The Advanced Reading Class students have each been assigned to create their own personal Recommended Books List to add to this post in “Comments.” Your list is due Feb. 6 (for 55 points!), and your thoughtful and respectful online comment on at least one other person’s list is due by Feb. 8 (for 20 points)!
- Your list should include at least 10 titles and their authors. (Capitalize titles and authors’ names!)
- Each title must be followed by a personal comment about the book or a brief description of it. Make each one worth reading! (“It was a good book” will NOT do!)
- Give your list a fitting title ( The Best Books about Sports; Awesome Reads for Teens; etc.), and make sure your name is clearly displayed on your post.
Here is a list of my own:
Books That Have Rocked Me:
1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This was the first book that ever “stayed” with me, after I finished it. I read it in the 6th grade, and I remember being so affected by the main chararcter, Francie (a girl living in the New York slums in the early 1900’s), and her desperate desire to go to school and be educated. I was shocked that a book could do that to me.
2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Such memorable characters! This is a beautiful classic novel about family relationships (especially sisters) and growing up. This was the first book to make me cry!
3. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
First book to make me sob and howl! All dog-lovers out there MUST read this book! It’s unforgettable.
4. The Ghosts by Antonia Barber
I had to have some extensive spinal surgery in the 9th grade, and my brother ordered this book for me from his Weekly Reader before I went into the hospital. I stayed up late every night in that hospital bed, reading that very engaging and very suspenseful book under the little light above my bed, listening to nothing but late-night hospital sounds– What a fantastic reading memory! That book was amazingly successful in taking some of the unpleasantness out of the surgery experience for me.
5. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
One of the biggest tragedies of the Anne Frank story is that this amazingly gifted teenage writer didn’t get to grow up and share more of her writing with the world. We only have her diary, written during the two years she hid from the Nazis in an attic, but it’s some of the most moving, insightful prose written during the Holocaust era. I think this book should be a MUST READ for everyone. It’s haunting.
6. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Doesn’t everyone remember the first time they read this book? Wow! What a treasured reading-memory. These chararcters were so real to me, I felt like I knew them by the time I’d finished the book– that I’d certainly see them in the halls at school or walking down the streets of my neighborhood or something. And that a 16-year-old author could manage to reach me as a reader like that still amazes me today.
7. Tisha by Robert Specht and Anne Hobbs
This was my first “grown-up book.” It is the biography of a young woman that moves to the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1900’s to be a teacher. The book includes themes of survival in the harsh environment and of the racial prejudices of the time regarding the Native American citizens in the area. It also has a little romance! This is a wonderful story with a happy ending! And it’s true!
8. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
I was assigned to read this book in a college literature class. It’s a very challenging and mature novel full of literary thematic meanings and symbols, but what I really remember about it is the incredible story and characters. So original! I remember wondering about how the author had come up with such a mind-blowing story and unique characters and ideas. It was the first time I really recognized the art of “good writing.” (Language warning on this book.)
9. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
This is the story of a woman trying to survive on her own and of a man trying to get back to her on foot from many miles away, during the Civil War. This is a mature, “literary” read with beautiful, though challenging, writing. It won the National Book Award. This book slowly grew on me, and by the end, I was so invested in wanting these two to both survive and reunite, I couldn’t put it down. The ending packs a gigantic punch, and I literally staggered around the house when I finished. It totally wiped me out.
10. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Another more mature, “literary” read, this is the autobiography of Frank McCourt who became an English teacher in New York City, but who began life as an impoverished child in Ireland. His childhood was terribly difficult and sad– his family endured much poverty and disease– but this was an amazing, challenging, and memorable book. It won the Pulitzer.
11. October Sky (aka The Rocket Boys) by Homer Hickam
Homer Hickam is a rocket scientist for NASA who wrote this autobiography about growing up in a Kentucky coal-mining town. He and his friends had a fascination for the science of making rockets. Throughout their school years, they developed these homemade rockets, gradually improving their techniques and eventually earning them scholarships that got them out of a life of coal-mining. I’m not ordinarily all that interested in science, but the rocket-science in this book is fascinating. And the boys’ family relationships and the pressures of the coal-mining community made this a fantastic, captivating story!
12. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (and the whole series) by J. K. Rowling
When my children were all very young, we went on a “road trip” to Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. We had heard of this Harry Potter book series that was supposed to be really great and engaging for kids, so we bought the first book on tape to listen to in the car on our trip. NEVER had we been so completely mesmerized by a children’s story! We seriously did not want to ever stop at any of our trip sites and get out of the car to look at them, we were so caught up in that story. In fact, as soon as the tapes ended, we hunted for a mall with a book store and went in and bought the second book in the series on tape to listen to! And Harry Potter was part of every trip we took after that, and we have adored the whole series!
13. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
This book won many awards for good reason. It deals with some heavy teen issues in a very powerful way, and it has some of the most authentic teen “voice” I’ve ever read.
14. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I don’t ordinarily do Vampire books or supernatural romances– just not into them. But Mrs. Hall came to me and told me I just had to read this one– that I’d love it. I didn’t want to. I believe my exact words were, “Ew. No.” But Mrs. Hall can be very persuasive, and you know what? She was right! I couldn’t put it down! And I did LOVE it! Though I wasn’t crazy about the rest of the series, this first book is one of the best romances I’ve ever read!
15. Airborn & Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
I totally love this series!!! It is such an original, creative, old-fashioned, swashbuckling (I don’t really know what that word means ) adventure— with a little fantasy and some romance thrown in! It has everything, plus some really beautiful writing! I really admire this author!
16. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This is the autobiography of a woman that is now a writer for MSNBC. It is mostly about her surviving a childhood of constant homelessness and near-starvation, due to her very irresponsible and metally unstable parents. It has a surprisingly non-judgemental, childlike tone, though, and it makes for an extremely powerful story. (Language warning.)
17. Fablehaven (series) by Brandon Mull
This author came to speak at our school a few years ago, and he was so much fun and so charismatic and gave our students such great advice about how to be a writer, I’d read anything he wrote now! Good thing he writes so well! This is a very creative, FUN fantasy series! I especially loved the 2nd book– the “quiet box” and the revenant… fantastically creepy!!!
18. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
Sometimes I choose a book that I know will be more of a literary read because I like to keep challenging myself and because I really do enjoy beautiful, masterful writing. This was that kind of a book. It’s the story of a boy and his dog, but it’s written to be kind of a re-telling of the Hamlet story (by William Shakespeare), set on a farm. It was such a gorgeous reading experience, I just felt like I was savoring every word– such incredible desciptive passages. There are a couple of scenes in this book that are burned on my brain forever.
19. The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins
An INTENSE futuristic series, with a strong “reality-TV”-gone-wrong message! Very original and very gripping! Once you read the first one, you HAVE to run out and get the rest!
20. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I was born in South Carolina, and I spent several growing-up years in various locations in the South, so I always love books that are set in the South! This is the story of an aspiring young southern writer in the early 60’s who decides to secretly author a book about the way the southern white “society ladies” of the day treat their African American maids. Two of the maids team up to help her, and the project ends up changing the lives of everyone in the story. It’s an amazing story with unforgettable and very realistic characters and a setting that took me right back to my childhood! I’ve loaned this book out to my mom, my sister, and many, many friends, and everyone has loved it!
21. Everything by Fannie Flagg
For the same reason I loved The Help, I love Fannie Flagg’s books. She has a humorous and captivating “southern voice,” and every one of her books (I’ve read them all!) take me right back to my spunky but old-fashioned southern-belle days! I especially loved Fried Green Tomatos at the Whistle-Stop Cafe and Welcome to the World, Baby Girl.
* Honorable Mentions: Mandy, Jurassic Park, A Boy’s Life, The DaVinci Code, Holes, Peace Like a River, The Little Prince, Jane Eyre, The Age of Innocence, Okay for Now, Wonder, Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders, Life As We Knew It, Ordinary Grace, Whistling in the Dark, All the Light We Cannot See, The Hero of Room 13B, Wolf Hollow
And there you have it– a bunch of books that have left a mark on me as a reader! They’re not all for everyone, but they each have earned a spot on MY list of “big-impact” books! NOW LET”S SEE YOUR LIST!