My Reading Year – 2018

 I hope you all had great reading years!

  1. The Round House by Louise Erdrich
  2. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  3. Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers
  4. What Can(t) Wait by Ashley Hope Perez
  5. Homesick by Kate Klise
  6. Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
  7. Bait by Alex Sanchez
  8. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwell
  9. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
  10. The Memory of the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
  11. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  12. As I Descended by Robin Talley
  13. An American Insurrection: James Meredith and the Battle of Oxford, Mississippi by William Doyle
  14. The Inquisitor’s Tale or The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
  15. Because You’ve Never Met Me by Leah Thomas
  16. Sachiko: A Nagazaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson
  17. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  18. A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
  19. Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin
  20. Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten
  21. Booked by Kwame Alexander
  22. It Ain’t So Awful Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
  23. Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson
  24. A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield
  25. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
  26. Meet Me in St. Louis: A Trip to the 1904 World’s Fair by Robert Jackson
  27. Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana
  28. Moo by Sharon Creech
  29. The Altered History of Willow Sparks by Tara O’Connor
  30. One Half From the East by Nadia Hashimi
  31. Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
  32. Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King
  33. Unbound by Ann E. Burg
  34. The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
  35. We Will Not be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler by Lisa Thompson
  36. The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
  37. Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
  38. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
  39. Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick
  40. Ghost by Jason Reynolds
  41. We are Okay by Nina LeCour
  42. All We Have Left by Wendy Mills
  43. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  44. Bear town by Fredrick Backman
  45. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Young Readers Edition)
  46. The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
  47. A List of Cages by Robin Roe
  48. Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
  49. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
  50. Gabe Johnson Takes Over by Geoff Herbach
  51. Paper Girls: Book One by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
  52. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow
  53. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus
  54. Mindset by Carol Dweck
  55. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  56. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
  57. Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie
  58. Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
  59. The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse by Rich Cohen
  60. Hope Nation edited by Rose Brock
  61. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  62. I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
  63. Every Breath You Take by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
  64. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  65. Devils Within by S.F. Henson
  66. Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh
  67. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
  68. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  69. Ghost land: An American History in Haunted Places  by Colin Dickey
  70. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
  71. An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard
  72. One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake
  73. Immigration and the American Backlash by John Tirman
  74. Swingtime by Zadie Smith
  75. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
  76. Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir and Steenz
  77. The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton
  78. Deep Water by Key Watts
  79. Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  80. Fault Lines in the Constitution  by Cythia Levinson and Sanford Levinson
  81. You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly
  82. In The Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
  83. Fandom by Francesca Davis Dipiazza
  84. Brazen by Penelope Bagieu
  85. Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
  86. Loser’s Bracket by Chris Crutcher
  87. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
  88. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
  89. Breakout by Kate Messner
  90. Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn
  91. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
  92. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
  93. The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter
  94. Very Rich by Polly Horvath
  95. Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
  96. If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric  Gansworth
  97. Google It: A History of Google by Anna Crowley Redding
  98. Girl Code by Andrea Gonzales & Sophie Houser
  99. Artificial Intelligence by Stephanie Samartino McPherson
  100. Mystery of Pine Lake by Tamra Wight
  101. The House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker
  102. Americanized: Rebel Without at Green Card by Sara Saedi
  103. Island Treasures: Growing up in Cuba by Alma Flor Ada
  104. Understanding Computer Safety by Paul Mason
  105. The True Gift: A Christmas Story by Patricia MacLachlan
  106. She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf – Blind Pioneer by Sally Hobart Alexander
  107. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
  108. Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
  109. The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford
  110. Together Apart by Dianne E. Gray
  111. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
  112. Soulless by Gail Carriger
  113. All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  114. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
  115. Blizzards Wake by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  116. Sparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie
  117. Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
  118. The Witch Elm by Tana French
  119. Pax by Sara Pennypacker

I apologize for any misspelled names, or transcription errors.  Thanks to all of the authors that brought me such joy this year!


On being a generalist

A couple of weeks ago, on a road trip drive, I was listening to the local NPR station, where there was a discussion of specialists versus generalists.  While I am sure that there are librarians that are specialists, I would be hard pressed to find a school librarian position that would benefit from having one deep area of knowledge instead of a wide range of knowledge.  In fact, that is one of the reasons I love the library.

