My Favorite Books, 2010 edition

31 12 2010

I have been reading everyone else’s favorite books lists and I just couldn’t help but jump in on the action.  I’m including the publication date as not all of these books were published in 2010 (yup, I caught up on some oldies but goodies this year).  With no further ado, and in no particular order:

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (2010): 11 year old Melody has cerebral palsy and has never spoken a word.  She gets a speaking machine and everything changes–except people still think she’s stupid because she drools and she’s stuck in a wheelchair.  Issues in this book were spot on, in only as many words as were necessary (as teen books get longer, I appreciate the ones that choose their words wisely more).

Chains (2008) and Forge (2010) by Laurie Halse Anderson: My review of ChainsForge is just as good, even though it’s not narrated by Isabel but by her friend Curzon, who winds up becoming a rebel soldier.  Good cold weather read as the soldiers at Valley Forge with no shoes or blankets or houses are colder than you’ll ever be.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (2010): Piper is deaf but somehow she becomes the manager of a hard rock band.  Premise sounds absurd but Piper is awesome.  Another book where you get to be in the head of someone totally different–like Melody from Out of My Mind.  I’m a sucker for this.

White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black (2010):  Science fiction!  Curse workers and mafia and more twists and turns than I can explain without spoiling the book.  Trust me, the set up is worth it.  And the next one comes out in April!

Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler (2010): I was so worried this was going to be paranormal when I read the title.  But it’s actually about real wolves in real life–the wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone.  KJ gets wrapped up in boys, wolves and small town politics.  Well-written and outdoorsy.

Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines (2009) My review on this blog

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga (2006): Unclear why I never read this one.  Fanboy spoke to me, in all his graphic novel and frustrated teenage glory.  I actually read the companion novel, Goth Girl Rising, right after I finished the first, which means I loved the characters.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown (2009): I almost forgot this one!  How could I do that?  Yes, it’s a book about the aftermath of a school shooting.  Valerie’s boyfriend was the shooter and to inspire him, he used the “hate list” that the two of them had created together.  Nick is dead but Valerie is going back to school.  As you might imagine, she is traumatized and ostracized. Just reading that description doesn’t do the book justice.  There is no moral high ground in this book–that’s the part I liked the most about it.  Valerie is struggling and you get to struggle along with her.  This shooting is also not based on any particular real life shootings and that helps it a lot.  Suffice it to say, this is a book about a school shooting that is not like any others you’ve read.  And that is probably why I was so moved by it.

I’m excited for lots of new books this coming year, including the one book I got for Christmas: Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld!  Happy New Year everyone!


Good Stories

12 09 2010

I’ve been feeling guilty lately.  No, this isn’t about being a delinquent blogger.  It’s about watching too much TV on the internet.  Recently, I’ve been addicted to the second season of Bones, that wonderfully goofy and touching TV show about forensic anthropology and the FBI.  It’s cut into my reading time–mostly because I’m back in school again and everything cuts into my reading time.  For many people, this wouldn’t be an issue.  There is something so enjoyable about loving a TV show and being able to immerse yourself in it.  But I’ve been worried–am I becoming less of a reader?  Fortunately, I’m fairly certain the answer is no.

How could one TV show be so absorbing and so satisfying?  Because it tells a good story.  I have always loved forensics, since I devoured the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell at the age of 11.  On top of fun science, Bones has satisfying personal relationships and storylines that they manage to fit into their procedural shows.  I’m impressed.  And I keep watching.

I’m not saying Bones is the only good story out there, or that I’ve given up good books for good TV. I just think that it fits into my love of stories told well.

I’ve been lucky enough to read some great books recently.  I finished Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, one of the best historical fiction titles EVER.  Seriously.  I had mediocre hopes–Laurie Halse Anderson writes great stories but who wants to read another book set during the Revolutionary War?  Turns out that I do.  I’m ready for the sequel Forge.  The way Isabel, our 13 year old narrator, tells her story in Chains is absorbing.  Learning about Loyalists and Rebels through the eyes of a slave who cares more about her own freedom than the freedom of her country, we learn a lot about history.  Or at least, I learned a lot about the importance of perspective during the Revolutionary War.  And I loved Isabel.  Anderson tells an unsexy story but an important one.  It didn’t matter that this wasn’t the kind of story I usually like–it was just told so well.  Isabel was real, so was her predicament and her growth as a character.  I recommend this book to basically everyone.

Bottom line: Good stories exist everywhere.  On TV, in books, in video games, or told by your friends.  So I won’t beat myself up over my addiction to Bones but I will keep trying to figure out how they manage to tell their story so well.  And I’ll keep looking for good stories in different mediums.