Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Best Books Read in 2013

Y'all, my reading this year fell a little short of my usual 100 or so titles. Okay, so it fell a lot short. I only read 39 books this year! (*I'd like to note that this number does not include children's books, which I have read a lot of. Repeatedly, many of them.) Apparently, having a baby can put a damper in your reading life. Well, having a baby, taking on a second job with your state education department, being a wife/ daughter/ sister/ sister-in-law, teaching middle school reading & language full-time... You get the idea.

Anyway, despite the numbers, I read a lot of good books this year. Much of this was a result of both reading for my middle school classroom and reading professional titles for school. The SheReads blogger network and book club also sent a large number of good reads my way. Divided into genre sections, here are my top reads for 2013.

Middle Grades & Young Adult

 Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage: Mo LeBeau is the orphaned 12-year-old narrator of this middle grades mystery novel. Turnage creates a realistic small-town setting for her larger-than-life, yet utterly believable characters. Join Mo as she and her friend Dale (yes, named for that Dale) work to solve a murder and also find Mo's Upstream Mother.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt: Foster child Carley is not happy about being placed with the Murphys. She wants one thing only -- to return to her mother's care. Or does she? As Carley remembers more about the night her mother ended up in a hospital room and she ended up in the foster care system, her strong feelings begin to change.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: I still haven't read another Green novel, but I plan to soon. Made into a movie coming out in June 2014, you have plenty of time to catch up by reading this bestselling novel. Although many bestsellers are not actually excellent reads, this one is. Join Hazel and Augustus on their journey through both adolescence and cancer. Read my review here.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio: If you haven't heard of Wonder, you must. August Pullman is the hero we never knew we needed. Born with several birth defects that affect his looks enormously, August has been homeschooled for most of his life. When it's time for him to enter middle school, his parents decide it's also time for him to actually go to school. August does not initially agree, but eventually he does, with spectacular results.

Adult Fiction

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson: Shandi and her three-year-old son Natty will steal your heart. Read my review here.

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz: I can't explain how blown away I was by this novel. Although I had read here and there throughout the winter and spring, my reading life was revitalized when I read this tale about Yunior. I guess Diaz was old news by the time I read this, but his work revamped the way I thought about reading and made me dive back into books with a new vigor.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: This was the first work I'd read by Gaiman of any length (having read only a short story or two before this), and I was blown away. This novel was unlike anything else I'd read in a long while, and, like This Is How You Lose Her, Gaiman reminded me why I loved reading. His magical, nostalgic story took me into a entirely different universe, and that was exactly the point.

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore Gilmore was an author I had read before and liked, but The Funeral Dress took her to a new level in my mind. The tale of Emmalee Bullard and her newborn daughter touched my heart in multiple ways. Read my review here.

Professional Education Nonfiction
Write Like This by Kelly Gallagher: I've never read a better book about teaching writing. Period.

Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson: While Gallagher wrote the best book on teaching writing, Anderson is the best at the mechanics behind the writing. If you're tired of doing Daily Language Practice sentences and exercises out of the grammar book, read Anderson's book.

Book Love by Penny Kittle: Gallagher and Anderson taught me about writing, but Kittle's book is all about book love. You will be renewed in your goal to lead every student towards a love of reading after reading what Kittle has to say.


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