What Team Otto Has Been Reading Lately - October 2018

I thought a two-week vacation might result in some extra books logged this month, but it turns out I finished even fewer books than normal, despite lots of downtime. I think that means I just make a lot of time for reading in my regular, everyday life :)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem who was four years my senior said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.
This was a reread for me, and by far my favorite book of the month. It felt like the perfect book for fall - a coming of age story with beautiful writing, a strong social justice message, and plenty of back to school vibes. If you've never read this classic, or haven't picked it up since it was required in high school English class, I think autumn is the perfect time to give it a try!

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Mom taught me not to look away from the worst, but to believe that we can all do better. She never wavered in her conviction that books are the most powerful tool in the human arsenal, that reading all kinds of books is the grandest entertainment, and also is how you take part in the human conversation. Mom taught me that you can make a difference in the world and that books really do matter: they're how we know what we need to do in life, and how we tell others. Mom also showed me, over the course of two years and dozens of books and hundreds of hours in hospitals, that books can be how we get closer to each other, and stay close, even in the case of a mother and son who were very close to each other to begin with, and even after one of them has died.
Last year I really enjoyed reading this author's more recent book, Books for Living, so I decided to check out this earlier work. I'm so glad I did! It's an inspiring true story describing how the author walked alongside his mother, Mary Anne, as she slowly succumbed to pancreatic cancer and how reading books together cemented their bond. The book serves both as a tribute to Mary Anne and her tireless advocacy for refugees around the world (even while undergoing cancer treatments she was raising money for a library in Afghanistan) as well as a record of the diverse books they shared together, ranging from classics to poetry to modern fiction to memoir. I not only discovered many fascinating titles I'd never heard of, but I also walked away inspired to make a more meaningful contribution to the causes that are important to me as Mary Anne did.

I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

Your library holds all come in at the same time. You have reached your limit on library checkouts, but nine books are waiting for you on hold. You must decide which books to let go of to remain in the library's good graces.

You're in the middle of a great book, but you need to go to work or to dinner. Or to bed. You're in the middle of a great book, and you forget to eat dinner. You keep reading “just one more chapter” until 2:00 a.m., and you cannot keep your eyes open the next day.

You accept that it's time to cull your personal library. You lovingly handle each book, determining if it brings you joy. It does. They all do. You are full of bookish joy, but still woefully short on shelf space.
Another book about reading, and of course I loved it! I'm pretty sure I've never met a book about reading that I didn't like, and this one is no exception. This cute little book would make a perfect gift for the reader in your life or a nice conversation starter for the coffee table. It's a collection of short essays on the reading life with topics such as how to organize your book shelf, finding your identity as a reader, and what it's like to run a bookstore for a day. My favorite chapter was the laughably relatable "Bookworm Problems". Quick and easy to read, yet thought-provoking, this book is a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis

For most New Yorkers, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden & Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different.
For Clara the terminal is the stepping stone to her future. It is 1928, and Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. Fiery Clara is single-minded in her quest to achieve every creative success – even while juggling the affections of two very different men.
By 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Dilapidated & dangerous, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: is the building a landmark to be preserved or a cancer to be demolished? Virginia, recently divorced, has just accepted a job in the information booth. When she stumbles upon an abandoned art school and discovers a striking watercolor, she embarks on a quest to find the artist of the unsigned masterpiece – a chase that draws Virginia not only into the battle to save Grand Central, but deep into the mystery of Clara.
The only book I read this month that didn't exceed my expectations, I found The Masterpiece just okay. I thought about quitting a few times, but in the end I stuck it out. I wasn't drawn to any of the characters, and I found the plot's attempts at suspense and intrigue didn't really land with me. More than any of the characters, I loved the setting - an art school housed in New York's Grand Central Terminal. The descriptions of the architecture and the history of the train station were some of my favorite parts of the book.


  1. This is a fantastic collection of books! I have never heard of the Schwalbe one - I love memoirs and this one sounds really good, so I will check it out. I also look forward to reading Anne Bogel's book; it's on my library holds list!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeannie! I hope you enjoy them.

  2. Oh wow, Aimee. I have either read or am reading all 4 of your books! I do believe we're kindred spirits. I'm so glad to have bumped into you this week!

    1. What a lovely thing to say, Linda! You are so kind. I'm looking forward to exploring more of your blog as well.


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