A Legit Reading List

Whether it’s 1,000 books to read before you die, the 18 best books of 2018, the 10 best beach reads, or Americans’ 100 favorite books, it’s clear that readers love lists…and debating those lists! That’s why I was surprised to come across a list that I (almost) completely agree with!

20 Books All Students Should Read Before They Turn 18

By Lindsey Murray for Good Housekeeping.com Posted Aug 20, 2018

  1. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
  2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  4. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  11. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  12. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  13. Night by Elie Wiesel
  14. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger  
  15. The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
  16. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  17. 1984 by George Orwell
  18. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  19. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison  
  20. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle  

This is a pretty well-rounded list. There’s a good mix of classics and contemporary novels. There are challenging, intellectual reads, as well as binge-worthy, fun reads. There is some diversity. There is historical fiction, science fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy. And there is a mix of male and female writers.

If I could tweak the list, I would make just a few changes. There are six books on the list, which I’ve marked with the asterisk (*) below, that I haven’t read. I can’t vouch for them – though most of them I’ve heard about. The bold titles are the ones I would remove from the list and replace with a different title. Some of these are books that I didn’t particularly enjoy, and some are tough reads that would be best enjoyed by older young adults, or by teens only if they were reading them along with a teacher who could help explain the book/symbolism/significance.   

    1. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
    2. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
    3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
    4. *Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
    5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
    6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky → replace
    7. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
    8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    9. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
    10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding → replace
    11. *Looking for Alaska by John Green  → replace
    12. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    13. Night by Elie Wiesel
    14. *The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger  → replace
    15. *The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
    16. *The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath → replace
    17. 1984 by George Orwell
    18. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
    19. *Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison  → replace
    20. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle  

What would I replace the six bold titles with? Hmm…probably the same books that I keep recommending over and over and over again!

  1. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
  2. March by John Lewis
  3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  4. Every Day by David Levithan
  5. The Giver by Lowis Lowry
  6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  7. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

What did you think of the “20 Books All Students Should Read Before They Turn 18” list? Would you make any changes?


My TBR List Will Never Be Tackled

Like most book readers, I’ve got a TBR list – both formally on Goodreads and as a wishlist in the Overdrive app, and informally in my head – but, to be honest, I don’t really plan on reading all of those books. I don’t prioritize my next book choice based on my list. I just don’t see that working for me because my reading habits and styles and interests are always changing and growing. Here are a few specific examples of why I don’t plan on following through with my TBR list:

1. Sometimes I see the movie first and then I don’t care to read the book.

This might be because I didn’t think the movie was very good, so why would I invest the time into the book? Or, now the lack of suspense just makes it something I no longer care to read. I know what happens – why bother reading the same story twice?!

Three particular examples of this are:

  • The Spectacular Now, book by Tim Tharp
  • The Lightning Thief, book by Rick Riordan
  • Big Little Lies, book by Liane Moriarty

2. Sometimes I read other books by the author and realize I don’t really care for their work.

For instance, I know John Green has a big following, but I just can’t get over how pretentious and boring most of his books are. Read more about my thoughts here! Even though I added Looking For Alaska to my TBR because it is consistently on best-book lists (even making it onto the PBS The Great American Read program), I refuse to read it since I didn’t like An Abundance of Katherines or Paper Towns. The Fault in our Stars is bearable, but I can pick out a lot of other YA books that I enjoy more.

3. Sometimes I’m worried reading another book by a beloved author will ruin the series/author for me.

I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird numerous times, and even taught it in the years I spent teaching high school English, but I’m scared to pick up Go Set a Watchman. I’ve heard that Atticus is not as virtuous as he is in TKAM. The circumstances regarding how the book became published when Harper Lee was 88 never sat well with me, either. Did she really want the book read or was she taken advantage of?

Another book like this is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I adore the Harry Potter series and I don’t want to tarnish it. Cursed Child has had very mixed reviews, and since Potterheads worship J.K. Rowling, I know the work has to be pretty rough to not earn their praise!

4. Sometimes I read the first book in the series and wasn’t captivated enough to pursue the rest of the series…but if I come across it someday, maybe I’ll pick it up.

  • King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  • Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman
  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

5. Sometimes it’s a classic or a book with a lot of hype that I feel I’m supposed to have read…but I’m not really interested. I’ll get to it later.

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

How about you? Are you strict with your TBR list, or do you give yourself wiggle room?

Mmmbop, ba duBOOKS

At the end of last year’s NaBloPoMo, I was off to Chicago for Hanson’s “Finally It’s Christmas” tour, and now, I’m off for another Hanson concert! This time around (also the name of a great Hanson song and album!), Hanson will be performing with a symphony orchestra. So, in honor of one of my favorite musical groups, here are some brief book reviews paired up with the lyrics to Hanson’s most popular song, “Mmmbop.” Enjoy! Tip: click on the image to make it bigger and easier to read.

And you’re welcome in advance for getting this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day!

What to Say Next: Keep Writing Diverse Characters

The reviews and ratings may be all over the place for What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum, but personally? I really enjoyed it. Buxbaum got many things right in this book: interesting and varied characters, cute friendships and relationships, and distinct character voices.

David Drucker, a student at Mapleview High, is used to sitting alone at lunch. When Kit Lowell sits at David’s lunch table instead of with her two best friends, it sparks an unexpected friendship between two very different characters.

But near the beginning of the book, I read about David describing where he does – or does not – fit in on the Asperger/autism scale, and I knew there would be backlash for this book. There would be criticism regarding the accuracy of David and his portrayal of a person with autism. Perhaps the book romanticizes autism too much, making it seem possible to live a “normal” life – whatever that is – and become popular if you just get a haircut, buy new clothes, and follow some basic social rules, but isn’t the important thing that a character like David is a LEAD in a novel? Like David points out, there is a whole spectrum and that means he is just ONE example. If you’ve ever interacted with more than one autistic student/child/peer, you’d clearly realize that the label is limiting.

