Monday, December 6, 2010

A Special Edition of
It's Monday Here's What I've Been Reading

Monday, December 6, 2010
It's Monday What Are You Reading is a wonderful weekly meme hosted by Shelia  at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books, and asks the question: What are you reading? 

This week has been a bit insane, but in a good way (except my reading has suffered). On Wednesday, I began my 21 Day Blogoversary and Birthday Bash to celebrate my one wonderful year of blogging, and impending birthday on the Dec 21 (ugh).

As part of the celebration and Day 6 giveaway of Keeper by Kati Appelt, I have a special guest post especially for all of you It's Monday What Am I Reading fans. So without further ado here is Kathi Appelt:

What I am Reading Monday—for Eating Y.A. Books

Last year after I served as a judge for the National Book Awards, I thought I might never read for pleasure again.  I was literally and physically burned out on books.  My eyes hurt, my neck hurt, and my house felt like it might explode from the sheer numbers of books that lined its walls.  In fact, before the year ended, I packed up about thirty boxes of them and gave them all away.  Some went to the DeGrummond Collection, an archive that houses all of my letters.  Some went to a friend’s classroom.  Others went to family members.  So I made sure that they found good homes.  But it was a relief to get them out of my house. 

It was a strange experience because I totally love to read, and I’ve never ever felt anything but affection and wonder for books.  In a million different ways, at a million different points in my life, reading has saved me.  And don’t get me wrong, I read so many wonderful stories during my tenure on the panel that one of my huge regrets is that we were only allowed to name five finalists.  I could have named many more than that.

There were other pluses as well.  For one, I read books in genres that I might never have picked up.  As Sara Zarr so eloquently put it on her blog—my reading horizons were stretched.  I felt like a braver reader than ever.  I also learned a lot about craft, about what makes a fine book and what makes an amazing book.  In addition, is there anything more wonderful than an ongoing discussion about stories with a group of fellow authors?  Not too many things can top that, at least not for me.

But the intensity of the judging experience, coupled with the huge number of titles that we were required to read—something like 280--pushed me over a reading ledge. 

It made me so sad to be honest.  So, I just took a deep breath, read the things I was required to read, and basically just dove into my own work in progress—Keeper.

But come this past August, I found my reading self again.  Mostly I found it because I discovered some truly wonderful books.  At last, after months of avoiding them, I felt like I was saved by books once again.  The long winter and summer of avoidance had finally worked itself out.  Books.  I have a whole stack of them next to my sofa, just waiting for me to jump in. And I also have a stack to share with you.

First up is Jeanette Ingold’s Paper Daughter.  Not only is there a mystery here, but this story is also about the power of story and the role it plays through generations in a family.  Just a beautiful, heartbreaker of a story.   

Next, a book by a relatively new author:  The Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys, by Scott William Carter.  Here is a road story that takes quiet, unassuming Charlie out of his comfort zone and into all sorts of trouble.  But it’s far more than just an adventure story.  It’s a story about telling the truth and what that is worth.

For the younger set, I just discovered Graham Salisbury’s Calvin Coconut  books.  My favorite is Calvin Coconut:  The Zippy Fix.  Calvin is not perfect, but he’s funny, sincere, and full of life. 

I’m completely smitten with Lyn Rae Perkins’ Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth.  Another road story, but so much more.  There were moments in this story in which I seriously split my sides laughing.  And then there were moments when tears went streaming down my face.  This is a book to read over and over again.  It’s a book for my heart. 

Truth with a Capital T, by Bethany Hegedus takes a hard look at who fits in a family, especially in the wake of a long-hidden secret, a secret that doesn’t necessarily shine in a favorable way the light that has been darkened for too long. 

It’s Not You, It’s Me, by Kerry Cohen Hoffman.  Here’s the thing.  This book made me  uncomfortable because I so clearly saw myself in the main character Zoë.  Not now of course, but back when I was her age, I had a similar experience with a boy—one who dumped me.  I did all sorts of really crazy things to try to get him back, things that were humiliating and embarrassing, and even while I did them I knew they were humiliating and embarrassing, but desperate days call for desperate actions.  So, the authenticity of this story rang out loud and clear.  Hoffman’s writing is crisp, there are moments of illumination, and then there are moments that made me downright queasy because I felt like I was in a time loop.  It’s a wonderful book, something of a cautionary tale, but one in which Zoë finally “wins,” and not because she gets her guy back.

Kimberly Willis Holt’s new picture book, Granny Clearwater, makes me one happy camper.  It’s a perfect marriage of text and art.  I love the dialect, I love the details, I love the rollicking nature of it.  It’s jubilant!

So many wonderful books, so glad to have them back in my life.  Next up?  The Curse of the Wendigo, by Rick Yancey.  

I want to thank Kathi for participating in this week's Monday meme. 

Make sure you check out my Day 6: 21 Day Blogoversary & Birthday Bash  to read my review of Keeper and enter to win your own copy of this wonderful book.

Here's what I read this week: 

Nightspell by Leah Cypess

Currently listening to:

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Currently Reading:

Desire of the Dead by Kim Derting

Reviews Posted:

Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohen and David Levithan

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Can't wait to see what you read this week!


Anonymous said...

Have I said Congrats yet in another comment? I can't remember so, congratulations on your blogoversary and your birthday.

I see you're reading Patrick Ness. I've only read the first book, should get back into it and read more. Enjoy!

Teddyree said...

Happy Blogoversary, I enjoyed the blog post by Kathy Apelt, phew the National Book Awards sounds rigorous!

Have a wonderful week and happy reading :)

heather said...

Happy Anniversary.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Oh, congrats, Jan! A year of blogging is always an amazing event. And I notice that your Dec. 21 birthday is the same as my mother's. You get short-changed, don't you, with Christmas and all?

Thanks for the amazing guest blog post...and for visiting my blog.

Aleksandra said...

Great books :) Happy reading & have a great week!

Jenny said...

Great guest post! I can imagine how reading all those books would take some of the fun out of the experience and make it more work.

Can't wait to see what you think of Desire of the Dead Jan, I'm really exited to read the Body Finder so I can be ready for that one!

pussreboots said...

I'm adding the Calvin Coconut books to my wishlist. Thanks.

I'm not reading much right now because I was working on my papers.

Augusta Scattergood said...

I could totally feel your pain when reading about reading all those nominated books! Real readers hate it when books become a chore. I just discovered your blog and am happy to find it. I'll be back!

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

How fun! Congrats on your blogiversary! Hope you have a great week :)

Nise' said...

Happy One Year Blogversary and Happy Upcoming Birthday.

Sue Jackson said...

Wow, so fascinating to read about what an author is reading! And the experience of judging a book award sounds both overwhelming and fun. What a great idea, Jan, to feature a guest host for Monday!

Enjoy your books this week -


Mardel said...

What a fun way to do your meme, have an author participate. Thanks for the glimpse into her reading list. :)

The1stdaughter said...

It's been awhile, but for some reason or another I didn't love Keeper, though I really enjoyed this interview. Fantastic idea!

Sorry I'm stopping by so late! The holidays have me running around like a chicken with her head cut off, it's insane!

Can't wait to read your review of Dash & Lily! I just loved that book so much!

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