It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson
This novel, Jackson’s first, came not long after her collection of short stories, The Lottery & Other Stories. The Road Through the Wall, while not an instant classic, reveals the awakening of Jackson’s voice in fiction. With a cast comprising an entire neighborhood, the book ranges in and out of the households that line Pepper Street. Protagonist, Harriet, lives an adolescence not unlike Jackson’s own growing up. Ambitious in every way, this novel tackles the issues of class and race inequality in Jackson’s day with insights that reach into our own century. Beyond all this, it is an emotional novel with a story of friendship at its heart, perfect for the window seat on a rainy spring day.
Tomorrow Will be Better by Betty Smith
A lesser-known title by the author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, this novel fell out of print for decades after its 1948 publication. The story is a layered look at a young woman’s quest to be happy despite a world that seems determined to grind her down. Surrounded by despondent adults and careless friends, Margy Shannon struggles against the undercurrents of urban poverty but nevertheless finds herself in a mismatched marriage to a man she doesn’t understand. Margy’s optimism carries her through, though the reader wonders if she’ll ever find what she seeks.
How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
A fun read with historical insights and a run-down of the most influential inventions of the modern era. With the Industrial Revolution, the door to modern conveniences as we know them opened. The 19th and 20th centuries saw meteoric advances in technology, communications and medicine, which changed our day-to-day lives in ways our ancestors could never have dreamed. Some of the ‘conveniences’ we rely on every day have even deeper relevance, as explored in Johnson’s How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, a great read for lunch hours and bedtime.
Loaves and Fishes by Dorothy Day
Dorothy Day was among the founders of the Catholic Worker House, an early 20th century institution designed to address homelessness and poverty. Loaves and Fishes traces the journey of this monumental project from its ideological inception through decades of tireless effort to open shelters, provide meals and offer basic services to the poor. A farm is established to supply the food, volunteers are recruited to cook and serve. An activist, advocate, and proud single mother (when women like her were shamed and humiliated), Dorothy Day gives us a book that remains a road map for those who seek to serve our most vulnerable neighbors.
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
An adventurous story of two boys, their dog, and a search for buried treasure. The excitement rises as the boys dig deeper and deeper. The illustrations make for a fun journey underground and beyond. An easy read for 1st grade and a great story for all ages. Will Sam and Dave find what they seek? And what secrets will the dog uncover along the way?