The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list of recommended reading sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Sixteen young adult book clubs from libraries across the country are responsible for narrowing down a list of nominees for teens to vote on nationwide. Below is this year’s full list of Top Ten nominations.
I admit that I’m mostly satisfied with this year’s picks, though some might consider the list to be a little heavy on mythological romance like “Of Poseidon” by Anna Banks or “Underworld” by Meg Cabot. I love that this booklist gets published in late spring because it sets the tone for my entire season of summer reading. I loved Veronica Roth’s Insurgent” and I’m looking forward to reading “The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater and “Every Day” by David Levithan. Which titles will you be adding to your list of must-reads?
“Crewel” by Gennifer Albin
In a futuristic world, Spinsters are women with the power to weave everything into form, whether it be food, buildings, or peoples’ very lives. Adelice Lewys has this talent, and she is whisked away into a world of luxury and elegance because of it. Although it is often advertised at the perfect life, it is far from it as things are never how they seem.
“Of Poseidon” by Anna Banks
Emma has never really questioned her ability to communicate with fish, her strange violet eyes, or her awkwardness on land, but when her best friend, Chloe, dies in a shark attack and the attractive, mysterious Galen keeps showing up in her life, Emma soon learns that she belongs in a different world –- one that is underwater. In the meantime, Galen, the prince of the Syrena, must learn why Emma seems to not quite fit in with either the humans or the Syrena while battling the strong attraction he feels towards her. As the relationship between the two develops, they are faced with difficult decisions between duty and desire that could lead to a huge change of Syrena history.
“Underworld” by Meg Cabot
In the second book of the Abandon series, Pierce Oliviera has been — yet again — kidnapped by John Hayden, the ruler of the Underworld. However, this time she can’t escape, and when she gets a video on her phone predicting her cousin Alex’s death, Pierce panics and begs John for help. She will do anything if only he will help her cousin out, including staying with him forever in the Underworld. Check out our staff review of the first title in this series!
“Bitterblue” by Kristin Cashore
When her evil father, King Leck, dies, Bitterblue is made queen of a kingdom she knows nothing about. As she struggles to come to terms with both who she is and the legacy her father left on the city, Bitterblue tries to discover the secrets of her father’s crimes by walking the streets of her own city in disguise. Filled with struggle, suspense and surprises, will she be able to turn her kingdom into a better place?
“Poison Princess” by Kresley Cole
What really happens at the end of the world? Cannibals, Baggers, people try to sell you — and in this world, sixteen-year-old Evie is one of the few healthy teen girls. Evie sets out on a quest to find herself, all while things heat up between her and Jackson, the troubled bad boy from across the tracks. She knows life will get even worse as she comes to realize that she isn’t like other people. Luckily, or maybe unluckily for her, Jackson is the only one that can help her survive.
“Skinny” by Donna Cooner
Ever has always wanted to live in a fairy tale, but with 302 pounds weighing her down, it’s difficult to achieve. It’s even harder with Skinny, her own private critic, constantly belittling her. In this inspirational tale, Ever discovers the truth of learning how to overcome and accept the issues that plague her.
“Kill Me Softly” by Sarah Cross
After being raised her whole life by her fairy godmothers, Mirabelle runs away to the town where they said her parents died. But when she gets there, she starts to notice that it isn’t any ordinary town and that the teens who live there are fated to play out the Grimms’ fairy tales. So when Mira finds out that she, too, has a role to play, it’s only a matter of time before her story could lose its happy ending.
“Croak” by Gina Damico
Lexington “Lex” Bartleby is a juvenile delinquent who is sent to her uncle Mort’s after her latest stunt. Once there she discovers that she is a Grim Reaper. She was born to have the ability to take the souls from dead bodies and send them to the Afterlife. On the job, she feels the need for justice for the poor people who have died, but they aren’t allowed to do anything but transport the souls. As she deals with this struggle, her limits are tested as she discovers how far she will go to help the souls and herself.
“The Hunt” by Andrew Fukuda
For as long as he can remember, Gene’s father has always taught him how to keep a low profile so no one can notice that he’s different. He can’t run as fast, he can go outside in the daytime, and he doesn’t have a lust for blood. Gene is human, and each day is a battle to keep his secret locked away or be devoured by everyone around him. When he is chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hunt the last few remaining humans, he is thrust into the fight of his life and into the orbit of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible. Little does he know, however, she has a few secrets of her own.
“172 Hours on the Moon” by Johan Harstad
When NASA holds a world-wide contest for returning to the moon, no one — not even the three teenage participants — can fathom what is really in store for them up on the airless, empty gray mass. Or is it truly empty … ? Unbeknownst to them, what they find up there will change not only their lives, but the lives of everyone on Earth.
“Seraphina” by Rachel Harman
Dragons and humans have finally achieved peace, and the anniversary celebration is fast approaching. For Seraphina Dombegh, who is half dragon and half human, life is about blending in. However, a series of events will place her in the path of the Prince Lucian, Captain of the Queen’s Guard, and a hunt for a killer determined to start a war.
“Wake” by Amanda Hocking
Three mysterious girls have just blown into town, and everyone has their eyes on them. Little does everyone know, they also have their eyes on the towns’ residences. Gemma in particular has caught their eyes, and they want her. Little does Gemma know, she’s about to be thrown into a situation she might not be able to get out of.
“Tilt” by Ellen Hopkins
Tilt tells the story of three teenagers, all wondering about who they are and how they fit into the world. One struggles with a teen pregnancy, another deals with AIDS, while the last must overcome an abusive relationship. As things begin to change drastically, with them not in control, all they can do is hang on for the ride.
“Enchanted” by Alethea Kontis
Sunday loves to write stories; the only problem is that when she reads them aloud, they tend to come true. So when a frog claiming to be a cursed human comes along, he asks her to do two things: to read a few stories that won’t harm anyone and to kiss him. When you kiss an enchanted animal — or in this case, a frog — the enchanted will return to his true self. What Sunday doesn’t know is that if she kisses him, her life will change forever.
“Grave Mercy” by Robin LaFevers
Ismae is the daughter of the God of Death. After a near escape to a convent from her arranged marriage, Ismae is trained in the arts of a handmaiden of Death: assassination. Sent to the household of a possible traitor, Gavriel, Ismae begins to see glimpses of faults within her convent and honor in the man she is sent to spy on. Despite any feelings or doubts, she knows her first duty is to Death, but she has to wonder: what will her duty cost her and the man she is coming to love?
“Butter” by Erin Jade Lange
Butter is a morbidly obese teenager who is sick of being invisible but who doesn’t really want to make a splash either. One day, he’s finally pushed over the edge, and he posts a blog about his last meal, the one that he plans will kill him. This blog post brings him instant popularity, making Butter happy for once in his life. But Butter knows that his life is still far from perfect, and he must struggle with himself to determine who he will be and what course his life will take.
“Monument 14” Emmy Laybourne
Monument 14 is a book filled with terror, fear, and love, all inside a supermarket where fourteen kids are trapped . They are unable to leave as a monster hailstorm has hit, leading to variety of other disasters like a chemical weapon spill. Now they must find a way to escape their town, Monument, and get to safety in Alaska.
“Every Day” by David Levithan
A wakes up in a different body every day. It has always been that way for A, and A has rules to live by, like not getting too involved in the person’s life. Then A meets Rhiannon, the girlfriend of Justin, the boy whose body A is inhabiting. Suddenly, none of the rules apply because A is falling for Rhiannon and she won’t leave A’s mind even after A has left Justin’s body…
“Son” by Lois Lowry
In this new branch of the dystopian story started by “The Giver“, we follow the life of Claire, a birthmother in Jonas’s community. When Claire gives birth and her baby is taken from her, we see the first signs of emotion from someone besides Jonas in the community. In this riveting tale about the strength of a mother’s love, you’ll be whisked through an epic adventure of good vs. evil that explores the concepts of freedom, love, and sacrifice.
“I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga
Jazz is the son of an infamous serial killer and has witnessed crime scenes from the killer’s point of view. So when a body is discovered, Jazz wants to use the skills he knows to help find the killer. However, he’s not just trying to prove to other people that he’s not like his father; he’s also trying to prove it to himself despite what he already knows.
“Pushing the Limits” by Katie McGarry
Echo is a high school girl with “freaky” scars on her arms and no memory of how it happened. Noah is the high school stoner who uses girls and has no future. Over the course of their senior year, their lives will intersect in a way they never could have imagined, going through a journey that will prove to themselves and each other that they are more than what their reputations demand.
“The False Prince” by Jennifer Nielsen
In a faraway land, civil war is brewing. To unify his kingdom’s divided people, a nobleman named Conner devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him on the throne. Four orphans are forced to compete for the role, including a defiant and clever boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. His rivals have their own agendas as well, so Sage must trust no one and keep his thoughts hidden. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of lies unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that may very well prove more dangerous than all the lies taken together.
“Between the Lines” by Jodi Picoult
Delilah is a lonely, straight-A, freshman student who is shunned by nearly everyone at her school except for her punk best friend, Jules. Her mother pushes her to get out more by making her join the swim team even though she always gets last place. Her father left her for another family and never visits. So it’s no wonder she would rather spend her days reading. She finds a fairy tale that she can’t stop reading and falls in the love with the prince of the story. Too bad he’s not real … or is he?
“Falling Kingdoms” by Morgan Rhodes
War is brewing and unrest is widespread. The breaking point is a single incident in the dying nation of Paelsia. While three kingdoms battle for power, four young people find themselves greatly affected by it as they experience things like betrayal and war.
“Insurgent” by Veronica Roth
In the sequel to “Divergent“, Tris Prior is safe at the Amity compounds with her fellow survivors. With the whole city at war with itself and Jeannine looking for all the Divergent, Tris must learn to embrace her own divergence and understand it, though it might prove a dangerous task.
“Immortal City” by Scott Speer
The Immortal City: where guardian angels only protect the richest people and it’s the hottest, trendiest thing to be an angel. Maddy doesn’t quite understand what all the hype on angels is about, but when the most desired angel, Jacks, asks her for help, she finds out more about angels than she ever expected possible. Soon after, they immediately fall in love. But when someone threatens this love, what will they do about it?
“The Raven Boys” by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Boys is a thrilling adventure that captures you and takes you down the supernatural path with a daring girl named Blue, four complicated guys, and one life-altering quest and mystery of finding the Glendower King. Check out our staff review of this title!
“Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein
Verity is held captive by the Gestapo in 1943. She is told to reveal the secrets of the pilot who brought her to France or face the brutal consequences. As she does this, she weaves a story of an unlikely friendship and the bonds formed by it. Their tales intertwined form a suspenseful, breathtaking narrative of espionage — hope — horror — and friendship that spans untold secrets!
The 2013 One Read book is “The Ruins of Us” by local author Keija Parssinen! Each year as part of this community-wide reading program, the public helps choose a single book that we then invite everyone to read. Pick up your copy today, and join us in September to explore the novel’s themes through discussions, art, film, presentations and more. Sign up to let the library know you are reading “The Ruins of Us,” and you will be entered into a drawing for a free autographed copy of the book.
To learn more about this gripping and well-crafted novel, visit www.oneread.org.
Welcome to the first installment of THE GENTLEMAN RECOMMENDS. This series is intended to get people (especially gentlemen) excited about the books/authors/eating-contests I’m excited about. I’m an ideal person to represent and recommend things to gentlemen and I’ll prove it: in the last hour alone I’ve: 1) removed my trousers and draped them over a puddle so that a particularly well-coiffed golden retriever could avoid soiling her paws, 2) not sneezed into anyone’s face and 3) responded with the gentlemanly phrase “No, thank you” when asked to please put some pants on. Credentials established.
I can think of no better inaugural recommendation than pizza, but, after that, I think George Saunders is pretty spiffy. Not only is he a Great Writer, but reading everything about the fellow I could find convinced me he’s one of this world’s premier gentlemen. Mr. Saunders’ short stories have been sending readers raving since 1996 with the publication of “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline,” but this year the adoration has skyrocketed, beginning in January with a lengthy profile published in some magazine claiming that Saunders has written the best book you’ll read this year and culminating in May with a much briefer, if more prestigious, post from what may very well be the greatest blog in the world.
Readers love George Saunders because he slakes our thirst for stories in which sword-wielding tortilla chips decapitate the elderly or the corpse of a previously chaste aunt reanimates and advises her nephew that he should be showing more skin at his stripper-waiter job because that’s how you make the big bucks. But he isn’t loved just because he’s a master of stories that make curmudgeons’ eyes roll when they hear a terribly reductive description of them. He does what great writers do: write with huge-hearted empathy and humor about toe-less barbers or theme park exhibits or dystopian-reality-show contestants or tortilla chips, and he does so in voices that describe their perspectives perfectly.
If you’re more in the mood for nonfiction, Saunders writes essays that will make you chuckle and maybe improve your person. His collection, The Braindead Megaphone, is hard to put down and full of beautifully rendered wisdom like the lines that close the profile linked above and which I will reprint here because they should be reprinted everywhere:
“Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”
So, after you read some George Saunders and try some pizza, I hope you’ll join the pants-loving cashier at my local gas store in attesting: I’m the perfect gentleman to recommend stuff, and, also, I smell nice.
