Me: “Wow. The girl sure can take pictures.”
Travis: “Which girl?”
Me: “Oh, um… me… I’m the girl…”
(Awkward silence in which Travis wonders what he got himself into.)
So yeah, it’s me: I read a lot of books. But that’s not the important part of the title. The important part is the mention of books. When I asked on Monday what you wanted to read, the thing that caught my eye were suggestions of book reviews and recommendations. Now that is something I can do.
I joined GoodReads a few months ago, thinking I wouldn’t use it much. Did I really need another time-wasting website to visit? But it hasn’t been that way at all. It only takes a few minutes to update, and it uses my ratings to recommend other books I may like. It’s also nice to read user reviews on books before I buy them.
The best part is keeping track of the books I want to read: whenever I go into a store, I always check my “to-read” list and try to find those titles, instead of browsing around and picking out something I know nothing about. If it’s on my list, I’ve done the research ahead of time, so there aren’t any surprises 150 pages in when I realize the book I’m reading is actually the second in a series of erotic fantasy novels. (Yes, that happened.)
So, in the interest of that not happening to you, here are some great books I definitely recommend:
1. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I loved this book. I didn’t grow up with it, but I wish I had. It has fantastical creatures and lovable characters. While I loved reading it by myself, it strikes me as a great read-aloud with your kids. The chapters are not very long, and each one is so different, it isn’t required to remember everything that has happened.
2. Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales. This is another great read-aloud. Travis and I have taken turns reading these to each other the last few nights, and we really like it. The stories are usually short, full of interesting characters and random plot twists. Some of them make me laugh like crazy! My favorite one recently was Clever Gretl, in which a drunk cook eats the chickens she prepared, and then tells her master’s guest that he actually invited him over to cut off both of his ears. When the guest flees, she tells her master that he took off with the chickens. He’s angry that the guest didn’t leave at least one for him to eat and he takes off running after him, knife in hand, yelling, “Only one! Only one!” I almost died laughing.
3. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. This book has become very popular very fast. But for good reason. It’s a great, witty, funny book told entirely in dialogue, with simple, awesome pictures. My nephew and I once spent a whole afternoon reading it over and over again doing funny accents and laughing ourselves silly. Great, great, great book!
4. Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. I’m loving the simplification that is happening in picture books lately. Not a Box is just a bunny with a box that becomes different things: a race car, a mountain, a spaceship. It’s captures perfectly a child’s ability to imagine a mundane object as something else entirely.
5. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. Now, jumping from a 15 page children’s book, we go to a 1200 page doorstop. But don’t stop reading there! This list wouldn’t be complete until I recommended a Brandon Sanderson book, and while I usually recommend one of his…more manageable books, Way of Kings is probably my favorite. It is a fantasy book set in an amazing three-dimensional world. It has a great balance between action and world-building, story-telling and character development. If you can handle epic fantasy, this is the first one you should pick up.
6. The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule. I have read Amanda Soule’s blog, soulemama, for a long time (link in the sidebar), but this is the first time I’ve read one of her books. I’m really glad I chose this one. It follows their family through the course of a year, and all the things they do to mark the changing of the seasons. It had a calm tone that I’ve needed recently, and a bunch of fun projects that gave me the ideas and how-to if I ever decide to do them with my kids. I never thought I could read a non-fiction book cover to cover, but this one is worth it.
7. Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent by Lisa Bergren. If you need something in the YA department, this trilogy is fantastic. I honestly thought I wouldn’t like these books. I was convinced they would be Twilight wannabes, but, boy, was I wrong! They are well-written, intense books about two modern sisters who find themselves in medieval Italy. Yes, there is quite a bit of swooning over Italian boys and some hokey teen slang, but the story is really about the main character, Gabriella, who is interesting and dynamic. I thoroughly enjoyed these books, and I’m sure I’ll be rereading them soon.
I’ve written other book posts here and here. The second has another list of recommendations. I love talking about books! If you want any more recommendations, or have some for me, let me know in the comments.