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Children’s Books Reading Goal: Update 2

This week was a fairly bad week for goal books. I only got through two books.

Goal Books I’ve Read


The Secret School, by Avi (Juvenile Historical Fiction)

I haven’t read a lot but so far every Avi book I’ve read has been good. In this one Ida is an eighth grade student who has a goal of going to high school and becoming a teacher. Unfortunately, her teacher has to quit toward the end of the year and the school board is too cheap to hire a replacement teacher. So, Ida decides to teach everyone herself so she will be able to take the high school placement exam and still go to high school. It’s a good story.


Traitor’s Gate, by Avi (Juvenile Historical Mystery Fiction)

Can you tell I’m reading alphabetically by author? This book was also a juvenile historical fiction but set further back in history, around the time of Dickens. In addition, it’s still a juvenile book but I’d say it’s for a slightly older audience. It’s a coming of age story where a boy starts learning that his father isn’t perfect and makes mistakes, sometimes mistakes with dire consequences.

Reading Goal: 11 of 180

Children’s Books Reading Goal: Update 1

I forgot how short some juvenile books are. I checked out several from the library this week and already ran out of new reading material. I’ve checked out some as ebooks but many of the books listed in Reid’s Read-Alouds don’t appear to be available as ebooks, at least from the libraries I have access to. I’ve put a lot more on hold for next week so hopefully I can avoid running out next time. I’m also hoping I get more young adults. The juvenile chapter books are a bit more basic than I like reading for fun.

Goal Books I’ve Read


The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall (Juvenile Old-fashioned Summer Adventure)

The Penderwicks has a very old-fashioned feel to it. It’s the story of a family of girls and their father renting a cottage for the summer holiday. The girls are quirky and adventurous and they drag everyone they meet, including their landlords son, into their adventures. It won the 2005 National Book Award for young people’s literature. NPR did a short interview with Bridsall about the book.

This was a good book. It’s very much in the vein of older children’s book written a long time ago and reminded me of many books I read as a child.


The Poison Apples, by
Lily Archer (Young Adult Boarding School)

Three girls acquire stepmothers and get packed off to the same elite boarding school. All of them hate their evil stepmothers and want their fathers to get rid of the new stepmothers.

This was my favorite of the books I read this week. One reason is probably because it was written for an older audience than juvenile. However, it’s also a wonderful plot. Boarding school stories always seem to be fun. Parts of it reminded me of The School for Good and Evil.


I Was A Third Grade Spy, by Mary Jane Auch (Juvenile Talking Dog)

This was a very short chapter book that revolved around a dog learning how to speak English. However, he still has the brain and motivation of a dog so this doesn’t end out working well.

This was probably my least favorite. Not because the book was bad, it wasn’t, but because it’s so below the level I would normally choose to read. It’s very much a book for children that are just starting to read chapter books on their own.


Ereth’s Birthday, by Avi (Juvenile Anthropomorphic Porcupine)

A porcupine leaves his home in a huff because he thinks everyone has forgotten his birthday. Through multiple mischances, he ends up talking care of three young foxes whose mother has died.

This was a great book. The language is fantastic. The porcupine is constantly swearing but in a very creative manner. For instance,

“Why can’t young folks ever be still?” A deeply disappointed Ereth complained to himself. “Potted pockets of grizzly grunions, it would save so much trouble if children were born . . . old.”

According to the reviews, this book is rated for the same grade levels as I Was A Third Grade Spy but it felt a lot more complex to me. It’ll be several years before Calvin can read this book but it’s a prefect listening level for him now. The subject is interesting without being too mature and the sentences are beautiful.


Ivy and Bean and the Ghost that Had to Go, by Annie Barrows (Juvenile Chapter Book)

Ivy and Bean are best (female) friends. They see a ghost in the elementary school restroom and pretty soon none of the students are willing to use it.

Another chapter book. It was fine but wasn’t inspiring for me. At least it was short.


Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One, by Judy Blume (Juvenile Sibling Fiction)

“The Pain”, a first grader, and “The Great One”, his 3rd grade sister snipe at each other like normal siblings. Sometimes they have good days and sometimes bad but in spite of it all they still look out for each other.

