At the end of last year, I was super looking forward to 2015 Bout of Books. I’m on Winter Break so in theory I should have plenty of time in January to read. Then life happened and my beautiful plans to read from sun-up to sun-down fell apart.
Bout of Books took place from January 5th to January 11th. Unfortunatley, during that week, I had to read about a business trip and several screaming and sick toddlers my roommate was unexpectedly babysitting. I did not get much read. I decided to spend last week as a sort of 2nd chances Bout of Books to see if I could read anymore without distractions… unfortunately, that’s when I got hit with that stomach bug from those screaming toddlers….
During week one, I read a book. During 2nd chance week two, I read a whopping… book and a half! One half more book! Of course that book is only about 100 pages… but still it’s half read!
The book I read for actually Bout of Book had been recommended to me: Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. If you’ve ever wondered if evolution is a true fact, or if you’ve ever said to yourself (like I did), “Hey, I know evolution happened/is happening, but I’m not sure how I know that” then this is a good book to start your educational journey. It is a tough read in some places, though, and I definitely benefited from having a science (if not evolutionary science) background. The half book I read this past week is called The Big Questions: Evolution, and is part of a series of question and answer-style books on science.
The full book I read this week was a surprising gem: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz. I had to make several trips to the children’s library last year for research into children’s books for my work, and I kept seeing this book on the shelf. It looked like the kind of story that I’d have loved as a kid, so I decided what the heck, I’m not to old to read a children’s book and I checked it out.
Splendors and Glooms is a gothic thriller for children, that concerns the kidnapping of a lonely rich girl and plight of two orphans apprenticed and abused by a puppet master who is at war with a dying witch. To me, this book came off as a more Dickensian The Night Circus. I also kept getting hints of From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (another children’s book that I read when I was outside of the prescribed reading age because my younger sister refused to read it herself).
While reading, there were times when I forgot it was written for children. Part of that is because it was very well written and had some impressive language (It is a Newbery Medal winner.). It was much more richly detailed, especially in terms of smells, than a lot of fiction that I’ve read recently (which maybe says more about the quality of the books I’m reading… hmmm…). There are also several scenes where I was a like, ‘Well that would have progressed/ended a lot differently if this were geared for an older audience.’ One scene that stands out is when a man who’s been sexually harassing one of the orphans finally makes a move on her. An uncomfortable scene, but nicely handled.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Splendors and Glooms. It was a fine book to end my 2nd chance Bout of Books, and it’s one that I’d recommend to anyone who has kids or doesn’t mind reading a children’s book.