Friday, December 23, 2011

Best of Children's Books

Okay, I'm seriously into books right now (well I'm always pretty into books...). But I've been thinking about them a lot lately and rereading some books I loved from my childhood. (My post about the best books I read this year is forthcoming! Once I finish all the books I'm gonna read this year.)

I recently read The Wilder Life which talks about the authors absolute love for every thing Laura Ingalls Wilder. She rediscovers the books when she's older and rereads them, researches them, reads every book about Laura and visits all of the homesites. Okay.. seriously guys I was the biggest Prairie nerd ever when I was young!
I mean I was Laura for Halloween like three years in a row.
I played Little House on the Prairie all the time. By myself, with friends, in my head. Whatever. I freaking loved that series of books. I read all of the spin off series' I could get my hands on too. The ones about Rose's childhood, Caroline's childhood, etc.

I watched the TV show fairly often although I always knew that it wasn't very faithful to the books. Oh well... it was still PRAIRIE! Which was the point.

Seriously we all know Pa didn't look like that...

Look, I was so obsessed with these books that I used to bring a sunbonnet to school in third grade and play with it with my best friend. Uh yeah, and I wonder why I was seen as a bit of a freak. I also had the best lace up boots that I imagined looked a lot like Laura's. (When she actually wore shoes.)

They were a lot like these except they didn't have the zipper on the side and they were a lighter brown. But oh man I loved those shoes. I don't know where they came from but they were the perfect Little House shoes in my mind.

Anyway I've recently read Alison Arngrim's biography Confessions of a Prairie Bitch which I found fascinating and I'm currently reading Melissa Gilbert's memoir Prairie Tale. I'm just reveling in all of it. Little House was such a big part of my childhood.

Another series I especially loved reading that I was just thinking about today is the Betsy-Tacy books. I loved this series when I was younger. I still remember going to the library downtown when I was younger to borrow a bunch of the books from the series. So now my goal is to own the whole box set soon. I'm just going to have to find one I like. I already have the Little House box set.
I'm not sure what it is about these books (and many others I read in childhood like Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Kids, etc.). I just feel such a desire to possess them all. I'm not sure I'd reread all of them again. Although I have been working my way through the Little House books this winter break. I guess I just feel like an obsessive need to collect books. Which I already do a lot of... but I want so many children's books lately. I know that it will be great to have them for my kids to read eventually. And I want to be able to share the books I loved so much with them.

When the heck did I get so sentimental about books??

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite Books of 2011

Here's a rundown of the favorite books I read this year. This is by no way an exhaustive list. I'm on goodreads if you really care what I've read. But these are the ones I liked best!

Starting at the beginning of the year:

I actually read this for my voices of oppression class but I really enjoyed it. Its sort of a trip through pop culture through the lens of sexism and feminism.
Recommended for: feminists, feminist minded pop culture junkies

I loved this book. Ina May Gaskin is an incredibly well known midwife who works on "The Farm" in Tennesee. Reading this book made me want to go there to have all of my babies. This book is part guide to childbirth (as the name implies) covering all kinds of FAQ's about childbirth in general and home birth in particular. There are also a good number of personal birth stories that Ina May attended including some at "The Farm".
Recommended for: women planning home births, anyone interested in childbirth/homebirth, midwives, future midwives, anyone interested in the natural birth movement
(I'm pretty sure I got some weird looks reading this book on the airplane home from spring break since i look about 12 and was obviously not pregnant)

I ordered this book from Amazon so I got it the day it came out and I finished it later that afternoon. I LOVE Maureen Johnson and all of her books. This one is no exception. I loved the first, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and this one was just as good! I highly suggest you check out these and all of MJ's books.
Recommended for: YA junkies (actual young adults and otherwise), teens, anyone who likes reading about international travel

I love Tina Fey and this book was HILARIOUS. She writes about everything from her childhood to motherhood and deciding to have a second child.
Recommended for: fans of Tina Fey, comedy lovers, people who love Hollywood and are interested in behind the scenes culture

My dad told me about this book and how it was written by a 22 year old who just graduated college and it has already been optioned for a movie trilogy. Okay, I was intrigued. I bought it soon after it came out and actually had my bff read some of it to me after I had my wisdom teeth out (what are best friends for? :p)
We both finished this book as quickly as our little eyes could read it. What can I say about this book? Its a YA dystopia where you have to choose a faction based on personality traits. It involves controlling governments, jumping off of buildings, fighting, a deadly chasm and so much more. All I can say is do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK.
Recommended for: YA junkies, fans of dystopia fics, teens, anyone who can read! (seriously.. read it!)

