Admitting the Truth

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In an article posted on Huffingtonpost.com earlier this month, author Gabrielle Zevin questions why we lie about our favorite books. Instead of admitting that we love mysteries, romance, a book from our childhood, or Twilight, most people would rather state that their favorite book is something that makes them sound intelligent and thoughtful—like a New York Times Bestseller that we read about in a review once. There’s a sense of pride when we pick out the book at the bookstore and place it on our coffee table or bookshelf, while there is something embarrassing about revealing our true favorites. Zevin notes, “I have often wondered if a book like Fifty Shades of Grey would have done as well in a world without e-readers. What if all readers had had to go into an actual bookstore to purchase a copy?”

Sometimes we try to get out of answering the question about naming our favorite book by saying something like, “Oh, there’s too many! How could I ever choose just one?” I used to ramble off a bunch of titles or authors when asked the question, but now I feel more confident revealing that The China Garden is my favorite book. I don’t mind that hardly anyone else has ever read it. I don’t mind that it’s a young adult mystery/romance from the 1990s. I’ve read and re-read the book on multiple occasions and no longer feel guilty that it isn’t a classic or a Best Seller.

In all, Zevin states that she doesn’t “mind when people ‘lie’ about what they read. I think the lie itself is revealing and the more I consider the matter, I’m not even sure it’s a lie. On some level, I think we want our reading self to represent our best self…We buy books aspirationally.”

Aspirationally or not, I’m just glad that people are still buying books and talking about them!

How about you? Do you find yourself lying about your favorite books?

Entry #22 – Favorite Book:

Entry #22 – Favorite book:  I know, I know—how can you pick just one?  But if you had to, what book would be your favorite?

I hinted at this post in Entry #15, and now it’s finally here!  My answer to the question, “What’s your favorite book?” is typically The China Garden by Liz Berry.  I have read the book multiple times, but it had been a while since I last read it.  I decided to re-read it earlier this month to make sure that it still is my favorite book—and to make sure it wasn’t just something I enjoyed as a pre-teen.  I was pleased to discover that I still loved the book.  I still raced through it to uncover the mystery of Ravensmere.  Be aware that this can be a tricky book to get your hands on, as it is no longer in print.  It’s worth the search though!

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Entry #15 – Re-read:

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Entry #15 – Re-read:  This is a book that you have read more than once.

As an English teacher, I’ve re-read my fair share of books.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read Romeo & Juliet, The Outsiders, The Miracle Worker, or Holes.  When it comes to reading for pleasure rather than for lesson planning, I tend to shy away from re-reading.  There are so many books I want to read that I don’t have time to re-read.  I don’t have the tattered book that I carry with me everywhere and read once a year.  Despite this, I was surprised at the growing list of books that I have re-read.

rereadbooks1. The China Garden by Liz Berry……Read 5 times

This title is always my response when I’m asked what my favorite book is.  I’ll talk about it more in a later post.  All you need to know now is that it’s wonderful…and I kind of want to re-read it again soon!

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry……….Read 4 times

This is a Young Adult classic.  I used it with my seventh graders last year, but I’ve also read it plenty of times on my own.  I love the world of “sameness” that Lowry has created and Jonah’s realization that his world is not as perfect as he once thought.  It’s the original dystopian novel.

3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger………….Read 2 times

Don’t we all wish we could travel through time?  In Niffenegger’s novel, she shows readers a darker side to time travel through the romance of Henry and Clare.  Cool fact: Niffenegger is not only a talented writer (she wrote the creepy novel Her Fearful Symmetry, too), but she’s also an artist.  She creates stories and artwork for visual and graphic novels.  See some of her work for the story Raven Girl here.

4. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth…Read 2 times

It should be no surprise from my previous posts that I adored Divergent and Insurgent.  I took a break from reading during November to focus on my NaNoWriMo novel, but I wasn’t very good at staying away from books!  I told myself, “I’ll just re-read Insurgent so I’ll be ready to read Allegiant…” and then I decided I might as well re-read Divergent too!  I was pleased to discover they were just as good as I had remembered.

5. The Terrorist by Caroline B. Cooney……………Read 2 times

Cooney was my favorite author as a teen.  I read The Face on The Milk Carton and became hooked on Cooney’s ability to create believable teen characters who were going through crazy things like discovering they had been kidnapped, or might have unleashed smallpox on the world from an old scab in a book, or traveled back in time.  Her books were short and could be read quickly.  I always made a beeline for the “C” shelf at Barnes & Noble, eager to pick out another one of her novels.  Even as an adult, I wander over to the shelf to find out if Cooney has written anything new.  I recently re-read The Terrorist on my Kindle Fire.  Even though the book was published in 1997, the subject matter (a kid from an international school in London is killed by a bomb) still feels relevant.

How about you?  What books do you find yourself re-reading?