Sunday, June 30, 2019

What are you reading this Sunday that's made you feel good?


This is a gorgeous book about railroads and the men, mostly African-American, who built and maintained them.

Even better, there's a section about how to be a historian.

And best, it makes being a historian sound like lots of fun. (Cause it is!!)

Since history is my field, and I'm keenly feeling how fewer people seem to understand and respect it these days, this book really boosted my spirits.

Plus, did I mention it's a wonderful story?

It's a 63 page illustrated chapter book. Kids in 4th grade and up can read it pretty easily I think. Published by our friends at National Geographic!

39 comments:

Amanda Hosch said...

I was looking for books like this for my 11-year-old that we can read and discuss together. She's quite interested in the tall tale of John Henry, even sharing the Disney short with me a few months ago. I've already put it on hold at our lovely local public library. Thanks!

Donnaeve said...

It's been a while, and I've just spent a nice hour perusing some of the most recent posts. The whole thing on Grammarly etc., was really interesting, but my favorite was what QOTKU shared between Tim Lowe and Steve Forti.

Brilliant! Except I didn't understand a thing he said.

Anywho, I'm reading a very different sort of book. It's really about metaphysics in a nutshell, and it's been a bit over my head in some areas, but all in all? A very unique, and intriguing read.

It's called What Is Reality? The New Map of Cosmos and Consciousness by Ervin Laszlo.

Up next is Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray.

Happy Sunday, y'all.

Sherin Nicole said...

I'm all hearts for your book pick, Janet, and I'm adding it to my library list! I'm reading 'Wild Seed' by Octavia Butler. She's my writing hero so I'm aglow.

Barbara Etlin said...

I've had a lot of stress lately so I've been avoiding this book because I thought would be too depressing and heavy. But I started it yesterday and I'm enjoying it a lot.

THE GOSPEL TRUTH by Caroline Pignat is a YA free verse novel told from six points of view about a teenage slave girl on a Virginia tobacco plantation in 1858 and the abolitionist who helps her. It won the Governor General's Award.

nightsmusic said...

I'm reading an ARC of Marry in Secret by a dear friend of mine, Anne Gracie. Love, love her books. But I had to put it aside to try and figure out how to push the wifi signal out to the barn 150 feet from the house. Took me a bit, but I think I've figured it out so back to my book! :)

KariV said...

I'm reading THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah. The writing is so powerful, this story is moving me with all the feels. I'm transfixed.

Emma said...

Stumbled upon BEAT THE REAPER by Josh Bazell, and I'm completely in love with the book and the writer. It's a thriller about and by a medical doctor, and the voice! The voice is spectacular. I'm taking notes.

Speaking of notes, the thriller plot is accompanied by footnotes, explaining all kinds of things medical, but still in that incredibly dynamic voice.

I don't know how this one slipped past me when it came out.

Katja said...

I am reading a writer friend's book at the moment, and I'm worried about what to say when I'll see her again next week. Her writing is SUPERB, I really love it and am trying to learn from her.
But the story (it's a crime book) is rather flat - after the prologue, when a guy was killed, people 'only' eat, drink, go for walks in the beautiful countryside and take naps. The police do not ask questions, aren't even mentioned; and I have read 4 chapters so far.

I find it very difficult to respond to "how do you like my book?" next week... cause I don't want to hurt but I also don't really want to lie. I suspect that people/friends might struggle when they are reading MY book. I now know that I will NOT ask :).

Also, I'm reading recipes for snacks/nibbles for my launch since I'm worried about what little snacks to offer. But then, HEY, if that's my current worry, I must have come far with my writing, ha ha.

Lennon, by the way, if you're reading this, I managed to link my website to my name here (you told me to :) ).

Happy Sunday all!

JanR said...

Hullo Janet and denizens of the Reef. I've missed you and your exquisite taste in books!

I just finished was A Prefect’s Uncle by P.G. Wodehouse. It's one of his first and the witty dialogue is blossoming, but what I've noticed most is how enjoyable it is when the author clearly adores the subject matter. I have no interest in cricket in real life, but I did while reading this book :)

However. The recent read that's been on my mind is the wonderful book Janet sent me: The Inquisitors Tale, or the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Hatem Aly. It was a winner on every level.

A compelling story. Brave and compassionate and sneaky characters who grew. Plays with form like a maestro and on multiple levels: it's set in 1242 in France and not only does it have a reminiscent-of-Chaucer structure, but the entire story is packed with the weird and wonderful flavour of the real medieval stories. AND it was wrenching and meaningful and subtle and so, so moving.

I can't stop thinking about it.

CynthiaMc said...

I'm writing, cleaning, and reveling in the fact that I can mostly breathe now, having survived the cold from hell.

I just read the first seven chapters of Lee Child's Gone Tomorrow. A friend linked it to his blog post as an example of how to build tension. I thought I had read all the Jack Reachers, but I missed this one.

It's not a "feel good" but it is gripping.

Now I'm off to take the pups to the park.

