Friday, April 17, 2009

My Top Reads of 2008 List

I know, I know, it's pretty late for this, but here it is . . . (In no particular order.)

(A note: My 2008 Top Reads was done in memory our beautiful infant son, Sam, who passed away just a little over a year ago now, April 3, 2008. )

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood (2008)
“Writing about Grace, losing her, loving her, anything at all, is not linear either. . . Grief doesn't have a plot. It isn't smooth. There is no beginning and middle and end” (53). This is a compact, intense book about the author’s loss of her young daughter from a sudden illness. Very well done, and oh, so true.

Love You to Pieces - Suzanne Kamata, editor (2008)
I received this book as an Advanced Readers Copy from as part of their Early Reviewers group. It is a collection of nonfiction essays, excerpts, poetry and short fiction about living with and raising special needs children. I really liked Michael Berube’s “Great Expectations”.

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry (2008)A short, fun romp that makes fun of itself! It is a humorous parody of many old-fashioned stories, such as Mary Poppins and any number of orphan stories. Will the children in this story get a happy ending?

My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger (2008)
My most favorite book of all I read this year! It is a sweet, intriguing read, and I recommend it to those of nearly all ages. It is a story told alternately by three different teens and the adults in their lives. Please, please read this one! It’s better than TWILIGHT!! (There are also no vampires in this book.)

The Amsterdam Cops: Collected Stories by Janwillem van de Wetering (2000)
This (adult fiction) collection of stories about cops investigating murder mysteries can be laugh-out-loud funny. They are translated well from the original Dutch. The stories, of course, take place in the Netherlands.

These is My Words by Nancy Turner (1997, 2007)
I play in a church bell choir right now with the author! However, I had not known that would be happening when I picked this book up at the library this summer, where it was featured as by a local author. It is about Sarah Prine, in Arizona territory from 1881 to 1901, and her life’s adventures. There are two sequels, but I Iiked this first one the best. The book is very loosely based on Nancy’s great-grandmother’s experiences. It is written in diary format and is intended for an adult audience.

Impossible by Nancy Werlin (2008)
Fiction intended for older teens, I read this book late into the night one night this fall. A teen learns that the women in her family have been cursed for many generations, and that she is destined to have a baby at age 18 and then literally lose her mind the moment the baby is born unless she completes three tasks in the song passed down in her family. Will she be able to finish before it is too late for her? It is based on the lyrics of “Scarborough Fair”.

Paper Daughter: A Memoir by M. Elaine Mar (2000) Grandma Larson loaned this book to me in Jan ’08. I found the memoir fascinating, but was a difficult read at the same time. It is about a Chinese girl/woman growing up mainly in the US, trying to navigate the differences between her home life and outside.

American Band: Music, Dreams and Coming of Age in the Heartland by Kristen Laine (2007)
This adult nonfiction title follows the lives of high school marching band members, their families, and the band director through a season of trying to make it to the top of their class at the Indiana state marching band finals in 2004. The author did an excellent job portraying the efforts of everyone involved.

Gluten-Free Girl by Shauna James Ahern (2007)
The author started a blog a few years ago about her adventures with food after finding that she can no longer eat gluten, that she has Celiac Disease. I found this book not only appetizing with the recipes and food but humorous in tone. She writes a lot about the processed foods of her childhood.

A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein by Lisa Rogak (2007)
This book is not really intended for kids, even though the cover is designed to look like one of his books of poetry for kids. Mr. Silverstein was quite a private person and it took the author a lot of research and interviews to find all of the information for this well-told biography. I had no idea about several aspects of his life.

Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil (1995)I finally read one of his works because my doctor in Illinois asked last spring if I would be able to see this famous doctor, as he lives in Tucson. I haven’t met him, yet, no, but I can say that I’ve read one of his books now. It was very good, and provides a lot of information about health to think about.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman (2007)
I read this book last December just before Sam was born. It is fiction that I would recommend to older teens and to adults who want to read a truly scary book! It is not horror in a classic sense of the genre, but it becomes horrific in that you may start asking yourself if such a thing will be possible some day. . . read the book to find out what “unwinding” is. Not recommended on a full stomach.