What I’m Reading
I covered some of what I’ve read in the last month in this post but here are a few other titles that I’ve enjoyed this past month.
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Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Set in the 1930s, Esperanza is the daughter of privilege in Mexico but all that changes with the death of her father. Esperanza and her mother are forced to flee to the United States and make a new life for themselves as workers on a company farm. My book club choose this one and it was such a timely read. It’s a middle grades novel so the symbolism is a bit obvious but I loved a new perspective on the Great Depression, including the largest forced migration in history during Mexican repatriation. If you’re curious about our country’s long and ugly history with Mexican immigrants, this is a must read and would make a great read aloud for families.
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
I’ve been on a YA kick lately (it is one of my favorite genres) and someone recommended this one. When Ginny’s quirky artistic aunt passes away suddenly she leaves behind an adventure for her niece in the form of 13 little blue envelopes. Each one can only be opened after a task is completed and good-girl Ginny finds herself traipsing all over Europe in a summer unlike any she’s experienced before. I found all the characters kind of believably flawed but also a bit irksome. I also read the sequel The Last Little Blue Envelope since book one leaves with a bit of a cliffhanger. The settings across the various places in Europe were lots of fun and the mystery of the envelopes keeps the story going. If you want a light read this is perfect.
What I’m Watching
Because I have kids who make me watch things like Odd Squad and PJ Masks, I’m pretty behind on my movie watching. Case in point, I just watched last year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture so make sure to tune in next year to see what I think of 2017’s nominations. I’m actually pretty happy with my timing because this depiction of the Boston Globe’s real life Spotlight team and their exposure of the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic church in Boston was such an eye opening look into the importance of the press. The acting was fantastic and I found myself on the edge of my seat even though I knew how the story would turn out. I highly recommend this for a first watch if you haven’t seen it, or as a rewatch if you want to be reminded of the power of a free press.
I could not love a show more than The West Wing and I think it’s evidenced by the fact that my husband and I are now starting an unprecedented third viewing of this series. Sure, I’m a total history/political junkie but even if that’s not your thing, I promise you will love the wittiness and smart writing of this show. Get past the totally ’90s feel of the first couple of seasons and just appreciate the weaving of entertainment and education on our political system. On the days when watching the news or scrolling through my Facebook feed leave me feeling helpless, an episode or two with Jed Bartlett’s administration reminds me that our democracy is worth protecting. If you want to totally nerd out, check out the accompanying podcast for each episode from some former cast members.
Bonus – both of these are streaming on Netflix right now so you can binge your heart out 🙂
What I’m Loving
I just discovered this podcast which was produced last year by the Washington Post. Each episode covers one of our 45 presidents and I started with George Washington. It’s so interesting to hear about the different men who’ve sat in the Office and to watch the context of history shape their various legacies. It’s also kind of comforting to see that we’ve had lots of different characters, temperaments and personalities in our long history as a nation. It’s a calmer change of pace from some of the other political podcasts I listen to and helps me decompress by putting some things into historical perspective.
One of the frustrations of the last few weeks of new policies is a feeling of helplessness when I see the government acting in opposition to my values and beliefs. The demonstrations of various groups are how many have found an outlet for their voices but since those are single day events it can feel like lots of waiting in between. I was so encouraged to see that after the Women’s March on Washington’s successful gathering around the globe, they are offering concrete action steps. Their 10 Actions 100 Days is encouraging activism in simple ways and whether or not you support their agenda, it certainly is a helpful way to stay engaged instead of sidelined by indifference. I know many other groups are offering the same sort of actionable ideas and appreciate all of their efforts to keeping our leaders attuned to our voices.
I’m not a winter hater in the typical sense. I appreciate a good snowfall and the coziness of shorter days but I do struggle with being cold (I also have the same problem with being hot so I’m pretty much Goldilocks when it comes to my temperature needs) and I spend most of the winter with various blankets, scarves, and sweaters wrapped around me. My husband and I play a passive aggressive game of chicken with the thermostat and since I’m often home alone to write, I end up shivering since it’s not worth turning the heat up for the the whole house. I recently rediscovered my space heater in the basement and have set it up at the table where I spend most of my time. Game changing, people! I’m warm and don’t have the guilt of driving our heating bill through the roof. It’s making winter much more enjoyable!
From the Blog
3 Ways to Make Family Travel More Affordable – It’s always nice to start thinking about a trip for spring break or summer vacation. Here’s how our family stretches our travel budget.
The Responsibility of Citizenship – My response to a quote from President Obama’s farewell address. What is our responsibility of citizenship? I wrote it the day before the inauguration and it seems to continue to be a question we are wrestling with.
How to Find Books Your Kids Will Love – We all want to raise readers but finding the right books is key. With a background in literacy education I’ve put together my best tips for picking books your kids will love.
So, what have you been into in January? What should I add to my TBR list or must see TV? I’d love to hear your suggestion in the comments below.