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I just finished The Disappearing Earth. It is excellent.

I enjoyed the author trick of setting up the mystery in the first chapter where two girls are kidnapped and a third has been missing for a while and then the rest of the story is about people searching for them and time passing. Until the final chapter.

And no chapters from the crazy kidnapper's POV, yay. And no chapters from the girl's POV until the end.
Just a lot of tension while you wonder what happened. Stayed up late.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

I stayed up late last night to read and finish "The Overdue Life of Amy Byler" and, this week, I've been taking notes as I read "Atomic Habits." I've been 1 month at the new day job and it's wonderful. Time to get back to my writing routine, right?

AJ Blythe said...

Floors by Patrick Carman.

Jeckle (my youngest Barbarian) insisted I read it. It's a bit whacky and took me a few starts to get into it, but it's a completely fun book.

The protag is a 10 year old boy and it's set in a hotel which is full of crazy things (a la the factory in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


Still grappling with jet lag from a trip to the old country so I decided to read Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan back to back. Both have been on my TBR list forever but I have been putting off because I thought they were intimidating and boring respectively.

Nope and nope.

Totally different books, both rule breakers in terms of plot, both kept me riveted.

I hereby declare that good books are bad for jet lag.

Kae Ridwyn said...

I'm reading Word by Word (Kory Stamper) and Moby Dick. Both of them slowly, which is unfortunate.

@Katja - when I sent my first ms to beta readers (family, friends) I was ecstatic when the comments I received were positive ones. My best friend, however, gave me a page of handwritten notes on what she felt was weak. I was devastated! Due to the nature of our relationship, we didn't see eachother for 8 weeks or so, and when we did, she explained that she'd liked it, but that there were some holes that she couldn't ignore.

It took a couple of months after that for me to realise that her feedback was the one I valued the most... and after a year, I'd come to notice that it was actually only her feedback that I'd valued at all. She was the only person in my circle, with enough courage to put her integrity and her faith in me, above the possible risk to our relationship. Which is probably why I chose her to be my best friend in the first place!

So my suggestion is: be kind, but fair. You may be the only person in your friend's circle who can help her to see something she can't right now. And I'm sure she'll see that eventually, no matter how hard it is to hear the feedback initially.

And all the best!

Lennon Faris said...

I'm about to start The Well of Ascension by Brandon Anderson. It's the second in the Mistborn series. The first I read last year - it was superb, and I've been meaning to pick this up since then.

Life is distracting! This afternoon, the distraction was making caramel.

Katja - nice job! It works, I tested it out.

John Davis Frain said...

I saw Thomas Harris back on the NYTimes Bestseller list, so I cracked open SILENCE OF THE LAMBS for another read. I'm halfway through and wow, it's still fantastic. I'll have to get his new one now.

Merry Sunday.

Laura S. said...

Just finished Liane Moriarty's The Last Anniversary, and loved it, like everything I've read by her so far. With no other "new" book on hand yet, I started HG Wells' The Invisible Man. Little by little, I've been plowing my way through the classics I never read as a kid (Dickens, Austen, Trollope, Tolstoy, Wharton, Bronte, Cather etc.). I suspect I'm enjoying them much more now than I would have back then.

Claire Bobrow said...

Today I had an epic battle with an irrigation system, but yesterday I finished York: The Shadow Cipher, by Laura Ruby. It's MG, set in an alternate NYC. The plot features 3 kids trying to save their home (a mysterious apt. building designed by the brilliant couple who revolutionized the city), a tricky cipher, and a fabulous treasure.

Hi JanR: if you liked The Inquisitor's Tale, have you read The Book of Boy, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock? It's MG also set in Medieval Times and is sooooo good.

Cecilia: I love The Night Circus. Love, love, love. The audiobook is fab, too (read by Jim Dale).

Timothy Lowe said...

Freaky Deaky, part of my Elmore Leonard study. About 100 pages in and still getting a feel. Needs a stronger MC IMO but I'm taking notes. Opening was fantastic. I have no reason to stop, so I'll keep going and see.

Theresa said...

I just finished Julie Orringer's The Flight Portfolio, which was wonderful.

Where Tj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Where There's A Quill said...

Cecilia + Claire : I must also sing my love for The Night Circus. That book made an 8-hour drive from Khempur to Jaipur feel much too short.

I am currently re-reading the His Dark Materials trilogy and thoroughly enjoying myself.

Claire Bobrow said...

Where There's A Quill: at the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, I also LOVE the His Dark Materials trilogy. One of the best things I've ever read. I can't get through the last part of Book 3 without feeling like I've received a punch to the gut (and crying). Just freaking fantastic!

Craig F said...

I liked the idea of using Overdrive to put holds on e-books. Then they all fell into my inbox at once.Had to rush through one of Baldacci's strangest books so I can move on. Hopefully I can appreciate Ghost Country by Lee, Pratchett's Sourcery, another Baldacci and N.K. Jemisin's Obelisk Gate within the next eleven days.