I remember listening to Judy Blume stories when I was in elementary school. I really enjoyed the ones I heard back then. Reading this one now, I thought it was fine. It’s probably good for the age group it was written for.

Reading Goal: 9 of 180

New Reading Goal

Since I finished my first reading goal back in October I’ve been trying to figure out what my next reading goal should be. I was thinking about doing a goal around children’s books which would help me figure out books that might be good for Calvin.

At first, I was considering reading all the Newbery Medal books. After all, it’s one of the most prestigious awards in the US for children’s literature. However, I wasn’t getting inspired after pursuing the list of past Newbery Medal winners. There’s many good books in the Newbery list but there are some that are also very dated. In addition, I have read quite a few of them already. So, I dithered and dallied waiting for inspiration to strike.

Being a librarian in charge of an ILS, I do a lot of random searching to make sure things work the way they’re suppose to. Last week I stumbled across Reid’s Read-Alouds. It’s an annotated list of books selected to be of interest to juveniles and young adults. What I particularly like about this list are the books were all published between 2000 and 2008. This means they’re all new since my childhood. In addition, the reviews I’ve read imply that the books are nicely diverse reflecting a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

So, the goal. My goal is to read at least 180 of the books listed in Reid’s Read-Alouds. These are juvenile/young adult books so they’re probably going to be on the thin side. However, 180 is still a lot of books. I don’t have any idea how long it will take me to get through this many books but I guess we’ll find out.

Goal Books I’ve Read


Down the Rabbit Hole, by Peter Abrahams (Juvenile Mystery)

Ingrid is a teenage girl who loves Sherlock Holmes and acting. After getting lost on her way to soccer practice, Ingrid finds herself in the middle of a police investigation and develops a compulsion to figure out the mystery herself.

I enjoyed the book. I always like reading about strong female characters and Ingrid fits perfectly. She’s intelligent, moderately quirky, and figures things out in the end.


Whittington, by Alan Armstrong (Juvenile)

A story within a story. Whittington, a stray cat, finds a home in a barn with other stray animals the local gas station owner has taken in. The animals talk to each other and to the owner’s two orphaned grandchildren, Abby and Ben. Ben is having trouble learning to read at school and Abby and the animals decide to try to help him. Each night, after Ben finishes studying, Whittington tells the story of his famous ancestor.

I suspect this is a book Calvin would really like. However, it was a bit slow for me. It’s a good book, I’m just not the right audience.


Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson (Young Adult Historical Fiction)

In 1793 Philadelphia suffered a yellow fever epidemic that killed 5000 people. In Fever 1793, Mattie is 14 and is in the awkward stage between being a child and adult. She starts out resenting her mother but then the epidemic strikes and chaos ensues. Mattie tries to survive the epidemic while making sure the family’s livelihood, the local coffeehouse, also survives.

This was another good book and was a fairly quick read for me. At the end of the book Anderson provides an appendix that discusses various historical details interwoven throughout the book.


Reading Goal: 3 of 180

Afterglow

Occasionally, once every couple of years, I read a book that induces a drug-like euphoria. These aren’t necessarily fine works of fiction, in fact I don’t think fine works of fiction have ever fallen into this category. The books are almost always space opera with very strong female characters. Sometimes there’s a touch of romance but not always. I don’t know exactly what it is about these books but after I finish reading them I feel like my soul has been refreshed.

This evening I finished reading Fortune’s Pawn, by Rachel Bach. Devi Morris is a mercenary who has grown up on a feudal-based world. She’s a peasant but is a very good fighter and has advanced rapidly through the ranks. However, what she really wants is to be a Devastator, one of the king’s elite bodyguard. To achieve that goal, she’s willing to do pretty much anything including signing up for security duty on a ship that has a reputation for being cursed.

The book is written in first person, which I normally avoid like the plague. Our library subscribes to a service called Wowbrary which sends me weekly emails of new stuff our libraries order. I saw Fortune’s Pawn and decided to request it in spite of, or perhaps because of, Publisher Weekly’s lackluster review1. In addition, the author had written a fantasy series, under a different name2, that I thought was pretty good.

