristero martyr St. José Sánchez del Río. You can read my review here at CatholicMom.
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Copyright 2019 Carolyn Astfalk
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