Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Written by: JK Rowling

First line: Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

Why you should read this book: Harry Potter is a worldwide phenomenon, a captivating story about the battle between good and evil as it plays out in a British boarding school for the magically inclined. Harry Potter, the boy who lived, is surprised to learn that he is much more than an unwanted orphan who lives under the stairs in his aunt and uncle's house, but actually a famous child from a well-known wizarding family, who is about to embark on his magical education. A year of friendship and discovery is disrupted by the presence of evil forces, which Harry and his friends are determined to expose.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't want to know about what every English-speaking person under the age of thirty knows about.

Dare to Disappoint: Growing up in Turkey

Written by: Özge Samanci

First line: The primary school was across the street from our apartment.

Why you should read this book: I really loved this memoir of growing up in the '80s and '90s in Turkey, where military leadership and economic inequality dictated many aspects of the author's life. Both she and her sister studied seven days a week in the hopes of attending the best schools and getting the best jobs, but Özge, though determined and hardworking, never seems to succeed in reaching her goals or pleasing her parents. Beautiful multimedia illustrations bring the characters, the setting, and the time frame to life.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You have your children's life course planned out, and you're sure they'll never let you down.


Written by: Liz Prince

First line: No, Mommy!

Why you should read this book: This graphic memoir details the development from childhood to young adulthood as the author tries to navigate the social expectations of her female body while finding herself more and more convinced that she has no interest in anything girly. Liz learns to embrace her identity, and grows confident in the knowledge that she is a heterosexual girl who will never be comfortable wearing dresses or acting ladylike. Very potent and believable, Liz's journey spoke to in many ways, and will likely be a comforting read to those who understand what she's gone through, and informative to those who need to know.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You have ever forced a crying five-year-old to wear a dress against her will.

Orwell's Luck

Written by: Richard Jennings

First line: All my life, I have been a person who wakes up with the birds.

Why you should read this book: When a middle school girl finds an injured rabbit in her driveway one morning, her entire life becomes consumed with healing the bunny, and possibly decoding what she believes to be secret messages sent by the rabbit through various means, primarily the newspaper horoscope. It's a strangely magical story, more or less plausible despite the mystic content, and primarily about the narrator's journey from an internal life to one that has room for outsiders. Funny, smart, engaging, and uplifting, this is a lovely book that should appeal to a wide range of readers.

Why you shouldn't read the book: You don't want your kids bringing injuring wildlife into your unfinished home improvement projects.

Samir and Yonatan

Written by: Daniella Carmi

First line: Since morning I've been waiting for a curfew.

Why you should read this book: A Palestinian boy whose mother works at an Israeli hospital finds himself thrust into an alien world when his mother uses her influence to get Samir treated there. Samir knows Jews only in the context of the conflict that took his brother's life, and he is terrified to find himself living among them, without his family for comfort. Living in the children's ward, Samir slowly opens up to the humanity of the people around him, and through the imagination of a boy named Yonatan, becomes confident and happy.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You'll never get over your brother's death.

Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song

Written by: Frank M. Young and David Lasky

First line: Alvin Pleasant Carter! You git away from that fiddle! That's th' devil's instr'ment!

Why you should read this book: With straightforward illustrations and simple dialect, this graphic novel tells the life of Pleasant Carter, patriarch of the musical Carter family. As a young man, music meant more to him than anything else, and collecting the old songs was more important to him than any job he ever had. Eventually, with the help of his family, he is able to make a living with his music (the book comes with a CD of the family's music, but someone seems to have stolen it from the library copy I checked out).

Why you shouldn't read this book: Johnny Cash only appears on the last page.