“The Time Machine“ by H. G. Wells is a classic example of speculative fiction and has led some sci-fi fans to call Wells the father of steampunk. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this fast-growing science fiction sub-genre, it is, in short, Victorian alternative history. (Books in this genre also typically contain a lot of clockwork, goggles, airships and advanced technologies based on outdated power sources.) I’d say a scientist who builds a coal-powered bronze machine to fling himself from the 19th century to the year 802,701 A.D. is pretty alternative! This steampunk precursor is a great first step if you are thinking about exploring the genre; it’s short, but it reveals the potential of books written in this vein.
“The Time Machine“ centers around a genius on a quest for answers about the future of mankind. He is a man possessed by his desire to be a legend in his own time, to boldly go where no man has dared to go before, but he winds up experiencing much more than he bargained for.
H. G. Wells is a great plot writer. Every chapter holds something new to develop the characters further and to thrust the reader deeper into the tale of earth’s possible future. From the eerily calm story of the Eloi people to the lurking dangers of the unseen and hungry under-worlders, the Morlocks, Wells’ tale will keep you fascinated with the sickening possibilities of where humanity may be headed.
I highly recommend the album “This Delicate Thing We’ve Made” by Darren Hayes as background music for your journey. You may know Hayes from his pop career in the ’90s as front man for Savage Garden. In this album, Hayes explores the time machine as a concept to tell the story of his jaded past, using divine lyrics and super-sonic tones.
Mother’s Day is nearly here! Flowers and breakfast in bed are nice, but for the ladies in your life who would rather escape with a good read, I have some recommendations. The mother-child relationship provides seemingly endless opportunities for exploring topics like gratitude, trust, love, the ways we communicate (or don’t) and what it means to be a family. Some of these books are funny and irreverent. Others are thoughtful and heartfelt. Some are both. Whatever her taste, I think you’ll find something on this list a mom would be grateful to receive.
“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe
Yes, the fact that this book centers around a mom who is dying of pancreatic cancer makes it a tricky gift book. However, the main themes that shine through are ultimately uplifting. Books allowed Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Ann, to talk about difficult issues, big questions and draw closer to one another. The loving portrait Schwalbe paints of his extraordinary mother shows the importance of a well-read life and the ability of books to make us more empathetic people, willing to do good work in the world.
“Everyone is Beautiful” by Katherine Center
Center’s books have a reputation for being populated by characters that feel real, women and circumstances you recognize from your own life. Lanie, a mother of three small boys, moves with her family across the country so her husband can attend graduate school. She begins to feel a bit lost in her own life and launches a campaign to find who she is besides someone’s wife and someone’s mother. Center’s sometimes funny, sometimes heart-wrenching, but always spot-on descriptions of managing the chaos that comes with parenting small children will have moms nodding in recognition.
“Instant Mom” by Nia Vardalos
Vardalos, of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame, suffered through years of fertility treatments before she and her husband adopted a preschooler from the foster care system. Funny and surprisingly informative, the book includes an appendix of questions and answers about adoption.
“Then Again” by Diane Keaton
Confession: I love the movie “Annie Hall,” particularly because of Diane Keaton’s portrayal of the title character. I found her seeking, goofy, naive and insecure self so likable. In Keaton’s memoir “Then Again,” the story of her rise from an everyday girl to a famous actress is coupled with an exploration of her defining relationship with her mother and how their shared and separate dreams influenced their experiences. What emerges is a thoughtful meditation on how the family we come from shapes our relationships with our own children.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple
This offbeat work of fiction centers around teenage Bee, daughter of Microsoft genius Elgin Branch and architect Bernadette Fox. Bernadette is notorious, volatile, troubled, agoraphobic and suddenly missing. The precocious Bee begins an investigation that takes her to the ends of the earth to find her mother. A witty and completely unique mother-daughter romp.
What books do you think are best bets for mom? Let us know in the comments!
Fiction portraying characters with a mental illness can increase a reader’s understanding of what it might be like to live with depression, anxiety or other disabilities. That understanding can create compassion. For a person living with mental illness or caring for someone with mental illness, reading about people like themselves can also bring comfort and hope.
- “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky follows 10th-grader Charlie as he deals with both anxiety and depression in this coming-of-age novel.
- “Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See” by Juliann Garey portrays Greyson Todd, a high-flying movie executive struggling with bi-polar disorder.
- “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon is an inventive novel told in the voice of 15-year-old Christopher Boone, an autistic math genius.
- “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey is narrated by Chief Bromden, a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Oregon, and explores the mistreatment of patients with mental illness.
