A Book Battle

Ok, so one of my favorite blogs to read is Rose Read. The writer, Emily, is a former high school English teacher turned Library and Information Sciences grad student. She posted about a book battle tag today and I decided I’m doing this tag, too, even though I wasn’t tagged in it! I just like this idea, and amazingly, I’ve read all the books in this list. So here goes.

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the blog who tagged you and link back to them
  • Your first book is the last book of the person who tagged you
  • Follow the list of books the tagger you gave you and then face off “book 1 vs book 2”
  • As soon as you have a winner, choose 7 more books and blogs to tag

Emily ended with Cinder by Marissa Meyer, so that’s the beginning of my book battle. Here are the books she chose for the next round:

  1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  4. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky
  7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

ROUND 1: Cinder vs. Illuminae


Cinder wins. I just finished reading Illuminae two nights ago. While the last 50 pages were thrilling, I am hesitant to read the next book. Cinder, on the other hand, was a wonderful read and I read the next three books in the series…as well as the extra novellas, too!

ROUND 2: Cinder vs. Ready Player One


I’m going to have to choose Cinder again. I really enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles. That being said, I gave both books a 4/5 rating on Goodreads. They’re both good!

ROUND 3: Cinder vs. Ender’s Game


Oooo. This gets tricky. Cinder is fluffier than Ender’s Game, if you know what I mean. It’s girlier and there’s romance. It’s more fun. But then again, I really enjoyed Ender’s Game and read another book in the series too. The writing is smart and edgy. Hm. I guess…Cinder.

ROUND 4: Cinder vs. The Outsiders


This may seem strange, but I’m going to pick The Outsiders. This was my favorite book to teach. This was the one book I had to tell students to not read ahead in, but then was secretly thrilled when they did! I had students who would take the book home and read it in one night. I loved reading this book out loud in class to my students. It’s a classic.

ROUND 5: The Outsiders vs. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian


The Outsiders. Easy. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is important, but Ponyboy, Soda, Darry, and Johnny have my heart.

ROUND 6: The Outsiders vs. The Perks of Being a Wallflower


The Outsiders, no contest. I gave The Perks of Being a Wallflower a 3 out of 5 on Goodreads. I get why people like it, but it wasn’t a favorite of mine.

ROUND 7: The Outsiders vs. Eleanor & Park


Eleanor & Park. This is the book that made me want to read everything that author Rainbow Rowell wrote – including a book that was just a fictional book within a book (I’m talking about you, Carry On!). I feel like Eleanor & Park is going to become one of those great Young Adult books that every teenager should read and love. It wasn’t just instalove like in a lot of YA books – it was a real, full-fledged relationship. The characters truly cared about one another and made each other better. I would have loved recommending this book to my students.

Ding, Ding, Ding! Eleanor & Park for the win!

If you’re interested in completing this book tag, you’ll start with Eleanor & Park for your first book, and here’s my lineup for the next battle:

  1. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  2. The Girls by Emma Cline
  3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  5. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  6. The Martian by Andy Weir
  7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Entry #18 – Literary Best Friend:


Entry #18 – Literary best friend:  If you could choose any character for a bestie, who would it be? Feel free to expand on why – share a relevant quote, list attributes, whatever floats your boat. Or just give a name, it’s entirely up to you!

At my bachelorette party three years ago, my sister told me my friends were weird.  Not in the sense that they were strange people, but in the sense that this group of girls wouldn’t typically hang out together.  I’ve always had an eclectic group of friends—sort of like a different group of friends for the different activities that I enjoy.  There were my high school friends for doing crazy things like dressing up one another in goofy outfits at Walmart, there were my quiet college roommates who enjoyed watching Grey’s Anatomy every Thursday night, and there were my dance team friends who were always up for a good time and loved dancing just as much as I did.  I could shift between these groups of friends and do all the things I wanted to do.  So when it comes to choosing a best friend from a book, I came up with an eclectic group of characters.

Here are some characters I’ve picked as possible besties, and the qualities I admire them for:

  • Katniss, Katsa, Tris, Cassia: brave, strong, adventurous, rebellious, risk takers
  • Nancy Drew: logical, intelligent…and drives a cool convertible!
  • Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants girls: accept & celebrate one another’s differences
  • Harry, Ron, Hermione from Harry Potter: brave, adventurous, rebellious, magical, loyal
  • Ponyboy & Cherry from The Outsiders: honest, loyal to their friends
  • Benvolio from Romeo & Juliet: good listener, thoughtful decision maker (unlike that Romeo guy!)
  • Bitterblue from Bitterblue: homebody who craves adventure, learns to be a better leader
  • Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries: relatable, normal teen girl (klutzy & awkward like me!)

Who would you choose as a literary best friend? 

Entry #15 – Re-read:


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?

Entry #5 – Sharing is caring


Entry #5 – Sharing is caring:  “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” Share a book that EVERYBODY NEEDS TO READ. 

Books that have left me with a “weird evangelical zeal” are not necessarily books that I think everyone would enjoy.  They were important to me, but were perhaps too girly, too historical, or too fantasy-based for other readers.

However, I did come up with a book that I think everyone should read.  That book would be The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  Hinton was only 18 when her book was published in 1967.  I love hearing about authors who found success at a young age.  The Outsiders is narrated by Ponyboy Curtis, a 14-year-old living with his older brothers Sodapop and Darry.  He tells us about his life as a Greaser on the tough side of town.  Even though he gets good grades at school and is athletic, he doesn’t fit in with the rich kids, the Socs.  The novel is a coming-of-age story.  Ponyboy learns that “things are rough all over”—no matter what side of town you live on.  He learns that his brother is tough on him because Darry doesn’t want to see Ponyboy’s potential wasted.  Ponyboy encounters adventure, as well as loss, and learns the value of family and friendship.

As an English teacher, this was always one of the best books to teach.  Kids legitimately enjoy this story.  They want to know what happens to the characters: Ponyboy, Soda, Darry, Johnny, Dally, Two-Bit, Steve, and Cherry become important to them.  This is the only time when kids read MORE than what they were assigned.  In fact, some students finish the book only a day or two after handing the books out.  Teenagers can relate to this book, and the writing is easy to read and understand.  It’s Young Adult literature at its best.

This was also a great book to use because the film version is wonderful too.  So many students loved the book that they begged for a film adaptation.  Francis Ford Coppola directed a version in 1983.  The film stars C. Thomas Howell as Ponyboy, Rob Lowe as Soda, Patrick Swayze as Darry, Ralph Macchio as Johnny, Matt Dillon as Dally, Emilio Estevez as Two-Bit, Tom Cruise as Steve, and Diane Lane as Cherry.  Everyone in the cast went on to have lucrative TV and film careers.  It’s fun to see them all so young.  My students always swooned over Rob Lowe, though I preferred Matt Dillon!

Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.