Fiction Read in April
Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night by James Runcie
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie
Pressed on me by a friend who became a huge fan of the Grantchester mystery series after watching the adaptation on PBS (it came on right after Downton Abbey). She (the friend) guaranteed that these would be the perfect read during a stressful or busy time of life, and boy was she right. Sidney Chambers is a Church of England vicar who lives in a small town outside Cambridge after WWII and solves mysteries in his spare time. Each book contains 5 or 6 longish stand-alone mysteries. Each story can be read on it’s own but there is ongoing character development subplots that tie all the stories together. Chief among these are the two women that Sidney finds himself drawn to romantically and ultimately choosing between. These are perfectly charming cozy mysteries but what sets them apart is the main character’s occupation and musings on issues of a spiritual nature. Sidney often finds himself wondering if he is being true to his calling as a vicar by being distracted by his detective work. He also ponders topics like the existence of evil.
In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon edited by Laurie King and Leslie Klinger
This is the second collection of homes-inspired stories edited by King and Klinger and was just as much fun to read as the first one. There are stories that are re-writes of original Holmes stories, stories that modernize one of the familiar tales and stories where Holmes is only a peripheral figure.
Non-Fiction Read in Apri
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest For Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
An amazing, inspirational story about a rowing crew team from the University of Washington in the 1930s. One of the best explorations of teamwork and what that really looks like that I have ever read. It will make you care about rowing the way Seabiscuit made you care about horse-racing. And even though you know the outcome from page 1 (spoiler…they win the gold) I found myself on the edge of my seat at times nervously reading to find out if one boy would make the team or whether they would win the big race.
Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni
We aren’t quite at the point of being swept up into college admissions mania, with our oldest child being a sixth grader. However, I know quite a few people navigating those scary waters. I found this book a refreshing look at college, however, I think it was probably written for a fairly limited audience. In fairness, Bruni is fairly clear about that early on. For those of us who live in large well-educated metropolitan areas it can seem like every one who know has a child applying to or accepted at an Ivy League school. It can feel like the ultimate validation of your educational and parenting choices is acceptance into one of a certain very small select number of colleges. This book is for those people. I also realized that although we live in that kind of area, we aren’t really those people. But it was still nice to read a book that was fairly reassuring about college and that promoted the idea that there are lots of good schools and the likelihood is that your child can get into a school somewhere that will be a good fit and a good experience for him.
That’s it for April. Turns out the theme was mysteries and non-fiction. Who knew? I am still participating in Amy’s Newbery Challenge but I chose to read my April selection (Gone Away Lake) out loud with the kids and we’re still working on it. We’re also reading Little House in the Big Woods and The Castle of Llyr and still loving listening to The Sisters Grimm series in the car.