- “I Know This Much Is True” by Wally Lamb explores the conflicted relationship between twin brothers, one of whom suffers from schizophrenia.
- Ron McLarty’s ”The Memory of Running,” a novel of loss and redemption, portrays characters suffering from alcoholism and schizophrenia.
- “72 Hour Hold” by Bebe Moore Campbell tells the powerful story of a mother trying to cope with her daughter’s bipolar disorder.
- Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” follows Esther Greenwood as she descends into depression and contemplates suicide while interning at a New York City magazine.
- “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” by Ned Vizzini is a humorous account of a New York City teenager’s battle with depression and his time spent in a psychiatric hospital.
Have there been books that have helped you gain greater understanding of mental illness? Please share them in the comments.
I don’t know about you, but I can smell summer vacation from here. I’ve already started a “vacation books” list in the library’s catalog where I’m stashing links to all of those titles I’ve deluded myself into thinking I’ll have time to read during my family’s upcoming road trip. Chances are I will actually be spending my hours in the car distributing snacks and breaking up my kids’ backseat squabbles. Hmm. Maybe I should focus on audiobooks…
Most of us read a little differently in the summer. Usually you can find me with my nose in a work of literary fiction, but during the summer I want faster reads. Fun reads. Thrillers often fit this bill.
- Our Staff Picks book lists in the library catalog are great sources for recommended reads. Check out our Suspense & Thriller picks.
- One of the most popular thrillers last year was Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” If you read it and are looking for something similar, try one of our read-alike recommendations.
- Browse one of our databases like Books & Authors or Novelist, both of which have tools for finding books by genre and for generating recommendations based on books or authors you already know and love.
What’s on your reading list for the summer? Let us know in the comments!
Who says Armageddon has to be upsetting? If you have the right set of writers, it can be hilarious! Famous fantasy authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett teamed up to write ”Good Omens,” an intricate and entertaining novel about an angel and a demon that try to prevent the end of the world.
The book plays mainly on a collection of common human errors. The best laid plans can go awry, even if those plans are put in place by Heaven and Hell alike. Prophets get can misdirected, and all the witch hunting training in the world can’t prepare you for love at first sight. Miscommunication can cause mishaps like being pummeled by nuns with paintball guns, and assumptions can cause one to misplace the Antichrist.
But most of all, no matter how powerful you are, you can’t fight the determination of a child’s desire to stay a child. The character Adam represents the idea of nostalgia being unbound by time. Adam is the Antichrist, whether he knows it or not, but instead of doing something boring like bringing about Armageddon, he’d rather just play pretend with his three best friends. The book leaves you with the sense that even though everything may look bleak to you, it looks wonderful to a child. Isn’t that the way we should look at things? With curiosity and the confidence that we can, no matter what, overcome hardship? And with the excitement that anything could happen next? The only thing you should really ever prepare for is to have an adventure.
I picked “The Rock Hole” off the New Mysteries shelf entirely because of the author’s name. I just knew “Reavis Z. Wortham” had to be an old country boy who could tell a good tale.
And by golly, I was right. Wortham’s debut novel is simultaneously a charming portrait of small-town life in rural 1960s Texas and a dark and gruesome murder mystery.
On page one we’re introduced to Top, the 8-year-old narrator, as he steps off a Greyhound bus into the welcoming arms of his grandpa Ned and grandma Becky. Minutes after this heartwarming scene, Top and his grandpa (who also happens to be the constable of Lamar County, Texas), are in a cornfield staring at the body of a sadistically mutilated hunting dog.
And that’s how the book goes. Sometimes the story is pure Mayberry, with Top roaming the East Texas countryside with his hound dog Hootie, eating Miss Becky’s fried peach pies and hanging around his adored Uncle Cody, a Vietnam vet and rodeo rider. Then suddenly, Hell’s portals open wide: a madman known as the Skinner has struck again.
As the Skinner progresses from animal to human prey (and we’re talking children here), I found myself taking refuge in the story’s many lighthearted moments. Wortham is very good at down-home dialect and country characters (he grew up in a small Texas town), and there’s quite a bit of both to lighten the mood—which you will surely appreciate.
So, if you can take the psychological roller-coaster ride and some disturbing violence, “The Rock Hole” makes a solidly entertaining read. Perhaps not at bedtime, though.
