2010 Books

New year, new list…enjoy!

40. The Maze Runner, James Dashner – This was a pretty good YA book, although it felt a little like Hunger Games-lite.  I’m also a little annoyed because I didn’t realize it was going to be part of a trilogy and it has a semi-cliffhanger ending.  I don’t particularly want to read the next book, but I don’t like not having answers.

39. Wicked, Gregory Maguire – I read this once before in college and didn’t like it very much.  After seeing the musical with my mom, I wanted to give it another shot.  I still didn’t like it very much and didn’t actually finish it this time.  There are parts that are interesting, but for the most part it’s just such a slow-moving books and I don’t care enough about the characters, particularly Elphaba, to stay interested.

38. Ruined, Simone Elkeles – This was a collection of three books, all about a spoiled, Jewish teenager from New York who falls in love with an Israeli soldier when she is dragged to Israel to visit family one summer.  The thing I like about this series is the main character is so real.  She’s neurotic and paranoid and self-centered and constantly creates unnecessary drama, but you still like her.  I feel like a lot of YA lit centers around incredibly altruistic characters, which is good, but not exactly realistic when it comes to teenagers.

37. Leaving Paradise, Simone Elkeles – I am so glad I found this author, and so are quite a few of my girls.  Her unique method of storytelling is really great – she alternates between the boy’s POV and the girl’s POV each chapter, telling both sides of the story.  Plus, her characters seem really true to life, at least to me and based on the reaction from my kids who have read her stuff.

36. The Magicians, Lev Grossman – This is one of those books that I think is supposed to have some deep, philosophical meaning but really just sucks.  There’s a whole bunch of seemingly pointless experiences, a less-than-thrilling major conflict that doesn’t begin until at least 2/3 of the way through the book, and a main character that is more annoying than sympathetic.  Needless to say, I won’t be reading the sequel.

35. The Likeness, Tana French – Tana French’s books are incredibly well-written with amazing character development.  She leaves just enough ambiguity in her stories to make you keep guessing, without getting frustrated.  The only problem might be that they suck me in and now I don’t know if I’ll be able to get to sleep tonight because my brain won’t shut up.

34. Rules of Attraction, Simone Elkeles – This was the sequel to Perfect Chemistry, although it wasn’t nearly as good, in my opinion.  Both stories were pretty predictable, but the characters in the first one seemed much more developed and multidimensional, whereas the characters in this one seemed much more stereotypical.  Not bad, but not great.

33. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins – I don’t really have words for this one yet.  A very heavy conclusion to a very heavy trilogy.  It was really good, but I don’t think I’ll sleep well tonight.

32. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins – I reread this one to remind myself of what happened before reading Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy.  Still good, still sucked me in, and I wish I had one more day of the weekend because I can’t spend hours reading Mockingjay when I have to teach on Monday :)

31. Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles – Another high school romance book, but one that was much more insightful and multidimensional than the last one.  It reminded me of how very little I know about my students’ lives outside of school and made me even more determined to be the kind of teacher who pushes them to be the absolute best they can possibly be.

30. Girl v. Boy, Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout – A delightfully fluffy YA novel I found on my trip to Barnes & Noble today (it was payday, after all).  It was pretty predictable, but I can think of a couple of girls in my class who would enjoy it.  As a bonus, the main character is Latina, which is unfortunately a super rare occurrence.

29. Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller – My church was doing a series based on this and the book was just as convincing as the sermons.  Only read it if you don’t mind being convicted and challenged on every page.

28. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Janet Evanovich – Stephanie Plum provides a lovely distraction from school when needed.

27. Forgotten God, Francis Chan – Francis Chan is probably my absolute favorite current Christian author right now.  This book is full of scripture and truth and Chan’s heart to see the church moved by the Spirit on a consistent basis.  Read it!

26. The First Part Last, Angela Johnson – Very good, very quick read.  This was recommended to me by another teacher and while I doubt I’ll teach it any time soon, I will definitely have it in my classroom library and recommend it to students.

25. House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros – This book was fabulous.  I can’t wait to find a way to work it into my classroom either this year or next year.

24. The Total Money Makeover, Dave Ramsey – Ummm, this has already pretty much rocked my world.  Very, very practical steps to taking control of your income and getting out of debt (which I desperately want to do).  I’ve already started working on a budget for August and am working on coming up with ways to pay off my school loans more quickly.