Spent a chunk of the day on the continuing project of making the yard into a lawn. Another chunk of the day was spent dismantling and rebuilding a bicycle I was given. It had belonged to a friend that passed. He was one of the special kind you don't find often.

He was a man of towering intellect. A Naval Commander, Department head of Speech and Auditory Dysfunction, eight Patents, and so on. I wanted to restore his bike to beyond the level Trek made it back in 1993.

Then I use it to try and beat my six years New Year's Resolution of banishing the small gut I once cultivated.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JanR said...

Thank you Claire!! Gonna request those at the library asap. They both sound wonderful. I hope you won the battle with the irrigation system! That sentence sounds like Janet’s next prompt :)

AJ Blythe, I loved Floors too. And there are sequels!

Craig F, what a perfect tribute. I’m really sorry you lost him.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


Claire & Quill,

Right? Night Circus rocks.

I haven't read His Dark Materials but I swear this is the best title of all time.

Actually, now that I think about it, the words dark/darkness always make for good titles and appear on bestsellers e.g. Left Hand of Darkness, The Heart of Darkness, Dark Places, The Dark Half. (Looks at WIP and makes a note to put 'dark" on title even if setting is Vancouver Island during a summertime festival a la Dirty Dancing and one where Baby puts everyone in a corner)

Claire Bobrow said...

Cecilia: LOL! I'm going to put "Dark" in all my titles, too :-)

I'm channeling a Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes/Bruce Springsteen mashup as the soundtrack to your Vancouver Island novel:
(Dirty) Dancing In The Dark.


Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...


Claire,

Dirty Dancing in the Dark - I love it!

Sunnygoetze said...

I'm reading Discretion, by Elizabeth Nunez.

LynnRodz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LynnRodz said...

I just started reading The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields. It's a glimpse into the life of novelist Edith Wharton and her friendship with Anna Bahlmann. Not exactly what I usually read, but the book was compared to The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which I absolutely loved.

I have taken note of Donna's latest read, What Is Reality? The New Map of Cosmos and Consciousness. Now that I can sink my teeth into.

Katja, I agree with Kae Ridwyn, I think you should tell your friend what you wrote here. It does your friend no good not to tell her the truth. Yes, she'll love to hear that her writing is superb, but what will really help is telling her that her writing is a little flat. You say you've only read the first four chapters, that's not a lot. Perhaps by 5 or 6 the story will start to pick up, but it's important to let her know that the beginning is too slow. If no one dares to tell her, how will that help?

Right now I have several Reiders reading my manuscript, I told them to be totally honest with me about what they think and I hope they do even if it may be hard to hear. How else can one improve?

Katja said...

Thank you, Kae Ridwyn and LynnRodz, very kind of you to respond to me :)!

The thing with this is that it is not a 'manuscript' any more - it is a published book. The publisher is a small, local one and I know all the members who 'own' (or would you say 'run'??) it. I'm kind of friends/ acquaintances with them, too. So there is nothing to change about this book any more, and I believe that this publisher is currently grateful to get novels to publish even if they aren't perfect.

They would have published mine but I decided to go completely independent. One of these owners is VERY helpful to me with regards to publishing (even if I don't need certain advice or do things differently), and I have the feeling that the others are (possibly) slightly cross with me that I haven't published through them (they won't come to my launch :/ ).

So this woman's book (I call the woman a writer friend like everyone else in the group) also has got typos (I won't mention those to her, by the way!). I agree, 4 chapters isn't that long but the whole book consists of only 55,000 words.

If I tell her that the story is flat (Fiance has already read it all and he says the same), then the publisher-members might find out and I'm... I don't know... bang-and-out-of-the-group?

I will see them very soon and I will focus on her superb writing. It really is lovely. I'll tell her that her craft is wonderful, but yes, you are BOTH right: who will tell her (or them as in the publisher) that I got bored with the story and started skipping.

I really don't know.

LynnRodz said...

Katja, now that I know the situation, my answer is completely different. I would, as you, focus are her superb writing and leave it at that. What good is there telling her what's wrong with her book when nothing can be corrected and you risk being ostracized? Good luck!

Katja said...

Thank you again, LynnRodz, for your last comment :). It's helpful and comforting to know that you agree with the decision I made!

Also, thank you for making me learn a new word - context is ALWAYS the best way: ostracized (I'm just not clear yet, but will look it up, if here in Britain I will have to replace the z with an s ;) ).

(I'm not a native English-speaker, so I'm happy to learn :).)

S.D.King said...

Just finished “Obsolete” and I want to go back to page one and read all over again. What a mash up of alternate history and Sci Fi with SEHintons The Outsiders!

LynnRodz said...

Katja, believe me, your English is great!

(A reminder to myself to always reread my comments before hitting send. Ex.: focus on rather than focus are.) Aïe, aïe, aïe!

Beth Carpenter said...

Wow! Every one of them. But John Davis Frain had to be my fav just because to the Alaska stuff and the ending.