These kinds of lists are so hard to write. I loved far more than 15 books this year, but no one will read a top 50 list so here I am thinking of a way to not write a top 10 list. It is 2015, so 15 is my limit and I tried not to cheat. In no particular order here are the first five of fifteen books I really enjoyed this year.
- The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer- Book one of The Land of Stories series. A couple of my students had read this and told me how much they enjoyed it so I had been interested for a while, but my two children seem to really love fairy tales so I waited to read it with them. It was so worth the wait to read it with them. The series has lots of action, humour and a really interesting spin on fairy tale characters. I don’t even mind having to read Froggy with my poor British accent (much to my wife’s dismay the kids insist). My seven and four year old daughters loved this book. We went through the whole series this year and are waiting for more.
- The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate- This is another book that was even better because I had several people I could share it with. To discuss with my now eight year old daughter what a me-ball was and to have nearly the same discussion and fits of laughter with a twelve year old that I taught last school year makes this book so much more memorable. The sad moments, uplifting acts and the humour that I was able to share with many young readers made this book stand out for me this year.
- Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar- I won an ARC of this book on Goodreads (the only ARC I have ever touched) and read most of it on the day it came in the mail at the beginning of summer. I enjoyed how Sachar treated the relationships between the students in the book, giving us a glimpse into the thoughts of three very different kids. I decided to use it as a read aloud at the beginning of this school year. It was lots of fun to read some of the “creepier” parts (no spoliers). We really enjoyed making predictions while reading this book from the time we looked at the cover to the very end when we discussed what could happen next to the characters or the environmental/scientific implications of what we read. The students loved reading such a new book as well. We probably annoyed the class next door with how much we talked about this book. Several parts will remain part of the culture of our class for the rest of the year and beyond.
- Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King- This year I join the many people on-line who sing the praises of this writer. I picked this up in the young adult section of my public library and thought it was amazing. I don’t think it is a good choice to share with my class, so I pushed it on my wife because I needed to talk about it with someone. It made me think about so many things but it is one of those books that is a little tricky to describe without giving things away. It is part speculative fiction, but in some ways very contemporary and realistic. I think A.S. King is a writer that makes you a little uncomfortable in the best possible way. I read Reality Boy last month and am ready for more of her books.
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie- Not unlike A.S. King, Sherman Alexie really pulls no punches. His characters lay everything out for the reader and challenge your thinking. If I wasn’t squirming a little and deep in thought, I was laughing out loud. This is an uncomfortable book at times, but also hilarious. I read this book for a third time this year and I still love it. I’m looking forward to Sherman Alexie’s new book Thunder Boy Jr., a picture book that is out later this year.