Category Archives: Book lists, Reading list

Catching Fire Contest

This is a treat: an ARC copy of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, brought to you by Alyssa over at (love the name btw!) This is extra special b/c normally the book doesn’t come out until September 1, and if you read The Hunger Games a while back like I did, that’s gonna be a long wait. :)

It ends today but make sure to check out her site for loads of great content and more contests!


New York Times: 100 Notable Books of 2008

Oh how I love book lists!  Here’s one from the New York Times that can definitely come in handy for Christmas shopping.  The book titles link to the Times‘ review of that book.  (I’d tell you the books I’m getting my family but they might just see it. ;)

     A few examples: 

THE OTHER. By David Guterson. (Knopf, $24.95.) In this novel from the author of “Snow Falling on Cedars,” a schoolteacher nourishes a friendship with a privileged recluse.

SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT: A New Verse Translation. By Simon Armitage. (Norton, $25.95.) One of the eerie, exuberant joys of Middle English poetry, in an alliterative rendering that captures the original’s drive, dialect and landscape.

THE BIG SORT: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. By Bill Bishop with Robert G. Cushing. (Houghton Mifflin, $25.) A journalist and a statistician see political dangers in the country’s increasing tendency to separate into solipsistic blocs.

THE DRUNKARD’S WALK: How Randomness Rules Our Lives. By Leonard Mlodinow. (Pantheon, $24.95.) This breezy crash course intersperses probabilistic mind-benders with profiles of theorists.

THE POST-AMERICAN WORLD. By Fareed Zakaria. (Norton, $25.95.) This relentlessly intelligent examination of power focuses less on American decline than on the rise of China, trailed by India.

THE WILD PLACES. By Robert Macfarlane. (Penguin, paper, $15.) Macfarlane’s unorthodox British landscapes are furrowed with human histories and haunted by literary prophets.


Dec 10 – Just found another list, this time from the Washington Post.  I found it on

Release: Brisingr, Sept 20

So, the third book in the Inheritance series came out this weekend.  I don’t know if there was a book event or not, sadly I was busy working. :(  But here’s an excerpt on for your reading pleasure:

Excerpt: Fantasy novel ‘Brisingr’

Cover of Brisingr

Cover of Brisingr

NEA’s Big Read: Top 100

This was originally posted by Ginny over at She has a really cool blog, you should check it out.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has an initiative you may have heard of called the Big Read. According to the Web site, its purpose is to “restore reading to the center of American culture.” They estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.  For fun, let’s see how many of the top 100 books we’ve actually read. My list is below. How well did you do? Have you read more than 6?

Here’s what you do:

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you own but haven’t yet read.
3) Put a star by those you intend to read someday but don’t own.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens*
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott*
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien (now why is this one separate from the other Tolkien series?)
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck*
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame*
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy*
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden*
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown*
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood worst. book. ever.
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon*
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck*
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas*
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White*
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom*
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle*
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery en francais bien sur
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Book release party: Breaking Dawn

It’s here! The fourth book in the series by Stephenie Meyer, completing the story of Bella and Edward.

I went to the Borders Release Party last night, it was very fun. Borders is always a rockin’ place, but packed with 100 Twilight fans? Heck ya! There was a book discussion forum, a style show, and they showed previews of the upcoming Twilight movie. The costumes weren’t nearly as showy as the Harry Potter crowd, but some of the t-shirts were top notch and one group dressed up as the Volturi (nice one).

It started at 9:30. At midnight came the actual book release. Everyone that pre-ordered got a wristband with a number, and people stood in line in groups of 50s. The Borders staff really handled it well and shockingly had the first 200 copies out in about 20 minutes!

So if you’ve never been to a release party before, grab some friends and go! They are a blast.

SAT Book List

SAT Book List

I’m a college-bound almost-senior, so my next and final SAT on October 4th is weighing heavily on my mind. For all you other 2400 hopefuls out there, here is a list of good books to read in preparation. Of course as I read them they will appear on this blog with a review and a yay/nay for enjoyment/helpfulness. In the meantime, enjoy.

