I had a major case of reading too many books at the same time this summer. I am halfway through three books in print but didn’t actually complete any during this crazy summer. All the books I got through were audio.

I also decided to pull my four children out of digital learning and home school them until the whole pandemic crisis calms down. Which could be the rest of their public school careers. We’ll see. Also I’m an over ambitious snob and decided that I don’t want to pay for pre-fab curriculum. Instead, I’m putting lesson plans together myself. It has definitely cut into my reading and writing time. But I’m getting into a good groove and hopefully school planning will become less of a time sink and I’ll be able to read and write again.

The book I managed to listen to this summer were a mix of heavy, thought-provoking books and super light escapism.

When life gets to me and I’m feeling overwhelmed, I reach for Sophie Kinsella. This one was particularly fun because it’s a rekindle romance about a married couple. A doctor praises them for their good health predicts another seventy years of marriage, which causes them to reevaluate their relationship. It’s adorable and hilarious, exactly what I look for in a romantic comedy.

I happen to have a higher than average interest in libraries and in Los Angeles (where I’m from), so for me this book was readable. For anyone else I would suggest skipping it. Written by a reporter, it is a little dry and academic. At the same time it skips around from the history of libraries in LA, to the LA library fire, to the personal history of the head librarian to how libraries maintain their relevance in an increasingly digital world. It felt all over the place to me.

My two older kids read this book for school in fourth grade and loved it. I finally got around to listen to it. It’s a cute book about a robot that is stranded on a deserted island and somehow adapts to become a part of the local ecosystem. It is the first book in a series and would be a fun read aloud for you and your kids.

Another one I read with my kids. It’s about a family who’s mom has passed away. The dad is a wreck and the kids are struggling. Their lives change for the better when an inkblot from the dad’s sketchbooks comes alive and helps everyone work through their emotions. It was a bit of tearjerker.

I liked this book. I felt that it was well-written, insightful and honest. I have to tell you though, that I didn’t get to finish the book before it was due back at the library, so I’m still waiting for the hold so that I can finish it up. Maybe I should have waited to review the book until I finished it. But if you are looking for an accessible way to learn more about race and police brutality, this is a great option.

This book was funny and compelling but heartbreaking at the same time. Poor Eleanor is not completely fine, but I love her and the sweet friends she makes. I can’t say too much without giving things away but this one is worth your time.

I learned a lot from this book. It will stretch you more than The Hate U Give. It might make you extremely uncomfortable to read some of what Oluo has to say, but one of the points in the book is that avoiding uncomfortable conversations isn’t helping anything. I really appreciated the courage it took to put this book out there. If you are willing not to be defensive and are seeking to truly understand another person’s experiences, this is a great read.

I hope everyone is doing well with however COVID has affected your life. None of us has escaped without some kind of trauma, but I choose to believe that things will get better. Hang in there. Light a candle and read a book. And breathe.

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