Year of Books

“There is no book so bad…that it does not have something good in it.”
― Miguel de Cervantes SaavedraDon Quixote

Start Date May 15,  2012

1.  The Fourth Stall – Chris Rylander (he will visit NKMS in the fall 2012) – I read the last 150 pages without stopping.  I enjoyed the humor and the Raymond Chandler style ending.  I can’t believe Rylander pulled this book off in an elementary/middle school setting.  Very clever.

2.  Americus – MK Reed & Jonathan Hill –  Graphic Novel.  The people in a small town do battle over a controversial book.  A book about banning books.  FAST Read.

3.  Transit of Venus 1631 to the Present – Nick Lomb – Non-fiction.   On June 5, 2012 the North America will be able to see Venus pass in the front of the Sun.  It won’t happen again until 2117.  The book explains how the last few transits helped us understand the vast distances in our Solar System, the Size of the Sun, and the Astronomical Unit.

4.  Dael and The Painted People – Allan Shickman – A continuation of the Zan-Gah series.  This one is a much more cerebral and emotional read.

5.  The Passport – Herta Muller – Nobel Prize Laureate paints a picture of postwar Romania during a totalitarian regime. The bright, short, lyrical chapters helped make the suffering bearable.  Incredible work.

6.  The Last Picture Show – Larry McMurtry – Classic Coming of Age novel set in Northern Texas.  Small town America sets the stage for a wide range of memorable characters.  Brutally honest, but lovingly dedicated to McMurtry’s home town.

7.  The Boneshaker – Kate Milford – Deals with the devil, automatons, medicine men, wild imagery, and whimsical characters.  Awesome.  By the way, the artwork by Andrea Offermann is fantastic.  Coincidentally,  she did the artwork for Midnight Zoo also…

8.  Midnight Zoo – Sonya Hartnett – Beautiful, haunting, and mesmerizing tale of survival.  A gifted story teller – Hartnett writes effortlessly.

9.  The Day Before – Lisa Schroeder – Written in free verse, this sweet story of two teens spending one day together before they both have to face life-changing events.  I enjoyed the movie references.  Cade and Amber are very cool characters.

10. Rutherford B. Hayes – Hans L. Trefousse -Based on brief biographical sketches, Hayes always sounds like a misguided, accidental president who used corrupt politics to steal an election at the expense of newly freed African Americans.   But after reading this book, I realize that Hayes may have been one of our most compassionate and educated presidents.  By the end of his four years, the nation was sorry to see him go.  And although he didn’t forcibly protect the rights of the newly freed slaves, he vetoed over a dozen pieces of legislature designed to weaken the civil rights amendments.  And socially Hayes was a champion of black education, prison reform, labor reform, veterans, libraries, science, and history.

11. Black Hole Sun – David Macinnis Gill – dystopian, action-packed, adventure, sci-fi book set on Mars.  Quite  a page turner!

12. The Help –  Kathryn Stockett –

13. The Thief –  Megan Whalen Turner – Gen is a complicated character and thief. His skills are legendary and secrets are greater.  Excellent book!

14.  There is no Long Distance Now – Naomi Shihab Nye – Nye takes nostalgia and mixes it nicely with current events, especially around world peace.  Each of these short stories (less than 7 pages each) paints a slightly different picture of our global community and the relationships we have with each other.  This book is a cross between a memoir and an editorial.  It is a strange book, not easy to get through, but it contains countless beautiful passages.  This book should be studied as well as read.

15.  Bruiser – Neal Shusterman – Brewster is a mysterious character, and Tennyson and Bronte are going to figure out what is all about.  Another strange but engaging book by Shusterman.

16.  Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut – Amazing book that takes a look at human impact on the Earth and each other.  Ice-nine pops up quite a bit in literary and pop culture references.  Vonnegut creates Bokononism – which has become quite famous too.  This black comedy ranks as one of the most unique books of the twentieth century.

17.  Center Field – Robert Lipsyte – The baseball drama in this book kept my interest, but the convoluted tale of illegal immigration issues and first amendment rights muddled up the story.  Overall worth reading.

18.  James A. Garfield – Ira Rutkow – This book details Garfield’s rise to power and the inept medicine of the day that lead to Garfield dying from the assassin’s bullet.

19.  The Cheshire Cheese Cat – Carmin Agra Deedy – A tale of a cat and mouse and Charles Dickens in Victorian England.

20.  Salt – Maurice Gee – Dystopian world, where a son is trying to save his father from the salt mines and overthrow a governing corporation.

21.  Where Things Come Back – John Corey Whaley – Two converging story lines wrapped in mystery.  A little Da Vinci Code and a lot of teen angst.  Lucas Cader is one of the best supporting characters I have met in a book.

