Friday Fifteen

Friday is back, and with it comes another Friday Fifteen, in which I review fifteen books in fifteen words or less.

1. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Hated Holden initially for losing the foils; ended up enjoying the book as a whole.

2. In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2) by Tamora Pierce
Alanna (still a knight-in-training) gets to do a little more fighting this time.

3. The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno
Sad, sweet take on what happens when a boy detective grows up.

4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Rich kids are running wild. Fanny Price holds it together. She deserves better than Edmund.

5. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Combines my love of ducklings and my love of the Boston Public Gardens.

6. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
Religion and sex ed clash in suburbia. Don’t remember too much about it.

7. The Worst Years of Your Life: Stories for the Geeked-Out, Angst-Ridden, Lust-Addled, and Deeply Misunderstood Adolescent in All of Us by Mark Jude Poirier
Probably expected too much based on the title, but I was disappointed in this collection.

8. My Family Vacation by Dayal Kaur Khalsa
A favorite growing up. Still think about it when I stay in a hotel.

9. The Natural by Bernard Malamud
Roy Hobbs got what he deserved.

10. Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft by Paul S. Boyer, Stephen Nissenbaum
Read for class on Salem Witch Trials, looks at social hierarchy in Salem.

11. The Judge: An Untrue Tale by Harve Zemach and Margot Zemach
Another picture book I loved, mostly because the unjust are eaten by a monster.

12. Witch Water by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Second in the series. Made me distrust crows.

13. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Killing yourself over your teenage relationship that’s lasted four days? Not a good idea!

14. Karen’s Wish (Baby-Sitters Little Sister Super Special #1) by Ann M. Martin
Will Nanny be back from the hospital in time for Christmas? Spoiler: Yes.

15. Making a Good Writer Great: A Creativity Workbook for Screenwriters by Linda Seger and Silman-James Press
Bought this in 9th grade without noticing it was for screenwriters. Solid advice for beginners.

Friday Fifteen

It can’t be Friday without a Friday Fifteen, in which I review fifteen books in fifteen words or less. Onto the books!

1. Alaska ABC Book by Charlene Kreeger
Gifted when I was 7. Loved the art. Still makes me want to visit Alaska.

2. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
Read for high school psychology. Lots of interesting stories about brain functions and damage.

3. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Like Anna Karenina: glad I read it, wanted to care lots more than I did.

4. Mary Anne’s Bad Luck Mystery (Baby-Sitters Club #17) by Ann M. Martin
My shoutout to Friday the 13th. But come on, Mary Anne–seriously?

5. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hester is pretty cool, but I really wanted her to call out Dimmesdale.

6. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Exciting sci-fi/dystopian novel. Still can’t get over Manchee.

7. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
A classic for a reason. I loved how Mary is petulant, not the perfect child.

8. The Partly-Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
More great essays on history, politics, and media with a dash of memoir by Vowell.

9. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Another gorgeous work by Woolf. Love the passages about time.

10. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Being a preteen military genius is hard, especially with siblings taking over the world.

11. The Bridesmaids by Cherie Bennett
Very fluffy MG novel. Features characters named Juliet, Paris, and Fawn.

12. Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare
It’s Shakespeare via the Saw series. Glad I read it, but nothing compared to later works.

13. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
I didn’t like eggs or ham as a child, so this was a tough read.

14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1 by Alan Moore
Literary and steampunk-y. It’s like a graphic novel gift meant especially for me.

15. Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
I was obsessed with this play in middle school. Witty and tragic with cavalier costumes.

Vote for the Best Ever Children’s Books with SLJ

Don’t you always see those 100 Best Ever Books lists and think “But what about X? Y could never be number 1! Z should be way further up!” From now until April 15, School Library Journal is giving readers a chance to vote for their all-time favorite children’s books. Let your voice be heard!

Voting is broke up between ten favorite picture books and ten favorite middle grade novels. (Hold back, YA fans.) Fans should list their favorites in order of preference, so your #1 pick will get the most points. Make sure to click through for all the rules and forms.

I think it’s going to be hard to narrow it down to just ten all-time favorites. I’m glad there’s a little time to think about it. I might have to do a draft or two first before I’m ready to submit. Which books are on your list of favorites?

