Friday, April 25, 2014

Songs Only You Know

Written by: Sean Madigan Hoen

First line: The aluminum bat leaned against the garage wall, next to a rake and a hoe and four bicycles with flat tired and rusty chains...

Why you should read this book: A brutal memoir of a family torn apart by alcohol, drugs, and mental illness, it's told through the eyes of a young man whose rage and suffering is so deep that not even screaming lyrics for a punk band can take the edge off his pain. Sean tears his way through road trips and relationships, throwing himself into anything he senses might smooth the path, believing that he can protect his family best by shielding them from his own truths. Through some trick of fate, he survived his attempts to obliterate reality and emerged to pen this eloquent novel, which oozes raw emotion and bleeds heartbreak, all the while propelling its author to the next promise, the next possibility, the next hope.

Why you shouldn't read this book: Substance abuse. Death. Morbidity on every page.

The Book of Dragons

Written by: E. Nesbit

First line: He happened to be building a palace when the news came, and he left all the bricks kicking about the floor for Nurse to clean up--but then the news was rather remarkable news.

Why you should read this book: Although its sensibilities are very firmly rooted in the time and place in which it was written (England, 1900), there is something timeless about this early collection of modern fairy tales, all of which feature, prominently, at least one and sometimes countless dragons, good, evil, and indifferent. Nesbit draws on her young readers' knowledge of myth and adventure to create new worlds, or to simply throw a dazzling veil over the world they already know. I've been reading these stories since I was a little girl, and they never fail to satisfy.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't like to see dragons slain, or even to read about threats to slay them.

Dork Diaries 3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star

Written by: Rachel Renee Russell

First line: OMG! I think yesterday was probably the BEST day of my entire life :) !!

Why you should read this book: I'm not entirely certain why I read it, except that I spend a lot of time in an elementary school library. This third installment shows the self-deprecating Nikki excelling at yet another artistic pursuit while suffering a few rather outrageous barbs from the local mean girl. If you remember middle school, you remember her self-conscious confusion, her false starts, and her every shortcoming, real or imagined.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You, like my mother, are familiar with the true meaning of the word "dork" and therefore are appalled to hear it used in casual conversation.


Written by: Patrician MacLachlan

First line: Papa married Sarah on a summer day.

Why you should read this book: Short and sweet like its predecessor, Sarah, Plain and Tall, this book picks up shortly after the first leaves off. Caleb and Anna adore their new mother, but still live in fear that one day she will abandon the grain-fields of their midwestern homestead and return to the blue-green waters of the Maine coast, from whence she came. When drought threatens their livelihood, they find themselves instead, shipped off to Maine with Sarah, but without their papa, who stays behind to salvage what's left of their farm.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You've ever been abandoned.

The Fault in Our Stars

Written by: John Green

First line: Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

Why you should read this book: This provocative, heart-wrenching novel features a cast of teenagers afflicted in various ways by cancer, but it is most adamantly not a cancer book. From page one, the savvy reader recognizes that there will be death, but it's not a book about dying; rather it is a book about living, and the events that help us understand how precious and powerful and full of potential it is to be alive. Hazel has been compressed and confined by her disease, until she meets Augustus, who shows her how large and packed with possibility the world is, no matter how long you have in it.


Written by: Brian Jacques

First line: It was the start of the Summer of the Late Rose.

Why you should read this book: This fast-paced hero's journey sees the clumsy little novice mouse, Matthias rise to the challenges as he transforms into the avatar of his hero, Martin the Warrior. The creatures of Mossflower Wood and Redwall Abbey live happy, natural lives until a band of cutthroat rats, led by the vicious, whip-tailed Cluny, set their sights on the mice's abundant stores and protective walls. The mice are set in their ways, but Matthias has a fast mind and a brave heart, and helps lead his people to victory by thinking and acting in innovative ways.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't like action, adventure, fighting, plotting, or talking animals.