23. Monster, Walter Dean Myers – This actually wasn’t as good as I was expecting.  It was definitely interesting, but the screenplay format was a little distracting at times.  I do think a lot of my students would like it and could learn something from it, though.

22. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen – Not my favorite Austen book, but not my least favorite.  Fanny isn’t nearly as annoying as Emma, but the ending just seems like all of a sudden Austen got tired of writing it and just wanted it to end.

21. The Girl Who Played With Fire, Stieg Larsson – The second book in the Millenium trilogy, it was just as good as the first, if not better.  Since less background was needed, the story got going quicker which made it that much more interesting and exciting.  Again, highly recommended.

20. Crazy Love, Francis Chan – This book might have changed my life.  I listened to the audio recording on my way from Memphis to Texas and picking up an actual printed copy is pretty much the #1 thing on my to-do list right now.  Read it as soon as you can.

19. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson – Wow, this book was fantastic.  I’ve seen it and the others in the series on display in bookstores for a while and bought this one when it came out in cheap paperback version.  Very intricate, intriguing mystery/thriller that is totally worth the 600+ page investment.  I highly recommend it if you enjoy intelligent, well-plotted mysteries.

18. The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery – This is a perfect example of why I persevere through books where the first 100 pages seem to be nothing but disconnected, philosophical rambling.  While the story does not seem to start until about halfway through, it is a beautiful story once it gets going.  However, I wouldn’t recommend it for casual, light reading.

17. Tangerine, Edward Bloor – I randomly found this book at the store today and I’m so glad I did!  It’s about a middle school kid who plays soccer, but it also has a ton of great themes dealing with family, race, class, and much, much more.  I want to pick up a couple more copies and hopefully get some of the kids reading it next year!

16. In The Woods, Tana French – So so so so good!  If you like mysteries or police stories or psychological thrillers or anything of that nature you will love this book.  It’s an absolutely fantastic story with great characters.  The idealist in me wishes for a different ending, but the rational adult recognizes the genius of the one that exists.

15. The Host, Stephenie Meyer – Yes, I realize I’m just rereading everything I read last year.  But no worries, summer is coming and I have lots on my list  :)

13-14. A Voice in the Wind and An Echo in the Darkness, Francine Rivers – I love the Mark of the Lion series.  Such great books for getting away from the stuff in my life and remembering the big picture.

12. Supreme Courtship, Christopher Buckley – This book is hilarious.  It definitely has a left-wing bent, but is more just about the inanity (or insanity) of the current political system.  I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a sense of humor where politics are concerned.

10-11. Harry Potter 6 & 7, J. K. Rowling – Yes, again (again).  I need things to take my mind off school at the end of the day.

7-9. Vampire Diaries, Volumes 2-4, L. J. Smith – Well, once I read the first one, I had to read the rest of them.  They all had cliffhanger endings!

6. Vampire Diaries, Volume 1: The Awakening, L. J. Smith – I picked up a bunch of young adult fiction at the library and this was the first one I read.  I know it came waaaay before Twilight, but it seemed kind of like a cheap imitation of that series.  Less character development, less background-building, world-creating vampire history/lore, and a main character that is much less likable/sympathetic (although many would find that impossible, I’m sure).  Everything that sucks you in about Twilight seems absent in this series, which means it’s just about a high school girl falling in love with a vampire – not exactly compelling in and of itself.

5. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer – Yes, again.  No comments.

4. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J. K. Rowling – It’s good before-bed, get-my-mind-off-of-school reading.  Don’t judge.

3. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins – The sequel to Hunger Games was as good, if not better, than the first.  Now I’m just mad that I have to wait until August for the third book to come out…evil, evil cliffhanger endings.

2. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins – Robin recommended this book to me way back when, and then another teacher in my grad class mentioned the series, so I went ahead and picked up the book.  I started it at Borders just to see if I would like it and was immediately sucked in.  I read it while eating lunch and then when I got home last night I opened it up to read a little bit before bed.  And then didn’t stop until 2:45 am.  You know it’s a good book when you’d rather read it than sleep.  :)

1. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith – It was an audiobook, but I decided it counts.  Plus I wanted to include it because it’s absolutely hilarious.  Who would have thought zombies could be so seamlessly included in one of the greatest love stories of all time?

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