Best of the Best Reading Challenge

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, even if you really enjoy a particular activity. Goals and personal challenges can help broaden your experiences and introduce you to new, exciting work. I’ve been in a bit of a reading rut recently (mostly out of laziness) so I think YALSA’s 2012 Best of the Best Challenge might be perfect for my spring reading. The details (in short):

“The 2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge will begin at 12:01AM EST on Sunday, April 1. Once the challenge starts, you’ll have three months (until 11:59pm on Saturday, June 30) to read as many of the 80 titles counted among YALSA’s 2012 Best of the Best as you can….The Best of the Best are the winners and honor books for the Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, and Printz Awards as well as the Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks, Best Fiction for Young Adults, Great Graphic Novels, Popular Paperbacks, and Quick Picks.”

If you read at least 25 titles, you will have “completed” the challenge and can submit a reader response about your fav/least fav/middle fav title to be published on the Hub. Reading also earns you blog badges, including a super exclusive badge for reading 80.

Obviously there are lots of great titles to choose from, and several are books I might not pick up otherwise. (I’m looking at you, nonfiction.)

Check out the Hub post for more info on taking part in the challenge.

Friday Fifteen

We made it to Friday! Time for a Friday Fifteen, in which I review fifteen books in fifteen words or less.

1. How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
A favorite collection of short stories. Sharp and evocative, potential for YA crossover.

2. Fodor’s In Focus Barbados & St. Lucia, 2nd Edition by Fodor’s
Picked this up before going to St. Lucia. Moderately helpful.

3. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Nice balance of sweet and serious, with charmingly beach-y setting.

4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
A dynamic novel and a cool look at the history of comics, but the Pulitzer?

5. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
A must for writers of any level, with lots of humor and tenderness.

6. Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding by Judith Martin
Didn’t agree with everything, but made me feel more sane about my own wedding.

7. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Still want to read this every time I have a day that cannot go right.

8. Walking to Martha’s Vineyard by Franz Wright
A gorgeous collection of poetry. “The Only Animal” is a favorite.

9. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (The Penderwicks #1) by Jeanne Birdsall
Sweet and cozy family story set in Massachusetts. I would have been obsessed with this at nine.

10. Antigone (The Theban Plays #3) by Sophocles
My English teacher had to explain Oedipus to us. First use of fuck in class.

11. Hip Hop Til You Drop (Full House Stephanie) by Devra Newberger Speregen
When you can’t take dance, you read about it in a bad television spin-off book.

12. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Lively fairy tale-esque adventure with a fallen star. Not as deep as other Gaiman books.

13. The Gardner Museum Cafe Cookbook by Lois McKitchen Conroy
Haven’t tried anything yet, but it’s a fun look at culinary history.

14. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
One of my very favorites. Thoughtful and touching, with New York fifties chill.

15. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Beautifully written saga of love, plus old people hooking up.

Friday Fifteen

What’s a Friday without the Friday Fifteen? Here’s the latest and greatest in fifteen-word reviews:

1.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Feels like a modern, funnier version of The Outsiders. Used drawings without feeling gimmicky.

2. Blue Angel by Francine Prose
Expected to like this a lot more than I did. Never felt invested.

3. Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
Read for class in fourth grade. Fun, but not as memorable as Number the Stars.

4. True Grit by Charles Portis
Compelling western, quietly moving. A great YA crossover book.

5. Babe in Paradise by Marisa Silver Excellent collection of stories. Silver knows how to raise the stakes for her characters.

6. Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary by Pamela Dean
Meandering story about clever sisters and a mysterious neighbor. Confusing and plotless, but I enjoyed.

7. Color War! (Camp Sunnyside Friends #3) by Marilyn Kaye
Only one of the series I read. I preferred the BSC Special camp book.

8. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond
Lesson: generosity makes you weak. Don’t trust anyone! (At least anyone that’s a mouse.)

9. Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney
Fantastic selection of Heaney’s work. Perfect for readers new to Heaney or poetry in general.

10. Succulent Wild Woman by SARKI was 18 and liked journaling with colorful pens.

11. Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce
Essential reading for girls in middle school. First of the Tortall books.

12. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Snark and social commentary–I’m an automatic fan. Loved the explanation of Easter.

13.The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Great MG combination of family saga and ghost story.

14. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Probably inspired a lot of book clubs to try to create their own group names.

15. I Spy: A Book of Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo, Walter Wick and Carol Devine Carson
Like when I’m searching on my desk for the one thing I need.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Stuff

With the clocks shifting ahead an hour on Sunday, you might feel like your sense of time is off. Fortunately, there are two lists of time travel-related reading. We’ll get that hour back somehow!