I’m very glad I gave the book a chance. It’s not a deep-thinking book at all. Devi isn’t overly deep and doesn’t aspire to be deep either. There’s a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, and quite a lot of blowing things up. The book ends without resolving much of the plot3 but Amazon claims the next two books will be out toward the beginning of next year so hopefully they’re already written and everything works out for Devi beautifully. Everyone views books differently so it’s hard to say for sure what type of reader would like this book. However, I think if you like David Weber’s Path of the Fury4, you’d probably like this book too.

As an aside, this book was published by Orbit and they seem to be putting out quite a bit of stuff that I like recently. Hopefully the trend continues.

  1. I’m not convinced Publisher Weekly has a SF reader writing their SF reviews as I’ve disagreed with several of the reviews I’ve seen from them recently. Of course, everyone has different opinions and this book certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, I recall one review recently where they thought the SF book was revolutionary and it really wasn’t even close to revolutionary for a SF book.
  2. The Eli Monpress series written under the name Rachel Aaron
  3. Which normally I hate but while the major plot thread is hanging I think the book itself resolved ok.
  4. The original Alicia Dierdre DeVries book, not the much expanded In Fury Born version

Recent Reads

I’ve noticed that since I’m in between books I haven’t been as good about logging what I’m reading. So, in an attempt to correct that, here’s my recent list, in reverse reading order:

  • Assassins Gambit: The Hearts and Throne Series, by Amy Raby – This is a fantasy with a strong romantic element. A women is trained as an assassin to catch the interest of the emperor and assassinate him. Except, everything turns out to be more complicated than she expects. At the moment, most Amazon reviews seem to be giving it 5 stars. In my opinion, it’s closer to a high 3 stars. However, the story was intriguing and I’ll probably read the next in the series.
  • The Bitter Kingdom, by Rae Carson – This is the third, and final, book in the Girl of Fire and Thorns series. I thought it was good but I think the first one is still my favorite.
  • Cetaganda, by Lois McMaster Bujold – I’ve been reading/listening to Bujold off and on for a decade or so. I started by listening to her Chalion series. Every so often, I’d listen to one of the Miles Vorkosigan books but it’s taken me a lot longer to get into the series. This is probably because I started out trying to listen to them but don’t have access to all the audio books (if audio books are even available for every book in the series). However, I finally got around to reading Cetaganda. It was good but I think Shards of Honor, Barrayar, and A Civil Campaign are still my favorites.
  • Crossover, by Joel Shepherd – I liked this book a lot. Originally I gave it 5 stars but on further reflection, I dropped it down to 4. The story begins as an android tries to avoid her destiny and tries to live a “normal” life. Unfortunately, she’s a very, very advanced android and multiple governments want to use her for their own purposes. I think it’d be a good book club book because there are lots of different angles to discuss including discussing some of the choices the author made.
  • Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie – This book was fascinating. Like the one above, it has an AI as the protagonist. There were a couple of unique things about this book. It’s written in first person which already is a hard perspective for me to get into. To make things a bit more complicated, the AI has multiple concurrent perspectives since she has awareness in multiple bodies. However, what made it a little harder is the narrator doesn’t think in gendered pronouns. So, the AI uses female pronouns for everyone unless she is talking directly to someone in a language that does use gendered pronouns1 . Anyway, so all of that is an interesting writing technique that distracted me for the first couple of chapters until the plot sucked me in. The plot is pretty interesting. Basically, the AI was “forced” to do something wrong and spends the entire book trying to correct that mistake. I’m definitely getting the next book in the series.
  • The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton – This is actually a Calvin book. I was talking to someone recently who talked about how she loved some of Enid Blyton’s books 2. A particular favorite was The Magic Faraway Tree. I looked it up and Boulder Public Library actually had a copy that I was able to request. We got the book this week and I’ve been reading it aloud to Calvin who loves it. A brother, sister, and cousin have a magic tree behind their house that has access to a rotating collection of faraway lands. These lands are places such as the “do whatever you want land” and the “land of goodies”. Naturally, this is a concept that is almost guaranteed to appeal to a young child. The book has a very classic feel to it in that the morals pop out of the story to beat you over the head. The children are so good (they always help mother and father before they run off and have adventures). In addition, the “greedy” child is usually the one that gets all the others in trouble in the faraway lands. However, this is the perfect sort of chapter book for Calvin at the moment. It is reasonably long without any of the grittiness that often appears in more modern juvenile books. Grittiness can have its place. However, I’ve been finding it very tricky to find books that are a good listening level for Calvin without being too mature for him and I’m finding the classic books fill this gap fairly well.
  1. In some weird way, this seemed the reverse of reading biblical passages. In most versions, God is always referred to as He. However, I was always taught that God transcends gender and we aren’t suppose to assume God is strictly male.
  2. Though, she also cautioned that, similar to many older books, that you had to watch out for racism in some of the Blyton’s books.

