Tis the season to make lists and lists of lists. To begin to think of the New Year. To wipe clean the slate and start new. Reading Challenges will pop up along with list like these. The books I read and loved. My Challenge this year was Growth. Among them was a Newbery Award Winner – The Girl Who Drank The Moon. A Book in Translation – The Hidden Life of Trees. A Book of 600+ Pages – The Woman in White. A Book of Poetry – Sailing Alone Around The Room. A Book of Current Events – City of Dreams. An Immigrant Story – Forty Autumns. Book Published Before I was Born – Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Three Books by the Same Author – L.M. Montgomery, (Anne of Green Gables series). An #Ownvoices #DiverseBooks – Reading with Patrick. An Unreliable Narrator – Notes From Underground. An Award Nominated Book in 2017- Becoming Earth. And Finally, A Pulitzer or National Book Award Winner – Sing, Unburied, Sing. I Must say having a goal did the trick. It help me stretch my reading beyond normal habits and many also landed on my Favorite’s list. Above and on my Favorites below, you may find some to add to your TBR.
Nonfiction: – I find that reading History can be enjoyable and enlightening. And the good ol’ Days? Well, maybe they were not so great…
Reading with Patrick:
A Teacher, A Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship – Michelle Kuo
My Favorite of the year. A wonderful story that will take you on here journey this Harvard Graduate volunteering for Teach America. The author is placed in the Southern Delta to help teach High School English. Entering classrooms with grandiose thoughts of sharing the love of reading and leaves with a paradigm shift. This two-year placement alters the course of her life. It is the kind of book you will set down and want to get up and do something with your life. I was pleased to see The New Yorker article listing this as one of the best under appreciated books of 2017.
City of Dreams:
The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York – Tyler Anbinder
This is a fascinating read that takes us from the early Dutch settlements to the early 2000’s. You will see that the good old days were not always so good. You will learn of many personal challenges faced and the political and social challenges that have been cycling from day one on our shores.
Killers of the Flower Moon:
The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI – David Grann
Reads like Fiction – A great who done it. A Murder mystery that will open your eyes about a chapter in our history that few know about, probably because Twitter was not available to us in the 1920’s. Osage Indians are being murdered. One man makes it his mission to solve them.
Blood at the Root:
A Racial Cleansing in America – Patrick Phillips
This story starts with the author as a young man in Forsyth County, Georgia. He wonders about stories told to him regarding the reason there are no blacks in the county. He witnesses marches during the 1970’s and 80’s to keep the area White. The author tells an American story – breaking a nearly century old silence – that kept Forsyth white into the 1990’s.
A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson
Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. Bryan Stevenson – A Young Lawyer working with a non-profit pledged to help those who have nothing and been forgotten. From this case Stevenson tells of a broken system, conspiracy, political interference, and transforms his life into a standard-bearer for Mercy and Justice for all.
Fiction: Tales for young and old alike. These stories are each entertaining and say something important.
The Woman In White – Wilkie Collins
My Favorite Fiction of the Year. This is a story that starts out simply enough. A man on a walk one evening encounters a stranger, a woman, dressed all in white. He helps her. An quite quickly realizes that this woman is much more than she seems. This is tale by the author, a contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens, classified at the time as a “sensation novel” today shelved among suspense. Many claim this title to be one of the first of its kind. According to T.S. Eliot, “…A genre invented by Collins not Poe.” To me is was just plain fantastic.
Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
What a voice this novel has. Everyone has ghost in their pasts. In this National Book award winner we meet Jojo, a young boy in the Mississippi Delta being raised by Grandparents. His mother is a drug addict and together with his little sister and his moms friend they go on a road trip to pick up his father from the notorious Parchman Prison. Along the way the pick up a hitchhiker of sorts. This is a story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, a road trip and a the reality of facing of ones past. Sometimes a hard to take story , but beautifully written.
Wonder – R.J. Palacio
They say it’s a Middle Grade novel – Hogwash. It is just a great book – a wonder of a story. If you don’t know by know, August was born with a birth defect that has caused him to be in the hospital and numerous surgeries to soften some of his features. August knows he is not normal on the outside, but inside he is like everyone else. This is the story with a heart told from the viewpoint of several persons. The author captures the voices of young kids and teens very well. The interaction and insight are moving. I find myself suggesting this to most everyone I meet.
The Girl Who Drank The Moon – Kelly Barnhill
This may have been one of the last I read, but certainly not the least. This is once again a young reader choice. A Newbery Award Winner. It is magic. It tells a story and teaches lessons. Life can be oppressive – yes, Knowledge can open your eyes, Sorrow can suck your energy, Hope can give you a reason to go on. How you live can be largely due to your circumstances or those placed on you. This is a classic tale and from it, I can see biblical stories within, I can see some Peter Pan and Dorothy too. Go on a journey with Luna, Xan, Antain, A mad woman and the Sisters of the Stars – you wont be disappointed. You see and hear so many metaphores – and benefits of love and Compassion.
Chemistry – Weike Wang
This is not a perfect novel. It is a fun read by my account. A young PH.D. hopeful is trying to find her place in all the expectations of her Parents, Friends and perfect live in boyfriend. It is snarky, smart, funny and a quick read. She tells us family love in Chinese translates to “I hurt for you.” Perhaps this explains more of the main characters central issues. How do you love without hurt and disapointment. How does one share love – giving equal attention demanded by several and leave room for yourself. How do you start your own family with it own chemistry without rejecting and hurting your first family. I will be looking for more from this first time novelist.
How do you build your TBR each year? Are you focused or do you grab what pulls you at the moment.