Below is a list of recently released and best-selling young adult novels. Let us know which title you are looking forward to reading. Do you have a favorite book that should be on the list? Have you already read some of these books? Share your thoughts about these and other must-read titles in the comments below. You might also consider submitting a review of a book that you’ve found particularly captivating. Select teen reviews will be published at teens.dbrl.org.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
It turns out that our predictions for the 2013 Gateway and Truman award winners were pretty accurate. Jonathan Maberry is the recipient of this year’s Gateway Readers Award for his book “Rot and Ruin.” The main character, Benny, has never known a world without zombies, but that doesn’t mean that he’s excited about apprenticing with his half-brother, Tom, as a zombie hunter.
Congratulations also goes to April Henry who is this year’s Truman Readers Award recipient for her book, “Girl, Stolen.” Griffin, a high school dropout, steals a car, but later realizes that he has kidnapped a blind girl, Cheyenne, who was sleeping in the backseat. Sick with pneumonia, Cheyenne tries to gain sympathy from Griffin, though she wonders if she can trust him.
This past October, April was a guest blogger for DBRLTeen and shared her thoughts on writing and kung fu. We hope you’ll enjoy her advice for young writers and check out some of her recommended reading which includes “Life as We Knew It” by Susan Beth
Pfeffer, “Ashes” by Ilsa Bick and more!
Funeral services were held this week for Roger Ebert, journalist, film critic and extraordinary human being. In spite of physical challenges, including a battle with thyroid and salivary gland cancer that eventually left him unable to talk or eat, Ebert continued to review and tirelessly promote films, believing that, as his friend Michael Barker put it, “movies can explain the complexity of the world to us AND can also show us who we are as individual human beings.”
Even though he couldn’t physically speak, Ebert’s written voice was strong until the end. His writing was smart, insightful and intellectual without being stuffy. And you can’t help but admire a man who proclaims, “‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do…We must try to contribute joy to the world.”
This sentiment comes from Ebert’s 2011 memoir, “Life Itself,” a moving portrait of his childhood, career and those personal relationships that affected him most deeply. Check out this book as well as other collections of this Pulitzer Prize-winner’s writings.
If you have not watched the television show “Supernatural,” then give yourself a treat: get your hands on the first seven seasons, lock yourself away in your room and don’t emerge until you’ve enjoyed all 100+ hours of monster-chasing and ghost-hunting. If you have seen this show and want more, more, more, the library has books filled with new stories.
“Fresh Meat” by Alice Henderson follows brothers Sam and Dean and their fellow monster-hunter Bobby to the Tahoe National Forest to investigate possible zombie attacks. But what will kill them first: the monsters or the approaching blizzard? Also available:
- “Rite of Passage” and “Night Terror” by John Passarella
- “Coyote’s Kiss” by Christa Faust
- “One Year Gone” by Rebecca Dessertine.
Sometimes in television, ideas for episodes end up on the cutting room floor for various reasons, like lack of resources or lack of room in the schedule. But these ideas don’t just go away. Often they’re passed off to other writers who translate the ideas into novel form, creating pages and pages of new episodes of your favorite shows! Writers have created books based on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “The X-Files,” and even “Doctor Who.”
If you’re anything like me, it’s tragic when you lose a television show, and all you want to do is curl up in a ball and weep for the loss of your fallen characters. But these books provide a sense of promise, a tiny comfort that whispers, “Wait! There’s more!” DBRL carries:
Books based on “The X-files”
Books based on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”
- “The Book of Fours” and “Heat” by Nancy Holder
- “Pretty Maids All In A Row” by Christopher Golden
- “Coyote Moon” by John Vornholt
Books based on “Doctor Who”
- “The Jade Prymaid: The Gemini Contagion” by Martin Day
- “The Wheel Of Ice” by Stephen Baxter
- “Shada: The Lost Adventure” by Douglas Adams (that’s right – THE Douglas Adams)
- “Dead Of Winter” by James Goss
- “The Coming Of The Terraphiles, Or, Pirates Of The Second Aether” by Michael Moorcock
And don’t forget about books that have inspired television shows, like Kathy Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series on which the show “Bones” is based.
I get it already. I do. Seriously, I do not need to read one more book about painfully detailed wardrobes and how the main character just can’t decide between those two boys, and thinking is hard, and oh gee whiz, she chipped a nail. I mean, I like painting my nails, but give me a break.
No, on second thought, give me some strong ladies. I want to read books about women making hard choices and doing it well. I want to see a girl save the day. I want to see a woman find her happiness without the aid of some significant other.
I want characters I can respect like “Sabriel“ who travels into Death to rescue her father, a necromancer. Is she prepared? Not really. Is it scary and dangerous? Oh, yeah. But, she does what she has to and she does it without much help.
Beatrice in “Divergent” leaves her family, her home, her friends and everything she has ever known because she needs to be true to herself. She needs to find what will make her happy, not what everyone expects from her.
D.J. in “Five Flavors of Dumb” is a deaf teen struggling to fit in at her hearing school, manage a rock band, AND get into college even though her parents stole her college fund.
In my search, I have collected a pretty good list. Hopefully everyone can find something that appeals to the hero in all of us.
80 years ago this March, the original 1933 film “King Kong” debuted at Radio City in New York. I’ve recently had the pleasure of checking out and listening to the audiobook “Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong” by Joe Devito and Brad Strickland, an expansion of Cooper’s original story. This audiobook is different from many others in that each character is voiced by a different actor. Instead of hearing a single reader throughout the adventure, you have a soft, gentle voice of a woman speaking Ann Darrow’s lines (and screaming them) and a rough, no-nonsense sailor as Jack Driscoll. There’s even music and sound added for effect! Listening to this audiobook is like experiencing an old-fashioned radio drama.
And man! Talk about a story! There have been not one, not two, but three movies based on this fantastic adventure tale, retold through the lens of the times. From the original by Merian C. Cooper himself in 1933 to Peter Jackson’s period piece in 2005, each retelling has everything from love and terror to, finally, destruction.
Here are a few things you might not know about King Kong. Kong is often depicted as a huge gorilla, but in the original story (as adapted by authors Joe Devito and Brad Strickland in this audiobook), Kong is really a primal giant! He is described as something beyond beast but before man and just as vulnerable to beauty as any creature. The descriptions in the book lend themselves to paint Kong as something of a missing link between man and ape, which is probably why the movie producers took the particular liberties that they did. Also, Kong can be read as a metaphor for slavery. White men come to a remote island, capture Kong and bring him to America chained at the bottom of the boat.
The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult book as selected by high school students, while the Truman Readers Award is chosen by junior high students. Even though these awards are administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to choose the actual winner. Based on circulation figures throughout our library system, DBRLTeen predicts that the following books will be recognized as this year’s top titles:
Predicted Gateway Readers Award winners:
- First Place: “Ship Breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi
- Second Place: “Rot and Ruin” by Jonathan Maberry
- Third Place: “Before I Fall” by Lauren Oliver
Predicted Truman Readers Award winners:
- First Place: “The Grimm Legacy” by Polly Shulman
- Second Place: “Virals” by Kathy Reichs
- Third Place: “Girl, Stolen” by April Henry
The actual award winners will be announced at the MASL Spring Conference in mid-April. Subscribe to our email updates to have the results delivered directly to your inbox!
Not all mystery-lovers want blood and gore, thank you very much. Some of us prefer to follow amateur detectives relying more on wits than weapons and look for books written in the style of Agatha Christie. An organization called Malice Domestic bestows Agatha Awards each year to the best mysteries published in the United States that contain no explicit sex or gratuitous violence. If you are looking for a good traditional mystery, each year’s list of nominations is a great place to start. Below are this year’s nominees for best novel. The 2012 winners will be announced at an awards banquet on May 4, 2013.
- “The Diva Digs up the Dirt” by Krista Davis
- “A Fatal Winter” by G.M. Malliet
- “The Buzzard Table” by Margaret Maron
- “The Beautiful Mystery” by Louise Penny
- “The Other Woman” by Hank Phillippi Ryan
March is Women’s History Month, and this year we are honoring the generations of female scientists, mathematicians, and engineers whose passion for the advancement of human knowledge changed the way we understand the natural world. Whatever your gifts, the stories of these intrepid women are certain to make you appreciate living in a world that allows you to develop them in ways your great-grandmother might never have thought possible.
In my nerdier moments, I’ve often dreamed of hobnobbing with the great minds of the twentieth century, instigating feuds and ruffling feathers (“Pardon me, Lord Russell, but there appears to be a slight problem with your Principles of Mathematics…”). So I was excited to discover “I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science,” the story of a woman who, in many ways, lived just that dream, studying at Cambridge and Oxford and making significant contributions to fields from philosophy to protein structure. Marjorie Senechal paints a compelling portrait of this fascinating and influential woman whose “life was her work, [and] her work her life.”