Reading Goal: The Complete List

I finished my reading goal! It was a good experience. I feel broader now 🙂 My goal was also handy because it was a way to justify reading time instead of doing something “useful.”

It seems like I got through a lot of goal books in the first couple of months and then slowed down drastically. I was a little surprised by the areas I had trouble with, mainly best sellers and literature. I read a lot of classics when I was young so I didn’t think literature would be a problem. However, it seems like all literature these days is depressing and I strongly prefer uplifting books. I’m not sure why I had trouble with Best Sellers. I also had a bit of trouble with historical fiction. I guess I must not like history for histories sake even though I like it as a backdrop for mysteries and romances.

I was surprised how easy the memoir and informational categories were to fill. I’m not a big non-fiction reader so I figured these would be one of the hardest categories. However, I found a lot more interesting non-fiction than I expected. Though, I didn’t finish any autobiographies/biographies, just memoirs. For the informational books, I tried to stay away from parenting books, since those are the ones I read already, and I at least partially succeeded.

I liked the structure having a book goal gave me so I think I’ll do another one. This time I’ll probably focus on children’s books more. Maybe read all the Newberys I haven’t already or possibly a “great kids books” list. However, I’m going to give myself some time to relax and read whatever strikes my fancy first.

Books I’ve Finished Recently:

  • Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends: Accelerando, by Charles Stross – This one took me a while to get into. I was having trouble caring about both Manfred and Pamela. It wasn’t until Amber came along that things seemed to get interesting.
  • Historical Fiction: Buckingham Palace Gardens: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel, by Anne Perry – This is actually a historical mystery but I’m counting it as a historical fiction novel as I feel it was historical enough it can count. I enjoyed it quite a bit and think I might add this series to the few historical mysteries I read. I started listening to it but switched toward reading at the end. I think I like the series better as a read than a listen but maybe it just depends.
  • Literature: Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog), by Jerome K. Jerome – This is probably more “classic” than “literature” but I’m going to count it toward my literature goal. I downloaded it from Project Gutenberg and read it in little bits on my phone when I was standing in line, etc. I’m not sure if this was a good way to read the book or not. It was a very random stream of consciousness-type novel. Two reasons I glad I read it: I finally understood the title choice of To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. I was also greatly amused by several accounts of river rage that seem remarkably similar to today’s road rage.
  • Juvenile Fiction: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood – Fun book. It felt a bit like The Willoughbys. Kind of old-fashioned-like but obviously modern. The one thing that was annoying is the ending stopped at a cliffhanger.

Summary of Books Read

Best Sellers

Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends

Christian Fiction

Graphic Novels

Historical Fiction

Informational

Juvenile Books

Literature

Mystery

Poetry

Realistic/General Fiction

Short Story Anthologies

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 2
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 2
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 12
Literature 2 2
Mystery 2 2
Poetry Anthologies 2 2
Realistic Fiction 2 2
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 36

Firefighter Storytime

When Jaeger’s mom came out to visit we went to the Erie library and noticed signs on the door stating there was to be a Firefighter Storytime in a couple of weeks. Oddly enough, it wasn’t during times that I normally work1. I filed it away and meant to look up more information about it later but then forgot. Monday, we went to the Erie library again. Unfortunately, in my rush to get out of the house, I had neglected to pick up the bag with our items that needed to be returned. Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge problem but I had a member video checked out that I couldn’t renew2. I glumly resigned myself to revisiting the library again that week3. However, as we entered the library, I saw the flyer again for the firefighters and realized they would be visiting Tuesday and Thursday of this week. Since I had been thinking of taking Calvin anyway, this worked out well for returning the video.

