Friday, August 1, 2014

More From Cheddar's Summer Reading Pile -- by Christy Mihaly

Hello friends -- Welcome to August!  Is your heap of summer reading diminishing? Have you enjoyed some of our earlier recommendations?  (Click here for Cheddar's first post.)  
In case your late-summer pile (or your writerly inspiration) is in need of replenishment, we've collected a few more book suggestions: fiction and nonfiction, for kids and adults.  Read on!
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  
Novel, 2013.  588 pages.

The kid lit world has been buzzing about the need for diversity in children's books. What better way to expand our own horizons, as writers and readers, than reading the insightful and funny work of a prize-winning novelist steeped in two cultures? Adichie, born in Nigeria, divides her time between the United States and her country of birth. This multi-layered third novel is a love story, an illumination of immigrant experiences, an education about modern Nigeria, and a meditation on identity and race.  My book club unanimously loved it -- and let me tell you, in my book club, that's a rarity.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming.
Nonfiction, for ages 9-12 (or above).
2014.  292 pages (including back matter).

Candy Fleming is one of my favorite writers -- and she has done it again with her latest kids' history book. After I heard her read the enthralling beginning of her WIP (this book) at a Highlights Foundation workshop, I knew I had to read The Romanovs as soon as it came out. Snatching up a copy the day it arrived at my indie bookstore, I dove in.  I wasn't disappointed! It's filled with well-researched, dramatic descriptions of the last years of Tsar Nicholas and his family, as the Revolution closed in on their insulated lives of obscene luxury. The author uses, and reproduces, a wealth of original documents, including many direct quotes from the young Romanovs and those around them. First-hand statements by Russian workers describing the harsh conditions in which they lived, unbeknownst to the tsar and his circle, are particularly striking. Powerful photographs add depth to the story.  A riveting read -- this is history come alive.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown.
Nonfiction, 2013.  404 pages (paperback, including back matter).

This was assigned summer reading for my 15-year old, and the high school soccer team. I don't normally go for sports books, but this one is exceptional -- I've talked to readers of all ages who love it. The book centers on the personal sagas of nine working-class kids from small towns in the state of Washington, especially Joe Rantz, who faced appalling trials with uncommon grace. Brown details the years-long preparation and training of the rowers of the University of Washington boys' crew, as they coalesced into a team.  He weaves in both the national context of the misery of the Great Depression and the parallel history of Germany's preparations to host the 1936 Olympics. Throughout the book, historical photos provide additional insight. The climax is the dramatic account of the Olympics eight-oar crew final. The book's magic is that by the end of the story, we have come to know the boys in the boat intimately, and to care deeply about the outcome of the race. This near-unbelievable tale is enriched by the author's deep research and obvious love for his subject.  
The Fault in our Stars, by John Green.
Fiction, YA
2012.  318 pages.

You can't let the summer pass you by without reading the book the teens, preteens (at least the girls) and many of their parents have been talking about, can you? John Green does a fine job creating attractive, three-dimensional, literate, believable teenaged characters coping with the pain and terror of cancer, and facing death. Plenty of humor and plenty of tears. If you're going to see the movie, be sure to read the book first.

Are you tired of Cheddar pics yet?   Her buddy Kaia is also a bookworm:
Photo by Jack Miller
Before we go, Cheddar insisted we include one of her personal  nonfiction faves:
Happy Reading, all!


  1. Love the post. Cheddar is adorable. I also recommend The Boys in the Boat. I'll have to add the others to my list.

    1. Yah, my daughter found The Boys a little slow in the beginning but reports that it's picking up now. That book is such a great way to learn about the Great Depression, among many other things.

  2. This is awesome Chris! Cheddar (and Kaia) crack me up! Nice selections.
    Well done Chris!

    1. Thanks Pam! Cheddar's recommendations have caused me to do more reading this summer . . . . I like the way reading renews my energy to write.

  3. I just adore how well Cheddar takes to posing with her favorite books.

  4. I find that pups are usually dead on in their book recommendations, so I'll be at the library today with your list. Thanks Chris and Pals! :0) - Donna Sadd

  5. Chris, Cheddar and Kaia, too: So many excellent book recommendations. Your *book reports* make me want to run, not walk to the nearest library or book store. Thank you. ~Suzy Leopold P. S. Extra treats for Cheddar and Kaia today!

  6. That's one well read dog; Kaia too! Thanks for sharing so many great books! I now have no time to do anything else...what a pity!

    1. Gotta keep reading, Todd! It helps with the writing. Enjoy!

  7. Chris, what fun! Love the list and the pictures of Cheddar! I agree about reading the book --The Fault in our Stars-- before seeing the movie!

  8. Too wonderful, Christy! I think I'll cry too much at the movie of The Fault in Our Stars but can manage to weep thru the story in book form. All these titles sound like they should rocket, or row, to the top of my reading list.
    Appreciations to Cheddar, a lovely poochie.

  9. I missed Cheddar's recommendations while I was away on vacation. Time to add some more titles to my bedside pile!