Saturday, September 16, 2017

Best of Summer Reading 2017

It's 7:45 on a Saturday morning and I'm on my second cup of coffee.  (The first was decaf.)  I was so tired last night that I fell asleep on the couch around 9:00, and I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing that as a result, I was up by 6:30 today.

I feel like I should have some sort of big elaborate explanation for why I haven't been posted, but, well, I've been busy and lazy and just haven't.  But I miss it, so I'm going to try to get my crap together and do better.

That being said--I wanted to tell you about some of the best (and a little of the worst) things I read in my #BookADay summer.

Ratings are weird.  I rate books right after I finish reading them.  But as time passes, I often find myself thinking more about some books I gave 4 stars to than about some books I gave 5 stars to.  Or I'll look at my five star books, and for many think, "Oh yeah, that book was AWESOME!" but for some think, "Hm, what was that about again?"  So I'm going to start by listing the books I gave 5 stars to this summer, then go back and tell you which ones actually stand out to me as being the ones I love.

June 13: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie *****
June 28: The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz *****
July 1:  The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon *****
July 2:  The Crossover by Kwame Alexander  ***All The Stars***
July 5: Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin *****
July 8: A List of Cages by Robin Roe *****
July 12: A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins *****
July 16: You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie *****
July 17: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah ***All The Stars***
July 23: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz *****
July 24: Glow: Animals with Their Own Nightlights by W. H. Beck *****
July 28: Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty *****
August 12: A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab *****
August 16: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake *****
August 26: Refugee by Alan Gratz *****
August 28: Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan *****

Of those, I'd say I really love The Crossover (which was a re-read), Most Dangerous, Born a Crime, Three Dark Crowns, Refugee, and Tales from Outer Suburbia. And I also have fond thoughts of books I initially rated lower than five stars: Burn, Baby Burn, House Arrest, Stranger in the Woods, Bayou, This Side of Home, and My Life in Dog Years. And, of course, my re-read of most of the Attolia series, including the new book.

Okay, so that's a whole lotta runners-up. I'm horrible at choosing just one of anything, but I'm going to narrow it down as much as I can for you.

BEST AUDIO BOOK OF THE SUMMER (and possibly of all time):
Trevor Noah reading his memoir, Born a Crime.

This memoir is, like, Mary Karr and Frank McCourt level. I knew the guy was smart, and funny, but this goes beyond either of those things. Fascinating, heart-breaking, galvanizing, this is no celebrity memoir. It's an examination of a very particular time and place (South Africa as apartheid stumbled to an end), a tribute to Noah's wildly courageous, fiercely independent, and deeply religious mother, and an insightful examination of what it means to be biracial and bicultural. PLUS it's hilarious.

Refugee by Alan Gratz

I was maybe two pages in when I knew I wanted to read this with my students this year. And the more I read, the happier I was with that decision. There's so much meat to it. There's the "No seriously, Nazis are always the bad guys" message. There's a beautiful moment when we come to understand how damaging "I'm just doing my job" can be--as well as understanding how impossible the situation may be in which one falls back on that line. There's the way he ties together 1930s Germany, 1990s Cuba, and contemporary Syria in a way that illuminates the way history repeats itself, and the lessons from the past we can apply to the present. There's also a shark attack. #SoMuchWin.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood was just okay for me. It definitely didn't put Blake on my "authors to watch for" list by any means. But Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction kept raving about this one. Still, I was lukewarm enough about it going in that I accidentally read The Crown Game instead, thinking THAT was the "crown book" she kept mentioning. And that one was, again, just okay, so I was all, "Um, Nicole? Really?" But I finally figured it out, and YAY! Fantasy is my first love, and when you create a fantasy world that is dangerous and beautiful and complicated (but not TOO politics-driven), you make me happy. Plus three great female protagonists, all of whom I'm rooting for, but all of whom are in life-or-death competition with each other? Way to keep me coming back for book two.


  1. I am a fan of the Three Dark Crown series. One Dark Throne was a fantastic sequel and I am really excited about some of the things revealed in that book.

  2. I have so many of these books on my TBR list. I need to teach myself how to read a book a day so I can get through them. I’m glad you liked Born a Crime and Refugee. Those are high up on my list.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. I also listened to Born a Crime this summer on audio! I learned so much, and I could listen to Noah and his accent forever! I just added Refugee to my TBR!

  4. I'm definitely going to request Born a Crime and Refugee from the library right now. That despite the (honest) opinion that I was terribly disappointed with struck me as a Jodi Picoult-ish story, a story built around a manifesto (albeit a good manifesto). Just my two cents....

  5. So funny that you accidentally read The Crown's Game instead of Three Dark Crowns. I actually LOVE a short story that I read by the author or TCG, so I was super excited about it, but then I found the book to be slightly disappointing because of the insta-love. TDC, on the other hand---loved it all the way! Glad that you felt the same!

    Hope your school year is going smoothly!!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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