We’ve all heard of Marie Curie, the pioneering physicist whose research on radioactivity remains relevant to this day. What you may not have known was that Curie had two daughters, Eve and Irene, who followed in their mother’s iconoclastic footsteps. (Eve became a foreign correspondent and humanitarian, and Irene played an important role in the discovery of nuclear fission.) In “Marie Curie and Her Daughters,” Shelley Emling tells the story of this extraordinary family, especially Curie’s struggles against sexism and xenophobia and the aftereffects of her long-term exposure to radiation. Inspiring and moving, this book is sure to secure Curie’s place in your pantheon of personal heroes.
In “Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists about Race, Gender, and Their Passion for Science,” Diann Jordan, a scientist herself, interviews 18 prominent black women scientists to learn about their experiences. Some of the women include Shirley Ann Jackson, the first black woman to earn a doctorate in theoretical physics and the first black woman to head the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Lynda M. Jordan, who rose from a housing project outside of Boston to become a professor of chemistry; and Jennie R. Patrick, one of the first students to integrate her Alabama high school, who was the first black woman to earn a doctorate in chemical engineering in the United States.
Reading their stories, and those of the Curie family and Dorothy Wrinch, I was struck by how important it is to use our gifts and abilities in order to become who we were meant to be. Through hard work, the women in these books found their place in the scientific community and in the world. We would be much the worse if not for their courage and dedication to the pursuit of knowledge.
Read more about Women’s History Month and local events celebrating the achievements of women in science by visiting the library’s subject guide.
The lives of the rich and famous hold great fascination for us regular folks. Yes, I love to watch the movie stars on the red carpet and critique gowns and suits. When it comes to books, I sometimes take similar pleasure in learning about the lives of celebrities. However, I’m not looking for a gossipy tell-all or dishy memoir. (Real Housewife Brandi Glanville’s “Drinking and Tweeting” is not on my to-read list.) I lean toward fictional portraits of past greats – writers, artists, scientists – and the lives of people around them. Apparently I am not alone, as books like “The Aviator’s Wife” shoot up the bestseller lists. In this historical fiction, author Melanie Benjamin portrays Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of pilot Charles Lindbergh, who was also a talented pilot in her own right. Place a hold on this book, and then make your wait more enjoyable by picking up one of these other fictional works based on intriguing and extraordinary women in history.
“Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb” by Melanie Benjamin (2011)
Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Warren Bump, the nineteenth century little person and wife of Gen. Tom Thumb, tells her life story in this spirited fictionalized autobiography. Vinnie comes of age in the antebellum south before being invited to join the P. T. Barnum circus. This is an entertaining book, full of Americana and offering up plenty of behind-the-scenes looks at show business.
“Girl in a Blue Dress” by Gaynor Arnold (2008)
Subtitled, “A Novel Inspired by the Life and Marriage of Charles Dickens,” Arnold’s book begins with the widowed Dorthea reflecting on her marriage to and separation from author husband Alfred Gibson (read: Charles Dickens). ”From very early on in our marriage it seemed as though I could possess only what the world had left behind—the cuffs and coattails of his existence.” Told in a series of flashbacks, her tale explores motherhood, marriage and the effects of celebrity in Victorian England.
“Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan (2007)
The Frank of the title is Frank Lloyd Wright, who in 1904 designs a house for Edwin and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, an upstanding young couple in Oakpark, Illinois. The public is scandalized when Wright and Mamah then leave their families to live together in Europe. There Mamah is exposed to feminist ideas about the confining role of women and marriage, and Frank eventually convinces her to return with him to the US to tragic end. Flawed characters, romance, and discussions of feminism and architecture make this a compelling read.
“Marrying Mozart” by Stephanie Cowell (2004)
In this literary romance, the lives of the four Weber sisters are changed by the arrival of 21-year-old Wolfgang Mozart, a young man struggling to find his place in the eighteenth-century musical world. A richly textured portrayal of this passionate musician and the women who inspired his art and captured his heart.
“The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain (2011)
Hadley Richardson meets the brash “beautiful boy” Ernest Hemingway in 1920s Chicago, and after a brief courtship, they marry and take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband’s career. Details of Jazz Age Paris and elbow-rubbing with cultural icons like Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein make an entertaining backdrop, but the focus of this well-crafted tale is the sympathetic Hadley.
What are your favorite works of historical fiction based on the lives of famous (or infamous) people? Share with us in the comments!
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) publishes a list of the year’s best books, audiobooks, films and graphic novels for teens. The “Best of the Best” is a great place to start when looking for your next great book to read or movie to watch.
- Best Fiction for Young Adults
- Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
- Amazing Audiobooks
- Great Graphic Novels
- Fab Films
YALSA has also created the “Teen Book Finder” app available for iPhone or iPad so you can get book recommendations on-the-go!