Let's start 2016 off with some fine reading, shall we?
The Absolute Value of Mike is a darling story from the author of Mockingbird, a book I liked several years ago. It is not nearly as sad/challenging as Mockingbird, but Kathryn Erskine still tells a story that makes you think twice about grief. Mike stinks at math - which is unfortunate for him because his dad is an engineering professor and thinks Mike should be an engineer as well. But Mike is awesome at connecting with folks, so when he is sent to spend the summer with eclectic relatives, Mike finds himself in the middle of small town adventure with lots of characters. Each chapter has a math term as the title, and I would have to reread it more carefully to notice the ways the titles connect to the events of the chapter.
Fig was the January book club selection and is borderline YA/adult literature, found here on the lovely NPR Book Concierge. We had great discussion about this one, and the topics are certainly heavy with the main story line directly related to mental health. Fig (nickname for Fiona) grows up throughout the story, and as a special bonus surprise, it takes place outside Eudora, Kansas. We didn't pick it because the setting is Kansas, it just happened to work out that way!
The Opposite of Spoiled remains the only parenting book Kip and I have read cover to cover (so far!). I actually read the entire book aloud to Kip over the course of many months - I think it is the first book I've ever read aloud! I would read parts of it in the car going to Manhattan and a few pages at night before bed. There was plenty of food for thought in the book, and it inspired some great conversations about what we might like to do with our own kids. Statistically money is a major source of stress for couples when they get married, but we've been really lucky to find common ground and make money work for us together. We'll probably have to flip through this book again in a few years, but we really enjoyed the way Ron Lieber (personal finance columnist for The NY Times) tells stories and many of the philosophies in the book. You could read just parts of it and get the idea too.
Circus Mirandus was a book I thought about saving for maternity leave reading because I was SO looking forward to it. But then a brand new sparkly copy came into the school library and I had to borrow it! I loved the magic of the Circus Mirandus - you have to believe in the circus to see it - and it took many of the fantastic elements of The Night Circus and sold them in a kid friendly way. The biggest disappointment? The main character is TEN. This would have been a great book for middle school kids, but many of them will reject it because the protagonist is much younger. It's a terrific chapter book for elementary school students, and I think would be fun to read aloud together with a kiddo - the characters are fantastic.