Um, that was me being Santa.
So, 2008 was another wonderful reading year! Whenever I really loved a book, I did my best to interview that author--check out my squeetus exclusives for those interviews. (I have a few more interviews brewing, so I'll skip mentioning those books for now.) And since it's Thanksgiving in the US, that means we officially start thinking about buying for the holidays. So here are the rest of my favorite reads of the year to aid in your holiday shopping.
For young fantasy fans:
Charmed Life, by Dianna Wynne Jones
My introduction to the world of Chrestomanci, and I plan to make many return trips. Her Howl's Moving Castle is also an old favorite.
For your favorite third-fifth grader or parents who read to their kids each night:
Whales on Stilts!, by M.T. Anderson
Holy freakin' funny, Batman. A clever romp. This is a terrific middle reader book that adults will gulp up. A great pick for parents reading with kids before bed, and it has sequels!
For that teenager who is hooked on reality TV and thinks reading is boring...and for everyone else:
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
Hands down one of the most compelling reads I've ever read. This book absolutely possessed me. I'm going to brassly assert that this book will suck in almost any reader--kid, teen, adult, no matter your genre of preference. A warning--the story is brutal. It never got too gratuitous for me, but it might for some. Wow...I still miss reading this book. What a disturbing but utterly thrilling adventure. I couldn't stop thinking about it.
For the adult in your life who gets depressed by all the negative news in the world:
Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin
Beautiful! What an insightful non-fiction read, and so refreshing. While this story of philanthropy in Pakistan doesn't flinch from some stark realities, it's so full of hope, it makes you want to be a better person. Highly recommended.
For that person who read Twilight twenty times and won't read anything else:
The Host, by Stephenie Meyer
Some have called this "science fiction for people who think they don't like science fiction." Perhaps the most critically acclaimed of Stephenie Meyer's books, it proved she's not a one-note wonder. Intense, lovely, and fascinating.
For a grandmother, neighbor, best friend, or anyone who enjoys a sincere laugh:
These books ostensibly are for children and in fact won a Newbery Honor and Newbery Medal respectively, but I think the publisher would be wise to repackage them as books for adults with book club guides in the back. They are highly accessible to readers of all ages. Besides being hysterical, they're sweet and fun and moving too. Tight, fast reads, and the best grandmother character in all of literature. Can't recommend these enough.
For any six-through-sixteen-year olds, especially the ones who struggle getting through a traditional novel:
Rapunzel's Revenge, by Hale (3)
What do you mean by "shameless self-promotion"? I'm thinking of the illustrator Nathan Hale (no relation) and his poor starving children! Truly, I am so proud of this book, and I couldn't be more pleased with the response. Every day I hear from parents who tell me something like this: "My son/daughter hates to read, but I brought home this book and he/she read it in one (two/three/four) sittings and has read it several times since." Because of all the visual exploring a reader can do in a graphic novel, kids tend to reread them more than other books. And with a teenaged hero and heroine but a story that can pull in much younger readers as well, this is a true family book, one that can be enjoyed by almost anyone. (See, I'm not over-selling it--I did qualify that last sentence with "almost.")
I put Amazon links on the books because people have often asked me to, but let me also put in a plug for supporting your local bookstores. Mine is the King's English in Salt Lake City and I'll be there on Thursday, December 4 from 5:30-7 pm.