On any given day I can have a wide range of discussions and educational opportunities.  It helps me to stay fresh as a learner myself, and I try and help students conduct a research search, and on the way find new information I have never been exposed to before.  It also helps me to grow my empathy for a wider range of situations, as I try to read widely in my libraries, and find new materials for all of the various students that come through the doors.

What are your thoughts?  Are you more of a specialist or a generalist in your field?  Which do you prefer – and why?


My reading year in review

Happy 2018 everyone!

  1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  2. In the Woods by Tana French
  3. The Likeness by Tana French
  4. The Secret of Goldenrod by Jane O’Reilly
  5. The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks
  6. Gunpowder Girls: The True Stories of Three Civil War Tragedies by Tanya Anderson
  7. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  8. Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA by Bridget Heos
  9. The Fire This Time Edited by Jesmyn Ward
  10. The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro
  11. March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
  12. March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
  13. The Babbs Switch Story by Darleen Bailey Beard
  14. I am Princess X by Cherie Priest
  15. Glimmerglass by Jenna Black
  16. The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan
  17. Last in a Long Line of Rebels by Lisa Lewis Tyre
  18. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown
  19. Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin
  20. A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  21. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  22. The Secret Place by Tana French
  23. Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager
  24. The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie – Sue Hitchcock
  25. Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hamilton
  26. Scythe by Neal Schusterman
  27. Under Their Skin by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  28. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  29. Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  30. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
  31. House Arrest by K.A. Holt
  32. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
  33. Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
  34. Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
  35. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  36. Train I Ride by Paul Mosier
  37. Small as An Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
  38. Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy
  39. I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlyn Alifirenka and Martin Ganda with Liz Welch
  40. Towards Zero by Agatha Christie
  41. Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
  42. The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson
  43. Real Friends by Shannon Hale
  44. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
  45. The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzales
  46. The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar by Matt Simon
  47. Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
  48. When We Collided by Emery Lord
  49. The Grounding of Group 6 by Julian F. Thompson
  50. Sad Animal Facts by Brooke Barker
  51. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
  52. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  53. The Big Four by Agatha Christe
  54. Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
  55. The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall
  56. The Clocks by Agatha Christe
  57. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez
  58. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
  59. The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie
  60. Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie
  61. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  62. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  63. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  64. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie
  65. Marseille Noir by Cedric Fabre
  66. The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
  67. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  68. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  69. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  70. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  71. Denton Little’s Death Date by Lance Rubin
  72. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  73. Nemesis by Brendan Reichs
  74. In a Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  75. Quicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle
  76. The Inn Between by Marina Cohen
  77. Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke
  78. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  79. Spirit Hunters Ellen Oh
  80. You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
  81. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  82. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Mostly): A Memoir by Felicia Day
  83. Eliza and her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
  84. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
  85. Genuine Fraud by e. lockhart
  86. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
  87. This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis
  88. How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy
  89. California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas and the Papas by Penelope Bagieu
  90. Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper
  91. Farmed Out by Christy Goezen
  92. Fallout by Nikki Tate
  93. Fish Girl by David Wiesner and Donna Jo Napoli
  94. Kicked Out by Beth Goobie
  95. Big Time by Tom Ryan
  96. Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen
  97. Tetris by Box Brown
  98. Yummy: Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri
  99. Cardboard by Dough TenApple
  100. Nightmare by Joan Lowery Nixon
  101. Took by Mary Downing Hahn
  102. At Bertram’s Hotel by Agatha Christie
  103. Close to A Killer by Marsha Qualey
  104. Guys Read: Terrifying Tales Edited by Jon Scieszka
  105. Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams
  106. The Half – Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno
  107. Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti
  108. Looking for Home by Jean Ferris
  109. Tending to Grace by Kimberly Newton Fusco
  110. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
  111. Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles
  112. What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy
  113. In the Shadow of Liberty by Kenneth C. Davis
  114. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
  115. The Brimstone Journals by Ron Koertge
  116. Bang by Barry Lyga
  117. Things I Should Have Known by Claire Lezebnik
  118. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
  119. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
  120. Everneath by Brodi SAshton
  121. Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie
  122. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  123. Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

I apologize for any errors in spelling or lack of accent marks.  Lots of great books this year!