Readers don’t walk into books completely ignorant. Do they?

They have knowledge and experiences to compliment the texts they’re reading. This leads to my big issue when bloggers and reviewers say that authors aren’t writing characters with mental illness or disabilities correctly: we are all wired differently and live a million different experiences, so who’s to say that this isn’t ONE possible experience? Can’t all of these characters help show readers what living with autism (or mental health issues or disabilities or diverse backgrounds) is like? Is there really a right or a wrong way to be? This is what David points out in the book:

It seems to me that it’s now up to other authors to paint a different picture of autism so that we can understand and appreciate it for all its individuality. Instead of scaring writers away from writing diverse characters for fear of reader criticism, any mistakes or errors or misrepresentations should provide important discussion points for readers and help make authors and future novels more aware and authentic. While I can understand the need for accurate, honest portrayals, I don’t see why we can’t have characters who are just as unique as people are in real life. We can all exist together – whether in the the pages of a book or in the real world.

How do you feel about the portrayal of disabilities and/or mental illness in fiction books?

Do you feel that readers are so naive that one character’s depiction will shape their understanding of a particular issue? 

NaBloPoMo is Here!

It’s November and NaBloPoMo is back! Whether the event still exists is anyone’s guess – as I certainly can’t find anything about it on blogher anymore – but I’m officially declaring that I’ll be participating in this unofficial event! I’m eager to share all the bookish thoughts, reviews, and news I’ve been saving throughout the year. I hope you’ll follow along with me this month.

For those of you who are new to Love2Read365, welcome! Please check out my About page to learn a little bit more about the blog and find links to some of my most popular posts.

It has been another year of great books for me, and I hope you had a great year of reading, too. When I reflect on what I’ve read in the past year, I see that Young Adult books dominated once again. I think this is because I like the fast pace, the drama, the adventure, and freshness of Young Adult literature. Meanwhile, Adult Fiction often feels boring to me, with the plots more often than not focusing on a depressing marriage. While I thought that I had branched out to a larger variety of reading material, this breakdown clearly shows otherwise!

These labels are pretty limiting, though, because there’s so much more to each book. There’s Fantasy, Contemporary, Chick Lit, Social Justice, Science Fiction, and LGBTQ representations. Heck, one book (#7) was even a Western!  

I’ll talk to you more about some of these books as we make our way through November, but for now, I’d love to know if you read any of the same books as me. I’d also like to know if you’ll be participating in NaBloPoMo so I can follow along with your blog.

Here’s to a happy, creative, connected November!

5 Star Reads of 2017

This year, I was blown away by the second and third books in multiple trilogies. In the past, it had felt like no other book in a series could top the first book – and the third book? Might as well just pretend it never existed (I’m looking at you, Allegiant). But authors Sarah J. Maas, Victoria Aveyard, and Leigh Bardugo have made me hopeful that trilogies and series are alive and well. Sarah J. Maas tops my list as the author of five of my most favorite books of the year. Stand alone books didn’t disappoint either. Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a must-read for anyone looking for a politically and emotionally savvy #metoo read. I’ve been anxiously awaiting for another book from my Graceling-universe-author Kristin Cashore, and while Jane, Unlimited was worlds away from Graceling, I was still hooked on every page. I’m looking forward to whatever else she decides to write. Another interesting thing about this list? Women authors dominate, with the only male writer being Scott Westerfeld for Afterworlds. Way to go, ladies!

Without further ado, here are my five star reads of 2017, in no particular order:   

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  2. A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
  3. A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
  4. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas
  5. King’s Cage (Red Queen #3) by Victoria Aveyard
  6. Ruin and Rising (The Grisha Trilogy #3) by Leigh Bardugo
  7. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston
  8. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

But I read so many GREAT books this year, and eight books just doesn’t do my reading list justice. So here are a few four star books that were an absolute pleasure to read.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley
  • Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo
  • Siege and Storm (The Grisha Trilogy #2) by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh
  • The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh
  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
  • A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
  • Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  • Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
  • A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray

What were your favorite reads of the year?

Find my top books of 2016 here and 2015 here.

Goodbye November, Hello Hanson and More Books than I can Handle

Goodbye November

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog this month. I’m pretty awful at blogging throughout the rest of the year, but I thoroughly enjoy creating pieces for NaBloPoMo and reading other people’s blogs during the month, too. I hope you found a post or two that you connected with.

Hello Hanson

Now that NaBloPoMo is coming to a close, I’m thinking about preparing for Christmas, my sister’s baby shower, and taking a much-needed weekend getaway. A friend and I will be seeing Hanson’s “Finally It’s Christmas” show, and I can’t wait! Yes, I’m talking about those guys who sang “MmmBop” twenty years ago. Hanson’s “Snowed In” album is my favorite Christmas CD, and I was thrilled that they were releasing new Christmas music. I couldn’t believe my luck when it worked out that a friend and I could plan a trip to see Hanson perform live this month. We’ve already been to three (or four?) of their concerts since college, and each time we leave, we say we’d go see them again!

More Books than I can Handle

Whoa, I am drowning in books over here! I read approximately 98% of my books on my Kindle and 99.5% of those books are from my library, via the OverDrive app. Seriously, it’s the best. I always have ten books on hold on the app, as you can’t get all of the books right away, just like a library. Anyway, I’ve had the same books on hold for months, and then of course, while in the middle of reading one book, four more books came in at once. That means I’ve got 14 days to read 4.5 books! Wish me luck.

Enjoy the holiday season everyone!