June: Books Plus

My reading brain is mostly only up for middle grade, young adult, and the like, as I’m trying to use it for other things.  June has been a month of sprinkler fun, lemonade, planting (metaphorically and literally), hiking, and then a stomach virus that got us good. I hope it’s been one of positive growth for you, my friends.

My Reads

➕ Anne Bogel’s Don’t Overthink It
Realized this genre is more for me in podcast form or articles and feel so guilty saying that because I so appreciate Anne Bogel’s work!
Annie Barrow’s and Sophie Blackall’s Ivy and Bean: One Big Happy Family
Thank you so much to Chronicle Kids for our copy.  I’ve been wanting to read this series for a while because Annie Barrows is the writer who came in to finish The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  This book felt a lot to me like books by Beverly Clearly- that humorous authenticity of kids- and I’ll be reading the others with Maeve for sure.
I chose to start with this one in the series because it’s every big nerd’s dream to sleep at a museum, right? Maeve is particularly obsessed with this one and pretends to be all the girls.
➕  Kelly Starling Lyon’s Jada Jones: Rock Star
A girl pumped about rocks? I’m in. Another series Maeve and I will be reading a lot.
➕  Kara LaReau’s The Uncanny Express
I found the first in this series hilarious and this one probably even more so because of all the Murder on the Orient Express spoofing.  Dry wit, puns, good times adventuring with the Bland sisters (first names’ Kale and Jaundice) who want nothing to do with adventure.
➕ Hilary McKay’s The Skylarks’ War
This book is something special- a sibling of The Wednesday Wars (that aching beauty) and a fresh descendant of many of our beloved children’s classics (boarding school, Cornwall summers, absent parents, found family, coming of age with humor and heart). So many of you will love this one!
➕  Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy Tacy
My comfort series. You’ve heard me rave already, right?

➕ Renee Watson’s Piecing Me Together

A new favorite.  The craft of this coming of age story is brilliant and I know it’s one I’ll re-read many times.
I love Cisneros’ writing style. Short story collections are not a genre I gravitate towards, but I loved being immersed back into her voices and will definitely teach some of these if/when I go back to teaching.
A very sweet book with all kinds of frame-able pages.
➕  Kate Messner’s Chirp
A lot of elements of this felt like a return to books I loved growing up: a mystery to solve to save her grandmother’s cricket farm business, summer camps, new friendships.  That meant that the element about sexual harassment really surprised and unsettled me, but I do think it’s so, so important to talk about with your kids- just something I wish I had known going into it.
➕  Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet
A YA about hunting literal monsters that is mostly deeply scary because of the real monsters in our world. The reader of this audiobook is fantastic. “The first step to seeing is seeing that there are things you do not see.”
➕  Jason Reynold’s Patina
Reynolds is a master of voice and I love how he uses track to delve into the lives of his characters.  I think so many of you would really enjoy this and the first one in the series, Ghost.

➕  Janae Marks’ From the Desk of Zoe Washington

Baking plus Boston plus the need for criminal justice reform equals all the bonus points in this sweet middle grade.
➕  Jenna Evan Welch’s Love & Gelato
I had grown very weary of YA romances, but this one is very cute and the setting of Florence plus a mystery to uncover…really good. I’ll be reading the rest of Welch’s books for the perfect escapism.

➕  Maira Kalman’s And The Pursuit of Happiness

A tribute to America putting me a bit more in the mood for July 4 (along with reading this Frederick Douglass speech). Kalman is upbeat and admiring of the ideologies, but does address the abominations (if not enough).  Her illustrations and how she sees the world is, as always, beautifully compiled.
➕  Maira Kalman’s My Favorite Things
Again, everything Kalman touches is imbued with magic. This book, about the collection she put together for the Cooper-Hewitt, is wonderful.

New To Us Toddler Reads

➕ Nancy Lambert’s and Anne Passchier’s Go Vote, Baby!
So thankful to Harper Kids for our copy. This is a fun board book where your kid gets to slide to vote on things like dog or cat, chocolate or vanilla. If you know me, you know I like making people make tough choices ; ), so this one is fun, plus it’s the perfect opportunity to start conversations about voting young.


Every Little Thing podcast
This is the podcast that every time I heard my husband listening to bits of it I’d ask, “what is this?”. I finally have subscribed and started listening to their backlist and am stocking up on nerdy fun facts.  Curious people, get listening.
First Name Basis podcast
Episodes like “Talking to Your Children About Slavery”, “The Untold Story of the Star Spangled Banner”, “How to Avoid Cultural Appropriation”…this is a great one.
I always love this podcast and this was a particularly fascinating episode!


➕ India Arie’s  “A Beautiful Day”
➕ Ben Platt and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s  “Found/Tonight”
➕ Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”
➕ Paul Simon’s “Father and Daughter”

TV and Movies

➕ Never Have I Ever
The authenticity, humor, and heart of this show…brilliantly done.  Mindy Kaling is the co-creator and main writer and I think the best of her work shines here.
➕ The Lovebirds
Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are so hilarious and talented.  This is a rom-com, but think more along the lines of Date Night. Lots of laughter during this one and wish there were more movies like this!
➕ Taste the Nation
Padma Lakshmi is so smart and I love the thought-provoking nature of exploring what American food is. Pretty obsessed right now.
➕ Space Force
This was a tough one. I wanted to like it so much more than I did, and it should have been so much better, but it also was growing on me towards the end? And that voice Steve Carell is doing? I don’t know.

➕ Queer Eye season 5

Always a winner.
➕ The Crown Season 2
I like this show and admire what it must take to make it, but I always feel at arm’s length from it.  It might be that the pacing feels off – I seem to miss really important things and then they linger on a shot to set a certain mood that just makes me impatient, but I’m also pretty ignorant about British history and who am I anyways. I’ll just wave myself out, Anglophiles.
➕ City Bakes
Paul Hollywood visiting cities and trying out pastries a.k.a. what we like to do. Very enjoyable even if he’s not your favorite of the show ; ).
➕ 30 Rock
The third in our trifecta of The Office, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock on repeat, which will probably be joined by Schitt’s Creek and Superstore at some point. Any others that should be considered for TV saintdom?

What’s Not Working For Me

➕ I feel like this section just can’t say enough.

Working For Me

➕ Bike rides.
All the bike rides. With this handlebar bag.
➕ Thinking about why I read the books I read.
I’ve let mood reading remove previous intentions and that’s not okay.  If you haven’t already read it, Nic Stone’s article is fantastic. “But I can’t help but wonder how different the world would look if we’d all grown up seeing Black people do the stuff white people did in books. Going on adventures. Saving the day. Falling in love. Solving mysteries. Dealing with a broken heart. Getting caught up in a riveting love triangle. […] What if we’d seen Black people in books just being human?”.
➕ People who rethink a medium.
➕ Adventuring through others.
This article about a hike through the Dolomites is full of stunning photography and made me really miss hiking. YouTubers are taking me to countries around the world.  It’s a little painful, but it also reminds me of all the beauty out there.
➕ Making lemonade.
So easy and you get it exactly your way. I usually do 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and boil that into a simple syrup (when you can’t see the sugar crystals anymore) and then squeeze, strain, and add in three to four lemons depending on the size, plus add water to taste. Easy peasy lemon squeezey.
➕ Getting stuff done.
It feels good.

Please do join in however feels fitting to you!

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  • Laura says:

    I use simple syrup in my lemonade (and iced tea) too. I also add one orange to it. It evens out the tartness. As always a great list!

    • Erin says:

      I like the tartness, but I do love other fruit with it, too : ). You’re making me want to add an orange to the next grocery list…

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