Monday, June 30, 2014

Must Read in 2014: Summer Update

My #mustreadin2014 list has grown f o r e v e r long - much longer than when it started in January of 2014. 

As of July 2014, I have read 21/48 titles.  I started with 30 titles to read.  Yikes!  I will not be adding any other titles to my list!  (Ok, I might add 2 more to make it an even 50, but only because I am compulsive.)

As I look at my list, I'm noticing that I must be on a YA binge since almost all of my YA titles are read.  I just cannot help myself, though.  There are some really incredible YA options and they really need me to read them! 

Since April, I have read the following titles that I highly recommend:

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff (MG)
I could write an entire dissertation about this book. (Ok, maybe not entirely, but still.)  If you were impacted by the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, you will adore Absolutely Almost

Albie is a fifth grader in New York.  He has some learning difficulties that make life with his parents (and classmates) extremely challenging.  And yes, there are parts of this book that are emotionally painful to read.  But through it all, Albie survives, despite this book's realistic ending.  I also appreciated the short chapters and font choice of this text, which is not something I usually notice. This is a must-read for us all.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (YA)
Books with many twists and turns are some of my favorites!  We Were Liars is one of those books.  I was so captivated by this novel that I read it in one sitting on a Saturday morning in May.  Set mostly on Cape Cod, Cadence suffers a mysterious accident at age 15 while vacationing with her relatives.  She spends the next two years trying to figure out what happened to her.  

Oh, and the use of metaphor in this book will knock your socks off.  (I *may* have tweeted the author, E. Lockhart, about her use of metaphor.  And she *may* have responded about the use of metaphor.  And I *may* have gotten a little fangirly about it.  Maybe.)

Wonkenstein (The Creature From My Closet) by Obert Skye (MG)
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Obert Skye last spring in Oxford, MS, which is where I purchased this book.  It became a hit in my class this past May as students realized that the art is hilarious and the plot is awesome!  

In a graphic novel-like format, Robert Burnside is a 12 year old with a really creepy closet stuffed with junk.  He soon realizes that there is a creature in there...who is a cross between Willy Wonka and Frankenstein.  The adventures in this book will keep you laughing and I cannot wait to read the sequel!

You can even follow the main character, Robert, on Twitter at @Potterwookiee

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd (MG)
Felicity Pickle moves back to her mother's hometown of Midnight Gulch with her family.  She soon discovers that the town has a bit of magic floating around it, and that she might even have some magic inside of her, too.  This book is extraordinarily sweet and smart with a delicious message.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (YA)
After I read this book, I thought to myself, Why have I not read more fiction from this point of view?  Why aren't reservations the settings in more novels?

The main character in this book, Junior, lives on an Indian reservation in Washington state.  He is dorky, goofy, and super intelligent.  He becomes the only teenager from "the rez" to attend an all-white school outside the rez.  Throughout the novel, which is interspersed with cartoons and drawings, Junior tries to come to terms with his own identity.  

This is a voice, a narrator, that needs to be heard.  The characters are sweet and sad and hilarious and heart-wrenching. I found myself in a strange state of mind...wanting to sometimes punch the characters, and then in the next breath, hug them and take care of them. Read this.  It's important.

I am currently reading Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner.  (Middle Grade)

Which titles are you reading?  I need to make my list for 2015!  

If you want to know more about #mustreadin2014, click here for information and links to other bloggers. 

Happy reading!


  1. Sherman Alexie's book was on my list too and I adored it. I've been getting sidetracked with 2014 titles that weren't on my list, but everyone is declaring as must reads. Absolutely Almost is one of those titles and I just picked up my copy of We Were Liars from the library. I also really enjoyed A Snicker of Magic--such lyrical language. Happy reading! My post update is here:


    1. Thanks, Lorna! I definitely have been sidetracked. I can't figure out if that is a good thing or not? Either way, the books aren't going anywhere. They will be patient for us. :)

    2. As I joke--I will never die with a bad book in my hand! :)

  2. What a great set of titles! So many were also on my must read list (or were books I read anyway). I adored We Were Liars and Snicker of Magic.

    I am also one of those people who kept adding titles. I'm at 44 and I feel like I should add 4 more so that it is an evenly divisible number per month. I need to start building my 2015 list...

    Here is my update

    1. Your comment made me laugh. I'm glad I'm not the only compulsive one around here! Thanks for sharing your update. I look forward to reading it.

  3. We Were Liars is on my list as well - just haven't go there. But can't wait. Love your "fangirly" story :-) I also have Snicker in my pile of titles to read this summer. Like you, I loved The Absolutely True . . . and wondered how I hadn't read it sooner. What a book! Absolutely Almost is also going on my TBR list. Look forward to your fall update - I have the feeling your list will have grown to 50!

    1. Thanks again for including me, Carrie! This has been fun. It's interesting to publicly share one's goals and lists. Having an audience definitely changes the way I approach this... and also encourages me even more to make sure my students have authentic audiences for their own writing. Happy reading to you and your kids!

  4. I love anytime when we read a book nowadays we want to find out if that author is on social media to tell them how their book is affecting us! I've done that so many times!

    1. I know! It's almost a compulsion! But in all seriousness, connecting with writers through twitter completely changed my teaching and my students' identities as writers and readers. We cherish our friendships with them, even if I might get a little starstruck sometimes. :) Thanks for reading!