Tuesday we visited the library again for the storytime. This time I remembered the bag and successfully returned our books and videos. Calvin was very excited by the prospect of the Firefighter Storytime. We got there early to stake out our seat on the floor. To my surprise, there were hardly any kids there. However, Calvin enjoyed listening to the stories and watching the fireman put on his gear. They were hoping that the firetruck would be free but it ended up being out on a call. The children’s librarian hinted that perhaps we’d have better luck if we came back for the Thursday storytime.

I was a bit ambivalent about taking Calvin back to the library yet again. However, I eventually decided firefighter storytimes were rare enough that it’d be worth it. It was a good choice. There were different firefighters this time and probably four times the number of kids there had been on Tuesday.. They read the obligatory firefighter books4. However, in addition to the firefighter showing off his gear, they had a little “hot or not” game to indoctrinate kids of the types of things they need to be careful of. In addition, the kids all practiced dropping to the ground and crawling when the smoke detector went off. I was fascinated that in both of the storytimes once the firefighter had his gear on, he requested the kids come and give him a high-five or a hug. They were trying to show the kids that firefighters aren’t scary so the kids wouldn’t hide from the firefighters in case of a real fire (which makes me wonder how often that happens).

We were lucky and after the second story time we were able to go outside and see a fire truck. I hadn’t brought Calvin’s fleece in, because the building was warm, but it was a bit nippy outside so he wore mine. Naturally, Calvin had a blast.

Firetruck1

Firetruck2

Firetruck3

  1. Most library storytimes are not designed for working parents. I complained about this once or twice but was told that non-morning storytimes are not attended well. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see this storytime was running from 4:15-5. It still wouldn’t work for someone working full-time but was perfect for me.
  2. Branch items will renew up to 15 times unless someone puts a hold on it. However, member items only renew 1-2 times, depending on the type of item. I’m employed by the district and the relationship between the district and member libraries can be heated so I try very hard to return all member items on time religiously.
  3. Don’t get me wrong, I love libraries but it’s not the most convenient location for us to visit since we live in Boulder. Once a week visits fill our need for books and movies without monopolizing all of our afternoons.
  4. I think it’s a requirement that every firefighter storytime include Curious George and the Firefighters.

Reading Goal: Update 11

Well, progress on my reading goal has definitely slowed. Though, to be fair, I haven’t been reading a huge amount recently. I’ve been distracted by all sorts of things.

Books I’ve Finished Recently:

  • YA Fiction: Dodger, by Terry Pratchett – I’ve been avoiding Terry Pratchett’s YA books for some reason. This is odd because I have liked every YA Pratchett book I’ve read. In any case, I was desperate for something to listen to so tried this one. It wasn’t set in Discworld but rather in Victorian London. It was pretty good. In addition to this one, I also re-listened to Monstrous Regiment (brilliant) and Guards! Guards! (good).
  • Juvenile Fiction: Boom!, by Mark Haddon – I had a lot of time to listen to books while painting the basement and then dealing with the flood. This was another one which, happily, also counts toward one of my goal books. Mark Haddon wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time which is a book I avoided because it was one of those that everyone was reading. Boom! was a fun book and even had a male protagonist! (see how I broaden my horizons?)
  • Graphic Novel: Saga Vol. 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – Graphic novels are still a struggle for me but I read the first volume in this series for my goal, enjoyed it, so got the second one when it came out. I was mildly amazed that the one graphic novel I read was nominated for the Hugos and actually won.
  • YA Fiction: Muddle and Win: the Battle for Sally Jones, by John Dickinson – I just finished this book today. I read most of it in the doctor’s office waiting for something useful to happen this morning. I saw a review of it on Robin McKinley’s website and requested the library buy it. I was a little surprised they were able to get it as it appears to be a UK book. In some ways it reminds me of a younger version of Good Omens except that the world is never in danger of ending and most of the action happens in Sally Jones’ head. It was an amusing read.
  • Historical Romance: In the Arms of the Heiress, by Maggie Robinson – I read this quite a while ago but recall that I liked it . . .
  • Fantasy: Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J. Maas – I read the first book in this series a while back. I really enjoyed the first book but found it wildly implausible. This one I also enjoyed and thought the motivations of everyone hung together better.
  • Romance: Blackmoore: a Proper Romance, by Julianne Donaldson – I liked this one. It’s a regency romance that actually has the heroine act like she lives during regency times. It had the feel of a Jane Austen book without being wildly derivative.

