Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Three books for the 3rd of July

Don't you love summer reading?
There's something magical about the first full week of summer, the start of the library's summer reading program, and the anticipation of all great books out there, just begging to be read.  So many books... just not enough time.  Let me help you by suggesting a few books that you might need to put near the top of your summer reading list.  And then you can help ME, by leaving a few suggestions of your own top picks in the comments below.  Hooray for books!  And sharing!  
 We took a trip to Barnes and Noble to browse their tables of summer picks.  Maniac Magee was on the teenage and young adult tables.  It caught my eye, and the next day when we visited the library, I added it to the stack.  Boy--am I glad I did!  Maniac Magee didn't captivate me right off... it probably took me until the 3rd chapter, which isn't saying too much, since the chapters tend to be about two or three pages long on average.  By chapter three, I was CHEERING! (inside my head) for Jeffrey Magee of the flap-soled tennis shoes.  It's a story about being homeless, overcoming racial boundaries and figuring out where you belong.  I LOVED it.  I would like to think that if I had a proclivity towards whistling to call my tribe for dinner, (like one of the moms in the story) that it would be a welcoming whistle, and that all would feel welcome at our table.  Maniac Magee is a book for all ages.  Part adventure, part example, part lesson to be learned.
My absolute favorite quote in the book:  "His smile was so wide he'd have to break it into sections to fit it through a doorway."  You'll have to read the book to find out who and why.  Just do it.
Oh--and it's a Newbery winner.  I LOVED Maniac Magee.
 The Best of Me was a good read.  I used to think I was a Nicholas Sparks fan, but I really don't think I am.  It reads like a movie, which means that the plot moves right along and thickens at the appropriate places, and then resolves in a way that might surprise the reader, but still leave you satisfied.  The movie rights have actually been sold to Warner Brothers, and the movie is set to release in 2014.  It's a love story.  There's plenty going on in the side stories to keep you busy.  I really did enjoy the book, but it's not going to be in my summer's top ten.  It's here because just the fact that I've finished three books since the start of summer is a monumental feat in my crazy world.  Would I recommend it?  Yes.  If you have enjoyed previous Nicholas Sparks titles, then I might even add that this is one of the better ones.
Of the three books here, Okay For Now gets my vote for best in show.  This story captured my heart right from the cover art.  Who, at some point in their life hasn't felt absolutely like spit-on wilted spinach and still pasted on a smile and communicated the complete opposite of the truth?  It's all good.  Set in 1968, this novel deals with the pretty heavy topics of  parental alcoholism, domestic violence, bullying and all kinds of change that is just plain HARD.  It's difficult to nail down a summary in one neat paragraph.  The irony and humor kept me committed to turning the pages as fast as I could... even on a camp-out in the dark with no reading glasses, having to hold the book at arms length with a spotty flashlight running low on battery.  Gary Schmidt does a brilliant job of handing you layers and layers of subject matter pertinent to 1968 and presents it in a way that is both witty and relevant.  I laughed out loud.  I cringed.  I wanted to wrap it up and gift it to everyone important in my life.  This book is about Doug Swietek's journey to accepting himself, his family, and his place in the world.  I found myself cheering for Doug and wanting good things to happen as much as he needed them to.  This is my first Gary D. Schmidt book--it may not be my last.
You should read this book as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.  You really should.


Michael Stokes said...

I highly recommend 'Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea' by Barbara Demick. If you read this and come away thinking you have something to complain about then please seek help :-) good for 13 and older. I know its been added to many high schools reading lists.

How will you measure your Life, Clayton Christensen. Like all his books, you will come away a better person having read it. 13 and older

being a teen at heart, 'Between the Lines' by Jodi Picoult and her daughter. Yes, this is a Picoult book you can read without having to flip past pages. It has it all humor, adventure and [don't tell my tribe] romance :-) 16 and older


Janssen said...

Oh, you MUST read The Wednesday Wars now. I love Gary Schmidt so much.

Braden said...

I recently read Powerless by Matthew Cody, and loved it. It didn't exactly have as much meaning as some of those. I also enjoyed 100 cupboards, by N.D. Wilson.