January Reading

Since it was getting to be tedious work doing a book review for every single book I read (like I’ve done for the past two years), I’ve decided to just post once a month on all the books I finished for that month.

And what do you know? This two-chapters-a-day goal thing apparently makes me read a lot more than a 50- or 38-Book Challenge.

I mean, seriously–if I keep up reading 5 books a month, I’ll have read 60 books this year, surpassing both my previous years’ goals.

Go figure.

But for now, I’m just going to give you a small taste of where my reading mind has been carried during the month of January:

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This is actually the second time I’ve read this book (the first was during Christmas of 2011). And I actually technically read this one four times since I was reading it aloud to my classes, but I decided to just count it once. If you want to check out my full review from 2011, go ahead and check it out here.

My Rating: 5 Stars

2. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Dreams of Joy is the sequel to Shanghai Girls, which I finished in November. One of my main complaints about the first book was that it was completely depressing, and it felt like none of the characters ever caught a break. Dreams of Joy was much more satisfying because even though all the characters had to go through some awful events, they all came out stronger (and much happier!) in the end. I love me a good, happy ending that isn’t too perfect. And Lisa See’s prose is incredible. This is definitely a book to check out.

My  Rating: 4.5 Stars (some parts were uncomfortably gruesome, but other than that, it was beautiful)

3. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

This one was a surprise read–I had heard nothing about it other than that it had been awarded a Newbury Honor Award, and I ended up being really impressed. This is a young adult novel that depicts the coming-of-age of an almost-teenager (Calpurnia) growing up at the dawn of a new century (the 1900s). Calpurnia aspires to do more with her life than what society tells her she should, and she starts getting really into the idea of being a naturalist and into Darwin’s writings (which had just been published). I’ve never been a good observer, so her close observations of the everyday miracles of nature really made me open my eyes to all that’s going on right under my nose. I really loved this book.

My Rating: 4.5  Stars

4. Reached by Ally Condie

Reached is the last book in the popular Matched series, which follows Cassia Reyes, a teenager growing up in a society where most of your choices are made for you, and people are starting to fight back. (For my reviews on the first two books, check them out here and here). Without giving too much away, this book didn’t blow me away as much as I would have hoped–there were a lot of loose ends about what would happen to the society that were never tied up, and I was disappointed by some of the character development. But overall, it was a fun, entertaining read–as long as you didn’t look too closely into it.

My Rating: 3 Stars

5. In the Middle by Nancie Atwell

This is actually a professional development read (in other words, something I’m reading to help me to improve my teaching). Atwell was pretty much the expert on middle school teaching for a long time, and her student-centered ideas were groundbreaking in their time. Although education has moved on from some of her theories and her methods, I did enjoy her perspectives on teaching adolescents and on some of her ideas. Whenever I needed something to re-motivate me to keep trying harder (because let’s face it–teaching is hard, hard work), I would just pick this up and feel reinvigorated almost immediately.

My Rating: 4 Stars

What have you read this month? Any books you think I should check out?

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