July Favorites: Hockey, Horror, and Check Fraud


This is our shelf of books waiting to be put in Will's Little Free Library... although I'm about to go steal that Bullfinch's Mythology for myself!

I read SO MANY BOOKS during our last full month of summer vacation! We homeschool year-round, but even so, July is our least rigorous month by far. We did some Girl Scout-related unit studies, Will continued her slog through Pre-Calculus (finishing it up just in time to start Calculus at the local community college on Wednesday!), and Syd did some sewing, but for much of that you could find me kicked back nearby, a book in my face.

Early July found me reading a slew of hockey books during the commercial breaks in the Stanley Cup Play-offs (when I wasn't browsing the NHL's online store for the weirdest jerseys to put on my wish list...). I read this book hoping to find a thorough primer on hockey, particularly how to watch it and what to watch for, etc.--

---but even though I still think the book was meant to be read by novice fans, most of it was way above my head. I got enough out of it to improve the quality of my viewing, but I'm still very much a novice and very much don't know what I'm supposed to be looking for most of the time. I did learn that watching hockey on TV is far inferior to watching it in person, though, so come fall you can find me in the stands as one of the Indy Fuel's newest fans!

Just because there's not a ton of hockey non-fiction out there, I also read both of these youth hockey parent memoirs:

They were both interesting, in that they both wrote about a world that I know nothing about--not youth hockey, not youth travel sports, not youth competitive sports in general!--but they didn't make me wish that my kids had played competitive travel sports, either! Although I DO wish either of my kids had been interested in playing youth hockey, because it looks cute.

What I did gather from these memoirs is that youth hockey, in particular, is wildly expensive, and as one of the youth sports in which a kid really does need to get the earliest possible start if they want a chance to play professionally, this makes it mostly exclusive to upper class kids. Charity or scholarship-sponsored hockey programs designed to introduce lower-income kids to the game might be fine for increasing future spectatorship, but they're not going to give those kids access to playing professional hockey one day, either because they start the kids too late or because they don't continue to pay their fees and provide their gear past that one session. 

When I'm a billionaire, I'm going to start an extracurriculars scholarship foundation for disenfranchised kids. It will start funding them when they're preschoolers, and will pay all their costs for whatever extracurriculars they want, for as long as they want them, until they graduate high school. We're talking hockey gear, riding helmets, audition fees, summer camp tuition--all that crap that we well-off parents put into our budgets to support our kids trying new activities or diving deep into their passions. It's gross how much access to money affects the opportunities that kids get.

I liked/was terrified by The Hot Zone so much that I was very eager to read the novel informed by it--

--and I was not disappointed! Mind you, it's probably too soon to be reading realistic pandemic fiction that vividly reminds us of how scary our current pandemic already is and how much scarier it could be, but if you're of a mind to freak yourself out, feel free to go for it!

I read this book while I was in Chicago with Matt, and therefore didn't have a ton of time for obsessive side research--

--otherwise, I might still be deep-diving into the weird world of tying historically accurate flies using the feathers of extinct birds. It is so weird.

Seriously, it is SO WEIRD!!!

And of COURSE the criminal who committed his crimes because of his obsessive interest in an esoteric hobby is a homeschooler. 

Lastly, here's some really good fiction that I read in July:

Coincidentally, I read The Last Days of Jack Sparks while also staying in a supposedly haunted hotel! I didn't know at the time that our hotel was supposed to be haunted, dang it, or many more hijinks would have ensued. The frightening conceit of Nothing to See Here integrates into the plot and character relationships so well that it stops feeling scary, which makes the reactions of other characters more interesting, and Convenience Store Woman has the same kind of vibe, in which while all the other characters attempt to diagnose the heroine, you become much more invested in figuring out what's wrong with THEM that they can't leave her in peace!

In other news, Will and I recently took that magical trip to Indiana Dunes National Park with Luna, and it was everything that I could have ever wanted from our trip! And honestly, not the least of our pleasures was booking an AirBnB with SO MANY TV CHANNELS. It was heaven! Not only did we watch a full season and a half of Schitt's Creek (in... ahem... four days) and spend a rainy morning watching Luca, but I also showed Will Catch Me If You Can, and now Frank Abagnale, Jr., is her hero. 

This kid is the last kid whose hero needs to be a con man, but at least he's redeemed himself, I guess! 

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