Tag Archives: Laurie Halse Anderson

Waaaay too many books, not enough time

One of the things I love about Good Reads is that users can set reading challenges every year. This year I had to up my goal a few times because I read a lot of picture books. The challenge doesn’t make you specify what kind of books or number of pages; it just counts the quantity of books.

As of this posting, my “to-read” shelf is at 631 books.1 I can’t possibly read that many books in a year; I fall asleep when I read (hey, it relaxes me!). Still, on average it takes me a week to get through a 300 page book. So a realistic challenge for me would be to read 52 books in 2014 (not including picture books).

But what to read? With over 600 choices, I thought it would be best to put down the titles on a “short list” and read those first. I tried to get a variety of genres as well as finish up some series I started. So, divided by genre, here are the 52 books I will read in 2014:


A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston3



Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn



The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Lucky by Alice Sebold

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck

Love You More by Jennifer Grant

College Girls by Lynn Peril

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland

The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich

102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer

For Her Own Good by Barbara Ehrenreich


Young Adult and Teen

The Void of Mist and Thunder (13th Reality #4) by James Dashner

Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth4

Lovesick (Ghostgirl #3) by Tonya Hurley

Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s #2) by Ransom Riggs5

Shelter Me by Alex McAuley

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Fever (Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

Sever (Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans

Ascend (Trylle #3) by Amanda Hocking

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Me Since You by Laura Wiess

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Rule of Thoughts (Mortality Doctorine #2) by James Dashner

Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard

The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

The Fire Chronicle (The Books of the Beginning #2) by John Stephens

The Curse of the Broomstaff (The Janitors #3) by Tyler Whitesides

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

When Did You See Her Last? (All the Wrong Questions #2) by Lemony Snicket

Shutdown (Glitch #3) by Heather Anastasiu

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

So, just over half of the titles I picked are young adult and teen. This really doesn’t surprise me since it’s what I read most of the time. A lot of the titles, from all the genres, were books that I bought on impulse6 because I HAD TO READ THEM RIGHT AWAY. Some I’ve had for years. Others, just a few months. Either way, I thought I should whittle them down first before trying to accumulate more, even if they are just digital. 

The ones I don’t currently own, I will rely on getting from the library. Now that I’m in a smaller town, access to free books is a bit more limited. Indy had over 20 libraries to pull from so almost everything I wanted was available. Here, not so much. There are only a handful of libraries at my disposal so my choices are more limited. Should I not be able to get a title through the library and am unable to afford to buy a copy, I will substitute the title for another in that genre.

And if when I get through my list, I’ll refill my coffee mug and start a new one.


1. To give you an idea, my “read” shelf, compiled over 7 years, is at 567. So, it would take me a good 8 years to read everything on my “to-read” shelf if I don’t add anything to it.2

2. Yeah, right.

3. I was supposed to have read this for a class in college. I don’t remember which class and the only thing I remember about the book was the beginning, which I liked, so I think that I didn’t actually finish it. Oops.

4. I want to read this before I see the movie, which is set to release in theaters in March.

5. It’s been over two years since the first book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, came out and left its readers hanging off a cliff!

6. No, Mom, I don’t own ALL of the books on my list. Just most.

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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in About me, Literature


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Speak out against banned books

It’s Banned Book Week and I have a bone to pick.  Why are books banned?  Some are banned from school libraries because of certain subject matters (i.e. drug use and sexual content) or language.  But who gets to decide what books are “okay” for young adults to read and what is deemed “inappropriate”?  Usually it is a select few who easily take offense to topics and/or language, present their case to the school or library board, and when they make enough noise, they win the ban on the book.

Check out the American Library Association’s 2009-2010 list of banned and challenged books.  How many times does the phrase “a parent complained about…” (or ” parent was appalled”, “a parent’s belief,” etc.) appear within the document?  Out of the 53 books, 11 contained that phrase.  Eleven.  These books were banned (or close to being banned) because a parent (that’s right, just one) complained.  One person is fighting for your right not to read.

One parent even challenged the dictionary in a school library because a child came across the term “oral sex.”  Seriously, the dictionary?  Are children no longer allowed to look up words they don’t know because they may come across, oh, I don’t know, INFORMATION?  God forbid we let our children grow up with a healthy vocabulary!  Let’s just pluck them all down in front of the Disney Channel and pray that they become smart, fulfilled, happy adults.  That should do the trick.

