My Must Read Titles for 2019

For those readers and list makers, nothing is more exciting than January! The time to make an amazing list of books to read for the year!

Where will our reading lives take us? What adventures and emotions will we experience through the books we read? Always, there are endless possibilities.

So many books. Limited time.

New books to distract us from other books.

A must read list ensures not all are forgotten!

#MustReadin2019

Join the #MustReadin2019 community!

To read more about the challenge and add your list, read here.

MustReadnovels

Here are the 30 titles I am going to try and read over this year. As always these titles will represent only a portion of my reading. My goal? To read most of these. I use this list like a road map of where to turn next when I come to a pause in my reading choices. It is always waiting to guide me. But it also waits patiently when I am distracted by new books. Often, I am.

Making a list like this – a To Read list – also allows us to reflect on the reading that we want to do. I know I want to emphasize middle grade novels. I didn’t read as much as I usually do in 2018 so my list has more titles that are published in 2018 or earlier (19 titles) and fewer 2019 releases (11 titles).

Here is my list:

Published in 2018 or earlier

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

The Soul of an Octopus

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing

After Zero by Christina Collins

After Zero

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka Read April 7th 2019 5 stars

Hey, Kiddo

The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson Read April 19th 2019 5 stars

The Dollar Kids

Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor
Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor

Harbour Me by Jacqueline Woodson Read January 6th 2019 5 stars

Harbour Me by Jacqueline Woodson

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena  Read February 11th 2019 4 stars

A Girl Like That

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway Read February 17th 2019 5 stars

Far from the Tree

The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden  Read March 19th 2019 5 stars

The Benefits of Being an Octopus

Lu by Jason Reynolds

Lu

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan Read January 22nd 2019 4 stars

All that I can fix, chan

From You to Me by K.A. Holt

Girl sitting on pier and lookingat the river

Sweep The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier  Read March 24th 2019 5 stars

Sweep

Tight by Torrey Maldonado

Tight

Wild Blues by Beth Kephart Read January 29th 2019 5 stars

Wild Blues

(Time Castaways #1) The Mona Lisa Key by Liesl Shurtliff

The Mona lisa key

The Last (Endling #1) by Katherine Applegate

The Last (Endling #1) by Katherine Applegate

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang  Read March 2nd 2019 5 stars

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Published in 2019 

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman Read June 16th 2019 5 stars

Padma Venkatraman The Bridge Home

The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu Read May 12th 2019 5 stars

The Lost Girl

The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart  Read July 2nd 2019 5 stars

Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Dig by A.S. King

Dig, King

Song for A Whale by Lynne Kelly

Song for A Whale

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt Read March 7th 2019 4 stars

Shouting at the Rain

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Wargather Read September 17th 2019 5 stars

 

OtherWordsHome

The Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith Read June 16th 2019 5 stars

Size of the Truth by Andrew Smith

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

To Night Owl from Dogfish

Where the Heart is by Jo Knowles

Where the Heart is

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James by Ashley Herring Blake

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St James

What novels are at the top of your TBR list? Please share! 

 

Sad books: Slice of Life #15

Be warned, I am about to rant a little. Yikes and oh my, I think we need to be so careful with how we talk about books we don’t like.

I just read a comment about how books about grief are boring. Okay, sure, not every reader loves every kind of book. Personal preference reigns supreme in the literary world. I just don’t understand why some people bash emotional books. If a book explores death, grief, sickness, pain or suffering, it is painted with a wide sloppy brush saturated in black paint: too dark, too sad, too depressing, to be avoided.

It is “too easy to write about grief” the criticism continued. Grief seems, to me, one of the most complicated things to write about. At least to write well. It is comprised of such a range of feelings: anger, sadness, guilt, confusion, pain. To hit all of these things correctly for a character. Believably. Honestly. This is not easy.

Grief and hope are intertwined. When a character stands balanced precariously between them, that is when the reader feels the most. Achieving that balance in life or in words, is not even close to easy.  But it is truly beautiful.

Sad Books #sol16

Readers seek out what they need. When we find books that allow us to experience emotions we can explore vicariously and from a distance, a book can really be the right book at the right time.

Stories let us choose our vantage point: witness, companion, fully immersed. That choice keeps us safe. That choice lets us have the experience we need.

I know I have avoided highly emotional books out of fear of my own strong reactions. Books that especially scare me? Books where children die, go missing or contract an incurable disease. But honestly, when I finally pick up emotional titles and let myself be surrounded by the story, it is here, where I feel the most human. Sometimes, turned inside out and raw but sharp and clear and wiser.

Not that I am an advocate for only sad books. Hardly! Different readers want different experiences and they seek out books looking for a myriad of things: adventure, action, humour, drama, escape, high fantasy, etc. No one genre makes us more or less of a reader.

