On Becca’s Bookshelf // March 2015 Edition

Recently Updated-001 Wow, I read more in March than I thought I did! Probably because Elliott was home so I was watching a lot fewer chick flicks than in February. ;) More books, less sitting around moping about how lonely I felt every evening!

Of the eight books I read in March, I had one definite favorite, and several other good reads as well, including two chapter books I read aloud to Lena:

  • Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagarty — I was so astonished to see this book in our local (small!) public library that I checked it out immediately. Sara graduated a few years ahead of me in college, and Elliott knew both Sara and her husband at UVA. This book is the story of her faith over the past 20 years from the time she made a decision to follow Christ, to her college years of ministry, through the rough first years of marriage, over years of trying to conceive a child, to eventually adopting four children from Africa. Her writing style isn’t for everyone (very meditative and somewhat stream-of-consciousness), but her story is very spiritually encouraging. — 4 stars
  • The Traveling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones — I bought this book from the author herself, a fellow Coronado resident, and I’m excited to go to a book event for it (as a reporter!) later this month. I knew it was chick lit and went in with low expectations, but it left me happy and satisfied. It’s full of friendship and cake and New England and redemption and a little bit of romance — what’s not to love? — 3 stars
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid LindgrenWho else read Pippi as a girl? I read all the Pippi books when I was about eight or nine, and she was larger than life to me. Turns out they’re perfect for reading aloud to almost-four-year-old girls! I had to modify some parts because Pippi uses words like “stupid, stupid!” and some parents might not like all her shenanigans, but overall Lena and I have laughed out loud and share an even deeper love for Pippi than ever. — 5 stars
  • The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way by Amanda RipleyFavorite book of the month! It focuses on three American high schoolers who go to Finland, Korea, and Poland in 2011 as exchange students. Their experiences and the resulting research are totally fascinating; it reads like a novel. I now have a much better understanding of what constitutes a “good school”: not electronics or money or programs or even diversity, but good teachers who believe their students can all be excellent scholars. And, simple as it is, it gave me encouragement for homeschooling, too (if we homeschool one day!), because I realized the thing kids most need to excel academically isn’t other kids or field trips or iPads in 1st Grade. What they need is high standards and excellent instructors who communicate learning well.5 stars
  • Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann MahAnn lived in Paris for four years, but during the first year she lived in Paris alone while her husband (a U.S. diplomat) unexpectedly spent a year in Iraq. She decided to spend that lonely season exploring several regions of France and their cuisine. Good to read slowly, to appreciate the depth of research and heart that went into this memoir. You must love food and love France to enjoy it, though; she doesn’t mince words. — 3 stars
  • The Undertaking by Audrey MageeA fictional love story set during WWII. Katharina and Peter decide to marry sight unseen so that a) Peter gets honeymoon leave from the front lines and b) Katharina has a husband and benefits during the war. The story kept me riveted, but in the end my main takeaway was that it was so so sad. Both the characters and I felt so much hope, but war and people are astonishingly cruel. Nevertheless, I appreciated the window into German life in Berlin and on the Russian front during WWII. Magee’s spartan, dialogue-heavy writing style is unique, too. — 3 stars
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy FowlerIntriguing first-person (fictionalized) account of a girl who was raised with a chimpanzee as her sister in an otherwise regular home. The story begins at the end, when she is making sense of her usual childhood and the years after the chimpanzee left their family. Interesting premise, but the story was too discombobulated and messy to enjoy in a deep and satisfying way. — 3 stars
  • Pinocchio by Carlo CollodiOne day I told Lena the story of the boy whose nose grew every time he told a lie, and then we decided to read the original story. We chose the full-length version, as translated from the Italian. I disliked the black-and-white morals: if you’re a bad boy, bad things happen, but if you’re good, you get your dreams. Definitely not the Disney version that leaves you with cozy, happy feelings. Three-year-old Lena enjoyed having it read aloud to her, but it wasn’t my favorite.  3 stars

And now I need to hurry up and read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn before Book Club on Tuesday night. Have you ever read it? It’s been on my “want to read” list forever, but clearly I keep procrastinating!

What did you read in March? Any favorites?

