Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Written by: Suzanne Collins

First line: I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash settles on the worn leather.

Why you should read this book: After surviving an unprecedented two Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen is scarred, physically and mentally, still reeling from a concussion, and no more free as a rebel than she was as a resident of District Twelve. Now that she understands the nature of the game that's still being played even outside the arena, she recognizes that everyone wants her as a pawn, and she's determined not to be manipulated. Who will she trust, who will she betray, and, ultimately, who will she love?

Why you shouldn't read this book: You've met the new boss and determined that s/he is the same as the old boss.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Catching Fire

Written by: Suzanne Collins

First line: I clasp the flask between my hands even though the warmth from the tea bag has long since leached into the frozen air.

Why you should read this book: Katniss and Peeta have survived the Hunger Games, but they realize they can never relax or enjoy the luxurious lifestyle their victory should afford them. Katniss's subtle acts of rebellion have fueled uprisings all over the districts, and the presidents holds her personally accountable for the dissent. The Capitol will never allow her to live her own life, but will remind her, at every turn, that she, and everyone she knows, is subject to the whims of a hard-hearted government that encourages unfeeling citizens to look upon her survival as fodder for the world's greatest entertainment.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You will tolerate no acts of treason.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Every Thing On It

Written by: Shel Silverstein

First line: Although I cannot see your face/As you flip these poems awhile,/Somewhere from some far-off place/I hear you laughing—and I smile.

Why you should read this book: Fans of Silverstein’s previous collections of ridiculous rhymes for precocious children and immature adults have cause to rejoice. Every Thing On It is more of what made the author’s poetry for young people famous: ridiculous reversals, tender magic, bad manners, creatures that eat children, and illustrations that feature strangely proportioned humans and unusual animals. Mixed in with the giggle-worthy poems are some more thought-provoking themes demonstrating Silverstein’s growth as a writer and his more introspective side.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You disapprove of nonsense, bad behavior, and whimsical deaths.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil

Written by: M. Scott Peck, MD

First line: This is a dangerous book.

Why you should read this book: The central thesis of this work proposes a new diagnostic category of neurosis, in which evil should be considered a subset of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Using a small number of case studies, the author describes individuals who, due to extreme selfishness, lack of self-examination, and some other, inexplicable delight in irritating other people, literally suck the life and liveliness out of those around them. The narrative also includes a discussion of the author’s personal experience with Satan, as witnessed in two successful exorcisms, along with a look at group evil, as seen in the Mylai Massacre, and offers a short summary of what such a diagnosis would mean for psychological professionals at large.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: Even the most open-minded secular reader is likely to experience intense skepticism throughout the chapter on exorcism, which tends to diminish some of the argument.

The Rebellious Alphabet

Written by: Jorge Diaz

First line: The Little General was the ruler of a very big village, even though he was very small.

Why you should read this book: A grown-up political story allegorized as a childrens’ picture book, it tells of an oppressive regime wherein reading, writing, and thinking is outlawed by an ignorant and childish tyrant. A freedom-loving intellectual discovers a way to create a natural printing press using clever canaries and an ink-soaked sponge, and is able to spread a message of liberty to his people, eventually eliminating the power of the oppressive regime. This is an intelligent story that be enjoyed by people of all ages who love freedom, liberty, and literacy, and bristly under the threat of censorship, tyranny, and lies.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You oppose freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know

Written by: Sonya Sones

First line: Most people just call me Sophie/(which is the name/on my birth certificate)/or Sof/or sometimes Sofa.

Why you should read this book: This easy-to-read novel in verse offers a glimpse into the mind of fifteen-year-old Sophie, who enjoys sketching, worries about her parents’ constant fighting, and thinks obsessively about kissing boys. From the physical attraction to Dylan, which fizzles and fades as she gets to know him better, to her intellectual desire for Murphy, the least popular boy in her class, this honest story shows the progression of Sophie’s growth. Along the way, she defies her mother, foils a cyber-predator, gets improperly grabbed by a drunk sophomore, purchases five pairs of ridiculous panties, and learns that things are going to be all right.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You are disgusted by teenagers with raging hormones.

A Step from Heaven

Written by: An Na

First line: Just to the edge, Young Ju.

Why you should read this book: A powerhouse of a YA novel, this award-winning story tells of the childhood of Young Ju, a little girl born in Korea, who moves with her family to America in search of a better life. While navigating the currents of the American public school system when you don’t speak English isn’t difficult enough, Young Ju’s home life—which she must keep secret from all the Americans around her—can never be a place of refuge. Growing up in the miasma of her father’s alcoholism and abuse, she struggles to satisfy her parents’ expectation for a Korean girl, her friends’ understanding of American customs, and her own hopes and dreams.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: Some graphic domestic violence.