For a while I thought amusing stories were fun but kind of forgettable. Then I began sharing silly, funny and absurd stories with my students. There is nothing like the amused joy of a room full of children sharing a story together! Laughing deep and contagiously? It doesn’t get much better.

Lots of books. Lots of genres. Available for lots of readers. This is how it should be. If we are in the business of helping books land in the hands of readers, we should not be painting any genre with a dismissive sweep. Instead, we should be polishing the shelves and helping them all shine.

And since I feel the current need to be champion for highly emotional stories (of the middle grade/young adult variety), I am going to share ten of my favourites.

Read one or all ten.

Cry a little and feel big.

The older I get, the more I realize that every time your heart breaks a little, it heals a little stronger with room for more.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Bird written by Crystal Chan

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

See you at Harry’s by Jo Knowles

The Summer of Letting Go written by Gae Polisner

The Boy in the Black Suit written by Jason Reynolds

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Each Little Bird That Sings written by Deborah Wiles

Bad Irony: Slice of Life

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out

I am celebrating the characters in middle grade and young adult novels who make strong impressions. When you read a lot of novels, there is the wonderful opportunity to “meet” many incredible characters. First, it was these 25 boys that I wanted to highlight. Now, it’s time for the girls!

These are the female characters who have stayed with me. I sometimes worry about them. I stop and remember their actions. The big and bold things and the quietly brave. I admire their choices, the way they move on from mistakes, their soul searching. I honour these 25 girls who live beyond the pages of the books they live in.

In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Sophie in Endangered written by Eliot Schrefer

Endangered In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Francesca Schnell in The Summer of Letting Go written by Gae Polisner

The Summer of Letting Go In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Flora Belle Buckman in Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo

flora and ulysses In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Marlee in The Lions of Little Rock written by Kristin Levine

lions-of-little-rock  In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Jewel in Bird written by Crystal Chan

Bird In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Comfort Snowberger in Each Little Bird That Sings written by Deborah Wiles

each little bird In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Fern in See you at Harry’s written by Jo Knowles

 see You at Harry's In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Vera in Please Ignore Vera Dietz written by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Georgie Burkhardt in One Came Home written by Amy Timberlake

one came home In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

May in May B. written by Caroline Starr Rose

May-B In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Hattie Brooks in Hattie Big Sky written by Kirby Larson

hattie-big-sky In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Calpurnia Virginia Tate in The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate written by Jacqueline Kelly

Evolution-of-Calpurnia-Tate In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Lucy in Half a Chance written by Cynthia Lord

Half a Chance In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Josie in Out of the Easy written by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Stargirl Caraway in Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

stargirl In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Gloriana (Glory) June Hemphill in Glory Be written by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Gabi Hernandez in Gabi, A Girl in Pieces written by Isabel Quintero

Gabi A girl in pieces In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Turtle in Turtle in Paradise written by Jennifer L. Holm 

 Turtle in Paradise In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Liesel Meminger in The Book Thief written by Markus Zusak

book thief In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Georgina Hayes in How to Steal a Dog written by Barbara O’Connor

 how to Steal a Dog In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Hayley Kincain in The Impossible Knife of Memory written by Laurie Halse Anderson

impossible knife In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Rose in Rain Reign written by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Carley Connors in One for the Murphys written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

OnefortheMurphys In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Piddy Sanchez in Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick your Ass written by Meg Medina

yaqui In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Willow Chance in  Counting by 7s written by Holly Goldberg Sloan

counting by 7s In the world of books: 25 girls who stand out There's a Book for That

Which characters would make your list? 

Favourites of 2014

Here are my favourite titles of 2014! Another wonderful year of reading – always in awe of the amazing authors and illustrators out there that give us the important gift of stories.

The best of the best (published in 2014) for me?

14 favourites and no more than 14 words of raving about each title. This was my challenge last year with my Favourites of 2013 (13 books, 13 words) and in 2012 (12 books, 12 words) with my 2012 Favourites. This year I get one more book and one more word to play with! 🙂

This year I chose to spread my book love evenly between picture books and novels. 7 and 7. I will be sharing my nonfiction favourites in a post of their own this week so I focussed a little more on fiction here.

In no particular order – my 7 favourite picture books of 2014:

Sparky! written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Absolutely charming. And wonderfully slow – yes, like a sloth.

Sparky Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin written by Chieri Uegaki with illustrations by Qin Leng

A story of determination, perseverance and creativity. Dream. Be courageous. Such messages.

 Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Thanks To Katherine Applegate and all of those who have loved Ivan, we love Ivan too.

ivan Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

A cover that hints at mystery and strange happenings and . . . ? Tender. Sweet. Kind

 The Farmer and the Clown Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

Persistence and love wrapped in brown, green and a little brother’s smile.

 The Girl and the Bicycle Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Any Questions? by Marie-Louise Gay

A story starts with a blank white page . . .