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18 Responses to On Becca’s Bookshelf // March 2015 Edition

  1. Barbara April 6, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Dearly LOVED A Tree Grows In Brooklyn…all time favorite as a kid and reread as an adult. Then sent on to my medical student granddaughter to enjoy. Hope she had or did.

    • Becca April 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      Barbara, you are so sweet to comment! I am loving the book so much. Hard to put down! So glad you enjoyed it as well.

  2. Jacqueline April 6, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is my all time favorite novel. I’ve been reading and re-reading it since I was about 14 years old. I hope you love it! I’m going to be adding some of your March reads to my Good Reads list!

    • Becca April 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

      I can see why! It’s so beautiful, and the characters could just walk off the page.

  3. Nicole April 6, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    These posts are quite possibly my favorite thing about your blog. I read your reviews and generally go to my public library and reserve at least one or two! I’m not that great about reading reviews of other people and finding books on my own right now….blame it on my busy house! :) Anyway, I did put, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, on hold. Looking forward to reading it. Currently I’m reading, Unbroken. So far it’s very captivating and I sure have a lot of awe towards Louis Zamperini. Thanks for doing these posts and have a great week!

    • Becca April 6, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

      I’m loving “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” and loved “Unbroken” as well! If you ever need some good recommendations, check out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading list. It’s a great group of reviews all in one place. xoxo

  4. Joy @ Jumbled Up Joy April 6, 2015 at 11:36 am #

    I read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, but didn’t really love it to tell the truth. I think it’s because her personal writing seemed very aloof and unrelatable. A bit boring, even. I guess some people call that “elegant”, but it doesn’t suit my taste. But I finally read The Rosie Project and really enjoyed that.

    This month I’m reading Something Other Than God and Essentialism. I know, back to nonfiction… :-)

    • Becca April 6, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

      “The Story of a Happy Marriage” is on my to-read list, but I’ve heard the same thing about her writing. Looking forward to it after so many mixed opinions! It makes forming my own opinion even more exciting sometimes. ;)

  5. Di April 6, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    I love your book reviews. Last year I read The Dirty Life after your recommendation…this month I am reading The Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen which I am also enjoying. It’s about a girl who decides she wants to be a sheep farmer and about her life married to a sheep farmer on the high Yorkshire Dales and their 7 children…

    • Becca April 6, 2015 at 1:46 pm #

      I’m going to look that one up at our library! It sounds like it would be right up my alley. I’ll always be a fan of another Yorkshire writer — James Herriott — after marrying a veterinarian myself. :)

  6. Tiffany April 6, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    I agree that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of the all-time greats! And I’m still impressed on how you’re reading chapter books to Lena. Any tips on that would be appreciated!

    • Becca April 17, 2015 at 11:46 pm #

      Whoops, sorry I’m just now replying to this! I think my biggest tip would be to choose books that you loved as a child, and then let similar ones flow from that. I have been surprised by how much Lena (who was three when I started reading chapter books aloud to her) appreciates and understands books that I didn’t read myself until I was nine or 10. You know your child best, I guess!

      I also recommend the reading lists from Sonlight Curriculum. They have curated the best of the best children’s books, including many older classics that we just don’t hear about anymore.

  7. Pita April 6, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

    Some good suggestions here to look into – esp Mastering the art of French eating. I love me a good book about France ;-) I’ve just finished My life in France by Julia child and Alex Pru’d’homme. A tree grows in Broocklyn is one of my all time favourite books. My mother read it to me when I was 12 and I’ve always felt close to her when I read it.

    • Becca April 8, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

      I finished “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” yesterday and now it is one of my all time favorite books! So so good!

  8. Carrie April 8, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

    I just finished “Bringing Up Bebe” and loved it.

    I am curious – is “The Traveling Tea Shop” pretty clean overall? It sounds like something I might like.

    • Becca April 8, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

      Yes, it’s clean. Nothing but silly PG stuff at the most, and very lighthearted!

  9. Becca Arthur April 8, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    Almost done with “All The Light We Cannot See” – so well written, I’d recommend it for sure!

    • Becca April 8, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

      I am embarrassed to say this but I just put it on hold for the THIRD time at our library. We have checked it out twice and both haven’t been able to start/read much of it before it’s due back at the library after two weeks. This time I WILL read it!!!

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