Library Chicken Update: 4/5/19

home school life library chicken
home school life library chicken

Welcome to the weekly round-up of what the BookNerd is reading and how many points I scored (or lost) in Library Chicken. To recap, you get a point for returning a library book that you’ve read, you lose a point for returning a book unread, and while returning a book past the due date is technically legal, you do lose half a point. If you want to play along, leave your score in the comments!

It’s that time of year again — the time when I finally give up on reading the entire stack of library books on whatever-flavor-of-history-we’re-doing-in-class that I’ve collected all semester. Around the time I’m starting to think about final projects it dawns on me that I’m probably not going to get to them all before we’ve actually wrapped up the class, which means that I have to return all those books (though not before making sure they’re on the to-read list for the next time we visit this era) and start collecting books for next year’s class. (It’s the American Revolution and the Civil War in 2019-2020!) It also means that my Library Chicken score is going to go negative, so I should definitely schedule more reading time next week. (Sorry fam, I know it’s my turn to make dinner, but you’re on your own tonight — Mom has to get her Library Chicken score into the positive digits!)

Stalin: A Biography by Robert Service

My last WWII book ends up being a biography of Joseph Stalin. For a child of the Cold War, I’m realizing how little I actually know about Soviet Russia. This bio was a good place to start with Stalin, if a bit dry. And depressing. Though I guess that comes along with the topic. (Okay, I lied: this isn’t my last WWII book because I’ve kept back a stash of Eleanor Roosevelt books. And I’m definitely going to get to them Real Soon Now. I’d much rather finish up with the awesome Eleanor than with this guy.)

(LC Score: +1)

If you’re going to be reading about one of the great mass murderers of history, it helps to have some Heyer on the side! These three were all new to me, and they were all quick, fun reads.

(LC Score: +3)

The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark by Muriel Spark

I like ghost stories and I like Muriel Spark, so this seemed like an obvious choice. The longest and most well-known story here is “The Portobello Road,” which I’ve encountered in other collections. It’s a very slim anthology and some of the stories here are only vaguely ghost-related, but it was a nice little break from All the War Stuff.

(LC Score: +1)

The Time Traveler’s Almanac edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Whew. At nearly 1000 pages this collection is NOT slim. But I’m always happy to dive into another VanderMeer compilation! Amy and I talked about this one on the podcast, even though I was only about 80 percent through at the time. I did eventually finish it and some of my favorite stories were towards the end: I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more by Bob Leman, Tamsyn Muir, and Carrie Vaughn.

(LC Score: +1)

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

This mystery, the first in the Ruth Galloway series, has been on my to-read list for a while, and now that I have finally read it, I have mixed feelings. I was unprepared for the brutality of the murder plot, which involves kidnapping and child murder (and even the killing of a pet animal, which SHOULD COME WITH A WARNING LABEL ON THE COVER, PEOPLE). I enjoyed getting to know Ruth, who is an archaeologist and professor, and I appreciated that she was not a stereotypical protagonist, but I thought that there were some unfortunate cliches in the way Griffiths handled gender issues and Ruth’s concerns about her weight. That said, it was a fast, entertaining read, and I have a feeling that Griffiths was just beginning to hit her stride when she wrote it. I’m looking forward to the next one in the series!

(LC Score: +1)

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders

Amy and I both enjoyed Anders’s first novel, All the Birds in the Sky (which we also talked about on the podcast), so I was very excited to read her second novel. This one is an ambitious science fiction adventure set on a tidally locked planet, meaning that the planet keeps one side facing the sun and one side facing out to the stars. Humans can only live in the small band where day meets night, and have to learn to deal with never-ending twilight. I loved the world-building here, and the way that Anders thought about all of the different ways that her characters would be impacted by this sort of life. I also loved the diverse relationships. Unfortunately, though, I thought that the plot lost some of its narrative drive and focus at a certain point, so even as we’re building to the climax things just sort of happen. Which was a bit disappointing, if only because I had such high expectations. I’m still thinking about the world that Anders created, however, and I’ll be first on the hold list for her next novel.

(LC Score: +1)

  • Books Returned Unread: -14

  • Library Chicken Score for 4/5/19: -6

  • Running Score: - ½

On the to-read/still-reading stack for next week: