During temple services tonight, I read some more of Independence Avenue, a children's book about a young Jewish man who immigrates from Russia to Kansas City. This is something that I started around this time last year, when I starting feeling like the honeymoon between me and Shabbat services was finally over. The services were consistently boring to me, which they'd never really been before, but rather than just cut back on going to temle, I decided to start using them as reading time. (Shamefully, this English major graduate hasn't read a lot of books in recent years. Fanfiction, yes, but not actual books.) The temple's children's library is on the way to the sanctuary, so I started sneaking books out of it and reading them during the service. It's made Shabbat services into a quiet, relaxing time that I look forward to again. I've tried to be discrete about reading during the service (I put the book insde the siddur), but my attempts at discretion always fail, so it's probably really obvious to everyone. Oh, well.
Then at some point in 2016, Sara and I got into the habit of rereading old children's books before bed. We eventually established a pattern of one book each from the Alice series, the Anastasia series, the Betsy Tacy series, and the Baby-Sitters Club. When we reached the end of a Baby-Sitters Club book, we started over at Alice. It was interesting to read them all one after the other and compare the different series. The Betsy Tacy books are really excellent and timeless, and I wish I'd discovered this series sooner. The Anastasia and Baby-Sitters Club books are good. The Alice books... man, I almost regret that we started reading those books agian. Alice's stupidity isn't as funny as it used to be, and Phyllis Reynold's dated writing, unrealistic depiction of teenagers, poor pacing, and pointless overabundance of subplots are just painful. The last book we read (Incredibly Alice) was one never-ending sludge of "this happened, then this happened, then this happened." None of the subplots connected or even served a purpose. Phyllis Reynolds was just churning them out to take up space.
Anyway, here are all the books, divided up by series:
The Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: The Agony of Alice, Alice In-Between, Including Alice, Incredibly Alice, Lovingly Alice
The Anastasia series, by Lois Lowry: Anastasia Again, Anastasia Has the Answers, Anastasia Krupnik, Anastasia on Her Own
The Baby-Sitters Club series, by Ann M. Martin: Baby-Sitters' Island Adventure, Claudia and the Middle School Mystery, Claudia's Friend, , Dawn's Big Move, Dawn and Whitney, Friends Forever, Jessi and the Dance School Phantom, Logan Likes Mary Anne, Mary Anne and the Libary Mystery, Stacey's Big Crush
The Betsy Tacy series, by Maud Hart Lovelace: Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, Betsy in Spite of Herself, Betsy Was a Junior, Heaven to Betsy
Children's books, read Friday nights at temple: All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor; Dave at Night, by Gail Carson Levine; Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye, by Lois Lowry; Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, by Judy Blume.