January-April Roundup

The first third of the year will end this week.  it’s time for a check in on my annual goals…aka my reading challenges!

Again this year there are the books that will only fit one category.

I do get fancy and read books that will count for different reasons across lists, which I will definitely talk about once I realize my goals here.

For the purposes of today’s post, however, I am reading books that will only count for one category and I plan on keeping them there!

But first…

Page total as of 4/23/16: 8303 (37% of the goal)
book total as of 4/23/16: 26 (47% of the goal)
3.5 out  of 5 over 500

A Book That Will Become a Movie This Year (Popsugar):

 The BFG.jpg
The BFG, Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl does it again. I wonder why someone so dark in his writing is also so good at capturing the elements that make an awesome children’s story.  I had contemporaries read this book in elementary school and love it, although I was disappointed in them as humans because my favorite Roald Dahl books were Matilda and The Witches and I had little use for people who had only read The BFG.  Now that I have actually read The BFG I completely get it.  The story involves fantastic elements, an imaginative world different from a kid’s everyday, and then makes the child learn from the giant, the giant learn from the child, and then the child solves a big problem of humanity that has persisted for centuries.  And gets the attention and help from the Queen, which, what kid doesn’t want a really important adult to take them seriously?  Again I am finding that the best kids books speak to the developmental stages of the intended audience, and agency is huge for the intended age range.  Kids this age are finding out what they are good at, and kids so much want to feel like they can change the world too. They are also discovering what they won’t be good at too, but Sophie does not have to deal with that.  Unwanted kids make magic in Dahl’s world.  I want to see this movie now, which is a high accolade, as I don’t make time for movies usually.

A Book Where the Protagonist Has Your Profession (Popsugar):

 The Good Psychologist.jpg
The Good Psychologist, Noam Shpancer
Protagonist, not antagonist or evil mentor…the good guy here. The Psychologist does not get a first name in this book, nor an age, nor any physical description.  He is known through his thoughts, actions and mostly his words. He does not have a lot of backstory. Obviously Dr Shpancer is well versed in his job and the field.  This book starts off slowly and takes time to build into the conflict. The protagonist makes generalizations and talks a lot in metaphor, when teaching and being a clinician, which is not me as a clinician so much, and he is more rigid and ethical in his work and works with anxiety, which is much more cut and dry than treating other disorders, but I was pleased to see that he uses and talks about other forms of therapy as well.  And I like that it talks about his own growing emptiness as well as the conflicts of the characters around him.He makes a mistake that would be very easy to make but also serious as a clinician, and he is battling his own emptiness while taking care of the emotional needs of clients and students.  It’s an easy trap to fall into as a Psychologist.
Interesting reaction on my part, it drives me nuts when counselors/psychiatrists/psychologists really violate boundaries in books or popular media by sleeping with their clients or otherwise, but I really wanted this protagonist to like, bust out.  He kinda does bust out a little in his personal life and bend some rules, so maybe the author shares my contempt for plots that involve huge ethical transgressions, not simple mistakes that we all have made as clinicians.  But I wanted him to do more.  I wanted him to shake it up in a more dramatic way.  This novel is educative, this novel is quiet.  Much like its protagonist.

The First Book in a Series by a Person of Color (Book Riot, Read Harder):

 The wrath and the dawn.jpg
The Wrath and the Dawn, Renee Ahdieh
I don’t know how much this author counts as being ‘of color’ as she is more a lighter cafe au lait than some authors, but I decided that she counts as non-white.  Book Riot has made me consider the origin of the author more than I ever have, which is probably the point.  Usually I am like oh hey this is recommended, or this is an iconic work, or this looks interesting, or this group of books would make an interesting blog series or post, or that cover is not letting me say no!  I don’t think about the author’s heritage but Book Riot focuses on that a lot with their list, where Popsugar asks me to read more about and by famous people, which I have little taste for.  Nonwhite people are interesting and have new perspectives for me to consider. I don’t care what many famous people say or do.  Anyway. This book is a modern iteration of 1001 Arabian Nights and the author makes no attempt to conceal that, and I liked that. I read some of the real tales in college.  The only thing that was difficult for me in this book is again, Shahrzad is way more bold and brash than would ever be accepted in that time and place.  It is cool that she is powerful as well as beautiful, as YA heroines are, but I feel like it is anachronistic.  I say feel like because I don’t know for sure how much attitude was tolerated from a young woman at that time in any part of the world, but I am pretty sure that her telling the guards that she will do what she wants is not realistic.  I have been wanting to read some of the books that influenced Jane Austen (yes, white women protagonists in Europe) and now I want to more to consider what really makes a bad ass woman of an earlier time.  To a lesser degree I felt that Thorn was a little to bad ass for her time, too, but I also know that a book needs to have a character who can make things happen, have some agency.  How did Pamela, Evelina, and Cecelia do it?  I know Cecelia was an heiress so that gives her more wiggle room but seriously.  Men could put clauses in their wills that you could be robbed of your livelihood if you slept with other dudes after they were dead.  Women were well behaved because their survival depended on it.  The next book in the series will be released this week so I might look into it at some point. The story is good, I liked the writing, and I care about the characters.
Happy May!  How are you doing on your reading goals for 2016? Leave a comment for me below!!!

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