Power outages, school closings, blown transformers, gas shortages, cyclone force winds, downed trees, frozen pipes, dead car batteries (I left the lights on – but only for a minute – honest). It’s been some winter, hasn’t it? And we’ve at least two more months to go. If you’re looking for a way to erase all the pain and refill those memories with something uplifting, have I got some book suggestions for you! This latest list is the combination of titles I read during all of the above mentioned disasters. They helped keep me sane. I hope they help you, too.
Books I Like A Lot:
Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Young Adult. Top YA pick – EVER. This book was so special, I designated an entire post to it. I also used themes from it for my critical essay as part of my MFA application. Read the post for details but be sure to read the book.
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. Young Adult. Another top YA pick. This book about a made-up town where everyone’s sexual preferences are accepted and integrated into society should be mandatory reading for everyone. Everyone. Both young people, whose ideas of social norms are just being formed, and set-in-their-ways adults would benefit from seeing how society flourishes when everyone’s contributions are absorbed, no matter the packaging.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Young Adult. This book is slated as Middle Grade, but I categorized it as Young Adult due to the subject matter. As with Fault in Our Stars, you don’t expect a book about a terminal cancer patient to be a must-read. Especially when the book is told from the point of view of a thirteen year old boy who is losing his mother to the disease. But…this story is so creatively told, and the artwork is so extraordinary (not pictures, mind you, but artwork), that you lose yourself in its pages and find yourself strangely at peace by the end. Granted, there will be sobbing, but the heart-wrenching drama didn’t stop me from reading it two more times before returning it.
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Middle Grade. Top MG pick – hands down. Another must-read book for all ages, in particular the 8-12 year old reader, who would have a lot to learn from this story. Narrated by a seriously physically handicapped ten-year-old girl, who has genius-level mental capacities, this book opens your eyes to the normal-ness of everyday life for a disabled person, while highlighting the obstacles to their desires because of the limitations of their disease. This young girl wants all the same things we do – to have friends, be accepted for who she is, and to have her voice heard. She even wants to look cute in her jeans. But it’s hard for most everyone, peers, adults, professionals, and caregivers, to see beyond her obvious deformities and realize how much we are all alike.
Books I Enjoyed (but could put down to go to sleep):
Dead to You by Lisa McMann. Young Adult. The conclusion of this book shouldn’t have been as shocking to me, but the author wove the tail so convincingly that I walked away stunned. Such an original premise – a family finding their son a decade after he’d been kidnapped – and the struggles each of them go through with the acceptance and change. I love books that tell me a story I haven’t heard of yet.
Books I’m Glad I Tried (but may not read again):
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Tenton Lee Stewart. Middle Grade. This book gets a lot of chatter. If your middle grade reader likes mystery / suspense books, then give this one a try. It is long, however, longer than I expected it to be. But this book is the first in a popular series. If your reader likes this one, there are more to follow!
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann. Middle Grade. I really enjoy Lisa McMann’s YA novels, and so I was very interested to try out her first step into the middle grade realm. It’s certainly an original tale, although I found the beginning really dark. It was also a slower paced book than the ones I was used to reading from her, and I found my attention wavering. But – I’ve been finding this with a lot of middle grade books lately. It’s a by-product of the fact that they weren’t written for me!
Gone Girl by Gillian Flinn. Adult Fiction. Another book I read as part of my book group after multiple people recommended it to me. OK, true confession, I skipped some of it. Horrible. I know. Everyone in my group LOVED this book. I mean – really got hooked in. But I had just read John Green’s book Fault in Our Stars (mentioned above), and I think it ruined me for anything that came immediately after. His book was so real. Gone Girl wasn’t (by intention). I hear they’re making a movie out of it, so ignore my shortcomings. Definitely give the book a try. Just read the John Green after.