Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Run Away to the Museum

We have blogs for great teen books, and wonderful books and literacy activities for ages birth-to-five. But what about those pesky middle years, when you're too young to drive, but too old to suffer fools (like parents bossing you around) gladly? If you're a tween, or you know one, then I have the classic escapist fantasy to check out: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, written and illustrated by E. L. Konigsburg.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Discover a New Planet

Raz (Erasmus), the protagonist in the novel Anathem by Neal Stephenson is a mathematician and monk (a "fraa" or "avout") in a monastery on the planet Arbre. Thousands of years prior to the opening of the story, Apert's society was on the verge of collapse, and the avout fled into monasteries in order to protect the cultural and intellectual legacy of their planet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sorta Like a Rock Star

Give it up for the Princess of Hope, the last of the crazy optimists, Amber Appleton! From teaching English to Korean immigrants via R&B lyrics, to her weekly battle of words with a determined nihilist for the entertainment of lonely nursing-home residents, to her regular haiku exchanges with a Vietnam vet, this teenager does her best to shine a little joy into the lives of the people she encounters on a daily basis, in Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick.

Except that her own life isn't so miraculous. Unbeknownst to anyone, Amber, her mom, and her beloved dog, Bobby Big Boy, are living on a school bus in the middle of winter and scraping by on the wages of one part-time job.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Made From Scratch

Although I do not fear the zombie apocalypse any time soon, for some reason I have been reading a lot of books about survival, growing your own food, how cities need to rethink land use, water harvesting, etc. One of the most enjoyable books in this latest nonfiction binge has been Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich.

I believe most of the chapters in this book came from Jenna's blog originally, but being the tactile person that I am, I wanted to read the book. Each chapter is a different aspect of life that she has explored in her move to the country - raising chickens, starting a beehive, running the sled dogs, starting a garden, baking bread, knitting, sewing, playing an instrument, you get the picture.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


It's midsummer and for some of us that translates into a burst of activity - packing for or unpacking from a trip, getting children settled into the new school year - all conspiring to shorten our time for reading.

So, if you're looking for a quick read, Eat, Memory Great Writers at the Table by Amanda Hesser fits the bill, or, more accurately, provides a most interesting bill of fare. Think of this slim volume as literary tapas.  You can sample a few bites at a time or devour them all at one sitting.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I am an adult – past middle age—and in addition to adult books I like to read young adult books, children’s fiction and an occasional picture book. I know some of you might think that is a bit peculiar but there are more of us out there than you might guess. 

I heard about my current favorite children’s book on NPR in March. The book is Wonder, written by R. J. Palacio, and it is about a boy named August (Auggie) who is getting ready to attend public school for the first time in his life. He is a fifth grader who has always been homeschooled before – a fifth grade boy whose face is severely deformed and has had too frequent surgeries to attend school before now. The book, Palacio’s debut novel, explores Auggie’s experiences during his first year in public school and the experiences of his sister and his new friends as well. Different sections of the book are narrated by the different characters and the various perspectives on Auggie’s life give the book real depth.

So if you haven’t read any children’s fiction since you were a child, or you haven’t read any since Harry Potter, give this book a try.  It is a wonder.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympics and Beyond

Olympic fever has turned the thoughts of the Ravenous Readers reviewers to our favorite books and films that spotlight the "sporting life."  Enjoy them all year long.

As Good As Gold: 1 woman, 9 sports, 10 countries, and a 2-year quest to make the summer Olympics by Kathryn Bertine.  This hilarious account documents an elite triathlete's attempts to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. 

Born to Run: a hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen by Christopher McDougall.  Secrets of the world's greatest distance runners--the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon, Mexico and a fifty mile race. 

The Sportswriter by Richard Ford.  A fictional account of a man who chooses to be a sportswriter instead of a novelist.