The Phenomenally Indecisive Book Club Reading List for February, March, April, and May

I decided to map out the few months for the book club. I’ve tried to plan out the books 2-3 months in advance in the past, and it has worked well for those dealing with long wait lists at libraries. As much as I would like to plan out the year in advance, I won’t. Too many great books pop up out of nowhere for me to make that kind of commitment!


February you already know is Junot Diaz’s short story collection This is How You Lose Her. Yunior, the common thread throughout all the stories, is the narrator in Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the Pulitzer Prize. If you have the time to read it before This is How You Lose Her, I would recommend you do. Yunior is such a charming, engaging Lothario of a character. You can’t hate him even for all his indiscretions. I think Junot Diaz wrote this collection of short stories not just because people wanted more Yunior–I think Junot Diaz wanted more Yunior, too.

Fun fact: February is the 1 year anniversary of the book club!


I was going to say that I picked something totally different for March, but every book I’ve picked has been totally different. How about this: this one is really different. This is our first–and perhaps only–book for middle school children. The PIBC has forced me to pay more attention to the what is happening in the world of publishing, and I couldn’t ignore the awards this book has won.

School Library Journal Best of Children’s Books 2012

Kirkus Reviews Best of Children’s Books 2012

Amazon 2012 Best Books of the Year, Middle Grade

Chicago Public Library Best of the Best 2012

New York Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing, 2012

Cybils shortlist, 2012 middle grade fantasy (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards)

Texas Bluebonnet Award, 2013-14 Master List

2012 Nerdies Book Award, middle grade fiction

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews:
“How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.”

Starred Review, School Library Journal:
“The characters will capture readers’ hearts and never let go. A must-have.”

Starred Review, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:

“Discover an animal hero that will take his place with other courageous and beloved animals such as Babe, Mrs. Frisby, Charlotte and Wilbur. Adults reading this aloud with children will find it just as rewarding.”
–Shelf Awareness

“The best book of 2012.”
–John Schumacher (Watch. Connect. Read. blogger and 2014 Newbery committee member) and Travis Jonker (School Library Journal blogger, 100 Scope Notes, and 2014 Caldecott committee member)

“Beautifully written, intelligent, and brave book…Quite simply, this story is life-changing.”
–Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medalist, Sarah, Plain and Tall

“The One and Only Ivan will break your heart–and then, against all odds, mend it again.”
–Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor author of The Wednesday Wars

“Kindness and its ability to change lives shines through on every single page of this book.”
–Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath

I’m only guessing, but it seems to be the Charlotte’s Web for Mikey’s generation. You know what? It doesn’t matter because this video slayed me. (If the video doesn’t show up, check back because I’ll reinsert it in the morning. Stupid internet.)


Okay, The Shoemaker’s Wife could be a giant pile of rotten tomatoes for all I know. I picked it for the very pretty cover. I was searching for some good historical fiction, and this book popped up. In reading the description I don’t know if I would call it historical fiction, but it seems interesting. Also, the cover.

Kindle users: It’s now on sale for $2.99! (81% off!) Buy here.


For all the hyper self-analysis I do, personal development books usually make me scrunch my nose. That said, I like Brené Brown and what she has to say. Her video on shame and vulnerability is a favorite. I’m going to give Daring Greatly a chance because I trust the author to do a good job with the subject matter and teach me everything I need to know about moving past perfectionism. Here is the book trailer.

That’s it! Four months of books. I hope you like the picks. Heck, I hope I like the picks.

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. Kourtney says

    Love it. I’ve read Daring Greatly and it was one of those books that I knew I wanted to re-read before I finished reading it the first time. Very research and science based, but with great stories.
    I also read that Yunior. Funny, precise, good.
    So, since I loved those books, I’m downloading the other books now. Thanks for the ideas. Have a wonderful day. Just started reading your blog from Minimalist Mom blog and love your style.

  2. Jeanine says

    For a future pick, I would highly recommend Surprised By Oxford by Carolyn Weber. It’s a fascinating account about how God drew the author to Himself, even though she had absolutely no plans to get to know Him.

  3. says

    I’m looking forward to all these picks! I had to laugh–The One and Only Ivan is this month’s Hot Read at our upper elementary school and featured in their monthly “Reading With the Stars” club (a staff member picks a book to present and read an excerpt, and the kids enter a raffle to be one of the first 10 readers to take home a copy of the new library book and get their name inscribed in it). I don’t always keep up with what my 4th grader is reading anymore, so this will be fun!

  4. Laura says

    Thanks so much for picking Ivan. I loved it the first time I read it and my third and fourth grade students loved it and cheered when it won the Newberry. I have vivid memories of visiting Ivan when I was a kid. I’m so glad this author took on his story and gave him a voice.

  5. says

    I’m a fairly new follower of your blog, so I haven’t joined in your book club yet, but it just so happens I’m reading This is How You Lose Her right now. Yay for relevance!

    I’ve also read The Shoemaker’s Wife, and I really, really enjoyed it. I am normally not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I thought this one was pretty great.

  6. says

    Yay!! I’m glad the picks are (so far) well received and that a few of you have already read them. One, that helps with discussion. Two, it’s nice to hear thoughts upfront about a book. It encourages people who might otherwise be reticent to pick up the book and give it a try. Though, most people here are pretty darn excellent about reading outside their comfort zone. It’s kind of what the book club is all about.

    I try to find books that aren’t super, super new. Lots of people rely on the library for these books, and to pick a new release means a large portion of the members can’t participate.

  7. Karina says

    These look interesting. I hope I can get them from my library in time to join the discussion. I have missed the last few discussions.

  8. YJ says

    I love your kindle sale tips!! I cannot get myself to buy a kindle book for $16 (other than the 2nd in the Shadow series) but for $3? DONE.

  9. says

    I love Brene Brown. I haven’t read her books yet but she spoke at BlissDom a couple of years ago and it was rather life-changing. I’ve read other books by Trigiani before and they’re usually interesting and easy reads.

  10. Susan G says

    Yay – books!! I bought the two Diaz books and just got the short stories down to read them, but now I’ll read the other one first. Thanks for the tip. OK even thinking about Charlottes Web makes me teary, and that trailer about did me in. We’re out of middle school but I am looking forward to reading it. Almost bought the Trigiani book several times (I agree – love the cover) so definitely will now. And I don’t know anything about the last one, but you know me – I’ll go along with that too!


  11. says

    Totally on board for the Ivan book and the pretty cover book. Choosing books by covers is an extremely astute manner of choosing quality books, in my opinion. Sometimes, it’s the ONLY way I choose books :)

    Very excited!!

    • Caroline Ryan says

      I am so happy that I came across your book club. I have not joined yet because I am still trying to navigate the computer stuff…..I would probably be one of your older members. I have the Trigiani book. I, too loved the cover. I plan to read your other recommendations and I would love to participate in one of your discussions.

      I want to thank you and the group for the wonderful discussion of Rules of Civility. I was the group leader for the discussion of that book for my book club and I found your club meeting invaluable in making up my questions. You were my “secret weapon”!


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