Currently Reading:

  • Juvenile Fiction: Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab, by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith – I just got this one today as part of LibraryThing’s Early Review program. I read the first chapter to Calvin tonight. He wasn’t excited but I thought it had promise.
  • Juvenile Fiction: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood – I’m currently listening to this book. So far it’s amusing. I don’t know how to describe the feel but it’s fun.
  • Fantasy: Shadows, by Robin McKinley – This is Robin McKinley’s newest book. I’m two chapters in and not quite sure what to think of it yet. The setting isn’t necessarily my favorite but it feels a bit like Sunshine which I did like a great deal. We’ll see . . .
  • Jaeger’s Recommendation: Accelerando, by Charles Stross – While painting the basement and dealing with the flooding experience I tried quite a few of Jaeger’s recommendations via audiobooks. However, none of them were quite working for me. So, I requested hard copies of all the books from the library to try browsing each one and see which one has the most potential. This one looks like I’ll probably be able to get through it. I went to the trouble of requesting it only to discover Jaeger actually already owns this one.

I keep working on my literature goal, mostly without success. I’ve picked up and discarded numerous options. I’m most of the way through Three Men in a Boat but am not at all certain that I’ll make it all the way through. I was also thinking of trying The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. I’m not sure I’d ever heard about it until Randolph County Board of Education created a ruckus over it. I was hoping for a “happy” literature book but this looks like it might be worth reading anyway.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 1
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 11
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 2
Poetry Anthologies 2 2
Realistic Fiction 2 2
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 32

NoBo Little Libraries

Boulder has a library problem. Truthfully, I probably shouldn’t complain too much but it really irks me the city hasn’t managed to build a library anywhere north of Mapleton 1. I keep meaning to write the city and library to complain but every letter I’ve written so far sounds completely overwrought. The good news is I’m privileged enough to a) ferry my son to libraries that aren’t near us and b) buy him gobs of books. So at least my son isn’t being deprived of books.

What I really miss is a convenient place to take Calvin when he is driving me nuts. The Longmont Public Library was so close to our old house we could just wander over on a whim. I tried our local Barnes and Noble for a bit but it didn’t work out. It seems fair that I buy a book or two to pay for using them. So, if Calvin had become enamored with books there, I might have gone more often. However, they’re also a toy shop these days and I was not impressed by the whining Calvin engaged in when he wanted me to buy Thomas the Train paraphernalia. When I take Calvin to the library, there’s no commercial aspect so the only whining I hear is when I tell him it’s time to leave.

During one of my attempts to write a calm and reasoned letter to city council, I search the Daily Camera to double check they hadn’t decided to build a library in northern Boulder while I wasn’t looking. They hadn’t. However, I did find a post about the NoBo Art District supporting little libraries. I decided to take a field trip and check out the two little libraries in North Boulder2.

The first little library Calvin and I visited was the Reading In Spires sculpture located at 14th Street and Yellow Pine Avenue. This is also the location of Holiday Park, which I believe is a HOA supported community park. Many Little Free Libraries look like little houses or school buildings. However, the NoBo Little Libraries are much more whimsical.

readingspires

As you can see, there are three spires and each spire has a door with shelving inside for books.

readingspiresplaque

Unfortunately, there weren’t many children’s books available so Calvin wasn’t really interested in it once the novelty wore off. He was much more interested in the park equipment.

