"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=========

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

If I have one deepest regret from my childhood it is that I didn't continue with my reading habits of childhood into my teen years and beyond. I only recall reading a few books in high school and I missed out on so much great literature. I read very few classics and hardly any of the popular books of the day. Since that time I have been playing catch-up. Today I finally read the incredible book, The Summer of My German Soldier, published in 1973 when I was in high school. Oh my, what took me so long? This book is a true treasure, one that should be read and savored by each generation. If you haven't read it, run, do not walk, to your nearest library and check it out.

The story is set in a small town in Arkansas during WWII when a young Jewish girl, Patty Bergen, comes in contact with a German soldier who is a POW at a nearby camp. Her life is altered in both good and bad ways from that point forward. Though the story is housebreaking sad, it is also poignant, sweet, and thoughtful. It addresses issues of racism and patriotism without being preachy and Greene's prose are masterful. I should warn you, have a tissue when you read it. I sat reading in the waiting room of the car dealership waiting for my car to be serviced and wept openly. Not a pretty sight, I am sure.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Favorite 2009-10 school year YA books

These are the favorite Young Adult books I read during this past school year (September 2009-June 2010.)

1. (Tie) Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
1. (Tie) Going Bovine by Libba Bray
3. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
4. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
5. Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
6. Fire by Kristin Cashore
7. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
8. Stitches by David Small.
9. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
10. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
11. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
12. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
13. (Tie) Maze Runner by James Dashner
13. (Tie) Rash by Pete Hautman
13. (Tie) Unwind by Neal Shustermann
16. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
17. Liar by Justine Larbalestier
18. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
19. Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman.
20. What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Graduates...What to read now?!

My daughter graduated from high school this past week-end. While I sat and listened to the faculty speaker and watched droves of students accept their diplomas I fantasized about what I would say if I were the speaker. Never mind what I thought I'd say because I soon set my brain to the challenge of making recommendations of good books for graduates to read some time in their lifetime. This thought then morphed into an idea for a blog post, this blog post.

For many individuals not going on to college high school will be the last time that anyone tells you what to read or how much to read (25 books a year is the recommendation at my school.) Selection of reading materials will now be a personal choice. Here are a few recommendations from me:

1. Read for information---Want to know more about a subject? Read a book and you will find yourself becoming a mini expert on the topic. I recommend anything by Bill Bryson, Mary Roach, Erik Larsen, David McCullough, or Jim Murphy.

2. Travel to other lands without leaving home--- books open up other lands and cultures. Books can be about traveling such as any book by Rick Steves or they can be stories that will entertain and enlighten at the same time. A few books I really like about other cultures are: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (India); The Power of One by Bryce Courtney (South Africa); #1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith (Botswana); A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute (Australia); and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Afghanistan.)

3. Read or re-read some of the classics. You may be surprised how much you enjoy these books if you don't have to read them. Read the books that everyone else seems to talk about but for some reason you've never had the time or interest before. Feel free to watch the movie before you read the book or listen to an audio version of the book. Here are a few I suggest: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee; Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov; Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

4. Get to know an author and read everything they've written or try an author whose body of work deserves a peek. May I suggest: Barbara Kingsolver; Annie Lamott; John Green; and, of course, Jane Austen. Try Kurt Vonnegut; Cormac McCarthy; Philip Roth; Ivan Doig; and Mark Twain.

5. Try books in a variety of genres or join a book club and make a commitment to read whatever the group suggests. I am often pleasantly surprised when I read books that I would never have selected on my own. Talk to others about books. Find out what people are reading.

6. Visit your public library. Librarians are great resources. Use them!

Whatever you do. Wherever you go. Read. READ. READ.