I like to read. A lot. I have a book “in progress” at any moment. I even have different books stashed in all areas of my house in case I happen to have a free moment, at which point, I’ll pick up that book and start reading. I even have a book in my car for times when I’m waiting for people or stuck at trains. I can’t help it, this has always been my habit. Right now, I’ve just finished a few terrific ones.
I say this all the time, even though I’m a school librarian, I try not to review books (unless I find them terribly horrible and even then, I try to be polite about it.) I don’t want to push a student (or anyone) away from a book just because I don’t like it, or think it’s subpar. Think about it, how else are you supposed to be able to distinguish between poor, ok, good and excellent literature if you aren’t exposed to all kinds? I read my share of books that are OK and that’s fine with me. Each book serves a purpose and I’m just as thankful for light, entertaining, mindless fun books, and the intense, suspenseful, life-changing books as I am for the nostalgic, old friend, comfortable couch like books.
Having said that….here are some recent books that I have found to be terrific and dare I say spectacular:
After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick. I love this author. I love all of his books. I love that he used to be a middle school teacher. Here’s a bit of history about the author. The story goes (I heard him give this speech, so I know it’s accurate) that he had a student who was going through a rough time at home. Her brother had just been diagnosed with cancer. He asked the student’s mother if he could recommend some books for her to read, to help her cope with what was happening, but he couldn’t find any books that would help this particular student. Sooo, he wrote one for her. How amazing is that? That book was called Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie. It was funny, moving, emotional and pretty incredible. He’s written a few more since then and I’ve enjoyed them all. In February, his latest book, a follow up to Drums, was released and it’s called After Ever After. I laughed out loud at parts, cried at others and found it very satisfying overall. I know I’m be vague about the actual story, but I don’t want to give anything away. Go to your local library, check it out, give it a read, and let me know what you think.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’m not sure I’m able to speak coherently about this book yet. It was so spectacular that I’m still recovering from the read. It’s been on my “List” for a while because it’s been the rave of middle school and high school librarians for about two years, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. This year it’s one of the 20 books nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award for grades 4-8. My school participates in this award, and it’s about this time of year that I start reading the nominees and figuring out which ones are appropriate for my 4/5th graders. (Two years ago The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan won….incredible book…another special treat.)
While The Hunger Games is not quite appropriate for my students, for anyone older than 13 or 14 I say go for it! (side note: this is a perfect book for a parent to read with a teenager…lots of deep discussion material here and I promise you’ll find it exciting, fascinating and thought provoking). It’s about the US in the not so distant future, which has become a dystopian society divided into 12 districts. Districts vary in jobs, wealth, resources and life is not pleasant. In an effort to control and oppress the citizens, the Capitol hosts the annual Hunger Games where 2 tributes from each district (one boy and one girl from 12-18) are chosen lottery style and dumped into an arena competing to become the last one standing. It’s brutal, intense, ridiculously addictive (I stayed up all night to finish reading and then I finally took a breath) and a fascinating story. I’m so glad I finally read it, annoyed it took me so long and really want to share it with others. The characters are well-developed, rounded, unpredictable and very believable. Highly recommended.
Books I’m reading right now:
Heat Wave by Richard Castle — I’m a big fan of the TV show and I just borrowed the book from a coworker.
To Kill a Mockingbird – This is my “car read” right now — loaded on my ipod
Books I’m looking forward to reading soon:
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris — out in early May
The Gregor series (by Suzanne Collins)