I am succumbing to the temptation to make end-of-year lists. I am something of a list-maker in any case, and certainly take stock of my reading from time to time. I do NOT keep a log of all books read, though. It just has never been something that resonated. So what sort of list will I make? There is no need for another “best books” list and I am not the person to make one. My field is technology and I lag behind my colleagues who teach the lit classes. Still, I want to make a list. So here is what I did: I asked myself what books I do I really remember from the past year, making the assumption that they will be the ones that for me held the most meaning. The books are largely YA, my favorites, along with a few titles that are certainly high school and up. I will attempt to tell what it is that I have taken away from each title, which I guess reflects a bit about me as well as each book. The only memory aid I have allowed myself is to look up/verify exact titles/authors. If I do not remember enough about the book to discuss it without reviewing, then it does not make the list!
I should add that when I say these are books I have read, it would be more accurate to say they are ones I have experienced. Because I have access to so many wonderful audio books, a good number of them are books I heard rather than read. I will try to remember and make note of which ones were enjoyed in which media. So, here they are, and in no particular order:
- · London Calling—This book had a lot to say about history and also about school bullying. I think it stayed in my memory particularly because of the boy’s travel to England, seeing some things that I have seen and making me want to visit other sites. It is one I heard.
- · A Thousand Splendid Suns—This one I purchased and read. I was eager to get a copy because I liked Kite Runner so much that I both read and listened to it. Certainly this is one of the standouts of my reading year. It seems impressive to me that Hosseni can portray the points of view of his women characters in such a compelling manner.
- · The Invention of Hugo Cabret—I cannot imagine that this book is out on tape for the average reader. Clearly the visual affect is a huge part of the book’s charm. I really cannot think of another book with which to compare it. Something new under the sun! I really liked the combined effect of the art and the story, and also liked the fact that I learned so much from the book.
- · Next I think I will mention two titles in the same entry: The Higher Power of Lucky and The Mailbox. They both deal with the stressful situations of children who feel alone and unwanted. They both contain a goodly amount of suspense as the reader wonders how their complicated and unique situations can be resolved. They are both top notch titles for middle readers. As for the hoo-haw over Lucky, I find it beneath contempt and only worth mentioning because it indicates the tunnel vision of those who would censor.
- · Next I will mention the two big fantasy titles getting this year’s buzz. I really liked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I am not a huge Harry fan though I certainly applaud what the books have done to get kids to read. But I thought this was one of the best. The ending, which I know failed to please everyone, worked well for me. I like having my cake and eating it too! The other big title would be The Golden Compass, which by coincidence I read this past summer. I had been meaning to read Pullman for years, and finally put the audio in my car and enjoyed it thoroughly. I was raised a strict Baptist but found nothing in this book to offend. For most readers, it just portrays the classic struggle of good and evil. And so what if the author was an atheist? Are we going to pitch out all titles written by non-believers? Scary…much more threatening than the evil forces conjured up by either Rowling or Pullman.
I tend to favor fairly short blog postings, so am going to bring this one to a close and take a rest. I am on a plane bound for Oregon from Houston and hoping for a snack soon. In the next posting I will wind up my list. Oh and do I recommend all the titles I am describing? Of course! I think you will find that none will disappoint. That is why they are still hanging around in my head here at the end of the year.