2009 Books

Just a way for me to keep track of the books I’ve read this year and my general opinions of them.  These are now in reverse order so that you (and I) don’t have to keep scrolling down to the bottom.

61. The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory – I may have liked this sequel almost more than The Other Boleyn Girl.  Because the characters are less familiar, there was added suspense in this one because I didn’t know how it was going to end.  Gregory is a fantastic author.

60. The Last Dickens, Matthew Pearl – I read The Dante Club by Pearl a couple years ago and apparently forgot how long it takes for his stories to get going.  250 pages into a 400 page book and it finally gets interesting, and even then it still wasn’t great.

56-59. Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling – Yes, I’m rereading the Harry Potter series again.  Don’t judge me.

54-55. The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian, by Rick Riordan – The last two books in the Percy Jackson series.  Overall, I liked the series.  I described it like this to a friend:
-character development – Harry Potter < Percy Jackson < Twilight
-plot development – Twilight < Percy Jackson < Harry Potter

53. The Titan’s Curse, by Rick Riordan – I finished this one on the plane ride back to Memphis after Thanksgiving.  Three down, two to go.

52. The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan – I’m really enjoying this series.  Very fun, quick reads.

51. The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan – This is the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  I had heard good things about the series and then was able to pick up the first three books for free through the Reading is Fundamental program at school.  I read it in one day, and it was somewhat predictable, but that’s to be expected when reading middle school level books  :)

50. Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore – Read this book.  Now.  It’s wonderful and inspiring and convicting and, above all, glorifies God.  Why are you still reading this instead of the book?

49. The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory – Love love love it!  I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and this is a really fantastic blend of fact and fiction.  Gregory writes in such a way that you really feel like your in the middle of all the madness with the characters.  I highly recommend it.

48. Deja Dead, by Kathy Reichs – This is the first book by the author who inspired the TV show Bones, which I love.  I liked the book – it was a good mystery/crime novel – but I was sad it wasn’t more like the TV show.  In the book Dr. Brennan doesn’t really have a team, which I think is a huge part of what makes the show so good.

45-47. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C. S. Lewis – Always good to revisit these.  Perfect bedtime reading  :)

42-44. The Mark of the Lion Trilogy, Francine Rivers – There’s nothing like spending a 3-day weekend with Francine Rivers.  Hooray for 40% coupons at Borders!  These books are always so encouraging/convicting.  They always make me wonder how I would have fared as a 1st century Christian – would I have been bold and faithful, like Hadassah and Rizpah, or would I have compromised?  It’s an interesting question to think about.

41. Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis – Love love love this book.  Most of my “to read” shelf is nonfiction at the moment, but I’ve been in a very fiction-oriented mood; thus, all the rereads.

40. The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger – Another reread.  I wanted to read it again before seeing the movie.  I loved it just as much the second time around (although this time I didn’t stay up until 6 am to finish it).

39. Me and Mr. Darcy, Alexandra Potter – Really stupid book that I found at a time when I really wanted to read a stupid book.  How convenient.  The plot was beyond predictable (and essentially stolen) and the characters were one-dimensional.  It was fun, but this is why I get annoyed when people try and recreate the magic of P&P.

38. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen – Does it count if I read it twice in one year?  What can I say, I wanted something I knew I would love.

37. Night, Elie Wiesel – It’s about time I got around to reading this!  I started it today while the power was out with the intention of looking for excerpts I could use for my first unit, but got so caught up I forgot to mark anything.  Moving, heartbreaking, terrifying – all this and more.  Everyone in the world should read it.

36. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, J. K. Rowling – Reading the sixth book at Institute this summer made me want to read the seventh.  Harry Potter is always a good way to distract myself from obsessing about school.

35. Emma, Jane Austen – It took me awhile to get into this one, but once I did, I enjoyed it.  It’s probably my least favorite Jane Austen book that I’ve read, but it’s hard to compete with Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility.

34. Fearless Fourteen, Janet Evanovich – I plead the necessity of mental breaks again.  Plus, it was 40% off  :)  Don’t worry, I’m still working on Emma.

33. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J. K. Rowling – Mental breaks are good during stressful times.  Harry Potter = mental break, TFA Institute = stressful time.  I’m just glad my roommate had a book she was willing to let me borrow.

32. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder – I finished this one right before leaving Austin for Induction and Institute.  She really is why the book is always better than the movie.  :)

31. The Color Purple, Alice Walker – I read this back in February, I think, but just realized I didn’t put it on here.  I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it.  I feel like it’s one of those books everyone’s “supposed” to read, and I just never had.  It’s not one that will stick with me.

30. Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder – I came home, saw the series on the shelf, and it made me think of Denton, so I started reading them.  I doubt I’ll have time to finish before I leave for Memphis, but we’ll see.

29. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë – Another reread, and one that was long overdue.  I love love love everything about this story.  I read it for the first time in high school, and I think a few years more life experience made it even better.  Brontë writes emotion so well that you actually feel what the characters feel, which always makes a book better.  I also love how none of the characters are pretty and flawless – I find them much more realistic than your typical Jane Austen characters (although I do still love Jane Austen).

28. Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, Rafe Esquith – If I’m ever half as good a teacher as this man, I will have arrived.  I can’t even begin to imagine where he gets the time and energy to do all the things he does with his class (although he does have the benefit of being in a year-round school).  Really great book.

27. The Essential 55, Ron Clark – This one’s out of order, but I just realized I never put it on here.  Ron Clark’s story is a good one (they made a tv movie out of it starring Matthew Perry), but I think 55 rules is kind of a lot.  Still, I think a lot of the principles he talks about will be very useful as I try to create the kind of classroom that will encourage not only academic learning, but life learning as well.

26. The Giver, Lois Lowry – Another one people have been bugging me to read for years.  I liked it a lot; although it’s kind of just Brave New World-lite.  Also, the ending was a little unsatisfying, but I think it was supposed to be that way.

25. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin – A very intriguing murder mystery that’s another one of those books that I was apparently supposed to read in middle school.  I picked it up while subbing for the 8th grade Reading teacher at Crownover, and then got it from the library after school so I could finish it.  Depending on what age I end up teaching, I may use it in my classroom.

24. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card – I don’t know why it took me so long to actually read this.  It’s just as good as everyone always told me it was.  So good, in fact, that I started it around 9 pm and did not stop reading until I was finished at 2 am.  Probably an unwise decision, but always one I enjoy making.

23. The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis – Always worth a reread.  C. S. Lewis is a genius.  “There is but one good; that is God.  Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.”

22. The Host, Stephenie Meyer – I feel like there was something in between these last two, but I can’t for the life of my think what it was.  I think it may have just been life.  Anyway, this book was really different from the Twilight series.  It took a while to get into, but once I did it was really good.  The whole story is based on a really interesting concept.

21. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer – As series conclusions go, this was a good one.  I really liked the way she resolved everything without being overly cheesy.  I also really like that now I’m finished and can return to my normal life.  :)

20. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer – As if you couldn’t see this coming.  I think the first one’s still my favorite though.  Only one more to go, and then I’m free!

19. New Moon, Stephenie Meyer – I couldn’t wait to borrow Robin’s and it was only $11.  I started around 8pm and finished at 1:30 am.  It’s just such an interesting story!

18. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer – Ok, so I finally read it.  Yes, it was good.  No, I am not in love with Edward.  Yes, I will read the rest of the series.

17. Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers – I think this was the 4th time I’ve read this.  As always, it’s amazing.  It’s just such a good reminder of how much Christ loves us, as well as a fantastic story.  If you haven’t read it, you should.

16. The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham – Soooo good.  I remember seeing the preview to the movie and really wanting to see it, but I never got around to it.  I completely forgot about it and then found the book one day when I was perusing the shelves at the library.  It was a really quick read and while I wish it ended differently, it’s totally worth reading.

15. Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer – Disjointed, weird, and heartbreaking, which is pretty much what I expected going in.  This was Foer’s first novel (I read his second, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close a couple years ago) and it’s one of those super-innovative, out-of-order books that seem to have been so popular over the past decade or so.  Good, but definitely not for everyone.

14. Teaching As Leadership: Ms. Lora’s StoryOk, so this was for Teach for America, but it was 100 pages printed off the computer, which I think counts as a book.  It was the story of a Houston corps member who taught 3rd grade for 4 years.  I enjoyed seeing another example of the practical things really great teachers do in the classroom.

13. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen – I hesitated to include this, considering this is the 4th or 5th time I’ve read it.  It’s just so good.  I wish it were possible to go back to not knowing how the story ends so I could be surprised all over again.  I pity the men who are trying to win women who have read it…they have so much to live up to.

12. People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks – I really like books about books.  This one is a fictional history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, told in reverse.  It starts with an ancient manuscript conservator from Australia in 1996 and flashes between her life and work and the Haggadah’s history.  Very well-written and very interesting.

11. The Gun Seller, Hugh Laurie – Yes, Hugh Laurie, of House fame, is also an author.  And a rather good one at that.  Published in 1996, his first book is a spoof of James Bond-style books that manages to be hilariously funny and also have a pretty good plot.  It’s especially funny if you picture Hugh Laurie as the main character, driving a motorcycle, drinking whiskey, shooting people, and getting shot at.   His next book is supposed to come out in September…I’m stoked.

10. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon – Well, I didn’t finish this one, but I figure 120 pages out of a total of 297 is a fair effort.  I just couldn’t get into the story – it’s just about a self-absorbed college graduate’s summer.  The people he meets and befriends are more annoying than they are interesting and none of them seemed very relatable.  This was his first book though, so I guess the good news is that he improved.

9. The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton – “Grease” with all the seriousness of “West Side Story.”  This is one of those middle school classics that I somehow had never heard of before this year.  An interesting look into gang culture, family ties, and how “things are rough all over,” whether it looks like it or not.

8. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen – While not as compelling as Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice, this is a book of pure romantic fun, especially when you already know the ending.  It’s fun to sympathize with Elinor and Marianne, while also laughing at all the ridiculous people they have to put up with – Sir John, Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Palmer, the Miss Steeles, etc.

7. Persuasion, Jane Austen – Probably my new favorite book by Austen.  It was her last book and I can definitely see what people mean when they say it’s her most mature.  It seemed much more introspective, to me, than her other works.  If you don’t mind spoilers, go here to read quite possibly the most romantic letter ever written.

6. Enduring Love, Ian McEwan – An intriguing study of human interaction and the far-reaching consequences of our actions.  I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if it wasn’t so incredibly well written.

5. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon – Fun story set in the world of comic book writers in the years leading up to and following WWII.  It went some places I hoped it wouldn’t, but overall it was an engaging read with very sympathetic characters.

4. A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah – Another heartbreaking story, but the good thing about memoirs is that you know the author ends up making it.  The interesting part is hearing about how someone spends years as a child soldier and manages to rediscover their identity and soul afterwards.

3. The Freedom Writers Diary, The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell – Probably only interesting to someone who wants to teach in the inner-city.  It made me realize that I’m not cynical about the ability of teachers to have a drastic, almost immediate impact on inner-city students, just about my ability to do so.  It really challenged me to make sure that I’m more concerned about actively, outwardly loving my students than about how that looks to the rest of the world.

2. The Shack, William Young – Very interesting read.  I’m not sure all the theology was 100% Biblical, but it made me think, which is always a good thing.

1. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini – Amazing.  Heart-breaking.  I think I cried through most of the book.  You keep reminding yourself that it’s just fiction, but at the same time you know that the situations these women are put in are far from unrealistic in parts of the world.  Definitely worth reading.

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1 Comment

  1. Mom

     /  February 2, 2009

    I LOVE that you added your impressions. I want to read Enduring Love and maybe will try Persuasion. Yea for libraries!!


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