I let Calvin play on the Holiday Park playground equipment for a while and then we went off in search of the second Little Library. This one was harder to find. The NoBo Art website said it was ” installed on the plaza adjacent to Lucky’s Market at 3960 Broadway in Boulder, Colorado.” Having never been to Lucky’s Market before, Calvin and I wandered around for a bit mystified till we finally found it on the eastern side of the store.

This Little Library is titled The Rocket Man.

rocket

rocketplaque

Calvin seemed to like this one better both because it was a rocket but also it contained a fair number of children’s books.

rocketbooks

I feel slightly torn about these little libraries. On one hand, it never hurts to have more ways to get books. However, they’re never go to have the breadth of a full-size library. When Calvin and I go to the library we walk out with stacks and stacks of books. That’s not something you can do with a little library. The little libraries are cute but the northern Boulder areas still needs a real library.

  1. I use to say north of Canyon but technically the local history library branch is on Pine so that’s not quite accurate.
  2. For those unfamiliar with Boulder, I live in Gunbarrel, which is in the northeastern part of Boulder but is not considered “North Boulder.” Gunbarrel and North Boulder are separated by a fairly wide swath of non-thru roads.

Reading Goal: Update 10

I had a fantastic day at the thrift store yesterday. I got most of the pieces for a Lego Transport Truck set and a Lightning McQueen set1 all for under $5. In addition, I ended up with 16 books!

Someone was getting rid of their Roald Dahl Collection so I ended up with 11 books by Dahl. I actually already had 2 copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and one copy of The BFG already. However, these all matched nicely and were the UK edition which, since Dahl is from the UK, seemed appropriate2. In addition, I got two Newbery Medal winners, a sequel to a Newbery winner, another random sequel, and then the “new” The New Way Things Work.

Books I’ve finished recently:

