Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some Book Recommendations

It's mid-way through January, and I suspect many a resolution has already been broken if not actually forgotten. At the beginning of the year, I like to think on the books I will read, anticipate the oodles of time I will have to indulge in the delight of losing myself between the pages of books. And reflect back on the books I read last year, often with some haziness because I tend not to have a very good memory -- perhaps because I prefer to read for the sheer pleasure of it, than to analyze.

About a year and a half ago, though, frustrated with my inability to remember which books I'd read -- or what they were about if I had read them -- I began to compile lists of books I'd read. I put them in two categories: ones I'd recommend and the ones I wouldn't. I wrote a brief description of each book, along with what I found particularly compelling (or not) -- which is a useful thing for a writer to do because it serves as a source of reference if I want to study a book to see how a particular situation, say point of view, or multiple narratives, was handled in a book that I deemed to be a success.

I won't go into the books I wouldn't recommend -- I don't see the point of it. I know how writers pour their hearts out into their work and it doesn't serve any purpose to include here a list of books that I thought were not well written (enough), or books that, although fairly well written, didn't delight me enough to be included in my list of recommendations.

Every writer I know reads a lot. One of the more delightful things about being a writer is that you learn through the sheer joy of reading, even when you don't know you are learning. It serves both the art and the craft of writing to simply read, read, read.

It helps, though, to read the best of writing so the subconscious mind isn't filled with reams of mediocrity. I think the mind tends to burp it up, if that is all you read.

So here is a list of just a few of the books I read recently that I'd recommend. This isn't a comprehensive list of all the books I read, let alone all of the ones on my recommended list; nor are they all recent publications. But these are books I enjoyed for a number of reasons -- some because of the brilliance of the writing, some because of the inventiveness of the plot, or striking voice, but all because they satisfied at a certain level. I haven't included the books I've already mentioned in previous blog postings. Most of these are children's books -- I read all over the place, adult fiction as well as children's fiction -- but I won't indicate which is which, because a good children's book is ageless. So, in no particular order:

Counting Stars by David Almond

Jackdaw Summer by David Almond

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Alice, I Think by Susan Juby

Nation by Terry Pratchett

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

A Thousand Shades of Blue by Robin Stevenson

Cockroach by Rawi Hage

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Something to Hang Onto by Beverley Brenna

The Gathering by Anne Enright

I, Coriander by Sally Gardner

Saffy's Angel
Indigo's Star
Permanent Rose by Hilary McKay
Caddy Ever After
Forever Rose

The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden
Granny The Pag
Carrie's War

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