Finding new perspectives – a podcast edition

One of my favorite things to do on my commute to and from school is to listen to podcasts.   I have been expanding my list that I subscribe to, and I think I will post on a fairly regular basis about various podcasts, because they are another way to get information on a variety of topics.

One of my favorite podcasts last year was the excellent Sampler from Gimlet Media.  The show is over now, but Brittany Luse, the wonderful host, is creating a new show, so I am excited for that.  While the podcast is over, if you are new to the world of podcasting, Sampler is a great place to try. There are only about 31 episodes, and each episode gives people a sampling  of various other podcasts- hence the name.  It helped me find Buzzfeed’s Another Round, which I look forward to weekly.  The show is hosted by Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu, and each week they interview different people, and also offer perspectives on a wide range of topics.  Their interviews with Hilary Clinton and Lin Manual Miranda are excellent, as are most of their other interviews.  They tend to ask questions I do not hear on different shows, and they bring a great joy to their work.

The last podcast I wanted to mention in this context is See Something, Say Something, which is another Buzzfeed podcast, this one hosted by Ahmed Ali Akbar, in which he talks to a variety of Muslims about their faith and experiences.  In a current environment where Muslims are often not well understood, such a show is a valuable addition.

While at this point I have not used a lot of podcasts with students, they are podcasts that help me be a better educator and librarian.  Sometimes book recommendations are shared, sometimes I simply gain a new perspective.

What are podcasts you listen to?  How are you getting information from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives?

My Top Ten Books from 2016

In a way, most of the books on this list are the ones that stuck with me, or surprised me in some way.  What were your favorite books last year?

  1. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson- This was one I read early on in the year, after the American Library Association Awards were announced.  I was really taken with it – I admit that most of my WWII era reading has focused on the holocaust, or has been somehow centered on the Allied forces, or on Germany.  To read about the horrors that faced the citizens of Leningrad during the war, and also the hope people had in resisting and surviving was highly educational and sometimes inspirational.  Also, using the life of Shostakovich, as well as his work gave a great window into a great deal of Russian history.
  2. Illuminae: The Illuminae Files _01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof – This novel was a surprise.  It came in with a Junior Library Guild order, and I just decided to give it a go.  This has a mixed media type of format, and is a sprawling, wonderful science fiction novel.  This starts with the attack of a space colony and sprawls out wonderfully from there – it is the type of novel that has lots of references for fans of science fiction in general – in the same way that Ready Player One has references for gamers and fans of the 80s.  This is one that I keep recommending to students, because I want to talk about it with other people.  If you have read it, what do you think?
  3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds – This novel was a Coretta Scott King Honor Award book, and has won several other honors and awards since, which is why I bought it for my high school library.  This is a great novel in that it deals with an incident of police brutality, and the various witnesses, and players in the same incident.  There are several vantage points, and in some ways is reminiscent of the also excellent novel How it Went Down, by Kekla Magoon.   In this case, however, both people involved in the incident survive, although one is badly injured.  A great novel both from a writing standpoint, and a current events standpoint.  I think this would be a great choice to add to a curriculum.
  4. My Name is not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson – This novel I read as part of a project for a class, and it has really stuck with me.  In my history classes growing up, the way that Native American’s were treated seemed to be simplified down to – we made treaties, we broke the treaties, the Native Americans live on reservations.  While I need to do a lot more reading to expand on this lack in my knowledge of history and oppression,  this  particular novel deals with one of the more egregious issues that came out of the treatment of Native Americans and Inuit groups, with the establishment of boarding schools that denigrated tribal languages and history, and in some cases led to children being stolen from their families and sent to school, or even being adopted into other families.  My Name is Not Easy is a useful novel to read to introduce junior high and high school students to this history.
