To this day, I can still recall the moment I first realized that I loved to read. If my memories formed a map of my life, I could rest my fingertip on the exact spot where, as a first grader, I managed to wrangle four letters, j, u, m, and p into a word I understood. A word I read. Those four letters, once a puzzle on the page, now strung themselves together to mean what I liked to do in puddles after a storm. Jump.
Many years and words later, books and reading are still one of the great staples in my life. A great book can mend any bad day or serve as a catalyst for that cry I didn’t know I needed. Books have encouraged me to look deeper into who I am, by studying either the parts of myself I recognize in characters or how I respond to events that fold across the page. Most of all, books have helped me to connect with other people, from sharing a new favorite read with a friend, to borrowing a fresh stack from a coworker, to discussing and arguing over plot lines and hidden meanings at book clubs. In short, I simply would not be who I am without books.
Now that summer is in full swing, this English teacher finally has free time, that mythical being, to park out on the porch with plenty of iced coffee and my stack of summer reading books. This year’s pile has a few Young Adult novels that I’m scanning as potential classroom library additions, as well as several titles that were recommended to me over the past few months. I’m currently a third of the way through Second Glance and the one word that comes to mind so far is: spooky.
1) Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (YA): I first discovered this book while researching a “Book Talk” for my classroom. It tells the story of Willow, a 12-year old girl who, while remarkably intelligent, is also a little “off.” Tragedy strikes when her adoptive parents pass away in a car crash, leaving Willow to push through her grief and the world around her, solo.
2) The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (YA): As a Hunger Games fan, I was drawn to this Young Adult dystopian novel. Two children, Lina and Doon, meet and befriend each other in Ember, a city that is quickly running out of supplies and resources. When they discover a hidden secret however, they begin to wonder. Is there a way out of Ember?
3) An Abundance of Katherine’s by John Green (YA): While I’m already fairly certain that this book won’t be the best addition to a 5th grade classroom, I want to conduct my “research” and read it anyway. John Green brings us another promising-sounding novel about a boy named Colin who has been dumped by 19 girlfriends, who all share the same name: Katherine. He embarks on a road trip with his best friend to, among other things, break this unfortunate dating cycle and find more permanent romance. Stay tuned to see if this lives up to The Fault in Our Stars!
4) Second Glance by Jodi Picoult: As I mentioned, I’m currently about a third of the way into this one. Set in tiny Comtosook, Vermont, this novel tells the story of Ross, a paranormal investigator intent on reaching the ghost of his deceased fiancée. He travels to the little town to investigate strange occurrences that have sprouted ever since a developer announced his plan to build a strip mall on disputed ancient Abenaki Indian burial ground. In true Picoult form, the voices of several characters, both alive and dead, bring this novel to life.
5) Wonder by R.J. Palacio: I’m planning on developing a writing unit around this book, and I want to read it, of course, before the movie version is released. This Young Adult novel tells the story of August “Auggie” Pullman, a young boy born with a facial deformity who is entering public school for the first time as a 5th grader. I’ve been warned to keep tissue handy for this one.
6) The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta: I’m a HUGE fan of the HBO series inspired by this book, so when it caught my eye at the library I had to grab it. Now, in my opinion the book is ALWAYS better than its film adaptation(s), and I hope that, despite my genuine love of this series, this rule remains true. I’m not sure yet how much the two differ, but in a nutshell: millions of people vanish out of thin air at the same time on the same fateful day, leaving everyone they leave behind to grapple with the anguish and confusion of their disappearance.
7) A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson: This is the “sort of” sequel to one of my all time favorite books, Life After Life. This novel focuses on Teddy, the younger brother of the protagonist from Life After Life, a wistful poet and actual pilot. Spanning four generations, Atkinson tells the story of Teddy and his family over four generations, with a good dash of history mixed in. I really enjoyed Life After Life, and hope to meet some of the same characters in this book.
What are you reading this summer? I’d love to hear! Until next time.
xx- The Bookish Bohemian