***End of sarcastic tirade***

Some schools don’t ban controversial books but restrict them to a certain age or with written consent from a parent.  It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s still taking freedom of choice away from young adults.  One book that was restricted in Beardstown, Illinois is Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  The reason for the restriction was because the book “describes sex, uses foul language, and contains other ‘R-rated’ content.”  I’ve read Nineteen Minutes and the sexual content is minuscule and occurs only in a few scenes.  I’m guessing that whomever wanted the book banned had a major problem with two teenagers having sex.  Okay, I get that, but here’s a reality check: teens have sex.  I’m not saying it’s right but it happens.  The book can actually be used as a good example of why teens shouldn’t have sex.  The girl who has sex later has to come to grips about possibly being pregnant – a very real consequence to sex.

For those who haven’t read it, the premise of Nineteen Minutes is about a lonely boy who goes to school one day and shoots his classmates and teachers.  The book also goes into the events of the boy’s life leading up to the shooting, and his trial after the shooting.  If anything, I think that the book could be a learning tool for both teenagers and adults.  Parents can discuss the issues brought up in the book: bullying, depression, suicide, teen sex, abusive relationships.  They may be difficult topics, but ones that should be discussed between parents and kids.  Books like Nineteen Minutes can be a good starting point to get the conversation rolling.

Sadly, a lot of books that can teach its readers a valuable lesson are the ones most often challenged.  One of my favorite books, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, is one of them.  A pastor in Missouri recently wrote an opinion piece to News-Leader of Springfield because he thinks it’s “soft pornography.”  The book follows Melinda through a year of not speaking until she finds the courage to stand up and confront her rapist.  Yes, there are a few rape scenes but as Anderson pointed out in her blog, “The fact that he sees rape as sexually exciting (pornographic) is disturbing, if not horrifying.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Also, young women need role models (whether they are real or fictional) of strong women.  They need to see that rape victims do not have to revert into themselves and become shells of the person they once were.  They can stand up and speak out against their rapist.

The more books that are banned, the greater disservice we are giving future generations.  Books that can help our youth grow and develop into mindful, ethical, and well-rounded adults need to stay on our shelves.

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Posted by on September 28, 2010 in Literature, Rants


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Depressing subjects but still great writing

One of my favorite teen authors is Laurie Halse Anderson.  I first read her over ten years ago when her novel Speak came out.  Speak is written in first person from Melinda.  At the final party of the summer, Melinda calls the cops and several of her classmates are arrested, their lives forever changed.  Yet Melinda won’t say why she called the cops.  It seems like everyone in school is against her as she remains tight-lipped.  The truth is finally revealed but not before taking the reader on an emotional journey with Melinda. ***SPOILER ALERT***  The reason Melinda called the cops at the party is because she was raped in the woods by an upperclassman.  By the end of book she stands up to him and stops being a victim.  ***SPOILER OVER***

Twisted is just as emotionally confusing as Speak but it is told from a guy’s point of view.  (I’ve always believed that the mark of a great writer is one who can convincingly speak in voices of both sexes.)  Tyler begins his senior year after a summer of hard labor to pay off for his graffiti prank.  His newly-toned arms attract the attention of popular Bethany, which causes her boyfriend to come face to face with Tyler.  All the while, Tyler feels the pressure from his father (whose boss is Bethany’s dad) to be an asset and not a liablilty.  ***SPOILER ALERT***  The most gripping scene in the book (for me, at least) is when Tyler puts a gun in his mouth, ready to end his life, and he describes the taste and feel of the metal.  ***SPOILER OVER***

Anderson’s latest teen novel Wintergirls was right up there with Speak.  Cassie is found dead in a motel room and her former best friend Lia feels wrought with guilt.  The former friends had done everything together, including finding ways to stay thin through their own eating disorders (Cassie with bulimia and Lia with anorexia).  From page one the reader is taken inside the mind of a young girl struggling with body image and anorexia.  Words, phrases, and whole sentences are crossed out and rewritten, as if Lia’s mind is trying to reprogram itself to not have negative thoughts.  In this deeply personal narrative, Lia describes all the ways she hides her anorexia and the steps she takes to fool her stepmother into thinking that she weighs more than she actually does.  She describes how the weight loss is not enough and will never be enough, even if she weighed nothing at all.

Anderson’s writing is candid and she isn’t afraid to tackle the tough subjects that teens face every day.  I recommend her to any age, but especially for teens and their parents in hopes that it sparks conversations.  Even if you aren’t a teen or don’t have a child, they are still great books to read because by the end of them, the reader understands the hardships that the narrator, and others like him/her, go through.  I am not anorexic but after reading Wintergirls I understood the disease a little better.

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Posted by on June 28, 2010 in Literature


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