  • Poetry: Love Poems, by Nikki Giovanni – Ok, poetry is hard for me to appreciate. In addition, I felt there was a lot of history I was lacking to understand this collection. Nikki Giovanni is a Black American who imbues her poetry with a lot of her fight for civil rights and equality. I think I need to do more reading to really start understanding some of the poems. That being said, I really did like her poem titled “There is no reason to ask.” It talks about the uselessness of trying to find reason in actions that can’t be understood3.
  • Mystery: The Crossing Places, by Ruth Galloway – A good mystery with an archaeologist as the protagonist. For the most part I liked it but there was a personal element that made me a bit uneasy. I’m still deciding if I’ll read the next in the series.
  • Young Adult Fantasy: The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson – This was a very interesting novel. I liked that the protagonist wasn’t very self-confident and every one around her seemed to feel it was justified. I can think of a lot of YA novels where the heroine starts out being marginalized by society but has a lot of inner confidence. I found it really interesting to Elisa’s growth.
  • Young Adult Fantasy: Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo – Yet another young adult fantasy but I’m having good luck with them recently. This was another good one, though a bit on the dark side sometimes. Alina, the protagonist, is ordinary and wants to stay that way so she can stay close to her childhood friend. However, when they’re threatened her true nature asserts itself and she’s saves the day. Unfortunately, this brings her to the notice of powerful people who want to use her to further their agenda. Part of the book resolves by the end but it’s definitely meant to have a sequel (which happens to be sitting on my shelf now ready to be read).
  • Regency Romance: Keeping the Castle, by Patrice Kindl – This was a charming read. I label it a regency romance but it feels a little more traditional than most of the romances are these days. I can’t explain the difference but it was a nice read.
  • Paranormal (but not romance) Fantasy: This Case is Gonna Kill Me, by Phillipa Bornikova – Reviews on Amazon are mixed but I liked this novel a lot. It’s set in modern day world where vampires, among others, exist. Apparently most of the prominent law firms are run by vampires and Linnet, the protagonist, is lucky to be employed in one. Unfortunately, one of the partners doesn’t like her and so she gets assigned to a very low profile case, which turns out to not be quite so low profile after all. If you’re hoping for a romance, this is a deep disappointment. However, I enjoyed the story. It did have one thread that was very obviously left untied, presumably for a sequel. Since I wasn’t particularly invested in that thread, it didn’t bother me.
  • Realistic/General Fiction: The School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister. This was a charming read that I easily finished in one night after supper. I don’t remember why I picked it up but it feels a little like some of Sarah Addison Allen’s books.
  • Juvenile Fiction: Fatapoufs and Thinifers, by Andre Maurois – I ran across this book on Gail Carriger’s Blog, she of the Parasol Protectorate series. I’m always looking for good chapter books for Calvin that aren’t too mature for a four-year-old. I’ve found that more classics fit this bill than contemporary books. Anyway, it’s out of print at the moment but I hunted it down and found a copy at the University of Colorado which I was able to get via Prospector. I was excited but was not expecting the fairly fragile item I received. I quickly decided this was not something I could have around a child and instead read it to myself so I would know if I should pick up any used copies I stumbled across. Ms. Carriger said it reminded her a bit of The Phantom Tollbooth, which Calvin enjoys even though he can’t possibly understand most of it. It does have some of the same type of humor and absurd situations in it but the book isn’t as complicated. If I see a copy handy somewhere I’ll definitely grab it up for Calvin.
  • General Fiction/Mystery: The Heist, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg – This was an audio book listen. It was ok.
  • Fantasy: Witch, by Marie Brennan – I borrowed this from Anya and felt it was a slightly stronger book than the first one in the series. However, that might just have been personal preference.
  • Young Adult Fantasy: Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta – This was a very good young adult fantasy. I had been resisting for a long time because of the title, which sounded corny to me. However, after reading the book, the title makes sense. Anyway, it follows a male protagonist4 who is an exile from a kingdom that has been cursed. He ends up being saddled with a mouthy girl from a convent. I liked this book because it had a lot of commentary about how people treat each other and mistakes people make that they later regret. Many parts of the book were depressing but it had a good ending.
  • Romance: The Arrangement, by Mary Balogh – This was a book I got via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. It was a good read. Mary Balogh writes well and it was interesting having a hero that was blind. So, a good book but probably not one I’ll re-read because I prefer more sparkly banter in my romances.
  • Juvenile Fiction: The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry – This was my most recent audio book. It is a tongue-in-cheek story about “old-fashioned” children growing up in modern times. It was really fun. A good story for Calvin to read when he gets older.

Currently Reading:
I just finished all my books and might get the chance to start another one tonight, if I ever finish this post.

Current Goal Counts:

Category Goal Number Read
Best Sellers 2 2
Biography, Autobiography, Memoir 2 2
Fiction Books Jaeger Recommends 2 1
Christian Fiction 2 2
Graphic Novels 2 2
Historical Fiction 2 1
Informational 2 2
Juvenile Books 12 10
Literature 2 1
Mystery 2 2
Poetry Anthologies 2 2
Realistic Fiction 2 2
Short Story Anthologies 2 2
Total 36 31
  1. We ended up being very, very lucky. The there were 3 Lego boxes that were all taped shut. I got these two but declined one that I think was from the Hero Factory line of products. I know it’s snooty of me but I have trouble thinking of these as “real” Legos. Anyway, it turns out I should have bought it because I ended up with pieces from it anyway and that box might have had one or two pieces for our set. In addition I ended up with a couple pieces of the Tripod Invader. We ended up pretty lucky because the pieces we are missing are fairly generic and if I scrounge we probably have replacements with existing Legos. However, I went back to the Thrift Store anyway intending to buy the other set. However, someone else had already bought it. I feel bad for them because based on what we have, there’s no way they can even approximate what it’s suppose to be. Thus is the luck of the thrift store shopper. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose . . .
  2. I still don’t understand why publishers feel the need to “Americanize” English in US editions.
  3. Well, at least that’s what I took from it. Given it’s poetry there could be a swath of meanings that I’m missing.
  4. Look, I’m reading a book about a boy. I really need to get over my hang-up with male protagonists at some point.