Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books That Pleasantly Surprised Me

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Close-up of the hand of a white person as they begin unwrapping a red ribbon that’s been tied into a bow around a box wrapped in red and white striped paper. I love being pleasantly surprised by what I read. Here are my three answers from three different genres: literary fiction, memoir, and middle grade. I read them all last year.


Title and Author: Miss Jane by Brad Watson.

How It Surprised Me: This is loosely based on the the fascinating life of the author’s great-aunt.

Both the great-aunt and the main character of this tale were born in the early 1900s with severe urogenital birth defects that made them permanently incontinent and unable to have sex or bear children. The doctor in the opening scene talked about how bleak the protagonist’s life would probably be if she were lucky enough to survive the night. Doctors had no idea how to repair such defects when she was born. The prejudice against disabled people and their families was horrible back then, too, and there were no social services or support groups to help her or her family.

I shuddered when I read his dire predictions and was so relieved and surprised to see what a nice life that little baby ended up having. Yes, she had serious medical and social challenges from her first day until her last one, but she also had a kind family who gave her the best possible life they could for that era. It was such a nice tribute to the author’s great-aunt and everyone who loved her.


Title and Author: Cold: Three Winters at the South Pole by Wayne L. White

How It Surprised Me: I hadn’t realized how many traditions the scientists working at the South Pole have invented to help them get through the winter. For example, they have regular movie nights together and do regular check-ins with each other to make sure everyone’s mental health is still okay. The anecdote about how and why crew members convinced Mr. White to have fancy candlelight dinners with all of them was also hilarious and well worth reading.



Title and Author: Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

How It Surprised Me: I’d forgotten this series begins with older sister Beezus as the main character. I wonder if my local library didn’t have that book when I was in elementary school? At any rate, it was interesting to transition from Beezus’ point of view to Ramona’s perspective for the rest of the series when I reread it last year.


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12 Responses to Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books That Pleasantly Surprised Me

  1. They all sound so interesting, Lydia. I’m particularly drawn to the second book you mentioned, Cold: Three Winters at the South Pole. I’ve always been fascinated by how those scientists in the south pole manage to live their lives and do their jobs in such harsh conditions.

    • Thank you, George.

      Yeah, it takes a lot of planning to keep people healthy at the South Pole. I’m impressed by everyone who lives there or makes it possible to live there!

  2. There’s so much to doing research at the South Pole that I just never considered. That sounds like an interesting read.

    As an older sister, I always connected with Beezus more than Ramona. But still, I tend to forget that the first book isn’t focused on the younger sister! The series sure shifted as it continued.

    • It was fantastic!

      Hello to a fellow older sister. 🙂

      And, yeah, the Ramona books shifted for sure. I’ve often wondered what Beezus’ perspective would have been in those later books.

  3. I loved Beezus and Ramona when I was a kid, and I didn’t remember it was about Beezus first too.

  4. Does your library still have “Henry Huggins,” “Henry and Ribsy,” and “Henry and Beezus”? They came before “Beezus and Ramona.”

    I think, because the characters aged slowly, Ramona belonged more to Generation X while Henry and Beezus were baby-boomers. Ramona totally stole the show!

  5. I do like the sound of the one at the South Pole.

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