Okay I know I'm like a million years behind everyone else on this series. But like everyone else, it's totally awesome! I'm actually sort of glad I read this so late after they came out because I got to read them one right after another rather than having to wait until the next one came out.
I love all three but the first is probably my favorite. Many other people have written reviews of them so I'll just leave you with the description from goodreads.
Recommended for: YA junkies, fans of dystopia fics, teens, adults

This is the memoir of a California Midwife. She chronicles the many births she's witnessed and assisted in her time. She has quite a few unique stories and provides great information on what its like to be a midwife in the United States.
Recommended for: midwives, midwives to be, nursing students, anyone interested in chidbirth/homebirths

I read this book after seeing so many people say that it was good and I also heard it was going to be a movie so I wanted to read it first. I really enjoyed it even after initial reservations that parts of the book were written in dialect (which I don't really like) but I kept reading and I really enjoyed it. I lived in the south for 12 years and this book felt like a little taste of home even though I never had african american help and thankfully didn't live in Mississippi. I know there was a lot of controversy surrounding the fact that a white woman wrote as though she was two different african american maids.. but I still enjoyed it.
Recommended for: adults, history buffs, people who love reading about the south and race relations, people interested in the civil rights movement

Alison Arngrim writes a wonderful memoir of her child star days in Hollywood playing Nellie Oleson on the Little House series. She talks about her messed up childhood, friendships onset with Melissa Gilbert and everything leading up to the present day.
Recommended for: adults, biography lovers, anyone interested in showbiz memoirs, fans of the Little House TV shows

This is the memory from the midwife Cara Muhlhahn who is featured in the documentary film The Business of Being Born that I watched in my Women's Health Issues class (its a really great film by the way!). She talks about her years as a labor and delivery nurse and her years as a home birth midwife in New York City.
Recommended for: midwives, midwives to be, anyone interested in childbirth/homebirths, nursing students

Another of Maureen Johnson's wonderful YA books. This one is a supernatural mystery/thriller about being able to "see dead people" It's set in London and I really enjoyed it even though supernatural thrillers are not my thing at all.
Recommended for: YA junkies, fans of supernatural thrillers, teens

Picked up this purely because I love any and all books about theatre, dance, ballet, etc. This is the story of a ballerina dancing for a fictional ballet company in New York City. The story is a bit thin... but there's lots of ballet and dance related fluff.
Recommended for: ballerinas, art enthusiasts, fans of dance, YA

Probably my favorite book I read this year. I heard the buzz on this book and decided I need to check it out. I've always been fascinated by circuses and that was enough to make me pick it out at the bookstore. It's set in alternating time periods of the 1890's and early 1900's. This is the most fantastical circus ever, described in rich, wonderful detail. Some people have complained that it moved too slowly for them or that the dialogue wasn't great but I enjoyed every page and I didn't want to finish it.
Recommended for: adults, anyone obsessed with the circus, fans of historical fiction, anyone who likes magicians

I borrowed this book from the library to read over winter break. I LOVED it. I've seen this book many times and never picked it up for some reason. I really enjoyed this book about the rise of raunch culture and how women are buying into it and claiming that by dressing provocatively they can be sexy and also feminists. This was a really thought provoking book.
Recommended for: feminists, feminist minded pop culture junkies

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Break AT LAST

It is finallyyyyy winter break. There is nothing so sweet as this. No studying to do until january! No classes to go to and all of my time to read!

On my reading list right now:
- The Wilder Life
- Rereading all of the Little House books. (I finished Little House in the Big Woods last night)
- My Year with Eleanor
- The Glimmer Palace
- The Vespertine
and probably a million more. I'm off to the library and Barnes and Noble today to pick up these.

I'm not doing much until christmas other than volunteering at the hospital after my 2 week break for finals week. Then we're heading to Florida after christmas! I'm so ready for warmer weather and FLIP FLOPS. Oh how I miss them.

Anyway, until later.