22.  Bad Island – Doug TenNapel – Graphic novel in the transformer mode.  I liked the dad character.

23. Everybody Sees the Ants – A.S. King – The resolution to the myriad of problems in this book satisfies!

24.  The Cupid War – Timothy Carter – A young man accidentally kills himself, and is turned into Cupid.  He has to battle a wicked god who is bent on making kids depressed.

25.  Through the Gates and Beyond: Christo and Jeanne-Claude – Jan Greenberg – beautiful picture book for adults about the work of these unique artists.

26.  Playground – 50 Cent – a gritty look at the world through a thirteen year old boys eyes as he watches his parents make mistakes and as he bullies others to compensate for his troubles.

27.  Runaway Girl: The Artist Louise Bourgeois – Jane Greenberg – a look at the  French feminist artist who settled in NYC.  Her sculptures set many new trends.

28.  The Long Goodbye – Raymond Chandler – the last Philip Marlowe book.  I have read all of Raymond Chandler’s novels.

29.  Secret Lives of the Civil War – Cormac O’Brien – quirky and interesting stories of the Civil War participants.

30.  Inside Out & Back Again – Thanhha Lai – National Book Award winner.  A Vietnamese writer tells of her experience of “escaping” South Vietnam at the end of the war and ending up in Alabama.  The book is written in free verse.  Beautiful.

31. Walkabout – James Vance Marshall – Two cultures collide, both can’t survive.

32.  Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury – Great plot, even more wonderful language and imagery.  Chapter 12 is fantastic.

33.  The Halloween Tree – Ray Bradbury – Another spooky tale from a literary master.

34.  Riders of the Purple Sage – Zane Grey – On the Library of Congress list of books that shaped America.  The landscape of Utah steals the show.

35. Roads – Larry McMurtry – A collection of essays from the authors travels on American highways.

36.  The Ends of the Earth – Jeremy Harwood – 100 Maps that changed the world.  The Piri Reis map of 1513 fascinates me.

37.  Henry’s Freedom Box – Ellen Levine – A moving story about the underground railroad.  Illustrations by Kadir Nelson.

38.  Zathura and Queen of the Falls – Chris Van Allsburg – Two stories by the picture book legend.

39.  Outlaw Album – Daniel Woodrell – Short story collection from rural Missouri.  Haunting.

40.  Indian Yell – Michael Blake – Recounting of the wars between the U.S. Army and the American Indians in the West.

41.  The Boy from Seville – Dorit Orgad – Spanish Inquisition during the Seventeenth Century.

42.  The Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut – my fourth Vonnegut book.

43. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benjamin Alire Saenz.  – Coming of age book.  Beautifully written.

44. Angle of Repose – Wallace Stegner – Some consider this book the quintessential Western novel.

45. Broken Lands – Kate Milford – set in the corrupt and seedy world of Coney Island in the late 1800’s.  This is a prequel to The Boneshaker.

46.  12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn – James Proimos – funny, unexpected twists.

47. Ghost of Spirit Bear – Ben Mikaelsen –

48. What If? – Robert Cowley – these short history lessons refocus the past.

49. Where They Stand – Robert Merry – fresh look at presidential rankings.

50. The Evil Eye – Jason Goodwin

51. World War I  – R.G. Grant

52. The War to End All Wars – Russell Freedman

53.  Chopsticks – Jessica Anthony – needs multiple reads, it isn’t what it seems.

54.  The Whiskey Rebellion – David C. Knight – Washington and Hamilton deal with the U.S. first threat to the constitution.

55. The Ice at the Bottom of the Sea – Mark Richard – Like the Outlaw Blues, stories of real people in situations far outside of the mainstream.

56. Spoon River Anthology – Edgar Lee Masters – A book like no others.  The collection of poems? one paragraph stories? paint a vivid picture of small town America – warts and all.

57. The Captain and the Enemy – Graham Greene – The 12th novel I have read by this author.

58. River at the Center of the World – Simon Winchester – Re-read one of my favorite travel books.  Winchester travels up the Yangtzee to the headwaters while also traveling back in time.

59. Envoy to the Terror – Melanie Randolph Miller

60. Bathing with Ants – Susan G. Wooldridge – a collection of poems

61. Remembrance – Theresa Breslin – Moving WWI novel from the trenches to the hospital wards to the small towns in Europe.

62. The Eight – Catherine Neville – 1972 oil crisis meets 1792 Reign of Terror in France.

63. Fault in our Stars – John Green – magnificent

64. Au Revoir Crazy European Chick – Joe Schreiber – fast and furious

65. Murder on the ile Saint-Louis – Cara Black

66. Nimes – Mobile Travel Guide

67.  Avignon – Mobile Travel Guide

70. Suburban Junky – Jude Hassan

71.  O Pioneers – Willa Cather

72. Dreamers of the Day – Mary Doria Russell

73.  Goodbye Mr. Chips – James Hilton

2 responses to “Year of Books

  1. leigh mincks

    well, how fun is this?
    leave it to you, you poly math man.

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