Friday, December 2, 2011

Just in Time for Christmas Shopping: The Book List

I post all kinds of book lists here throughout the year, but almost every November I attend the annual convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, where I not only come home with new ideas and resources for teaching, but I also accumulate a book list that would keep me busy reading all year long. Naturally, I want to share. On the list below, the first books are those shared at my favorite session "Readers Among Us," a regular offering at every conference in which participants share what we've been reading (for pleasure, not for teaching). We are asked to write down titles we mention and turn them in . In a week of so, the compilation arrives. I've included this list, along with other titles I heard from other conversations, formal and informal. In some cases, I've added a few notes as well.

Without further ado, here's the list:

Readers Among Us – Session K-11

Chicago 2011

The point of this session is to discuss we are reading as teachers who read. Many of us were drawn to our profession because we liked to read. At the conference we are so concerned with what everyone else is reading or with what we have to read that we neglect what drew us here in the first place. Here we have what our readers are reading. Feel free to distribute our list to everyone.

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison – I keep going back to tis novel because it forces me to reconsider what happens when an individual, a family, a community internalizes pain and hatred from within and without

The Dune Series – Frank Herbert – I appreciate that this sci fi goes beyond science and provokes the reader to think about politics, economics, ecology, religion, and so much more

Little Bee – Chris Cleave

The Lacuna – Barbara Kingsolver –

Circle Mirror Transformation – Annie Baker

The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Out of Oz – Gregory McGuire – Last book in the Wicked Series

The Sword of Truth Series – Terry Goodkind

A Parchment of Leaves – Silas House

On Writing – Stephen King

War and Peace – The Pevear/Volokhonsky translation – Leo Tolstoy

The Lexicographer’s Dilemma – Jack Lynch

Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel (sequel yet?)

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky – Heidi Durrow

First They Killed My Father – Loung Ung

Lucky Child – Loung Ung

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

When You Reach Me – Rebecca Stead (last year’s Newbery; you’ll finish and

want to read it again immediately)

Russian Winter: A Novel (P.S.) – Daphne Kalotay (ballerina who donates

jewelry…surprise ending)

State of Wonder – Anne Patchett

Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann

Bossy Pants – Tina Fey (hilarious book; ugly cover)

Stiff – Mary Roach

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet – Jamie Ford

The Glass Palace – Amitov Ghosh

Loving Frank – Nancy Horan

The Lemon Tree – Sandy Tolan

The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates – Wes Moore

The State of Wonder – Ann Patchett – A researcher in Southe America does not respond to the drug company that is funding her research. Two doctors go in search. Great book club book.

The Eyre Affair – Jasper fforde

Readicide – Kelly Gallagher

That Used To Be Us – Thomas L. Friedman

The Little Prince – Saint Exupery

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – Needs to be read regularly

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

The Given Day – Dennis Leary

Columbine – David Cullen

Mary Ann in Autumn – Armistead Maupin

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson

The Master – Colm Toibin

Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein – Julie Salamon

Just Kids – Patti Smith

Must You Go – Antonia Fraser

Kosher Chinese – Michael Levy

The Sorcerer’s Apprenticeships: A Season in the Kitchen of El Bulli

The Tiger’s Wife – Tea Obreht

The Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka

We the Animals – Julie Otsuka

A Long Hard Look – Napolitano

Blood, Bones and Butter – Gabrielle Hamilton

The Women - T.C. Boyle

Slam – Nick Hornby

Juliet Naked – Nick Hornby

Great House – Nicole Krauss

Fall of Giants – Ken Follett

When She Woke – Hilary Jordan

Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan

Dreams of Joy - Lisa See – Sequel to Shanghai Girls

The Invisible Bridge – Julie Orringer – WWII, Jews in Hungary – Family saga

Major Pettigrews Last Stand – Helen Simonsen – Comedy of manners-funny in a Jane Austin way-but set in modern England, with protagonists in their 60s

Three Men in a Boat – Jerome Jerome – Farcical travel/adventure – Oscar Wilde meets Monty Python – On the Thames – Written over 100 years ago and still funny and relevant

I Think I Love You – Allison Pearson – Woman revisits her teen obsession with David Cassidy

The Winter Sea – Susanna Kearsley – Scotland, The Old Pretender, present/past switching

Okay for Now – Gary Schmidt – Young boy 1967, tough family life, brother has retunred from Vietnam, kid is trying to draw Audobon plates (as a metaphor for his life)

The Return of Captain John Gonnett – Elizabeth Speller – WWI, British mystery, desertion, suicide

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot

States of Wonder – Ann Patchett – Perfect book club book (medical ethics-fertility drug) like Heart of Darkness with female main characters

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin – Erik Larson – Berlin-WWII, American Ambassador to Germany (like reading a newsreel)

Fall of Giants set in WWI, beginning in a Welsh mining town -
Girl Who Fell From the Sky – Durrow – Bi-racial child, remarkable story

* * * * * *

Other books from my notes that didn’t make it onto the cards, thereby missing the list:

Marcello and the Real World, Francisco Stark (best book on Asberger’s)

The Feed, M. T. Anderson (social networking—great on audio!)

The Sense of an Ending (Booker) reminiscent of Flaubert’s Parrot, tiny and


Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke, Amitav Ghosh (two perspectives on the

opium trades wars; third book expected)

IQ84, Harukami Marakami—long book, love story

Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer—nonfiction, memory championship

From Carol Jago’s list (anticipated annually):

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert (new translation by Lydia David, “the

original desperate housewife)

The Good Soldiers, David Finkel (nonfiction)

Lost and Found, Shaun Tan

The Friendship: Wordsworth and Coleridge, Adam Sisman

Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman (was a Chicago Big Read)

Burger’s Daughter, Nadine Gordimer

Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino

Game of Thrones (series), George R. R. Martin

The Cat’s Table, Michael Ondaatje

Other titles that were shared at a Roundtable:

The Grief of Others, Leah Hager Cohen

The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimble

Battle of Jericho, Sharon Draper (1st or 3 books re: bullying rituals)

Unbroken, Laura Hildebrand (author of Seabiscuit)

While I Was Gone, Sue Miller

Sorta Like a Rock Star, Matthew Quick
Dancing Under the Red Star: The Extraordinary Story of Margaret Werner, the

Only American Woman to Survive Stalin's Gulag, Karl Tobein

The Hangman’s Daughter, Oliver Potzsch and Lee Chadeayne

Living Dead Girl, Elizabeth Scott

There Are No Children Here, Alex Kotlowitz

Scratch Beginnings (Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream, Adam


Gang Leader for a Day, Sudhir Venkatesh

Berlin: City of Stones, Jason Lutes (Book one)


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