  5. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince – This graphic novel was different from anything else I have read. I read it as a class assignment as well, but have found myself thinking about it often.  While thankfully there are more and more novels from the viewpoints of people who identify as transgender, this was interesting as the exploration of a woman’s life who identified as a tomboy, an identification that led to many questioning those choices more than being actually interested in her as a person.  Instead of capitulating to gender norms, Liz Prince instead stayed true to herself, and her compelling memoir and artwork are an important piece of work for many students that may feel the same, but struggle to articulate their place.
  6. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes – This novel makes the list because it is so well written, and while the events of the novel are shocking, and reminded me of some aspects of Titus Andronicus by Shakespeare, the titular character is so well drawn that nothing is placed for shock value.  At the start of the novel we meet Minnow Bly – we know that her hands have been amputated by the leader of the cult she escaped from, and we know that something  happened on the cult’s compound, but this novel takes the time to unravel the mysteries clearly and well.  A haunting read.
  7. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby – To be honest, I had head a lot of great things about this novel, but the first time I tried to read it this year I could not get into it.  I abandoned it, and then circled back months later. The second time I really enjoyed the fantasy/magical realism concepts that worked in the novel, as well as the mystery sections.  I think what kept me reading the second time was the mythical core of the novel, of people who have struggles, and are tasked with nearly impossible obstacles, and yet manage to find their way.  Students and adults alike that enjoy questing novels should enjoy this novel as well.
  8. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – This was on a recommended shelf at Prairie Lights Bookstore, and it was an amazing read.  The man that checked me out the day I bought it was the one that recommended it, and he was passionate about it.  I passed it on to my husband after I read it, and he loved it as well.  This novel is complex and sprawling, about a group of people called librarians – each of whom is in charge of a different catalog.  For instance, the narrator, Caroline, is in charge of language, while David is in charge of war and murder, and others are in charge of other information.  There is a lot going on beneath the surface, and the library is not at all what it seems.  This novel has both deep philosophical questions it is pursuing, and creepy moments, as well as a terrifically good story that makes it hard to put down.
  9. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah  – This was actually a Christmas present from my husband, and he is reading it now.  I enjoy memoirs, although they are not my natural first choice.  What I found amazing and wonderful about this book, was that it was extremely educational about apartheid in general – and Noah does a wonderful job of entertaining the reader in often humorous ways, while  explaining the realities of South Africa both under apartheid, and as apartheid was breaking apart.  Also, he has piqued my interest, and I would really like to read more about South Africa more. A great memoir for fans of the Daily Show, and people that would like to begin their journey in understanding what apartheid was like.
  10. Dead Wake by Erik Larson– This was a Christmas gift from my sister, and I really learned a lot.  When I was in school I remember learning about the Lusitania in a vague way – just, the Lusitania sank, and then it was used as a propaganda tool to enter WWI.  That was about the extent of my knowledge. It turns out, even that gloss of information is not really correct.   Erik Larson is so good at weaving complex strands of narrative together – and he does that so well here – drawing together the doomed ship, the uboat that was coming to sink it, and the complex political machinations going on at the same time.  Even though I knew the outcome, I found myself hoping against hope that the boat would make it.

