"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 2019 Reading Projects and challenges. 
Updated: 11/18/19

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


The Overstory
Powers, Richard
Aug. ‘19
There There (finalist)
Orange, Tommy
Feb. ‘19
The Great Believers (finalist)
Makkai, Rebecca
Apr. ‘19
Greer, Andrew
Mar ‘18
The Underground Railroad
Whitehead, Colin
Jul ‘17
The Sympathizer
Nyugen, Viet
Sep ‘16
All the Light We Cannot See
Doerr, Anthony
Aug '15
The Goldfinch
Tartt, Donna
Dec '14
Orphan Master's Son
Johnson, Adam

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

Harding, Paul

Olive Kitteridge
Strout, Elizabeth
Mar '10
A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Diaz, Junot
Jan ‘16
The Road
McCarthy, Cormac

Brooks, Geraldine
Apr '08
Robinson, Marianne
Apr ‘19
The Known World
Jones, Edward

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

Interpreter of Maladies
Lahiri, Jhumpa

Close Range: Wyoming Stories (Finalist)
Proulx, E. Annie
The Hours
Cunningham, Michael

The Poisonwood Bible (Finalist)
Kingsolver, Barbara
Stone Diaries
Shields, Carol
Shipping News
Proulx, Annie
A Thousand Acres
Smiley, Jane
The Things They Carried (Finalist)
O’Brien, Tim
Breathing Lessons
Tyler, Ann

Morrison, Toni
Lonesome Dove
McMurty, Larry

The Color Purple
Walker, Alice
A Confederacy of Dunces
Toole, John Kennedy
Roots (Special Pulitzer)
Haley, Alex
The Optimist’s Daughter
Welty, Eudora

Angle of Repose
Stegner, Wallace
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
The Old Man and the Sea
Hemingway, Ernest
Tales of the South Pacific
Michener, James
May ‘17
The Grapes of Wrath
Steinbeck, John

The Yearling
Rawles, Marjorie Kinna
Jan ‘16
Gone with the Wind
Mitchell, Margaret
The Good Earth
Buck, Pearl S.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
Wilder, Thorton

So Big
Ferber, Edna

Age of Innocence
Wharton, Edith
Apr ‘16


My National Book Award Challenge (click hyperlink)
My goal is to read two books for the award years by the end of 2019. (Covering the last ten years.) And to read the 2019 books when they are announced.

1. Great House by Nicole Krauss (2010 finalist fiction)
2. Incarnadine by Mary Szybist (2013 winner poetry)
3. Lighthead by Terrance Hayes (2010 winner poetry)
4. Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose (2009 Young People's Literature)
5. Redeployment by Phil Klay (2014 winner fiction)
6. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (2011 finalist fiction)
7. The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata (2013 Young People's Literature)

'My Own Books' Challenge (click hyperlink for details)
Read 1-10 books I own before May 15th and decide what to do with the book.

1. La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith (3/20/19; gave to my mother)
2. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto Mitch Albom (3/26/19; will give to my sister)
3. Gilead by Marianne Robinson (4/3/19; added to my church library)
4. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (4/5/19; will circulate as part of mini-book club selection)
5. Redeployment by Phil Klay (4/9/19; book belongs to my husband and he wants to keep)
6. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (4/12/19; will give away)
7. The Four Things that Matter Most by Ira Byock (4/14/19; will keep)