At The Hub, Sarah Debraski has a great list of mostly YA time travel stories, including Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (which involves a time loop) and The Midnighters Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld (in which time stands still). At Secrets & Sharing Soda, Katie expands a little to MG, bringing in titles like The Time Trilogy by Madeleine L’Engle (love!).

When I was in middle school, one of my favorite time travel books was Both Sides of Time by Caroline B. Cooney. It had everything I liked–romance, the Victorian era, feminism, vague fantasy/sci-fi elements, and mysteries. When I found out there were sequels, I freaked. (The last one didn’t thrill me, sadly.)

For very mature YA readers (probably junior/senior high schoolers) I’d also recommend The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I assumed it would be kind of schlocky, but a friend gave it to me with enormous enthusiasm, and I found myself really enjoying it as well.

And of course, if you’d rather watch something about time travel, you need to check out Doctor Who. Immediately.

(image: Emo DJ Steph)

Friday Fifteen

Such a Friday! Good thing we have the Friday Fifteen, in which I review fifteen books in fifteen words or less.

1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
The perfect balance of magic, common sense, and poetry. Sophie is a favorite.

2. A Severed Head by Irish Murdoch
Everyone’s sleeping with each other and discussing it. Required reading for class; don’t remember much.

3. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Feel like this one could be a good YA crossover. Loved the bee information.

4. The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
Read while working reception in the film dept one summer. A fun, snarky road trip.

5. The Velveteen Rabbit: Or How Toys Become Real The Velveteen Rabbit: Or How Toys Become Real by Margery Williams
Aka–The Original Toy Story. I always thought scarlet fever sounded dramatic and intriguing.

6. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation by Seamus Heaney
Enjoyed it way more than I expected to. Gotta love a good monster story.

7. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Excellent writing, complex characters, and compelling plot. A fantastic start to the series.

8. Hairstyles of the Damned by Joe Meno
Manages to balance the anger, tenderness, obnoxiousness, and sadness of being a teenager.

9. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg
Solid advice and exercises, especially for beginnings. Remember Goldberg advocating for cheap notebooks.

10. The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty
Fun and quirky, but didn’t quote hold together. Vaguely reminded me of the film Happy-Go-Lucky.

11. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
Used it in middle school science project to describe light. Not a great project.

12. Great Depression Cooking with Clara by Clara Cannucciari and Christopher Cannucciari
The only book I’ve bought based entirely on Internet sensation. Clara is great.

13. Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman
Adorable and hilarious; great for young pet owners.

14. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
My favorite of the comedies. Lots of great wordplay and a dynamic plot.

15. Fly on the Wall: How One Girl Saw Everything by E. Lockhart
Fun, Kafka-esque take on high school, but not as much depth as I expected.

Happy reading!

Friday Fifteen

Another Friday Fifteen already? Get your dose of fifteen reviews in fifteen words or less:

1. The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola
Don’t remember a lot of story details, but I remember the art.

2. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Try to remember the kind of September before you fell on the steps…

3. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Dresden parts very moving; the time travel/sci-fi aspects didn’t work for me.

4. The Vile Village (The Series of Unfortunate Events #7) by Lemony Snicket
The series starts to expand to include the Snicket side of the Baudelaire mystery.

5. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Volume 1: Modern Poetry ed. Jahan Ramazani, Richard Ellmann, and Robert O’Clair
Nice variety, found some new favorites. Got to use this in class with Ramazani!

6. The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
Required reading (aka peer pressure) for the MFA.

7. Little House in the Big Woods (Little House #1) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mom read this aloud. I made her change Mary’s name to Anne. I was invested.

8. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
And you thought middle school was bad.

9. Curious George by H.A. Rey
I was always a little nervous when George got in trouble.

10. Leonardo – A Scrapbook in Words and Pictures by Grace Catalano
I thought Leonardo DiCaprio and I were going to get married. Sorry, Leo.

11. Stitches: A Memoir by David Small
Very thoughtful, moving graphic novel. A fellow book clubber got my copy signed!

12. The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
Chilling is pun-esque but also appropriate. Really enjoyed this one.

13. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
Dynamic, but for some reason I remember it less than I do Woolf’s novels.

14. River Secrets (The Books of Bayern #3) by Shannon Hale
Probably my least favorite in the series, but it doesn’t miss the mark by much.

15. The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders
One essay made me laugh hysterically on the El. Others very moving.