Book Lists

If I like a book, I go crazy, telling everybody I meet to read it. I rarely hate a book, but MANY MANY books are on my Shrug List.

To give you a sense of books I love, here’s a random smattering. Since I read bookshelves of YA and graphic novels, they get their own lists.

You have any recommendations for me?

Favorite Graphic Novels

  • Tina’s Mouth by Keshni Kashyap
  • Fun Home by Alyson Bechdel
  • Blankets by Craig Thompson
  • Stitches by David Small
  • Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

Favorite Young Adult

  • Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt
  • Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Feed by M.T. Anderson
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (this is a cool novel in poems)
  • Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • My Abandonment by Peter Rock
  • Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  • A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  • Fault Line by Christa Desir
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  • Delirium series by Lauren Oliver

More Favorite Books

  • Tenth of December by George Saunders (short story collection)
  • Get in Trouble by Kelly Link (short story collection)
  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • Satan Says by Sharon Olds (poetry)
  • What the Living Do by Marie Howe (poetry)
  • Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith (novel)
  • Nothing Between Us by Wendy Barker (novel in poems)
  • This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff (memoir)
  • Ghostbread by Sonja Livingston (creative nonfiction)
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (novel)
  • Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (memoir)
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (novel)
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison (novel)
  • Deepstep Come Shining by C.D. Wright (poetry)
  • The One-Room School House: Stories about the Boys by Jim Heynen (collection of related shorts)

About books I love: A strong voice is critical. And musicality. And stuff happening. Because what’s a story without, you know, a story? Also magic. Sometimes actual magic, but not always. Magical language or a big ah-ha! will do. Graphic novels are magical because visual artists ARE GODS.

Find more on my Goodreads page…

22 thoughts on “Book Lists

  1. I didn’t even know you had this blog. I started one but I haven’t had the time to manage it the way I want, yet. Mary Blew has “suggested” several great books to read as part of my mentorship. I think we talked about Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder and Karen Hesse’s Out of the Dust (which I agree is a fine book, and won both a Scott O’Dell Award and a Newbury Medal). Another of her verse novels, Witness, is written in first person from the perspective of several characters (similar to As I Lay Dying). One of my former Profs. was reading Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King. It is superb; and as he said, very Bellovian in it’s 1st person narrative, but without a theme around Jewishness (which is atypical for Bellow). But I think it’s a more cerebral novel than Humboldt’s Gift or Augie March. As far as other YA writers, I have my late wife to thank for introducing me to the A-list; including, Hesse, Katherine Paterson, Lois Lowry, Richard Peck, Gary Paulson, Gordon Korman, Linda Sue Park, Walter Dean Meyers, Chris Crutcher, Christopher Paul Curtis, Nancy Farmer, Sharon Creech, Karen Cushman, Kate DiCamillo, and Madeleine L’Engle.

    • Awesome comment and recommendations, Tom. I’ve only been blogging a few months. It’s sorta a neurosis-inducing make-work, but I’m going to try and keep at it. Unless I find it too distracting. Why did you stop blogging? Why did you start in the first place?

  2. Make up your mind. Do you want to know why I stopped or why I started? Dumb question, I know you. You want it all. All the gruesome, lurid details. You copy them down in a little locked diary, to be extracted at some future point to add dark humor to your morbid fairy tales.
    OK, where was I? Oh yeah, why I started. Because it seemed like a way to create a space for intelligent discourse that I could filter–not in a mean or exclusive way–and keep topics from diverging. But after thinking about that concept, I decided there’s no ethical way to filter, and if I wasn’t ready to deal with the whole point/counterpoint argument/rebuttal drama, I should just chill with it. So, when I get more stabilized (as in degreed, moved, and employed) I will take another shot at it.
    I already spend way too much time online. Like today, I had two auctions to watch, so as not to lose the items I was bidding on. One was a nice Epiphone Les Paul Junior (nothing to do with size). That one I got because it was midday and I was sharp. The other, that I really, really wanted was a six string Balalaika, that I battled over with another bidder down to the wire–and lost. But I was robbed!!! I got shut out with nine seconds left. So I sent a protest. Six string Balalaikas are not really rare–the normal ones are 3 string–but this one was old, ooold! I was on the verge of getting it for like $60, and it’s probably worth 4X that. oh well. I got the guitar, I’m happy–eerrh!
    But you got me thinking about all those great YA writers, and that was good. My wife used to read them to me while we were driving back and forth to school. I read a lot, but she read practically every Newbery Award and Honor book back to the 50s and some beyond.
    Well, gotta go. Past my bed time!

  3. Your wife sounds like a real awesome lady, Tom. I love the image of her reading YA to you in the car. It’s sweet and intimate and makes me feel wistful for some reason. I should read more of the Newberry winners. I’ve read a few, but there are so many and I’m slow. Sorry to hear about the lost Balalaika. What do you do with these weird instruments anyway? Play Russian folk songs?

    P.S. Don’t you think “The Lost Balalaika” would make an excellent title for a novel?

