9 Books I’m Thankful For
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In the days before Thanksgiving, I decided to take a moment to reflect on the books that moved, enlightened, and inspired me over the last year or so. All but one are works of fiction, and all but three are young adult books, though I believe such books can and should be enjoyed by adults as well. (All except Landline, which I lent to a friend, are pictured below.)
All the Bright Places (Knopf Books for Young Readers, January 6, 2015) by Jennifer Niven
This book is so beautifully written. Violet and Finch are compelling and well developed characters and the plot is clever and really drew me in. Although the love story left me a little bit broken, I’m so glad I read this book. I can’t wait to see it come alive in a movie starring the very talented Elle Fanning. (You can read my interview with the lovely Jennifer Niven here.)
City on Fire (Knopf, October 13, 2015) by Garth Risk Hallberg
City on Fire is not the kind of book I would normally be drawn to. But there was something about the gorgeous cover and the fact that it’s set in New York City the 60s and 70s (I was born in Brooklyn in 1969 and grew up in Long Island) that made me pick it up despite it’s length (it is more than 900 pages long). Thankfully, I got sucked into the book immediately, and its structure made it highly readable. It is divided into 7 books with short chapters and interesting interludes that utilize different points of view (most of the book is told in an omniscient third person perspective). The author does a masterful job of creating compelling characters that intersect at various points of time and places and a plot that kept me turning the pages. The book tackles so many themes and can be, at times, dark, sad, depressing and upsetting. But at the end of the day, the book is about empathy and about people and relationships and decisions they make and where they see themselves in the world. If someone starts a weekly discussion group to study this book, let me know so I can join. I loved it that much!
Eleanor and Park (St. Martin’s Griffin, February 26, 2013) by Rainbow Rowell
This is one of my favorite books EVER. I’ve read it twice so far and loved it even more the second time. Set in 1986, when I was a high school junior, E & P is a love story between two unlikely people. Both Eleanor and Park are fully fleshed out characters and their relationship is written so beautifully, like it’s painted with a brush, you can’t help but fall in love with them separately and together. I also loved Park’s parents—so real and believable. In signature Rowell style, the books has bits of both darkness and light and even some humor—they blend to create what in my mind is a masterpiece that will live in my heart forever.
Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story (Dutton Books for Young Readers, March 17, 2015) by David Levithan
I laughed and cried reading this “musical book” about Tiny Cooper, a character from Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-written by David Levithan and John Green). Its heart and humor make it a very unique book that I can picture being performed in high school theater departments across the country.
I’ll Give You the Sun (Dial Books, September 16, 2014) by Jandy Nelson
This is my absolute favorite book EVER. It exposed me the world of art and to beautiful characters. Sweet, vulnerable Noah is so lovable, and the mother in me wanted to sweep him up in a giant hug more than once. Nelson builds a unique and very rich world, and her incredible, poetic style swept me up like no other book has. The book oozes vivid description and detail, and each paragraph and page made me feel more emotions than I can count. So far, I’ve read the book twice and often pick it up to read a few pages just because.
Landline (St. Martin’s Griffin, July 7, 2015) by Rainbow Rowell
Rowell, one of my favorite authors (ok, I’m obsessed with her work!), really gets relationships—the highs, the lows, and everything in between. Anyone who is married for a long time and has children can relate to this book as I did—at least a little bit. The relationship between Georgie and Neal is honest and raw, and the landline to her past makes for an interesting and enjoyable storyline. Although there’s a layer of sad in this book, the humor tempers the dark and makes it a very good read. I’ll read anything Rowell writes!
The Crossover (March 18, 2014) by Kwame Alexander
This highly praised, award-winning book is written in verse. Poetry is certainly not my forte (though I wrote some pretty bad poetry in high school and college), but this book reads beautifully, telling a compelling story of 12-year-old twin boys who excel at basketball. Parents and children alike will likely appreciate this sweet, sad, but ultimately uplifting book. (You can read my interview with the inspiring Kwame Alexander here.)
The Interestings (Rverhead Books, April 9, 2013) by Meg Wolitzer
This book had me at page one. It’s about six teens who meet and bond at an overnight summer camp for the arts. Wolitzer skillfully takes readers on an emotional journey, chronicling the teens’ lives over several decades and ending the book when the characters are in their mid 50s. So many relatable topics including friendship, marriage, love, talent, and money are tackled in the book. While reading it, I felt like Wolitzer wrote it with me in mind. I love her real and raw writing style and could relate to so much of the book—I, too, went to overnight camp in upstate New York and have lived most of my life in New York City. I enjoyed it immensely and can’t wait to read it again someday. (You can check out my interview with my writing hero, Meg Wolitzer, here.)
Where You Go is Not Who You’ll Be (Grand Central Publishing, March 17, 2015) by Frank Bruni
This book is a great read for any parent or child who wants to stay grounded and calm as they approach the often brutal college application process. It’s a sensible read that illustrates that individual characteristics like enthusiasm can mean so much more to help you achieve future success than the name of the school you attend. (You can check out my interview with Frank Bruni here.)
What books are you thankful for?
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