I’m a little embarrassed this time around, because it seems like I give out 5 star ratings willy nilly. Out of 16 possible books, I do have 10 five star ratings. Maybe I was a little too liberal with my 5’s this time around, but really, I read some great books.
My 5 Star Recommendations:
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (368 pages), adult, non-fiction. This was a powerful book for me! I have always identified as an extrovert because I’m “not shy,” but after reading this book, I’ve started to understand that introversion/extroversion is a lot more than your classic shy/outgoing. I’ve also realized that our world definitely favors extroverts and what that can look like/feel like to introverts. I wouldn’t say I’m a strong introvert, but I definitely am somewhere in the middle. This was so helpful for me and helpful in identifying these traits in others around me and how to value them.
- What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (488 pages), adult, realistic fiction. This book was one of the few books I have legitimately bawled during. Kyle was sleeping and I was trying not to wake him with my sobbing, haha. This book is about a woman who falls and has partial amnesia–she can’t remember the last 10 years of her life. The last thing she remembers is being a newlywed and pregnant with her first child. When she wakes up and is told she is going through a horrible divorce, has several children, etc. she is astonished and unbelieving. The story is so beautiful as she tackles some of her new problems with some of the optimism and faith in others she had lost along the way.
- Smile by Raina Telgemeier (224 pages), middle grade, graphic novel, non-fiction, memoir. I’m so in love with these middle grade memoir graphic novels that have really started cropping up. This is another awesome one that captures the essence of middle school. It follows a girl with braces and honestly I can’t remember it too well, but I loved it. It is a fast read. I highly recommend this for middle grade students too–especially some who love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid style.
- The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up by Cathy LaGrow (352 pages), adult, non-fiction, memoir. A beautiful true story of a girl who is raped, becomes pregnant, places her child for adoption, writes her letters throughout her life and then is finally reunited with her when she’s in her 90’s.
- Chains (The Seeds of America Trilogy, #1) by Laurie Halse Anderson (316 pages), middle grade, historical fiction. Really loved this book and its sequel. It is definitely a trilogy but Laurie Halse Anderson is taking her time with the third one. I went into it not knowing all three weren’t already released, so I’m feeling pretty antsy. The stories follow a slave during the Revolutionary War.
- Forge (The Seeds of American Trilogy, #2) by Laurie Halse Anderson (320 pages), middle grade, historical fiction. The second book in this trilogy is told in the voice of Curzon–a slave who enlisted in the Revolutionary War in the place of his master for his freedom. He is a runaway slave trying to pose as a free man. Incredible read.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (384 pages), adult, historical fiction. Reread. Loved this book just as much as I did the first time–maybe even more.
- Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick (336 pages), adult, non-fiction. I was pretty horrified reading about the lives of North Koreans. I knew it wasn’t great in North Korea, but I really didn’t realize how bad it was.
- Counting by 7’s by Holly Sloan (400 pages), middle grade, realistic fiction. A coming of age story of a young (genius) girl who is suddenly reliant on a few strangers as her world comes crashing around her. As she learns to live again, she lifts the others around her to new heights.
- The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis (208 pages), children, fiction, fantasy. Reread. I read this with the student I’m teaching right now and I loved it again. C.S. Lewis is such an incredible writer. All humans should read this.
My 4 Star Recommendations:
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Dave McKean (336 pages), middle grade, fiction, fantasy. Incredibly unique story about a child who is raised by ghosts.
- Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner (315 pages), adult, non-fiction. Fascinating introduction to the “freakonomics” mindset. A good read with lots of good discussion topics. Probably better for those who aren’t super familiar with them already (through podcasts/documentary).
- Positive by Paige Rawl & Ali Benjamin (288 pages), adult/YA, non-fiction, memoir. Paige Rawl’s true story about her growing up years dealing with huge amounts of bullying because of HIV. She has overcome so much and is an incredible advocate for those with AIDs/HIV. Great read for middle school/high school.
My 3 Star Recommendations:
- The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel (304 pages), adult, historical fiction. Enjoyed this story–I often love stories where love grows slowly. However, I thought I would love this story so much more. I think it needed deeper characterization to really feel connected with the characters.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, Illustrated by Ellen Forney (229 pages), YA, fiction (based on real life events of author). The narrator in this book is hilarious. I enjoyed reading this, but it was pretty crude so I wouldn’t say that I would recommend it to others. It’s also pretty depressing, but it is realistic with what this author experienced about life living on an Indian Reservation.
My 1 Star Anti-Recommendation:
- The Heir by Kiera Cass (368 pages), YA, fiction. Everything that made the first three books in this series bad are worse than ever and any redeeming qualities about the characters are gone. I feel like, at this point, Cass is going off of the idea that people will keep reading no matter what. The main character in this book is probably the worst character I’ve ever read.
Total: 16 books. Total Pages: 5, 236 pages. Average: 327 pages. 6 children’s books, 3 YA books, 7 adult books. 10 fiction, 6 non-fiction.