Quiet by Susan Kane
This book came highly recommended by a friend, and I have been on the waiting list for this book for quite a while. I read it thinking about Sloane and how to raise someone who I suspect is more of an introvert. It was really interesting to read about some of her points regarding the huge cultural shift over the turn of the century, when we went from a culture of character to one of personality. She points out that this emphasis on personality encourages performance rather than deepening important character traits like integrity and humility. And because of that, in our society today, and especially in schools, extrovertness and gregariousness is more highly valued than someone who is thoughtful and reserved, without really understanding the differences. This book was enlightening in many ways and also confirms many of the things I have learned along the way from parenting an introvert. As a side note, there is a little quiz in the book to find out which way you lean, and my score returned the result of ambivert! Which is a person who has both traits equally, and I didn't even know it was a thing. I've always been fascinated about this topic (ask Ken, he will tell you I'm slightly obsessed) and I think everyone who is a member of society should read this.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Good writing, interesting premise, and very interesting themes of class. I didn't get into it until the middle of the book where I could more clearly see the bigger themes of class and race being woven together and then I appreciated what she was doing, but there was so much jumping back and forth in time and as a result it wavered my attention. Overall, I think it was a great read and I would recommend it if you love her writing, but not very memorable. (On this topic of Smith though, I love her essays and short stories in the New Yorker, and her essay, "Find Your Beach" in The New York Review of Books is one of my favorites.)
Commonwealth by Anne Patchett
I loved her recent book of short stories, "This is a Story of a Happy Marriage." I have read her books before but she really got me with that collection of essays and I have been a fan ever since. I was very excited to see what she would do with this novel and I was not disappointed. It is another one that jumps back and forth in time, but in a way that had me completely hooked. I thought the story was wonderful and it was written beautifully.
Wings and the Child, or The Building of Magic Cities by E.B. Nesbit
I am almost done with this one and I appreciate it so much. It was written in 1913, but there are many things that resonate with me as a parent who is trying to pay attention to my daughters' childhood in a thoughtful and meaningful way. The chapters include titles like: 'Imagination', 'Romance in Games', 'Beauty and Knowledge', 'Of Taking Root', and 'Playthings'. She emphasizes how important it is to remember what is was like to be a child when you are raising a child, and likens the rearing of a child to "the science of building a magic city in the soul of a child." It doesn't hurt that Cori Samuel reads this book (free on the Librovox app!) and she is such a wonderful reader.