Recommending books

I am deep in (what I hope are) the last revisions for next year’s historical. I have also started a new experimental writing schedule. I’ll report on its success or failure next month.

Here are a few things for you to ponder:

Sherman Alexie (I am a huge fan and have been for years) mentions my book Catalyst on page 178 in his YA novel that will be published in September, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I loved this book…. and I hardly ever say that, so take it for what it is worth. And I would love it just as much if he hadn’t mentioned Catalyst. Maybe a little bit more, because now I feel kind of awkward about the whole thing.

To be fair, he mentions ten books in a list of favorite books given by Junior, the story’s narrator: The Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, Fat Kid Rules the World, Tangerine, Feed, Catalyst(!), Invisible Man, Fools Crow, and Jar of Fools. I just put the last two titles on my wish list. If you are looking for something to read this summer, this is a great list to work from, IMHO.

(Thank you, Ed Spicer for the heads-up about this.) Does anyone out there know Sherman Alexie? I would love to know why he chose these books. Plus, I’d like to say thanks for the shout-out.

Thanks, too, to John Green (whom I still haven’t met!) for the nice review of Twisted in the New York Times. (You need to be registered for the link to work.) I do take issue with his characterization of the note in the book that says “This is a not a book for children” as a marketing ploy. It isn’t. If we ever get to meet, I’ll buy him a cup of coffee and we can talk about it.

There are two new books out that all teachers of middle grade and high school English should have on their shelves:

Books That Don’t Bore ‘Em: Young Adult Books That Speak to This Generation by Jim Blasingame of Arizona State University. Here is what the publisher says: Young adult literature expert Jim Blasingame helps teachers understand the power and purpose of young adult literature. He also presents instructional strategies proven to facilitate students’ interactions with texts—and promote higher order thinking skills. Includes annotated lists—organized by theme, topic, genre, reading level, and more—of the best young adult books as well as fascinating interviews with 30 of today’s most popular YA authors.”

Dear Author: Letters of Hope; Top Young Adult Authors Respond to Kids’ Toughest Issues by Joan Kaywell of the University of South Florida. Here is what School Library Journal says, in part: “If there was ever a book that every young adult librarian and every reading teacher should read, this is it. And the students with whom they work will be clamoring to get their hands on it as well. Dear Author is an astounding compilation of letters from teen readers to writers, and their replies. The letters speak of heartache, abuse, bullying, ostracism, and other issues that these young people have faced. They have written to the authors because they have identified with one or more of their characters. Lois Duncan and John Ritter reply with heartfelt responses, identifying with their readers and encouraging them to be strong. Following the letters are short biographies and bibliographies for each of the authors included. Why is this book so essential? First, it clearly shows what a tremendous impact YA literature has on teens. Second, it is immensely helpful in highlighting titles that just may help students/patrons deal with situations that are looming large in their lives.”

The Leg is healing nicely. I am walking without hobbling, pretty much, and staring at my running shoes with undisguised lust. Four more days until the bandages come off, ten until I see the doctor and beg him to let me run again.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic My right leg, looking a wee bit bulky under too many layers of bandages that make it incredibly hard to take a shower.

20 Replies to “Recommending books”

  1. Sherman Alexie is full of awesome. I went to see him speak in Sacramento a month or so ago and it was an absolute riot (plus…really, really fascinating). I’m really excited about his new YA – it’s going on my reading list for hopefully a sooner look, rather than later.

    Interesting about the Top 10 list of books in it. Hmm. I’ve only read a few on that list, but I wonder if maybe there’s a similar theme in them which would enlighten something about the main character?

    Hope you’re back on your feet soon!

    1. I have been searching my addled wits for a connecting thread that ties the books together and can’t find it. I hope one of the readers of this blog might be able to help.

      ::crosses fingers::

  2. First, I admire that you would take on a new writing schedule. That’s one of the things I like about you, that you are not a stick-in-the-mud. Never know what you’re going to come up with next.

    And wow. That’s a thick bandage. Patience!

  3. Hi Laurie,
    As someone who recently read and enjoyed Twisted very much, I was curious about the Not for Children stamp on the first page. Was it your idea or the publisher’s? Was it a literary decision or practical one? Anything you’d like to share would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. A lot of people have asked about it…. I had no idea it would be such a big deal. It was my idea. I’ll go into the whys of it in my next blog post. Thanks for asking about it and stay tuned.

  4. I liked John Green’s review a lot…cuz i felt like he said a lot of things about Twisted that i agreed with but havent directly said to you… And i liked JG’s analysis of your take on male-dom because i didnt really figure that out from Twisted on my own :$, and it makes me like the book more

    Um.

    Hope you’re running soon!

  5. Family news

    Happy Annivesary. Happy birthday to Dad, Happy anniversarfy to Mom and Dad. We’re fine. Darcy got a clean bill of health. I have sold my house. Waiting for closing date. Will mail new address. You can pass it around?????? Please. Lauren went to Jr-Sr prom. Will send picture with new address. Love to all. Take care of that leg. Love Aunt Marner (Norma)

  6. Hey, just thought I’d drop you a line. Ever since reading Catalyst, then Speak, I’ve been a complete junkie of your writing. I picked up Twisted today and read it in three hours flat. By the time he had the gun in his mouth, I was bawling.

    Thank you for writing the best book I’ve read in a long, long, time.

  7. As a very near future teacher of middle school/high school English (or math. . .depends on who wants to hire me!), both of those books really, really interest me. That and the fact that I recently discovered a giftcertificates.com gift certificate which is burning a whole in my. . .well, I suppose technically in the Internet. . .are conspiring together against me to force me to buy books (not that I’m complaining, mind you!).

    My YA collection in general is starving, however. So I’m curious, what are some YA recommendations you have? I’ve heard great things about Sarah Dessen, and have somehow made it this far in my life without reading anything of hers. Anyone else you’d recommend? Specific titles would be awesome. Thanks in advance on the chance that you respond!

    Oh, and sorry for rambling. I’m hoping being a teacher with ADHD who’s in love with books and learning will be a great asset to our kids someday; we’ll see!

    Also, good luck the next 10 days! As a runner who had been sick for the past couple weeks, I know how grueling it can be!

    –Brian

  8. Actually, speaking of recommendations – I’m a bookseller for B&N and I’ve been reccing Speak like crazy this summer. All these 15 and 15-year-old girls come up with really trashy novels in their hands, and I want to scream. So many of them haven’t heard of Speak so I’ve kind of been pushing the book. It’s actually summer reading somewhere around these parts – for the local girls’ academy, I think, so we’ve been stocking it behind the front desk.

    As for real live actual recs – can I suggest The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien? It’s a semi-fictitious Vietnam memoir, and it’s surreal (rather, hyperrreal) and fabulous. I think you might like it.

    1. Also – I know that if he’s speaking of Ellison’s Invisible Man, then that and Catalyst share something of a theme; both characters gain identity by reveling in the fact that they lack a conventional one. For Kate, her lack of a college starts as an identity she desperately tries to lose but eventually embraces; her “ronin” status (to coin a phrase) begins as a burden until she embraces it. Similarly, Ellison’s narrator (jokingly called “I.M.” by a good friend of mine) initially finds his identity as a black man from the South a burden to bear. Throughout the novel he tries to take on other identities, but consistently finds himself trapped by the confines of society. Because he struggles against the ties of being a black man, he finds himself more and more constrained by the label. When he finally accepts that he is a Black Man, I.M. is able to live outside of society, in a little hole with a 1,732 lightbulbs that are tapping power illegally from the local power plant, drinking sloe gin over vanilla ice cream. (I, uh, used Invisible Man in my senior thesis.)

      Sadly, I have no idea if this applies to the other titles. It may just be that all those titles grapple with the meaning of identity, which is rather a major issue for teenagers – who am I and where do I fit in are questions I recall asking myself not all that long ago. Technically, though, those are questions about the human condition. *laughs*

      1. Of course! Actually, I have a pretty good story – there was a former teacher who was buying books her her daughter and granddaughter. She’d picked up Twisted and I asked her if she’d read Speak. When she said no, I grabbed it for her and told her to read the first page. After the first sentence, she started laughing really really loudly and said, “I’m getting this and mailing it to my daughter.” I asked her, “How old is your daughter?” She replies, “Twenty-seven, but she thought about teaching high school for a while.” So, your book is clearly a hit with the teachers of high school.

        Fabulous! I’ve got Tomcat in Love on my reading list for this summer. It’s really amazing – enjoy!

  9. Dude, that book is STALKING ME. I am going to CRY.

    See, I read about Sherman Alexie’s new FLIGHT and ordered it and LOVED it and it fit perfectly into the seventh-grade curriculum I’m trying to put together right now, except it’s juuuuust barely over the line of what I think I can get away with for seventh-graders, profanity- and violence-wise.

    And then both you and Neil Gaiman rave about this fabulous YA-appropriate new novel of his that I can’t get my hands on until way past curriculum planning season.

    No fair.

    Sigh.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve also spent three weeks trying to get my darn library to order a copy of TWISTED so I can see if it fits.

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