Director’s Bookshelf 11/27

Nov Bookshelf Header

It’s been a busy autumn for me, but things are finally settling down. For the last few weeks, I’ve made a point of getting some reading done as soon as get home from work. I’ve also tried to leave at least a half an hour of reading time before bed, although that’s been less successful. This means I’ve been able to get a good amount of reading done recently, and I’ve loved a lot of the books I’ve gotten to.

I have a huge to-be-read list, so I’m trying to prioritize the things I’d like to get through before the end of the year. That TBR includes finalists for the mock-Newbery and mock-Printz awards that BCCLS librarians vote on in January, as well as some best-sellers and critical favorites I haven’t made time for yet. I’m hoping to do a round-up of my favorite books of 2017, and I don’t want to miss anything important.

Here are some of my favorites, out of the many books I’ve been reading lately.

Nov Bookshelf MG

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
This is one of the finalists for the BCCLS mock-Newbery awards, and it would certainly be a deserving winner. Eleven-year-old Alex’s dad is dead, his mother isn’t all there mentally, and his older brother doesn’t really visit. So when Alex wants to attend a rocket festival, he books a train ticket and heads off with his dog, named after his hero, Carl Sagan. Of course, nothing goes as planned, including his rocket’s failure to meet expectations, and an Ancestry.com report about his father. This takes Alex halfway across the country, making new friends, meeting surprising family members, and coming to terms with some of the hard truths of life. This book has a lot of twists and turns, and I’m struggling to summarize it without giving too much away. So trust me, my description doesn’t do this book justice, and you should definitely give it a try, even if you’re not part of the target middle grade audience.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
I almost decided to pass on ordering a copy of this book for our library, and boy would that have been a mistake. It’s gone out so much that I’ve already had to order a second copy. Of course that means I had to see what all the fuss has been about for myself. This graphic memoir covers Hale’s childhood with emphasis on the grade school friendships she made and lost, the stress of fitting in with a clique, and her relationship with her older sister. It’s a slice of life that will be extremely relatable for kids (and it’s the December pick for the library’s graphic novel book club).

Nov Bookshelf YA

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Jason Reynolds is master author, and his latest YA book lives up to the hype. When Will’s brother is shot and killed, Will knows the the rules: no crying, no snitching, get revenge. So he takes his brother’s gun, tucks it into the waistband of his jeans, and heads out to do what he feels he has to. But as his elevator descends, someone new gets on at each floor. Every passenger is connected to Will in some way, and they’re all dead. It’s A Christmas Carol for modern young adults, as Will comes face to face with the impact gun violence has already had on his life. The book itself is written in verse, making it a quick read and a great pick for reluctant readers, teens or adults.

Warcross by Marie Lu
I loved Marie Lu’s Legend Trilogy and Young Elites Trilogy, so I went into this book with high expectations. She managed to blow me away nonetheless. In a near-future version of Earth, everyone on the planet is an avid user of Warcross, and augmented reality video game that grafts itself on top of the real world. Emika Chen is a hacker and a bounty hunter, tracking those who commit crimes in the virtual world. When she hacks her way into the opening game of the Warcross Championships, Emika catches the eye of Hideo Tanaka, the young creator of Warcross. He invites her to participate in the Championships as his spy, trying to figure out who has been messing with the game, and to what ends. This sends Emika into an international web of conspiracy and morality, with repercussions both virtual and in real life.

Nov Bookshelf A

Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to Be Grateful for Michelle Obama edited by Nicholas Haramis
If you’re missing the former First Lady, then I highly recommend checking this book out. It features 20 essays from notables like Gloria Steinem, Rashida Jones, Charlamagne tha God, and Janet Mock, all on the personal significance and resonance of Michelle Obama’s time as First Lady. Each essay is briend, the entire book is barely over 100 pages, but they’re incredibly affecting. The piece by Jason Wu, whose fashion designs were often worn by Obama, was a personal favorite (I cried).

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
You’re probably most familiar with Strayed from her memoir Wild, which was turned into a film starring Reese Witherspoon. She also wrote an anonymous advice column for the website The Rumpus. This collection of her letters is beautiful and personal, reading more like a memoir than the traditional advice column. I listened to this on audio, and found myself going for walks just so I could listen to more of this.

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose by Joe Biden
I have been eagerly anticipating the release of this book since it was announced and I had it on hold before it was released. Biden chronicles his vice presidency and his son’s battle with cancer, which took place during his second term. It’s a peek behind the curtain at the Biden family, from Vice President Biden getting to take his grandchildren on diplomatic trips, to family vacations in Nantucket, and the burden of loss on a family already intimately familiar with it. Joe Biden is likeable and down to Earth in a way that is rare among politicians, and this book highlights that. Given the topic of the memoir, it’s no surprise that it made me a cry a bit, but it was so full of love and lightness that it ended up being much more uplifting than I was prepared for.

So that’s 7 books down, and only 243 to go. I’m currently reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and listening to the audiobook version of Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik. After that I’m trying to make sure I get to Hillary Clinton’s What Happened, Mitali Perkins’s You Bring the Distant Near, Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and Murray Howe’s Nine Lessons I Learned from My Father before the year is out. Good thing I’m a fast reader.