Most people's responses when I bragged that I read 100 books this year were something along the lines of: "Yeah, but all you read are kid books." First of all, did YOU read that many books this year? Second of all, yeah 20 or so of the books listed are picture books, and most of the novels listed are categorically "YA (Young Adult)," but they're still books. And I learned just as much, if not more, from Mo Willem's Leonardo, The Terrible Monster than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
So here they are, loosely in the order I read them. Some have reviews I copied and pasted from what I wrote on Goodreads. I am distinguishing picture books, audio books, and graphic novels with parenthetical statements for those who are interested in format. Books I'd highly recommend are preceded by 2 stars (**).
(NOTE: After closer examination, my tally was technically 99 and 1/3 books, as I still have yet to read the remaining 2/3 of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.)
**1) Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Took 2 days to read. Everyone, especially if you have any relation to education (teacher, administrator, student, parent, counselor, librarian, etc.), should read this. You'll fall in love with August and have an eye-opening look to how, not just classmates, but their parents (atrocious!), try to act like he's not good enough to be part of the school just because he has a facial deformity.
**2) Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper
3) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
4) The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
**6) The Giver (re-read)
8) Divergent by Veronica Roth
9) Feed by M.T. Anderson
Also, I felt very connected to Violet's desire to meet at least someone (in this case a boyfriend, who she [sort of] finds in Titus) to know and understand her. I can identify and empathize with the pain of discovering someone has blatantly chosen not to read pages and pages of thoughts that one chooses to share. It made me think about all the times in college when I would send novella-length e-mails home to a group of people that I thought might care, trying to make connections. What if most of those just ended up in the virtual trashcan?
Throughout the book, I felt the same feeling I felt in the middle of watching Wall-E in a dark theater full of people staring at a giant screen... in a downspiral of depression.
It reminds me of a Wilco lyric: "...our stories fit into phones..."
Although I actively participate in all these social networking "feeds," I always feel somewhat guilty and am worried for the future of kids who only know of human interaction involving some form of a screen. It's scary.
And this was written almost a decade ago before every social networking site had what they now call "[news] feed." Crazy.
Maybe this deserves an extra star for making me think so much, despite not loving how it was written...
11) The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
14) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
15) Holes by Louis Sachar
18) The Calder Game by Blue Balliett
**19) A Thousand Splendid Suns (audio) by Khaled Hosseini
21) You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah! by Fiona Rosenbloom
22) The Maze of Bones (
Also, I think the fact that each book is written by a different author is kind of jarring and doesn't bode well for the consistency of Amy and Dan's adventures... especially with the number of characters involved.
Despite not being blown away by it, after I did a presentation about the series in my School Media Center class, lots of seasoned YA librarians said their students love the series, and that it's especially well-received by reluctant readers. Hence the 3 stars.
A compelling, interesting and super fast read. I learned a good amount of Stalin's regime and the relentless fears of the Russian people by viewing the communist happenings through the eyes of young Sasha.
The illustrations help convey a time of fear and darkness as well.
Was surprised it ended where it did but ultimately thankful.
**24) Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Cute, easy read. Definite option for story hour- lots of potential for emotion and voices and Viorst provides 3 different endings, which could be fun to do with kids as well.
**26) Lulu Walks the Dogs by Judith Viorst
28) Rules (audio) by Cynthia Lord
29) The Pillars of the Earth (audio) by Ken Follett
It's really hard to imagine that the story is real.
I loved it.
31) Will Grayson Will Grayson (audio) by John Green and David Levithan
32) Tell No One (audio) by Harlan Coben
33) The Boss Baby (picture book) by Marla Frazee
34) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
35) Blankets (graphic novel) by Craig Thompson
36) Queen of the World! (Babymouse, #1) (graphic novel) by Jennifer L. Holm
Let's just say there are few books that have caused me to actually shed tears. As readers who get a glimpse into the love- and my oh my isn't it the love we all long for and deserve- between Hazel & Augustus and the importance each of us has to someone else in this crazy world.
Halfway through I was enjoying it but wasn't sure I was buying into all 5-star hype. By the end, though, I was filled with so many overwhelming feelings--not just sadness, but also heart-bursting love for the world and the people in it--it's hard not to praise the work fully.
38) Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
39) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
**40) The Help by Kathryn Stockett (The movie is *terrible* and totally cheapens the book.)
41) Swallow Me Whole (graphic novel) by Nate Powell
43) American Born Chinese (graphic novel) by Gene Luen Yang
44) Ghostopolis (graphic novel) by Doug TenNepal
**47) 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher
I really enjoyed the format of the book and the double narrative. It evoked a lot of different feelings as I read it. Hannah's voice (at least how my brain made her sound) even pervaded my dreams last night. Every time I fell back to sleep, my dreams were narrated in her voice. Haunting.
I was going to rate this book 4 stars, but after reading the last two pages and reading the author interview about how this book has [positively] affected his teen reader audience, I'm knocking it up to a 5 out of 5 because that kind of power behind a piece of writing deserves the best praise.
I think this is an important book for teenagers to read. As the author, Jay Asher, says in an interview at the back of the book in reply to the question, "Were you ever worried that this book would be hard for people to get through because of the serious issues it deals with?"
"...Some people, primarily adults, would rather there be no books dealing with controversial subjects, even if those books help start a dialogue between teens and adults. Thankfully, I've heard from a lot of parents and teachers and librarians who are using this book for that very reason."
