Today is cold and windy. This is the time when readers with a stack full of unread books have a real advantage over people who only know how to channel surf for entertainment. So come inside; there is something transformative about blowing in from the cold to curl up with a book. Last month I asked readers to share their current favorites and today I offer their responses.
Given that the request for titles went out during the New Year’s Resolutions season perhaps it isn’t surprising that many of them reflect themes of personal growth or self-improvement. At least three of you are reading the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
Terry Miller received two gift books that she recommends for those of us of a certain age. She is finding Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is a comfort and a resource as she and her 91 year old mother consider “how to make a good life last all the way to the end.” She also received a very early birthday present, Seventy Things to Do When You Turn Seventy, edited by Ronnie Sellers, a collection of seventy essays by “people who are growing, learning and experiencing a full life in their eighth decade.”
Local themes have lots of cache with wintertime readers. Members of Branigan Book Group are reading Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman. There is still time to get in on that discussion on February 16 at the library.
Karena Oberman’s armchair adventures include In Search of the Old Ones. Author David Roberts, a rock climber and archaeologist shares his perilous and awe inspiring explorations in Anasazi territory. His depth of knowledge and respect for our mysterious connection to the ancestors will encourage hikers and is a must read for anyone contemplating the desecration of what we have left of the past by doing their own treasure hunting.
The King and Queen of Comezon by Denise Chavez is also on Karena’s list. Comezon is a fictitious town in Dona Ana County. In English the town’s name might be Itch, and in this story, that itching manifests in the longings and desires of assorted folks. Chavez’s characters provide multiple perspectives of local events during one summer. Her splashes of Spanglish are delightful and deepen the charm, even for the monolingual English reader.
As adults, we are usually very happy to read alone, quietly, and can enjoy the feeling that we are communing directly with the author.
But with children’s books, for me, the pure delight comes from the conversations they spark when read together. The ultimate pleasure of a wonderful story is in the sharing.
The 2016 children’s literature award winners have been announced and both Newbery and Caldecott titles are ripe for happy intergenerational conversation.
The Newberry Medal goes to Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt De La Pena and Christian Robinson. As Nana and CJ ride the city bus they have opportunity to explore tough topics and share family values of acceptance, generosity, appreciation and imagination. The illustrations will keep a three year old involved and the themes will touch hearts and start conversations at every age.
Finding Winnie, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, winner of the Caldecott Medal is an adorable picture book with big themes as well.
This is the true story of the bear who, years later, would be the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh. Finding Winnie is illustrated by a great grand-daughter of Harry Colebourn, a kind hearted veterinarian who enlisted in the cavalry to care for the horses during WW1. The reader follows him and an orphaned bear cub he picks up along the way, from Winnepeg, Canada to war-torn Europe. For her safety, Winnie is eventually left at the London Zoo where, later, Alan Alexander Milne will take his son Christopher.
So, my dear readers, when the garden scene outside the window is all grey and beige indulge yourself in the field of wildflowers you will find in your books.