Tag Archives: Reading

2022 Favorites

It’s a new year, and in memory of 2022, here is a list, in no particular order, of my favorite reads of last year:

FORGET THE ALAMO by Brian Burroughs, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford: Fascinating, educational, and entertaining. In a straightforward and occasionally humorous style, tears down Alamo myths and focuses on how the white supremacist tone of Alamo traditionalists erases the many contributions of Mexican Americans to Texan history.

MANGO, MAMBO, AND MURDER by Raquel V. Ruiz: A fun read. It’s a slight murder mystery but makes up for that with the Miami setting, the depiction of Cuban-American family loyalty, and lively characters.

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger: Krueger works wonders with this book. A murder mystery that also deals with such big topics as family relationships, the divide between the rich and the poor, the oppression of Native Americans, religion, and coming-of-age.

THE HENNA ARTIST by Alka Joshi: A rich story with interesting characters that kept me turning the pages. The story has a soap-opera edge that’s somewhat predictable, but the Indian setting gives it a unique and interesting quality.


The Importance of Reading to Your Children

I woke up at 2 a.m. this morning with an upset stomach. Something I ate last night didn’t agree with me. I spent a few hours in discomfort and then stayed in bed into the late morning to get some much-needed rest.

For some reason, this brief illness called to mind the many times I was sick when I was a child. I wasn’t a healthy kid. I suffered from asthma. If I caught a cold, it would often lead to breathing problems and then days of recovery and missed classes. These are not good childhood memories. However, there was a little upside to these sick days. You see, on the days when I wasn’t so sick that I couldn’t concentrate, Mom would read to me, usually from a book of fairy tales. Mom really wasn’t much of a reader herself, but she understood the importance of reading to her children. We had no color television,computers, tablets, or other technological goodies  that today’s kids enjoy. By reading, Mom kept me entertained and quiet. If my little brother happened to be sick at the same time, we’d sit together and listen to her read. Mom didn’t have much education–she had to quit school after the seventh grade–so she sometimes mispronounced the words she read. (For years, I thought Rapunzel was pronounced Rapoonzula.)

When I learned to read, I gobbled up as many books as I could get my hands on, one after the other. It’s no surprise I chose to become a librarian, and now I’m a writer. My siblings all went to college and became working professionals. One of my brothers has written books and articles in his field of work.

Mom influenced her children to understand the value of reading for forwarding one’s position in life, but also as a source of enjoyment. Thank you, Mom.

What I Read in 2017

2017 was a very good year for reading. I did not pressure myself to read a book a week as I did last year. I took my time in choosing the titles I read and as a result didn’t waste my energy with titles that fell short. If I didn’t like a book after reading the first 50 pages, I set it aside and started another. The one exception to that rule was The Wangs Vs. the World by Jade Chang. I continued with it despite my disappointment with the first 50 pages, because it had received some excellent reviews. But I didn’t like the book at all.

Altogether, I read 41 books last year. Here is a breakdown by genre and by author:

–Three were horror stories.

–Four were mysteries.

–One was a western, one was a romance, and one was a fantasy.

–Four were young adult.

–Four were non-fiction.

–Eleven were written by men.

–Five were written by Black authors.

–Four were written by Asian or Asian-American authors.

–Ten were written by Latinos.

Nothing about this breakdown surprises me. However, I notice that over the years my reading habits have changed. I once read many more mysteries and romances than I do now. I read more literary fiction now. What hasn’t changed? I still don’t read many western, sci-fi, or fantasy novels. I’ve never cared much for those genres. I definitely read more novels by Latinos than I ever did before, because there are more being published (though still not enough).

So far this year I have read three novels, and I look forward to many more good reads in 2018.


Hungry for Books

After I learned to read, I became a regular library user. The library was within walking distance, and I often visited, especially in the summertime, with family or friends. A redheaded librarian worked there. Sometimes I felt sorry for her because she was always rushing to answer questions and retrieve books. (Many years later, after I became a librarian, I was surprised to see that same redhead at a workplace function. As viewed through my childhood eyes, she had seemed an old lady, and I’d expected that she would have already retired or passed away.)

One hot summer day, my friend Donna and I ventured to the library to cool off and search for good reading material. Feeling ambitious, I pulled four big books off the shelves in the adult section. (For some reason, I thought I had outgrown the juvie area.) I can’t recall the titles or subjects of those books, only that one had pirates on the cover.  (I know. That statement makes me sound like a typical library patron.) When I left the library, I clutched the pile of books to my chest (no breasts, yet) and looked forward to losing myself between the covers of those tomes.

When Donna and I arrived at our neighborhood (she lived in a house across the street from ours), my brother, cousin, and a couple of other boys were standing on the front lawn, yakking. My brother asked to see my stack of books.

He: “You’ll never read all these books!” He and the other boys laughed.

Me (indignantly): “Yes I will!”

Brother: “No, you won’t.”

Me: “I bet you a dime (big $$ for a kid back then) I will!”

So the bet was on and I was determined to win. But I didn’t get more than five pages into the “pirate” book before realizing I was in way over my head. Sheepishly, I offered the dime to my brother who waved me away. Without his buddies to egg him on, he wasn’t going to give me a hard time about losing the bet.

My little ego suffered, but I learned a lesson. After that incident, I stuck to the books in the children’s section until I was ready to tackle the adult-level reading. This is one of my fondest memories of my childhood. I was an ambitious reader, and it’s a good thing when a child is hungry for books.