  4. Awesome. Yes, that is a word I would use to describe her as well. Along with every other adjective of love, respect, and true friendship. But the superlative term of endearment would be that she was, truly and sincerely, a good person. And, she was far superior to me in intellect. My best friend and love of my life; I miss her terribly.
    I have to change lanes now; continuing that path this morning (afternoon?) would be too painful.
    I think the Balalaika represents the part of me that still hangs on to the value of taking risks. (And this is metaphorically opening the roll-up door to my inner sanctum) It was not something done in my family; that is, until I started. But the early adventures were self-destructive, because I didn’t understand the true meaning of risk taking. I’ve been reading Vogler, Propp, and Campbell (sounds like a law firm) as I write this new piece of fiction. Each presents the structure of the mythic tale with a different twist; however, all three converge on the essential singularity of the hero’s journey. So, as I push on with the narrative of the journey of my main character, I’m also making (hopefully) a parallel journey back to that point of beginning, to experience the authentic nature of a leap of faith as a risk taker. Am I making sense?
    Now all I have to do is get Judith Pullman to teach me Russian. Только шутить.
    Do svidanja.

  5. Your apology on the RWW facebook page is one of the best advertising schemes I’ve seen…otherwise, I might not have discovered your blog. And now that I have for it, I will follow/subscribe, if I can figure out how. In the meantime, I have enjoyed your book lists (we do have quite a bit of overlap) and would like to recommend a quirky and favorite novel: CRUDDY by Lynda Barry. It’s got a great narrative voice and many a surprising plot twists.

    As for “the end of”…I’m certainly feeling a loss around “the end” of RWW. I’ll miss you all next August, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to cross paths with so many great folks. Fortunately, we can find ways to keep up, follow, subscribe, etc. So, keep writing and make the most of that Vermont residency.

    • Ah, yes, Nancy. I’m a real schemer. 🙂 I tried to discover your blog, too, but it looks like you’re still discovering it? How will I keep up with your goings ons? You better stay active on FB. I DO need to read me some Lynda Barry! Great suggestion. I checked it out from the library once, but then I got busy and had to take it back before I read it. It’s time to get it again. I’m sure I’d love it. I just got Bechdel’s Are You My Mother in the mail and am DYING to read it. I love her.

      Don’t be a stranger, and keep me posted on all your stuff, writing and otherwise.

  6. I’ve already read ARE YOU MY MOTHER–and I LOVE it, though many who liked FUN HOME won’t. It’s far more cerebral and meta, especially around psycho-analysis. I found it fascinating. You are correct that my blog isn’t “public” yet b/c I’m trying to launch when I know I can sustain it…so I’ll let you know when I get going. I’m hoping for October. In the meantime, I’ll be active in FB and then some.

    • Yay! Yes, let’s keep in touch fo sho. I cheated and read the first part of Are You My Mother and I DO love it so far. Especially how she diagrammed all the people in her life into a chart. So awesome. I love to read her because she makes me feel like maybe I’M not the most neurotic overly-analytic person in the world. She’s great.

  7. Hi, nice to find a great blog I enjoyed reading. I will follow you now. I’m new to this game but love bringing some writing pieces into the light of day or rather onto the blinding white screen of my computer. And making everything look pretty with google photos!

  8. Hi Meagan, I just re read your latest blog and shared some of the info with one of my clients and my dad – mostly relating to the temperatures! I also thought you would probably love reading the Australian author’s book Tim Winton. Cloudstreet and a very short book called Minimum of Two. Can’t remember the others but I’m sure you would love his writing. Not sure if you got my other message about my kids being pen pals for your daughter! They would love to write to a kid in America!

    • Hi kimbawhite! Thank you so much for the book recommendation. I’ll check it out! I’m always looking for a good read. I didn’t get your message about our kids being pen pals, but I think it’s a fabulous idea. Where did you send the message? I hope my contact info isn’t broken somewhere…Not sure how to best connect with you. I don’t see a blog for you anywhere or contacts on your gravatar. Let me know!

  9. Hi again Meagan,
    I’m very new to blogging and not so technically proficient so I suspect my lost message happened because I didn’t press post or something basic like that! Strange you can’t find my blog, I assumed my blog details would be contained in my correspondence with you. Will have to get my ten year old to investigate my ‘gravatar’! Try looking up
    My blog is called Hope
    My kids are so excited about having a pen pal!

  10. Nice book list.

    I’m a Sherman Alexie fan, however I was not crazy about Flight either. I think his best work lies in his short stories. “Ten Little Indians” is the last collection of his that I read and I loved it.

    • I like Sherman Alexie, too! I especially like his poetry. I’ve heard The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is fantastic and have been meaning to read it. You’re comment has prompted me to add that and your recommended book, Ten Little Indians, to my Goodreads To-Read list. Thank you!!

      • Re: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian…

        I heard it has been banned from several school libraries and their curriculums, so it must be good! I’m gonna add it to my Goodreads list too and pick it up next time I go to my local bookstore. :))

  11. Tim Winton has a new book coming out in October 2013, titled Eyrie. Other titles include Breath, Cloudstreet, minimum of two, Breath. He is a fabulous Australian author- you have to read one of his books.

    • Hi kimbawhite! Thanks for the recommendations! I’ll keep my eye out for the new book and see if I can find the other titles at my library. Hope you are well!

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