Getting my read on this weekend – update on books read so far this year 3

This Memorial Day weekend, I will remember those I wish to remember and forget those I wish to forget.  I will attend to a few chores.  Mostly, I will be getting my read on! 


I am looking forward to reading some  delightful, self-selected  books and magazines.  I will not be reading a stack of proposals read line by line to check for strengths, weaknesses and inconsistencies.  I will not be pouring over summer calendar to check and recheck for grammatical and factual errors.


I thought this would be as good a time as any, to share what I’ve read since the beginning of the year.  My book reading pace is behind this year (as my site tells me whenever I log in a book I’ve finished or a book I plan to read).  Oh, well.  Things have been busy.  Work has been interfering with my life!


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

An exquisitely written book, narrated by death that shows the triumphs and horrors of the human spirit through the life of an adopted girl and her family and neighbors.  It is brilliantly conceived and written and will stay with me for a very long time.

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Why did Skippy, a teen in an all-male Catholic boarding school in Ireland, die?  In finding out, the novelist drops you into the middle of the school with its jocks, geniuses, romeo-wannabees, geeks, etc.  He also exposes the administrators and teachers and indifferent or clueless parents.  Very well-written, bawdy, laugh-out-loud funny, and tender.  Heartbreakingly real.   Great material for a movie.


Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

I don’t read mysteries much but I liked this one although it slogged a little bit.  I will read more by this author.  The cynicism of the characters borne out of their work as policemen, detectives, etc., was bracing.  Almost all of the dots connected by the end.  This is Boook 4 in the a Jackson Brodie Series.  Maybe I’ll read the others.  Maybe not.


The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

Very enjoyable and quick novel whose protagonist, Truly, is a “giant” because of pituitary problem.  Her size, in contrast to her sister’s petite beauty, makes her an outsider in a small town.  Torment and triumphs result.

The Healing by Jonathan O’Dell

This white Mississippi-bred author, writes a novel about a former slave woman who has healing powers and is a midwife in the present time and her reluctant apprenticeship under a powerful slave healer during slavery times.  The novel is fairly sensitively written and enjoyable (no “The Help” shenanigans here).  Still, I could peek his writing as an outsider even when though he writes with understanding and outrage.  Good information about the psychology behind healing and the wisdom of healers. 

The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski

Harrowing tale of an orphan during World War II who suffered atrocities from the Nazi’s and the peasants who torment and terrorize him because he is dark – looking like a gypsy. The book caused quite a stir when it was published and the introduction by the author is raw with emotion.


State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is a phenomenal storyteller.  While this novel is not quite the triumph of Bel Canto, it does grip you from the beginning to the end.  The  mystery set in the Amazon.  A pharmaceutical researcher goes missing and one of his coworkers/lab partners, Dr. Marina Singh, goes to find him and get an update on the work of her former teacher whose research he was also checking.  And that’s only the beginning.


Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke

Very engaging chapter book for children in grades 2-3 featuring Anna Hibiscus who lives in “Afridcan – amazing Africa.”  Stories about her middle-class extended family and  every day adventures f- rom being chosen to sing for the President to facing the consequences of avoiding getting her hair combed and braided – will resonate with young readers every where.  Published originally in England.  Recommended.  (This is a series of 4 books about the Anna.  There is also a lovely picture book – Anna Hibiscus’ Song.

While i like the lies, sometimes I want the truth, hence I read fiction.


The Dressmaker of Khair Khana 

Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe

By Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Even in the most repressive regimes, in this case the siege of the Taliban in Afghanistan, women find a way to support each other through the efforts of an extraordinary young woman who turns her home into a dressmaking enterprise.  Her entrepreneurial spirit, familial support, love of and sense of duty to her country, and having had a forward thinking father, mother and sister who nurtured the importance of education make her able to make a way out of no way.

Dark Tide (2003)

The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919

by Stephen Puleo

Well-written, riveting account of the Molasses Flood of 1919 in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts.  This historical account is written from many points of view – those of the corporation who built and owned the facility, the residents who lived near it, the workers and the lawyers in the resulting court case.  I learned a lot about the anarchist movement of the time as well.

The Tender Hour of Twilight: Paris in the 50s, New York in the 60s – A Memoir of Publishing’s Golden Age

By Richard Seaver

I especially enjoyed reading about his coming of age in Paris and pursuing Samuel Beckett, meeting Jean Genet and attending the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and being witness to the riots.  His attraction to bringing controversial and banned writers to print especially at Grove Press was fascinating.  Unfortunately, a lot was left out of this memoir and his years post-Grove were dispatched up in an epilogue so that the book ends abruptly.  For all of his early revealing about meeting and falling in love with his wife, his children are largely left out and it would have been nice to learn about them as adults and whether they survived his benign neglect.

Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema and the Transformative Power of Music

By Tricia Tunstal

I truly enjoyed reading about the work of José Antonio Abreu who started the El Sistema youth orchestral movement in Venezuela modestly, which became a movement throughout his country and has now gone global. Master Abreu’s  name should be on the cover of the book.  His highest profile pupil is the passionate/accomplished/young conductor Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the LA Philharmonic Orchestra who was profiled on 60 Minutes.  I especially connected with the information on learning and on give poor children the best teachers and aspirations possible.  “Culture for the poor must never be poor culture.”   

The Art of Choosing

By Sheena Iyengar

Very well-researched, academic though accessible book about how we make choices.  My only complaint was that the author cited a few too many research studies some of which are so contrived that they weren’t necessary to me.



The Things I Used to do to Sneeze: How to Live an Authentic Life with Awesome Sensations
By Monica D. Cost

This inspirational book is full of wisdom that is imminently quotable and demands to be shared.  Ms. Cost discusses how and why to leave the Land of Make Believe (where she used to dwell) and begin living an authentic life that is true to your values, desires and calling.  If there is a lack in the book, it is that it could have used a professional editor’s eye – something that many self-published books lack.  This is a minor concern because the author, a woman of considerable accomplishments in the corporate world and the proud mother of two boys, clearly had positive and useful advice to share.


 That’s the update on 2012’s reading thus far.  I plan to post more regularly about what I’m reading on this blog as well as keep updating my shelf at


If you liked this post, you might also like:

 Books I read in 2011
Writing in the Margins of Books
Learning from the Lives of Others – My Fascination with Memoirs



About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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3 thoughts on “Getting my read on this weekend – update on books read so far this year

  • Lilly

    Wow, that is a great list of books you have read this year. Fourteen books in five months is an achievement I think. For me anyway. I have only read one of those, The Painted Bird, which I really loved. How many would you read in a month if you had the time? I like the sound of a few of those particularly the one about leading an authentic life by Monica Cost. I just finished reading a magazine article about the very same thing. In other words, establish your motivations before you do anything. I forgot what you did for a living before you mentioned this in your post. I imagine it would come with a great deal of pressure. I really hope you get everything done you want to this weekend and relax. Sounds like you have a busy life. I guess reading for pleasure and reading for your career are two vastly different things. Enjoy!

  • Lisa

    Happy weekend to you Candelaria! Have fun with your reading! The Art of Choosing looks quite interesting. I recently listened to an interview with the author and may read the book. I have to finish the stack that I have first.