2016: A Year in Books

I know that I have not written any posts in awhile, maybe I will do better this year – here’s hoping, but no promises.   Anyway, here is my 2016 list, just the books and authors, in the order I read them.  I apologize for any mistakes in transcription, especially regarding author names.

  1. Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
  2. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  3. The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie
  4. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
  5. The Contender by Robert Lipsyte
  6. These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly
  7. Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
  8. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
  9. Saxby Smart Private Detective – In the Treasure of Dead Man’s Lane and Other Case Files by Simon Cheshire
  10. The Cabinet of Curiosities by Stefan Bachman, Katherine Catcall, Emma Travayne, and Claire Legrand
  11. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
  12. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson
  13. Illuminae: The Illuminae Files _01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristof
  14. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
  15. First & Then by Emma Mills
  16. The Kind Worth Killing For by Peter Swanson
  17. The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
  18. The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
  19. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
  20. Breakthrough:How Three People Saved “Blue Babies” and Changed Medicine Forever by Jim Murphy
  21. October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shephard by Leslea Newman
  22. God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant
  23. God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant
  24. My Name is not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson
  25. Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince
  26. How I Became a Ghost:A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story by Tim Tingle
  27. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
  28. Rhyme Schemer by K.A.Holt
  29. The Shattering by Karen Healey
  30. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
  31. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
  32. The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson
  33. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
  34. Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper
  35. Fake ID by Lamar Giles
  36. The Heir by Kiera Cass
  37. Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
  38. The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  39. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
  40. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  41. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  42. Caged Warriors by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
  43. A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
  44. The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
  45. The Story of Owen:Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston
  46. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson
  47. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
  48. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
  49. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Act by Lynda Blackmon Lowery
  50. After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
  51. Masterminds by Gordan Korman
  52. Capital Crimes edited by Martin Edwards
  53. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  54. Nothing Bad is Going to Happen by Kathleen Hale
  55. The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brusker Bradley
  56. Grave Mercy by Robin Lefevers
  57. Miss Marple Stories by Agatha Christie
  58. Kids of Appetite by David Arnold (Advanced Reader’s Copy)
  59. Challenger Deep by Neal Schusterman
  60. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L.Holm
  61. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  62. What Light by Jay Asher
  63. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
  64. The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine
  65. The Cursed Child by J.K.Rowling
  66. Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick
  67. The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer
  68. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Stone
  69. The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  70. Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins
  71. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno
  72. Something Wicked in These Woods by Marisa Montes
  73. Laughing in my Nightmare by Shane Burcaw
  74. Shelter by Harlan Coben
  75. Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz
  76. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
  77. Aluta by Adwoa Badoe
  78. The Crown by Kiera Cass
  79. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  80. Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier
  81. Snow White by Matt Phelan
  82. The Revelation of Louisa May by Michaela MacColl
  83. The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  84. Burning Midnight by Will Mcintosh
  85. The Wikkling by Steven Arntson
  86. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
  87. Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci
  88. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
  89. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  90. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  91. Dead Wake by Erik Larson
  92. The House Across the Cove by Barbara Hall
  93. The Cat at the Wall by Deborah Ellis


Thoughts on the new Jay Asher novel, What Light

Yesterday I received my Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) of What Light, by Jay Asher.   I loved Thirteen Reason’s Why  – and both the content and the form of that novel have really stayed with me.  It is a novel that has often been on hold in my library, and students have fallen in love with it year after year, often hearing about it through word of mouth.

What Light, by Jay Asher, is another way for him to explore the ideas of redemption and forgiveness (he says as much in his opening letter to the ARC), but with a much happier construct.  Sierra, the main character in the story, runs a tree farm in Oregon with her parents, and every year they go down to California between Thanksgiving and Christmas to run a tree lot.  Sierra misses her friends from Oregon, and also loves her time in California, with her best friend there, Heather.   The majority of the novel takes place in California – and this might be their last year on the lot there.  They will keep the farm, but the actual business at the lot has been in decline.  Sierra is notoriously picky with her romances, but then one day Caleb catches her eye.

Despite being warned about a terrifying incident in Caleb’s past, Sierra and Caleb start a tentative relationship – one that looks destined for heartbreak.  Will Sierra get a Christmas miracle?  What actually happened in Caleb’s past?  Should everyone be judged by their worst day? These are some of the questions that the novel posits, and the plot does have a nice quick pace to it.

I have been eagerly waiting for my copy, ever since I stumbled across the first Teen Book Festival Event at Barnes and Nobel and won the trivia contest.  I felt guilty and gave half of my swag away, but as a school librarian, I am excited to have access to Advance Reader’s copies this year, both to read and assess for collection development, and to share with students.  I am planning to have students turn in book recommendations this year, and do a drawing each month with the students that participate.  I will give away various prizes, but I am sure the ARC’s will go first.

I did enjoy What Light, although I do think that some additional character development would bolster the story.  Throughout the novel, Sierra is always making coffee with hot chocolate and a peppermint stick, and this novel is the equivalent of that.  Lots of good feeling, warmth and nostalgia, with the hint of something darker underneath.  While I do have some hesitations about this novel, I think it will prove popular with a lot of my high school students, and I also really like the hopeful message of the story.  With so many dystopian novels crowding the scene, I have admitted that there are times I would like more “books about puppies” – and this book fits that desire quite nicely.  While not my favorite by this author, I still finished it pretty quickly, and fell easily into the rhythms of the story.   This will make a good addition, also, as a holiday story – of which there are really not many for the secondary level.

Finally, I am always glad when there is a novel that presents people who are farmers, or live in a more rural area, as regular people – not people defined fully by their geography as backwards, or stupid.  As a teacher/librarian in a rural district, I can say that simply putting teenagers in a rural setting does not change their desire to be the best person they can be, or their need to go through the turmoil of adolescence and find their own ways in life.