Bite-Sized Reading

What is the longest book you have ever read?  Is it maybe Moby Dick, War and Peace, or something contemporary, like one of Stephen King’s latest weighty tomes or Haruki Murakami’s 1000-page opus 1Q84?  I love the sense of accomplishment wading through a brick-of-a-book gives me, but there are also times where I want something lighter that I can pick up, read for a couple of minutes, and put down again until I return to it.  I have found a few of these “bite-sized” books and thought I would share them with you.

Weird Zone: Sports by Maria Birmingham. 9781926973616. 2013. Gr 3-6.

You will not find traditional versions of football, basketball, baseball, or any other mainstream sport here!  This book is dedicated to the wacky and unique sports around the world.  Here are a few examples:

  • Joggling-A combination of jogging and juggling.  Participants must juggle while jogging, and if they drop a ball, return to the place they dropped it and continue on.  This is done in distances anywhere from 100 Meters to 5 Kilometers!
  • Splashdiving-Typically, competitive divers aim to enter the water with as little splash as possible, but in this sport, the opposite results in winning.  Divers are judged based on how big a splash they make, so practice up on your cannonballs and bellyflops!
  • Chessboxing-Competitors alternate between timed rounds of chess and rounds of boxing, and win either with a checkmate or a knockout.

Each sport is showcased, and sidebars about rules and related topics enhance each entry.  This is a fun and informative title that can be enjoyed in small bits.

Why Is Milk White?: & 200 Other Curious Chemistry Questions by Alexa Coelho and Simon Quellen Field. 9781613744529. 2013. Gr  5-8.

Cowritten by an 11-year old, this book aims to answer many of the questions young scientists may have.  Alexa Coelho teamed up with chemist Simon Quellen Field to get to the bottom of such questions as, “Why do onions make you cry?”, “How do solar panels work?”, and perennial favorite, “Why is the sky blue?”

Experiments (many that require adult supervision) that enhance learning and reinforce the questions are interspersed throughout the text.  Although the graphics aren’t particularly eye-catching and the photos are black and white, the questions are interesting and the explanations are informative. This would be a great book to supplement chemistry and science classroom learning.

Yes, I Could Care Less: How To Be A Language Snob Without Being A Jerk by Bill Walsh. 9781250006639. June 2013. Gr 9-Adult.

If your like me and definately cant stand too see the english language abused, then this is the book for you.

Walsh is a copy editor at the Washington Post, and sees a fair share of writing errors as part of his job.  Here, he covers some of the most egregious pet peeves of his and others, including the incorrect usage of “couldn’t care less”, as the title suggests.   He does come across as a language snob, but tempers this by admitting that even he uses language that may be deemed incorrect by a stylebook, but essentially is correct if the intent is understood by the reader.  So, he isn’t an insufferable grammar stickler, but there are plenty of usage tidbits here to make things appealing.

The book is conducive to bite-size reading, as it has short, topical chapters and plenty of sidebars containing interesting language tidbits.  For example, there are infoboxes about acronyms that are often misused (did you know that TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration, not Transportation Safety Agency?) and movie quotes that are often misquoted (did you know that Bogart actually said “Play it, Sam” not “Play it again, Sam”?) The book ends with Walsh’s own stylebook of common mistakes and their corrections.  So, the next time someone says that their head will “literally” explode, you can use this book to gently explain to them that they probably meant “figuratively”.

So, if you find yourself with just a little bit of time to read, consider “snacking” on one of these titles.

Ryan H.Blogger: Ryan H.