Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A book is a gift you can open again & again - Garrison Keillor

A few weeks ago I issued a call to Twitter, Facebook and blog friends asking for book suggestions to give as presents to the readers (and those that need to be encouraged to read) in our lives. The response was overwhelming. I've compiled a list of suggested books below and comments from those that suggested them.

I also promised a $ 25 Amazon.com gift card. For her passionate and lengthy list of books, particularly in a genre that is sometimes overlooked by adults, the winner is Ari aka Miss Attitude. Ari blogs over at Reading in Color and is always in the know about the latest and greatest lit for young adults. Congrats Ari!


The Underneath by Kathi Appelt & David Small

Mean, old Gar-face abuses his poor little animals so much so that the only place they can find solace is underneath the house. The story deals with animal mistreatment, but also teaches friendship can be found in the unlikeliest of places - in this case among a dog and a cat. This is a great book to read aloud or with an older child perhaps 2nd grade or above.

Testing the Ice by Sharon Robinson & Kadir Nelson

Written by Sharon Robinson - Jackie Robinson's daughter - this is a wonderful tale of history, hope, faith and love. It was a welcome addition to our family library and an even greater addition to my kids' school library - as we purchased an additional. copy to donate. Another favorite for the 2nd grade and above.

The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden

Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she's sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true?

Young Adult

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

A YA urban fantasy book about a high school girl who draws the unwanted notice of a faerie prince. I think that'd be a great choice for an older teen/20s reluctant girl reader.

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

It's about a girl who lies. A lot. It's suspenseful and keeps you guessing. I loved it.

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

It's about a multiracial sarcastic smart athletic guy who decides to make a bunch of misfits popular. For guys especially I recommend ..A poignant, hysterical read.

I also recommend anything by Walter Dean Mosley.

A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott

For all the historical fiction/fantasy readers. About a girl from 21st Brooklyn's time travel to the Civil War Brooklyn. Amazing.

Flygirl by Sherri Smith

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn't stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy's gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women's Airforce Service Pilots—and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won't accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of "passing," of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one's racial heritage, denying one's family, denying one's self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.

Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis

Octavia and Tali are dreading the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. After all, Mare isn’t your typical grandmother. She drives a red sports car, wears stiletto shoes, flippy wigs, and push-up bras, and insists that she’s too young to be called Grandma. But somewhere on the road, Octavia and Tali discover there’s more to Mare than what you see. She was once a willful teenager who escaped her less-than-perfect life in the deep South and lied about her age to join the African American battalion of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

She's So Money by Cherry Cheva

Maya has always been the good girl. Camden is the popular jock with a bigger ego than brain. Maya never thought there'd be a reason for them to, like, interact. But when the biggest mistake of her life lands her in need of a seriously devious plan, she discovers Camden isn't as dumb as he looks. And now that Maya's playing the bad girl (lying, cheating, swindling, and, um, shopping), she might as well do it right and flirt with the bad boy. . . .

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm.

The Making of Dr. Truelove by Derrick Barnes (for guys it's very funny, very hormone-driven!).

Diego is a sixteen-year-old boy with a problem. He loves his girlfriend, Roxy. And when they suddenly break up due to Diego's own insecurity issues, the boy is crushed. However will he win Shorty back?

On the trusty advice of his (crazy) best friend, Diego invents an alter ego known as Dr. Truelove. A sex and relationship e-columnist, Truelove is smooth where Diego is gawky, skilled where Diego is clueless. Truelove is, quite clearly, the way back into Roxy's heart. Or so it seems.

Lip Gloss Chronicles series: The Ultimate Test and Splitsville by Sheila M. Goss

The Lip Gloss Chronicles explores the life of three sassy and hip urban high school freshmen who are high on fashion and magnets for drama. Britney Franklin, Jasmine McNeil, and Sierra Sanchez, daughters of Dallas, Texas socialites met in their private grammar school, and now they are ready to tackle their freshman year in a new public high school as a team.

Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife -- between desire and danger.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl which just came out a few days ago. It was an amazing paranormal read and about as long as one of the Twilight books.

Donut Days by Lara Zielin. It was a great story about families, church, and friendship.

International Fiction

The Book of Night Women by Marlon James

About a group of slave women in Jamaica plotting their escape.

Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo

Essentially a gothic multigeneration family saga

The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson

A book about a woman going through menopause who is forced to reexamine her life and values after realizing mermaids are real. Trust me, it's handled wonderfully.


Complications and Better by Atul Gawande's medical essays (the latter has slightly more interesting topics)

anything by Oliver Sacks (my favourite is his memoir of loving chemistry as a boy called Uncle Tungsten)

Red, White, and Drunk All Over by Natalie McClean

For foodies: a wonderful book about wine-not at all pretentious and McClean's love for it shines through.

Fiction - Adults

Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice

Still reeling from divorce and feeling estranged from her teenage son, Trish Taylor is in the midst of salvaging the remnants of her life when she uncovers a shocking secret: her sister is alive. For years Trish believed that her mother and infant sister had died in a car accident. But the truth is that her mother fatally overdosed and that Trish’s grandparents put the baby girl up for adoption because her father was black.

After years of drawing on the strength of her black ancestors, Billie Cousins is shocked to discover that she was adopted. Just as surprising, after finally overcoming a series of health struggles, she is pregnant–a dream come true for Billie but a nightmare for her sweetie, Nick, and for her mother, both determined to protect Billie from anything that may disrupt her well-being.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Be prepared to meet three unforgettable women:

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town...

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her -- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling.


  1. YAY! Thanks so much :) This is a great list of books (although I must confess I didn't like Twilight or the Lipgloss Chronicles). The Help and Children of the Waters are patiently sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read.

  2. Ari, email me and let me know to which email address you'd like me to send your gift card. I didn't realize I hadn't read Children of the Waters until I was compiling the list, but I've added it to my list to read as well.