I liked this graphic novel and thought it was interesting that it's also labeled as a "memoir." I think the "where are they now?" type blurbs with accompanying photographs in the back of the book helped me appreciate the story even more because it helped the reader understand the context of the storyline that much more.
I didn't follow all 3,856 story possibilities, however I enjoyed following a few of Jimmy's adventures. Reminded me of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series I used to adore as a kid. Fun to see something like that in a visual, colorful map-type format!
54) Zombies in the Library by Michael Dahl
Loved how the use of neon colors were used more and more throughout the book as the brothers got closer and closer to fully utilizing their discovery.
I liked the illustrations and the story (which is pretty interesting!) was laid out simply for young readers. Definitely a unique text for young readers looking for a non-fiction book to read.
This book is written in short, eye-opening poems and spans the year of 1975. The story is told from the perspective of Há, a Vietnamese girl who flees Vietnam with her family, near the end of the war, and ends up in Alabama. The fact that it's written in poetry works really well because a lot of the details are based off the authors own memories, so it flows really well in the way that short bursts of detailed memories often do. It's hard not to empathize with Há's desire to go back to war-torn Vietnam, when none of the kids are nice to her, their evangelical neighbors practically force them to get baptized, English is impossible to learn, and she has no idea whether or not her father is still alive.
Having just traveled to Vietnam this summer, I particularly felt a strong tie to this book because of how it felt to be an American there only 40 years later.
Highly recommended. For all ages really.
**58) Halloween (picture book) by Jerry Seinfeld
59) Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech
60) A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein
**61) Animal Heroes: True Rescue Stories by Sandra Markle
**62) Wallace's Lists (picture book) by Barbara Bottner
**63) Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (picture book) by Mo Willems
64) When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry (picture book) by Molly Bang
66) Strange and Wonderful Tale of Robert McDoodle: The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Dog (picture book) by Steven Baur
68) Oh yeah! (picture book) by Tom Birdseye
Two boys who "one-up" each other about how scared they're NOT going to get sleeping in a tent outside. Liked illustrations more than the book as a whole.
69) A Frog Thing (picture book) by Eric Drachman
70) The Perfect Nest (picture book) by Catherine Friend
71) When Randolph Turned Rotten (picture book)by Charise Mericle Harper
72) The Incredible Book-Eating Boy (picture book) by Oliver Jeffers
73) Michael's Golden Rules by Deloris (picture book) and Roslyn Jordan
**74) Hippo-not-amus (picture book) by Tony and Jan Payne
75) Pete's a Pizza (picture book) by William Steig
76) Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
77) Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity (picture book) by Mo Willems
**78) Library Lion (picture book) by Michelle Knudsen
79) I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (picture book) by Lauren Child
**80) Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth (picture book) by Kate Klise
**81) Ish by (picture book) by Peter H. Reynolds
**82) The Dot
84) I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed (picture book) by Lauren Child
**86) Scaredy Squirrel (picture book) by Mélanie Watt
**87) Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
I loved that is based off the author's grandmother's own immigration story. The integration of Spanish is great. I actually wish there was more. I liked how the chapter titles are types of fruit (written in both languages) instead of numbers and how each fruit related to the story. Esperanza changes from her rich rancher mentality to a more humble and understanding person after experience life as a new U.S. immigrant.
88) The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder by Mark Cassino and Jon Nelson
89) GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka
**90) Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer
91) Baloney (Henry P.) (picture book) by Jon Scieszca
92) There's No Such Thing as a Chanukah Bush, Sandy Goldstein by Susan Sussman
I first learned about Henry David Thoreau and his beliefs in Gary Anderson's American Studies English class when I was a junior in high school. I immediately became obsessed with him and his ideologies. I just discovered this graphic novel version of some of his collected thoughts and spent the last 15 minutes reading it. I really enjoyed the introduction as a memory jog. I think the graphic novel portion does a good job of accomplishing the book's stated goal, which is to get the reader interested enough [meaning the books is fairly short and doesn't touch on ALL his thoughts, etc.] to seek out further information and writings by Thoreau. In the back of the book there are "panel discussions" which provide additional and interesting information anecdotes about some of the quotes included within the graphic novel.
96) Redwoods (picture book) by Jason Chin
97) Houdini: The Handcuff King (graphic novel) by Jason Lutes
98) The Inside Outside Book of Libraries
Never in my life have I felt like more of an ignorant American. How did I never learn about such recent history (1975-1979...people are just NOW being brought to trial for their involvement) in school?? The whole experience was so incomprehensible, this is actually my first attempt to put any of it into words.
So when I heard about this new YA novel, based on the true survival story of Arn Chorn-Pond, a few months after I got home, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy in hopes of better understanding what I saw and learned about at Choeung Ek.
It's hard not to give this book 5 stars, even though it was really hard to read. I wanted to cry or throw up after reading practically every page, and it's the first book I've read where I actually found myself questioning whether the material is "appropriate" for a young adult audience. Then I frequently reminded myself that this is, for the most part, Arn's story. This is what he really lived through in his attempt to survive the Khmer Rouge through his musical ingenious and pure luck. And everyone, young and old, should read his story so we can better understand what human beings are capable of, what they can survive and how we need to prevent history like this from ever repeating itself.
Impulse by Ellen Hopkins (finished)
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Gossamer by Lois Lowry
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson