Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Salon: TBR in 2009

Here is a list of books I'd like to read in 2009:

The House of Mirth...Great Expectations...The Magic Mountain...James Thurber...Gulliver's Travels...Little Women...Rabbit, Run...Friday Night Lights...Farewell to Arms...Crying of Lot 49...Good Man is Hard to Find...Behind the Scenes of the Museum...To the Lighthouse...Invisible Man...Native Son...A Bend in the River...Pale Fire...Appointment in Samarra...Lucky Jim...Light in August...Passage to India...Palace Walk...People's History of the United States...Sun Also Rises...That Night...Waiting for Snow in Havana...Arctic Dreams...Fire in the Lake...The Elegance of Hedgehogs...Emerson Essays...Short History of Tractors...Old Man and the Sea...Quartet in Autumn...The Sea...Flaubert's Parrot...Once and Future King...The Yearling...Of Mice and Men...Black Beauty...The BFG...Three Men in a Boat...Suitable Boy...Love in the Time of Cholera...Miss Lonelyhearts...Yacoubian Building...Snow...Sound of the Mountain...Moon and Sixpence...Portrait of the Artist

Now...where to start?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Best Reads of 2008

I've read 314 books this year and there are still ten days to go.

I am a big reader.

It's time to list my favorites for the year.

Best Award-Winners

Things Fall Apart
The Things They Carried
The Great Gatsby
Wind in the Willows
One Hundred Years of Solitude

Best Books about Happiness
What Shamu Taught Me
The Geography of Bliss

Best Books about Books
Book Smart
The Uncommon Reader
The Book Stops Here

Favorite Newberys
The Westing Game
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Going Here and There
China Road
Voyage Long and Strange
Lost on Planet China
Queen of the Road
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
Zen and Now

If You Want Bleak...
The Trick is to Keep Breathing
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Out of the Dust
Last Night at the Lobster
One-Handed Catch
The Thing About Georgie
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The Things They Carried
On My Honor
The Road
Acedia & Me

Practically Perfect in Every Way
Helping Me Help Myself
Reading the QED
Around the World in 80 Dinners

Garden Spells
When Will There Be Good News?

Newbery Books Sure to Offend
Daniel Boone
The Story of Mankind
Smoky the Cowhorse

Wonderul Kids' Books
The Hero and the Crown
Because of Winn-Dixie
A Single Shard
An American Plague
The Pepins and their Problems
Judy Moody Goes to Colege
(Cybils choices to be announced at the end of this month)

Wish I Hadn't Bothered
New Earth
Wishing Year
Art of Racing in the Rain
Zookeeper's Wife

Best Recent Nonfiction
Relentless Pursuit
Sundays in America
Beautiful Boy
Not Quite What I Was Planning
An Exact Replica
Cactus Eaters
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun
Reading the QED
Listening is an Act of Love
Proust and the Squid
Why We Hate Us

Best Recent Fiction
Olive Kitteridge
My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead
So Many Ways to Begin
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Last Night at the Lobser
Fire in the Blood
Unaccustomed Earth
The Road


My Top Ten for 2008
The Things They Carried
Things Fall Apart
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Olive Kitteridge
My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead
Relentless Pursuit
Beautiful Boy
Wind in the Willows
Not Quite What I Was Planning

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Will I Be Able to Read All My Cybils?

Three more read this week. I made two trips to the university library and one long trip to a branch of the Houston Public Library.

I've still got five left to read. All have been requested, but will they get here in time?

I have loved reading these Cybil nonfiction picture book nominees. Not a dud among them.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Wishlist Swells

These wonderful best-of-the-year book lists!

I've browsed several and my wishlist is swelling.

Here are some grownup books from best-of lists I want to read:

Personal Days by Ed Park
It was compared to Then We Came to the End, another book about the quirky world of office life.

The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby

The World is What It Is
An authorized biography of Naipaul.
The review called it one of the best biographies ever written.

My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen
The son of a rabbi wanders in search of his religious beliefs.

How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still Alive)
This one sounds like it was made for me.

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
On almost every list.
It initially didn't sound appealing to me, but if this many people love it....

The Post-American World

The Big Sort by Bill Bishop
Bishop was at the Texas Book Festival, but I didn't get a chance to hear him talk. People are segregating themselves by education and interest and level of affluence, with consequences for America.

2666 by Roberto Bolano
Rave reviews everywhere for this book.
It doesn't sound like one I'd like and it's very long...but still I'm intrigued.

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
Setting in India.

The House at Sugar Beach
Had this one from the library and gave up on it, too soon, I think now.

Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
I bought this last week and I'm reading it next.

I also found these kids' books I want to read:

What the World Eats by Peter Menzel
One of my all-time favorite reads is Material World. I've always wanted to share this book with the kids at school. What the World Eats is a kid version of Menzel's Hungry Planet.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Science fiction-ish book about an apocalyptic world.

The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman
Two reasons for reading this: Love Sid and read Roughing It this summer.

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz
Nazi Germany.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever

Adele & Simon in America

Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein

Anyone have any other books from best-of-2008 lists they are dying to read?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

2 + 3 + 2 = Book Reviews

2 Cybils

Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton by Catherine Brighton

Two more Cybils read this week, leaving eight to go.

Keep Your Eye is the story of Buster Keaton's childhood and early days in film. It is told from a first person point of view, a more powerful way to take in someone's life, but also more difficult to write convincingly.

The pictures look like little movie clips. The illustrator effectively zooms in and zooms out just like a movie of a person's life might do.

Brighton, the author/illustrator, provides a nice source list and a list of movies for Keaton and also adds a short author note at the end about Keaton's life.

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for the Presidency by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

If Hillary Clinton had won the nomination for president, this book would probably be on every library shelf in America.

It's a good book. Belva lived a big life. She went to law school despite terrible obstacles. She got her law degree despite terrible obstacles. She ran for president despite terrible obstacles.

She overcame the obstacles, time and again. What a great role model!

The book contains an extensive author's note and a selected bibliography along with a glossary.

3 More Picture Books

Up and Down the Andes: A Peruvian Festival Tale by Laurie Krebs and Aurelia Fronty

We in America seem to forget there are other countries, other people in the world.

We who are teachers should not forget this.

This book highlights the Peruvian festival held each year to honor the Sun God. The pictures and text combine to give children a little glimpse into the celebration that takes place.

The pictures are vibrant and show the colors and textures of the Peruvians who attend this celebration.

The author uses a long author note at the end of the book to explain more about the Festival of the Sun, other Peruvian festivals, a history of Peru, the people of Peru, Machu Picchu, the Andes, and cool facts about Peru.

I would rate this book a 4. Most children in the US have little exposure to Peru and this would be a welcome introduction.

Every Human Has Rights based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adapted by the United Nations sixty years ago. The atrocious violations of basic human rights by the Nazis during World War II shocked the world. A need for such a declaration was seen.

Sixty years later, reading over the list of thirty basic human rights, I am surprised to see both how fundamental they seem and how often they are ignored.

How different the world could be if countries around the world united together to ensure that all humans have these rights.

I will add this book to my school library collection.

We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures
What a beautiful book! The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides the text and children's picture book authors from around the world provide the pictures.

I am so amazed that these basic human rights are not yet deemed valid for all peoples in the world. We continually see some humans are treated better than others. Sixty years have passed since these were adapted by the UN. Will they ever be universally adopted?

I will add this book to my school library collection.

2 Grownup Books

No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin

The true stories of young men who were sentenced to death as teenagers is the subject of this book. It is a brutal world, the life of a teenager on death row. How did these young men get there?

Most hardly remember the crime for which they were given the death sentence. Most show deep remorse. It seems obvious to me as a reader that all were immature and easily led.

It is a hard decision, I think: How do you appropriately punish young people who have done abominable things yet bear in mind their age?

And we must also hope to find a way to help these people back into productive lives or, at a minimum, find a way to keep others safe from them.

These are not happy stories. It would be interesting to see what teens might think of these stories.

French Milk by Lucy Knesley

I'd originally requested this book thinking I might share it with my eighteen-year-old niece who visited France last year with her mom.

After having read it, I think not.

While, for the most part, I enjoyed reading the fun combination of comic drawings and photographs detailing the author's month-long trip to France with her mom, I am always surprised to see books I'd see as for teens containing profanity and sex-references. I was surprised to see how blase Knisley seemed to be about the entire adventure.

I wish my niece had written this book. She'd have brought to the subject things I wish Knisley had: enthusiasm for the trip, a freshness of vision, a deeper look at France, greater appreciation for writing and art.

I liked best the way the graphics were laid out, in big, full-page rectangles instead of the usual small squares. The liked the juxtaposition of photos and drawings.

But I was disappointed overall.