"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rash by Pete Hautman


I really should read more Science Fiction because I seem to enjoy it so much. This book helps confirms this notion. Set in the U.S.S.A (not a typo) around 2075, Americans have given up freedom for safety. Children are not allowed to do anything that could possibly injure them without wearing protective gear such as helmets and padding. Things like bee-stings are worthy of a ride in an ambulance and saying mean things to another person could land you in detention center whose working environment could be called slavery. Football has been outlawed for 30 years because of it's potential for harm. Yet Bo, the hero of this story, finds himself playing an illegal game of football without any rules or referees.

I found this tale to have an intriguing and inventive storyline. Just the mention of this book to one of our school's football players generated interest and a "I want to read that book next" from him. Since I am always on the hunt for books that would interest teen boys, I am glad that I read this one so I have more material for recommendations. I also will explore other titles by Hautman.

I met Pete Hautman last year at the Washington Library Media Association's conference in October and I apologize to him (if he ever reads my blog) that it took me a whole year to finally read one of his books. I visited Hautman's webpage to see what he had to say about Rash and I was really intrigued by this quote: "Coming up with book titles can be difficult, but this one was easy—I knew what I wanted to call it from the outset. But then, as soon as I saw the first copy of the book, I wished I had titled it '2084.'" The whole senior class at my school was required to read 1984 this summer and now I find another connection to that book.

YA Fiction; 4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Summer 2009 Top Fifteen Books for Teen Readers



At the beginning of each school year I create a display with the favorite books that I read over the summer. I rank the books 1-15 and try to generate interest in them through my descriptions and their prominent placement in the library. Here is a ranked list of my top 15 YA picks (or adult books that I think teens will like):


1. Tamar: a Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal by Mal Peet
2. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
3. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
4. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
5. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
6. Rebel Angel by Libba Bray
7. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
8. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
9. Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
10. Before I Die by Jenny Downham
11. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohen and David Levithan
12. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthey
13. The Killer’s Cousin by Nancy Werlin
14. Impossible by Nancy Werlin
15. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson

*The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery was my favorite read of the summer but it didn’t make this list because the vocabulary would be too challenging for the average teen reader. Another book that should have made the list was Shakespeare: World as Stage by Bill Bryson. I left it off because I do not have a copy of it in my library.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery


I feel very emotional about this book. Not in a sad-weeping-despondent emotional way but more in a I-am-so-enraptured-that-I-can-scarcely-catch-my-breath sort of way. It is hard to compare this book to anything that I've ever read before. Reading it elevated my thinking to an aesthetic level seldom experienced by me, at least by literature. Perhaps I touched this level more often while listening to some classical piece of music exquisitely executed like Dido and Aeneas by Purcell (mentioned on page 275 by Renee), Suite No. 3 in D Major by Bach, or when my daughter and the Tacoma Youth Symphony play Jupiter by Holst. I was swept up in in the language. I was enraptured. This is a beautiful piece of work: literate, funny, and tragic by turn.

Here are a few quotes that I like a lot:
"Someone is playing a classical piece on the piano. Ah sweet impromptu moment, lifting the veil of melancholy- In a split second of eternity, everything is changed, transfigured." p.106

"Every time, it's a miracle. Here are all these people, full of heartache or hatred or desire, and we all have our troubles...- it all disappears, just like that, when the choir begins to sing. Everyday life vanishes into song, you are suddenly overcome with a feeling of brotherhood, of deep solidarity, even love..." p.185

"What does Art do for us? It gives shape to our emotions, makes them visible and, in so doing, places a seal of eternity upon them..." p. 203

"Melancholy overwhelms me, at supersonic speed." p. 279

Though I have gushed about this book, I must caution that I recognize that this is not the book for everyone. It is full of "big words", many that I even had to look up in a dictionary. Also, the plot of the story is as much about language, literature, Art (capitalized), music, intelligence, and insight as it is about two females that live in the same building that are struggling with how to get along in the world.

I will definitely re-read this book some day.

