Sunday, December 4, 2011

Oh, they probably turned it in for some books at the local community center. Where you think it's at, man?

I mentioned that I was thinking about book recommendations and I started wondering, Ok what was the best book I read this year? It's not quite the end of the year, but I decided since that is only a few weeks away, I'll just go ahead and post my list now.

And because that is simply too difficult of a question to answer, I split it into categories.

Category one: Fiction
Well, I picked two as the best from this category, but I am struggling with that so much that I can't even bring myself to definitively write them down.

I'm just going to do it!

These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.)


Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Girl in Translation

Category 2: Nonfiction
I have a stand out favorite in this category. And I have recommended it to just about everyone I know.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Category 3: Classic Fiction
I can't actually finish this post without even a nod at the beautiful books that I read for my American Lit class.
Absolute favorite: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition

If you are interested in the full list for 2011, here it is:

These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

Declaring Spinsterhood by Jamie Lynn Braziel

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Deep Down True by Juliette Fay
My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

The Running Man by Stephen King
Naked Heat by Richard Castle
No Time Left by David Baldacci
Leaving Home by Jodi Piccoult
The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell
The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek
Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Mars and Venus on a Date by John Gray
The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Change Anything by Kerry Patterson
Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley
Sway by Ori and Rom Brafman
Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise DeSalvo

Classic Fiction
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Everyone's pushing small town rural. A farm book would just be white noise.

I have had several people ask me recently for book recommendations. And I almost said, oh, just check my blog. And then I didn't because I decided it would be embarrassing. But it made me think that I haven't posted a review for a while. Now that is partly because my extracurricular reading has slowed way down, and partly because my posting has slowed way down.

So some book reviews tonight.

Beloved Publisher: Vintage
Beloved by Toni Morrison

This book was for my American Lit class. True confessions, I finished reading it (and it was my second time reading it) two weeks before they started. Phew. 

The story: Sethe is a woman who escapes from slavery with her children and it is the story of how her life falls apart. Characters enter her life, Paul D who she knew as a slave, and a mysterious young woman. The story is about slavery and it is raw and brutal. 

The review: One of my students described it best when she said this book is raw. It is raw and describes very ugly things in a lot of detail. So it is not a pleasurable book to read. But after studying it with my students, I just feel like this book is really beautiful. The language and craft with words is beautiful and amazing (oh, I just got a little too English Professor on you). But also the ability to look at something that ugly and really confront it is powerful. 

My students, for the most part, hated it. And I fully understand why. It is not easy and it is depressing. But I told them, "It's ok if you hate this book. But this book won a Pulitzer Prize, and Toni Morrison is a big deal. And I want you to figure out why." And at the end, they did. 

These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.)
These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

The story: This is written as the journal of Sarah Agnes Prine who is living in the Arizona Territory. She is a strong woman who fights through terrible circumstances to help her family get settled and prosper in the new territory. Besides Sarah being a very cool and powerful woman, it is a love story. 

The review: The first 100 pages of the book were really slow. And I actually had a hard time getting through it. But then the story picked up and I really enjoyed it. There are some shockingly brutal scenes, but they are told so delicately from Sarah's perspective that it doesn't make the book horrible. And I cried. It has been a long time since a book made me cry. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Because you sent me that picture of a cat playing the piano with the caption "this is funny".

Oh the days are long and the weeks fly by. And I only seem to be able to keep up with work stuff -- some of the time -- so everything else (especially blogging) falls to the wayside. 

But I took a couple of pictures of things. So here they are:

A baby blanket I made for a friend's new baby. He was born on 11/11/11, just like my little niece. 

I put up my Christmas decorations. 

And I realized I hadn't shown you some of my favorite new things. 

These are the pictures that Kim painted me this summer. They are on the huge wall in my bedroom. 

And these are the cool little hooks that I found for my mirror. Perfect for necklace hanging.