31 Years in Books
It's February! Love month! Except I missed out on doing a Valentine-themed post... BUT the love doesn't end yet because February is my BIRTH MONTH!! So for me, this is a 28-day shower of love! So what better way to celebrate my upcoming thirty-first birthday than a book list?
There's this unspoken but fully understood rule in the reading community that we DO NOT ask favorite books. We ask "What are you reading?" "What are you excited about reading?" "What are the best books of the year?" and "Which books have had the biggest impact on your life?" but NEVER "What is your favorite book?" Why? Do we ask a parent to choose their favorite child? NO!
I can give you a top ten. MAYBE a top five. Don't ask for three, and don't even THINK about making me choose just one.
I thought about writing a Top Thirty-one list, but then I had a better idea. Here is a celebration of books from the past thirty-one years, with particular focus on my favorites. Enjoy!
**Disclaimer: I did almost zero fact-checking on these, so if any dates are off, I apologize. Blame Google (and me, I guess, for not being more thorough)**
1988: Matilda, by Roald Dahl and The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver
I already can't pick just one! Who doesn't love Matilda?? As for The Bean Trees, it was a summer reading book for me going into 10th grade, and I fell in love! I put it on my students' list every year!
1989: A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
Shout out to my English teachers because y'all have awesome taste! Here's another summer reading book that's making an appearance on my students' reading list!
1990: Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli
SUCH a fantastic MG book. Do I even need to say the book was better than the movie? Obviously the book was better.
1991: (Sidebar--This is the year we got my first cat. Okay, back to the list)
American Psycho, by Brett Easton Ellis
Confession: I haven't read this. But I'd planned to for my Writing About Lit class in college... Until my professor said, "Sweet! You can quote me! I've published several papers on this book." Oof. Hard pass, dude.
1992: Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister and Mostly Harmless, by Douglas Adams
Come on. THE quintessential book about sharing. And the Hitchhiker series? *chef kiss*
1993: The Giver, by Lois Lowry
*Flails arms wildly* Freakin' love this book! Refuse to see the movie.
1994: One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich
A student let me borrow her copy of this once because it's her favorite book. I LOVE when people share their favorite books with me!
1995: Northern Lights/ The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
My bestie and I sat in 9th grade Geography, sharing my copy of this and taking turns copying notes. Between the two of us, we had one book, one paper, and one pencil. Super effective.
1996: The Vagina Monologues, by Eve Ensler
I got to perform in this in college, and just last year (and this year!) a former student was part of the production. I still have most of my part memorized.
1997: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling
Surprising no one...
1998: Holes, by Louis Sachar
Love, love, love. When I have children, this will be required reading.
1999: Monster, by Walter Dean Myers
This book has done so much for reluctant readers and kids who haven't seen their stories represented in books.
2000: Storm Front, by Jim Butcher
Love Harry Potter but you're unfortunately a grown-up now? Meet Harry Dresden! He's a wise-cracking private investigator who's also a wizard. And he advertises in the yellow pages.
2001: Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer
Raise your hand if you tried to figure out the secret language running along the bottom of the pages.
2002: I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
I made my Book Club kids read this a few years ago. Zusak's prose is so freaking inspirational and beautiful. *heart eyes*
2003: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, by Mark Haddon
Another summer reading staple! My students love this one!
2004: Something Rotten, by Jasper Fforde and Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
Just the idea of a literary detective who has to preserve original manuscripts lest they be forever altered, thus affecting the course of time... Genius. Also, this is the same name as one of my favorite musicals. And speaking of musicals... how could I not acknowledge the book that sparked the sensation?
2005: Looking for Alaska, by John Green
This was my first John Green book (well, other than the collab Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which is also amazing), which I read when a student lent me her copy. It's still my favorite John Green, except maybe Turtles... This book is just so. SO. Lovely.
2006: (Hey we've reached my graduation year!)
It's Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini
So heartbreaking and real. I keep this one behind my desk in the Reserve Collection.
2007: The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A.J. Jacobs
I'm not sure how I found out about this book, but it was one I read for my Capstone research senior year of college. It's hilarious and has some poignant observations about modern religion. Good times.
2008: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Iconic. Thanks to my pal Patricia for lending me her books!
2009: The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
And another from my students' reading list. I always get some interesting projects out of this one, all incorporating pie.
2010: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
This one's on my students' list but not for me. This is actually required reading for upcoming tenth graders, as it's discussed at length in Bio. If you've never heard this story, check it out! Henrietta Lacks was a poor, black, tobacco farmer whose cells were donated to science without her permission, and while she helped provide vaccines for many people, she wasn't given credit, and her family remained poor.
2011: Bossypants, by Tina Fey
This is both an autobiography and a guide for life. Tina's voice rings clear throughout the whole thing, and it's SO. Freaking. Funny.
2012: Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
This book will mess with your mind. I'm a pretty good book-predictor and I didn't see this one coming.
2013: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
Such a fun fantasy, a quick read, and incredibly thoughtful. You guessed it, this one's also on my students' list.
2014: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
This one deserves all its awards and accolades. It's multi-perspective, so it starts out quite confusing, but once you catch on... WOW. It's a WWII story from two very unusual perspectives: a German orphan who becomes a soldier and a young, blind, French girl.
2015: All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven and Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman
**It was a banner year for YA, but these are two major faves*
Bright Places friggin' wrecked me. But the writing and the love between Violet and Finch is so beautiful, and the characters are impossible not to love. Challenger Deep is one of the most unique, honest, raw accounts of mental illness I've ever read.
2016: This Savage Song, by V.E. Schwab
I read this with my student book club, and it's absolutely astounding. Monsters that steal your soul through music? Sign me up!
2017: Warcross, by Marie Lu
I read this one with book club just this year, and everyone LOVED it. I plan to make a review thingo for it soon, so be on the lookout for that!
2018: Becoming, by Michelle Obama
Come on. Is there anybody classier than First Lady Mrs. Obama? Get it, girl!
2019: On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas
Angie is a queen. Pure and simple.
Okay, friends! That's 31 years in books. What do you think? Which of these have you read? Which are your favorites? Which are on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments!