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.

So it goes

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A literary giant, disguised as a bushy-haired man with big eyes, has moved on to other worlds. Kurt Vonnegut is dead. If you haven’t read his books, then do yourself a favor and get one today. The man could write, really, really write. He is one of my favorites. (photo credit Jill Krementz)

The weather is suitably funereal – slashing ice pellets against the windows, the wind howling off the lake. Good weather for being somewhat blue and restless, which is certainly where I am today.

It is Packing Day because tomorrow I fly to Poland, via Chicago and London. The kind people at the American School of Warsaw invited me to come and talk to their students about books and writing.

The last time I headed on my own, to a country where I didn’t speak the language, I was a 16-year-old exchange student boarding a plane for Denmark. That experience worked out well. I know this one will, too. In fact, I am totally stoked. I can’t wait to see the country, hear Polish, meet the people, and see what kinds of kids are at the school. I imagine they have a million bazillion stories of their own.

I’ve been reading up on Poland’s history (which is astounding) and trying to get my mouth around some of the sounds of the language. I am sure I will ask the taxi driver about the color of his underwear instead of the cost of a trip to the airport. Oh, well. To travel, one must be willing to make mistakes. Przepraszam means “I’m sorry.”

I’ll arrive there, probably jet-lagged, around lunchtime on Saturday. I plan to spent the weekend wandering Warsaw and embarrassing myself to taxi drivers. Monday – Friday I’ll be speaking at the school. The kids have Wednesday afternoons off and one of the administrators has kindly offered to show me some of the sights of the city.

I wish I could take some extra days after my time at the school to bum around and visit the countryside or Krakow, but this spring is jam-packed with work for me and I have to get home.

Because of British restrictions (a reaction to terrorists), I can only take one, one, carry-on bag with me on the plane. Obviously, I have to take my laptop, because it holds my computer which I need for my presentations. Today I have to figure out exactly how much stuff my laptop bag will hold. I have to bring Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw, too, because that’s what I’ll be reading on the plane.

I hope I will be able to blog from Warsaw, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to navigate the Internet. I promise I will take loads of pictures and share them when I get home. If I don’t get a chance to talk to you, have a great week, read some Vonnegut, and above all: be kind.

Somewhat sated

That sure felt good.

I read “The Truth-Teller’s Tale” by Sharon Shinn, “Fay” by Larry Brown, “Wish You Were Here, the Official Biography of Douglas Adams,” by Nick Webb, and “Arthur & George” by Julian Barnes.

I think I need a Guilt-free Reading Month….

There will be little reading the rest of the week – I have much to do before I leave for Poland on Friday. Details to come soon.

Have any of you ever been to Poland?

TWISTED – New York Times Bestseller!

Thanks to you guys – my readers, all the librarians and teachers who support my work, and the outstanding booksellers who lined up solidly behind TWISTED – the book has made the New York Times Bestseller List, at position #6.

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Yes! That’s my book!!! ::dances and squees:: Thank you so much, everybody. Thank you, thank you!!

Be sure to give a shout, too, for #10, Barnstormers, by my buddy .

Because the list is put together a few weeks ahead of time, the April 8th edition actually reflects sales from the week of March 18th. That means that TWISTED cracked The List in its debut week and that makes me really, really happy. I can also tell you that next week’s list (to be published April 15th) has already been put together, and TWISTED is on it again.

Life is looking mighty bright today, my friends.

I have one more afternoon of paperwork ahead of me and then a few hours at the gym. I am thinking of calling a work-free weekend and just gorging myself on all the books I brought home from the tour. It snowed again last night and it is snowing right now, so I don’t have to worry about neglecting the garden or yard.


Yeah, I’m doing it. I hereby declare a guilt-free reading weekend for all!

(Tell me what you’re reading.)

Let the turning of pages begin!