Adult fiction, translated from French. 5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Reading Lists and Challenges


My 2020 Reading Projects and challenges. 
Updated:05/26/20


I.
Read the current Pulitzer Prize winner for literature. Read previous books that interest me.

Year
Title
Author
Read








2020
Whitehead, Colson
Sep. '19
2019
Powers, Richard
Aug. ‘19
2019
There There (finalist)
Orange, Tommy
Feb. ‘19
2019
Makkai, Rebecca
Apr. ‘19
2018
Greer, Andrew
Mar ‘18
2017
Whitehead, Colson
Jul ‘17
2016
Nyugen, Viet
Sep. ‘16
2015
Doerr, Anthony
Aug '15
2014
The Goldfinch
Tartt, Donna
Dec '14
2013
Orphan Master's Son
Johnson, Adam

2013
The Snow Child (Finalist)
Ivey, Eowyn
May ‘12
2011
A Visit from the Goon Squad
Egan, Jennifer

2010
Tinkers
Harding, Paul

2009
Olive Kitteridge
Strout, Elizabeth
Mar '10
2008
Diaz, Junot
Jan ‘16
2007
The Road
McCarthy, Cormac

2006
March
Brooks, Geraldine
Apr '08
2005
Robinson, Marianne
Apr ‘19
2004
The Known World
Jones, Edward

2004
Evidence of Things Unseen (Finalist)
Wiggins, Marianne
Mar ‘11
2003
Middlesex
Eugenides, Jeffrey
Oct '06
2002
Empire Falls
Russo, Richard
Apr '05
2001
The Amazing Kavalier and Clay
Charbon, Micahel

2000
Interpreter of Maladies
Lahiri, Jhumpa

2000
Proulx, E. Annie
2015
1999
The Hours
Cunningham, Michael

1999
The Poisonwood Bible (Finalist)
Kingsolver, Barbara
1999
1995
Stone Diaries
Shields, Carol
1995
1994
Shipping News
Proulx, Annie
1997
1992
A Thousand Acres
Smiley, Jane
1993
1991
O’Brien, Tim
2009
1989
Breathing Lessons
Tyler, Anne

1988
Morrison, Toni
2010
1986
McMurty, Larry
Apr 2020
1983
The Color Purple
Walker, Alice
2009
1981
Toole, John Kennedy
2013
1977
Roots (Special Pulitzer)
Haley, Alex
1977
1973
The Optimist’s Daughter
Welty, Eudora

1972
Angle of Repose
Stegner, Wallace
1995
1961
Lee, Harper
2008
1953
The Old Man and the Sea
Hemingway, Ernest
1972
1948
Michener, James
May ‘17
1940
The Grapes of Wrath
Steinbeck, John

1939
Rawles, Marjorie K.
Jan ‘16
1937
Gone with the Wind
Mitchell, Margaret
1974
1932
The Good Earth
Buck, Pearl S.
1973
1928
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Wilder, Thorton

1925
So Big
Ferber, Edna

1921
Wharton, Edith
Apr ‘16

II.
My goal is to read two books for each award year
2019 completed



III.
Read the Printz Award and honor books each year
Highlighted titles=READ
2020 Awards go to: 

  Michael L. Printz Award (Best YA literature of the year) 2020
  • Dig by A.S. King- Award
  • The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi- Honor
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki- Honor
  • Ordinary Hazards: a Memoir by Nikki Grimes-Honor
  • Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean- Honor


IV.
2020 Audiobook Challenge
My goal is to listen to more books than last year, which was 42.
1. Blowout by Rachel Maddow, read by the author
2. Normal People by Sally Rooney, read by Aoife McMahan
3. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, read by Steve West
4. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Letham, read by Geoffrey Cantor
5. Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart, read by Christina Moore
6. Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton
7. East of Eden by John Steinbeck, read by Richard Poe
8. Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart, read by Christina Moore
9. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman, read by Michael Sheen
10. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle
11. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, read by Derek Jacobi, Mae Whitman, Tantoo Cardinal, and Bryce Dallas Howard
12. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, read by Allyson Ryan
13.  Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais, read by Katherine Lee McEwan and Bahni Turpin
14. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith, read by  Robert Glenister
15. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, read by Peter Coyote
16. The Restaurant at the End of the World by Douglas Adams, read by Martin Freeman
17. Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions by Amy Stewart, read by Christina Moore