 Any Questions Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Pulls you deep into a “theorizing hole.” Digging in, around and out is highly satisfying.

 sam and Dave Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

And the novels that touched me – often making me pause and just connect with the state of being and living and loving. Novels roll out stories that transform our thinking with beautiful words on a page – the characters in these books have stuck with me.

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

Vulnerability. A touching exploration of grief. Superb writing and of course, little Frankie Sky.

 The Summer of Letting Go Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Bird by Crystal Chan

One girl raised in grief and superstition chases living. Sad and spectacular imagery.

 Bird Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Friendship trials and celebrations. Growing up with hearing loss and super powers.

El Deafo Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Nest by Esther Ehrlich

Chirp. Joey. Solid but broken. Love their observations, their coping strategies, their complicated friendship.

Nest Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Tears, faith, outrage, peace. What a story. Wiles pulls you right into 1964.

Revolution Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rose does things differently. But much a lot more bravely. Such a read.

Rain Reign Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Full of raw mistakes and huge hopes. Energizing despite the grief and pain.

I'll Give you the sun Favourites of 2014 There's a Book for That

Please share your own favourites of the year . . . 

Monday March 10th, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IMWAYR

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. One of the very best ways to discover what to read next!

I was quite ill this week so my picture book reading was limited to what was in the house that I had yet to read (no library adventures for me). On the other hand, I spent hours reading novels and finished seven titles. Basically all I have done in the last three days is read, sleep and in one big burst of energy, I cleaned the fridge.

Picture books I enjoyed:

Locomotive by Brian Floca 

Wow. The details and the history that Floca gifts to us in this train ride to the West Coast are just stunning. I read this to my son and he was captivated. Simply gorgeous.

Locomotive #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

DareDevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy

Another title for the picture book biography section. Betty Skelton and speed – whoa! I was truly shocked at how many things this woman was ready to try and how nothing phased her whatsoever. It was like, goal accomplished – what’s next?

Daredevil #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Fox in the Library written by Lorenz Pauli and illustrated by Kathrin Scharer

Loved the illustrations in this story and that it certainly promoted the love of books and literacy. But was the story memorable, not so sure. Did the story itself impress me? I felt it was only okay.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Novels I finished:

Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy (MG)

A #MustReadin2014 title that I borrowed from my daughter’s bookshelf. What an ideal middle grade novel. It has everything to appeal to this preteen/early teen audience: family and friendship dynamics, humour, a taste of bizarre, a dose of romance and just a really great story.

small medium at large #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Charm & Strange by Stehanie Kuehn (YA definitely)

Intense, haunting and beautifully told. Almost impossible to discuss this book without giving things away. It is dark. It is about facing the past and demons that have shaped you. It is about vulnerability. An emotional read but one I really recommend.

Charm and Strange #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz (MG/YA)

There is much to this book about two siblings basically raising themselves – helped occasionally by their spirited Grandmother who is otherwise sad and despondent. Everything changes when an escaped convict breaks into their home and holds them hostage. The drama is not rushed and full of fear and aggression. Rather, it is a simmering psychological story where questions rise up. What is family? What is loyalty? Where do our wishes lead us?

zebra forest #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Every Day After by Laura Golden (MG)

Another #MustReadin2014 title I took off my daughter’s shelf (thank goodness I give her such amazing titles!). Lizzie is another young heroine of historical fiction that will weave her way into your heart and you can’t help but root for her. I really hope Laura Golden continues to write in this genre.

Every Day After #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles (MG)

Who would think one could use descriptors such as delightful and uplifting about a book all about funerals and death? Yet, this book is exactly that. It celebrates spirit and connection. It honours life. There is pure simplicity and complex interpersonal dynamics. And in the end I cried. But I would read this book again in a heartbeat just to experience interesting funeral food, the joys of a a flower garden and slobbery dog love.

Each Little Bird That Sings #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bird by Crystal Chan (MG/YA)

This book will follow me through the year I predict and may just end up on my favourites of 2014. Jewel is raised in grief and superstition. Guilt and anger. The day she was born was the day her brother Bird died. Everything about her life begins from there. Beautifully written. Sad and spectacular imagery. Themes of friendship, grief, family, culture, faith. Highly recommended.

Bird #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA)

I had heard numerous times that this novel was powerful. That is explored PTSD in honest and raw ways. These things were not surprises. How much I adored the characters, the rich relationships, the true to life portrayal of a young girl caught between a place of hanging on and trying to embrace life and possibility – all of this surprised me. Just. So. Good.

Th Impossible Knife of Memory #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Up next? I am currently reading Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – I really enjoyed Cinder and had looked forward to reading this entire trilogy. I just picked up Allegiant by Veronica Roth from the library so that will likely be my next read. My children are thrilled that I am feeling better so that I can continue nightly reading of The Shadow Throne.

Reading Goal updates:

2014 Chapter Book Challenge: 19/100 novels complete

Goodeads Challenge: 124/650 books read

#MustReadin2014: 9/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 40/65 complete