Alongside thousands of readers worldwide, AAS Moscow patrons can discover a remarkable true story through the largest global digital book club, Big Library Read. From April 1–15, booklovers can borrow, read and discuss Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung’s heartbreaking yet hopeful Homes: A Refugee Story ebook from their library with no waitlists or holds. AAA Moscow readers may join by visiting https://soraapp.com/library/aasru downloading the Sora or Overdrive app. More than 19,000 libraries around the world are participating.
Big Library Read is available in more than 90 percent of public libraries in North America and facilitated by OverDrive, the leading platform for ebooks, audiobooks and magazines. Homes: A Refugee Story, a 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award finalist for nonfiction, was chosen by a popular vote of readers and librarians worldwide.
Homes: A Refugee Story chronicles the struggles of the al Rabeeah family who left their home in Iraq for Syria in hope of a safer life – just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtaposition of growing up as a typical teenager in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends.
Readers can join an online discussion about the book at https://discuss.biglibraryread.com/. The free program runs for two weeks and only requires an AAS Moscow Overdrive account to get started.
Read with us and enjoy!
The Friend really cracks open the world of modern literature with so many revelations about the culture, secrets, choices, sacrifices and mythos of those living the “dream” of being full-time writers. The self-awareness of this novel is what amazed and intrigued me but equally beautiful is the author’s exploration of grief as well as the bond between human and pet. A stunner in a tiny package, I am looking forward to reading this one again in a few years and appreciating new angles and perceptions. (Those with elderly pets as well as those with writing ambitions should proceed with caution – this book will probably hit too close to home.)
Take a look at the National Book Award site to see other winners in finalists in more categories. It’s very very well laid out and easy to click through.
I have often noticed the books that stay in my memory the longest are well-written narrative nonfiction. Here are 3 recent publications that were excellent.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
This book was a fascinating true-crime tale that connects the worlds of natural history and fly-fishing, or more specifically the tradition-laden art of fly-tying. This would be a terrific one for discussion.
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals
Sy Montgomery’s account of her life as a scientist and writer, told by reflecting on her connections with 13 amazing animal companions is a true jewel. Those border collies! The octopi! The emu! A gem to share with anyone who loves animals or memoir.
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees
This work created an absorbing portrait of the developments in Syria that led to the diaspora. This book was a terrific way to tune into a world crisis. It’s a short graphic work that leaves an impressive impact.
At AAS many students love reading science fiction, fantasy and dystopian novels and I do too. Some new and wonderful options are Dry, The Wicked King and Trail of Lightning. Here’s more info about each.
Dry: The residents of Southern California were warned to conserve water but almost no one was prepared for the day that the water taps were turned off. This harrowing survival story feels all too possible.
|The Wicked King: The sweet and horrifying splendor of the world of faerie is back in book 2 of the Folk of the Air, but alas it was such a scintillating read that I finished it in one day. I’m considering reading the Cruel Prince again and then this one a second time. It was a brief but rich dalliance and I can’t wait for more.
|Trail of Lightning: Packed full of action with mysterious characters both human and from Pueblo mythology. I thoroughly this enjoyed this fast-paced dystopian adventure.
Recently the fourth and fifth grade classes have both begun literature units exploring historical fiction with a special focus in the fourth grade on refugee stories. These two new books are both excellent choices in the genre. A Story Like the Wind begins with 9 people on a boat on the open waters of most likely of the Mediterranean Sea. The refugees are all sharing the small supplies that they have managed to bring such water or a bit of food, however one boy has nothing to share but the story of a white horse that through his refusal to be tamed brought about the end of a despotic tyrant. It’s an especially lovely book with a scattering of beautiful drawings along with the story-within-a-story text. The Night Diary is set in 1947 at the time that Pakistan was established as a separate state from India. This is a problem for young Nisha and her family as her father is a Hindu and must now relocate the family. Because he is a doctor, Nisha’s father delays the move until another doctor can come to replace him at the hospital. This means that when the family finally begins their journey ethnic tensions and conflict have become quite dangerous. The perilous trip is also complicated by drought conditions and the health of both Nisha’s elderly grandmother and twin brother. The text of the story is recorded in diary entries from Nisha to her mother who died during childbirth. It is quite a heartfelt and memorable tale.
Are you looking for some good nonfiction books? Two great ones that I read over winter vacation are Tara Westover’s memoir, “Educated,” and Priya Parker’s guide to creating optimal events, “The Art of Gathering.” In Educated: a memoir, Westover recounts her riveting life story of growing up off the grid, largely homeschooled and unsupervised. In spite of so many obstacles, she goes on to seek her own education and even more important her survival. In The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters Priya Parker supplies the reader with many tips on how to throw a wonderful and inclusive gathering whether it is a birthday party, a dinner party or a less ceremonial event. The last section of the books is perhaps the most interesting when she describes the work she does in worlds of business and world politics.
So many good picture books have been published about famous historical figures lately that we had to make a new section to feature them. Please ask any staff member to point you to the “Genre_Lifestory” boxes where you will find books like this one about Mary Shelley who grew up to become one of the first major female writers. You will also find books about famous scientists, explorers, inventors and more. All of these books have great illustrations but will not overwhelm the reader with text. Other biographical books with more writing and fewer visual features will remain in the general biography section J 921. Happy reading!