Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Books of 2008

I love lists and categorizing, (surprise, surprise, eh?) so I've categorized my list of the books I read in 2008. I read a total of 110 books, but there is a lot of children/youth books included--as you will see. Books typed in green (for GO!) are some of my favorites, while those typed in red (for STOP!) are my least favorites (black is neutral).

Classic Children’s Fiction:
Ballet Shoes, Noel Streatfield
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
The Sleeping Beauty, retold by C.S. Evans
Jack the Giant Killer, retold by Richard Doyle
Cinderella, retold by C.S. Evans
The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery

Historical Children’s Fiction:

A Lion to Guard Us, Robert Bulla
Pocahontas and the Strangers, Robert Bulla
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, Alice Dalgliesh
The Courage of Sarah Noble, Alice Dalgliesh
Squanto-Friend of the Pilgrims, Robert Bulla
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
Pedro’s Journal, Pam Conrad
Skippack School, Marguerite de Angeli
The Matchlock Gun, Walter Edmonds
The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare
Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson
Toliver’s Secret, Esther Wood Brady
Mr. Revere and I, Robert Lawson
Stone Fox, John Reynolds Gardiner
The Great Turkey Walk, Kathleen Karr
By the Great Horn Spoon! , Sid Fleischman
Sing Down the Moon, Scott O’Dell
Moccasin Trail, Eloise Jarvis McGraw
The Perilous Road, William O. Steele
Turn Homeward Hannalee, Patricia Beatty
The Great Wheel, Robert Lawson
Shades of Gray, Carolyn Reeder
Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt
Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Ryrie Brink
Little Britches, Ralph Moody
The Midwife’s Apprentice, Karen Cushman
Hero Over Here, Kathleen Kudlinski
All-of-a-Kind Family, Sydney Taylor
Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes
A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt, C. Coco DeYoung
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, Bette Bao Lord
Twenty and Ten, Claire Huchet Bishop
Bandit’s Moon, Sid Fleischman
Nory Ryan’s Song, Patricia Reilly Giff
Plain Girl, Virginia Sorensen
Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse
The Drummer Boy’s Battle, Dave and Neta Jackson
Thimble Summer, Elizabeth Enright
The Shadows of Ghadames, Joelle Stolz
The Well, Mildred Taylor
The Ballad of Lucy Whipple

Other Children’s Fiction:
The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart
Rules of the Road, Joan Bauer
The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo
The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White
The Seventeenth Swap, Eloise McGraw
Ramona and Her Father, Beverly Cleary
The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
Dragon’s Keep, Janet Lee Carey
The Boxcar Children: The Yellow House Mystery, Gertrude Chandler Warner
Everything on a Waffle, Polly Horvath

Children’s Non-Fiction:

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, Margaret Cousins
Meet George Washington, Joan Heilbroner
Phoebe the Spy, Judith Berry Griffin
What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?, Jean Fritz
George Washington, Our First Leader, Augusta Stevenson
Meet Thomas Jefferson, Marvin Barrett
Helen Keller: A Light for the blind, Kathleen V. Kudlinski
Helen Keller, Margaret Davidson
Freedom Train, Dorothy Sterling
The Story of Thomas Alva Edison, Margaret Davidson
The Terrible Wave, Marden Dahlstedt
The Wright Brothers, Quentin Reynolds
George Washington Carver, David Collins
At Her Majesty’s Request, Walter Myers
Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Cheaper by the Dozen, Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth

Historical Non-fiction:
Incans Aztecs and Mayans, John Holzmann
Eating the Plates, Lucille Recht Penner
The Lost Colony of Roanoke, Jean Fritz and Hudson Talbott
Nelson Point: …Northern Gold Rush Town, David Matuszak
Riders of the Pony Express, Ralph Moody
In the Wake of the Plague, Norman Cantor

Other Non-fiction:
The Abs Diet for Women, David Zinczenko
Preparing Him for the Other Woman: A Mother’s Guide, Shepherd
Life Without Limits, Clifford Goldstein
The Well-Trained Mind, Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer
For the Children’s Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, Douglas Wilson
Understanding Girls with ADHD, Kathleen G. Nadeau
Plato and Platypus Walk into a Bar, Cathcart & Klein

Modern Fiction:
Atonement, Ian McEwan
Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
Austenland, Shannon Hale
The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, Fannie Flagg
The Star Garden, Nancy Turner
Levi’s Will, Dale Cramer
Tallgrass, Sandra Dallas
A Woman Named Damaris, Janette Oke
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Laurie Viera Rigler
Back Roads, Tawni O’Dell
Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri
The Color Purple, Alice Walker
And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
Cranford, Mrs. Gaskell
Jane Eyre, Charlottle Bronte
The Scarlet Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne
Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne
Beowulf, translated by Samus Heaney

For the Record: December 2008:

I read a whole 3 books this month. But that is excusable, I am sure, since I had time only to send out exactly 0 Christmas cards. (I'm a few days early with this post, but I'm pretty sure I won't be finishing any other books before Thursday.)

The Scarlet Letter (Everyman's Library (Cloth))The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. I've been meaning to read this book for quite awhile, and finally got it off my TBR list. I really had to force myself to finish this book. The story was great, but the writing style really got in my way. How many times should the word "ignominy" be used in one small story? Many MANY less than what was used in The Scarlet Letter. And what is Mr. Hawthorne's fascination with the phrase "it must needs be"? And really, if a narrator is going to be so obtrusive and presumptious, shouldn't he be introduced at some point? Sorry to be so harsh, just not my style.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Wonderful as always.

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. This was a last minute decision. It was a quick read, and very enjoyable. I like how the breaking science of the day was integrated into the book, and how much adventure was included. I'm recommending this to my boys to read.

Monday, December 8, 2008

All Set to Read for 2009

I've figured it out! My book list for 2009 is nearly complete (although most certainly NOT safe from revision). I have decided to organize it in categories. For the sake of saving myself from unneeded debate, I've decided to follow the model of the 999 challenge. (Last year it was the 888 challenge, maybe next year it will be the 000 challenge? Followed by the 111 challenge?) Basically you create 9 categories, and fill them with 9 books of your choice to read in 2009.

My category choices revolve around my desire to check some books off of The Big Read list I previously posted about. In addition, I'd like to complete Sonlight Core 530--which I received as a birthday gift in June. You will find these books in many of my categories.

1. Books from The Big Read--self explanatory.

2. Books from My Favorite Authors--everyone needs a little comfort food. These are books that I haven't read before (except for A Little Princess) by authors I greatly enjoy.

3. Already on My Bookshelf--ah, the books that don't fit into any other categories. And they ARE already on my bookshelf. These books are just a mix of everything.

4. Need to Pre-read for School--this goes hand-in-hand with homeschooling for me. Since I'm going to be reading the books anyhow, they may as well have their own category. Currently listed are books from Sonlight Core 6, which is what my 12 year old son will most likely be using next year.

5. Non-Fiction--some are books that I already own, some are books that I've been wanting.

6. Classics for Young and Old--Books from Core 530, books from The Big Read, books I need to pre-read for my kiddos...they all come together nicely here.

7. Books from Songlight Core 530--those that don't fit into the other categories are finished off here.

8. To Keep Me Well-Rounded--books from genres that I do not typically read. There are a lot of Core 530 books here...all but 1 actually (I think). And yes, I think SEA-FARING STORIES are in a class of their own.

9. Books that My Kids Want Me to Read--this category will fill up as the year goes on, never fear. Right now there are 2 books in there, but I found out this year that this category will create itself if I don't create it first.

I'm excited! It's a good thing the new year is close, or else I'd never be able to wait. Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For the Record: November 2008

Writing individual book reviews is SO tiresome...especially when time is at a premium.  Instead, for the time being, I think I'll try writing a quick overview once a month of the books read that month. Here's what I read in November:

Jane Eyre (Everyman's Library (Cloth))In the Wake of the Plague by Norman Cantor. See my review here.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I was pleased to find that this book followed my favorite adaptation fairly closely. I really liked the book, and appreciated the philosophy of life that was discussed. There were a couple of times I started to get a little nauseous with the poetry of romance, but that is just my own personal preference. Good writing, good story.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What a sweet revisit into childhood. I'd forgotton how educational these books are! The fit wonderfully into our study of the pioneer era.

The Boxcar Children #3: The Yellow House Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Dated and of marginal writing quality, these books are nonetheless captivating for my 7 year-old. She's searching for book #4.

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman. I read this with the intention of seeing if it was a good choice for either of my boys to read as a school book to further enhance their understanding of the gold rush and pioneer days. I think that it was enjoyable, and probably would be more so for somebody younger than myself. However, I felt that the writing was a bit too simplistic, and the main character was underdeveloped to substantiate the ending. This will go on my shelf to be available as free reading, but it wasn't great enough to be assigned reading.

Everything on a WaffleEverything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath. This delightful book is written with a whimsical, humorous approach. It is the tale of a girl who has quite a difficult year, but remains optimistic and fairly lighthearted. I got this book from Sonlight, and devoured it within hours. It is a wonderful, touching, fun, and funny book.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I'm fairly fond of a good mystery, but tire quickly of them so there is usually a large span of time in between reading anything classified as a mystery. A month back I decided that I really should have read an Agatha Christie book by now, and I was excited to receive it in my Sonlight order. It was a fast paced book, and Ms. Christie did a fabulous job of pulling the reader into the story. I liked that there was no main character functioning as the detective in this story: all of the characters were vital to the story and took part in figuring out the mystery.