A Brief History of Time — Stephen Hawking
QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter — Richard P. Feynman
The Mismeasure of Man — Stephen Jay Gould
The Lives of a Cell — Lewis Thomas
The Republic — Plato
Democracy in America — Alexis DeTocqueville
Civilization and Its Discontents — Sigmond Freud
The Language Instinct — Steven Pinker
How the Mind Works — Steven Pinker
(Seen in a review from “If How the Mind Works were a rock show, tickets would be scalped for $100.”)
A People’s History of the US — Howard Zinn
Freakonomics — Stephen Levitt & Steven Dubner

Crime and Punishment — Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Metamorphosis & Other Stories — Franz Kafka
Narratives of the Life of Frederick Douglas
Life of Pi — Yann Martel
The Color Purple — Alice Walker
Atlas Shrugged — Ayn Rand
Frankenstein — Mary Shelley
Pride and Prejudice — Jane Austen
Baby, It’s Cold Inside — S. J. Perelman
Best American Short Stories of the Century — John Updike
Growing Up — Russell Baker
The Wall — John Hersey
Candide — Voltaire
Macbeth — William Shakespeare
The Painted Bird — Jerzy Kosinski
One Hundred Years of Solitude — Gabriel García Márquez

The Chomsky Reader — Chomsky
The World is Flat — Friedman
Drift and Mastery — Lippmann
The Best American Essays — Atwan
Walden — Thoreau
Lanterns & Lances — Thurber
> plus other media:
The Op-Ed pages of the New York Times
The Nation
Scientific American
Essays in Harper’s, Atlantic Monthly, and the New Yorker
Sunday Magazine

More ways to prepare:
Talk to smart adults and friends with good vocabularies
Read college-level books
Watch documentaries
Listen to National Public Radio
~ try out new words on your own
~ get a dictionary with pronunciation and etymology

And lastly, don’t forget to practice writing essays. You only have 25 minutes to ‘present and support a point of view on a specific issue’ as well as you can.

Go to the College Board site for even more info:

Recommended Summer Book List

Recommended Summer Book List
by Mrs. in den Bosch and Mr. Kip Hepfinger

Here are the books recommended for students enterring AP English/British Literature next year. The starred ones are the ones I want to read.

The Namesake — Jhumpa Lahiri
Angela’s Ashes — Frank McCourt
Disgrace — J.M. Coetzee
* Girl with a Pearl Earring — Tracy Chevalier
The Good Earth — Pearl S. Buck
* Atonement — Ian McEwan
* Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — Jonathan Safron Foer
* Namako: Sea Cucumber — Linda Watanabe McFerrin
* Dreaming in Cuban — Cristina Garcia
* Snow Falling on Cedars — David Guterson
* Peace Like a River — Leif Enger
The Jungle — Upton Sinclair
* All the Pretty Horses — Cormac McCarthy
Night — Elie Weisel
Been Trees — Barbara Kingsolver
Animal Dreams — Barbara Kingsolver
* In the Lake of the Woods — Tim O’Brien
* Bel Canto — Ann Patchett
My Sister’s Keeper — Jodi Picoult
The Lovely Bones — Alice Sebold
The Kite Runner — Khaled Hosseini
The Curious Incident of the Dog in Nighttime — Mark Haddon
Nectar in a Sieve — Kamala Markandaya
* The Tortilla Curtain — T. Coraghessan Boyle

Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger, 1951

Banned by multiple groups, controversial, and different, this is a book that has emerged into our pool of literary classics and is increasingly taught in high schools around the US.  I read it in 11th grade with mixed emotions, first apprehension from how other high-schoolers described it, next confusion but at the same time an empathetic understanding, and finally sadness that came from the truths that were revealed at the end.

{This novel follows the protagonist Holden Caulfield through his oppulent yet empty and confused life in New York City for the period of one week after he is expelled from prep school.  The reader shares his fancies, his fears, his memories and his struggle with the death of his brother Allie, and in that way also learns about his mental illness and alienation.  It is not stated openly, but in this book Holden sees the world through something akin to OCD or depression.  His anchor in life is his little sister Phoebe, a wise and intuitive force.

His most trusted mentor, a past teacher, urges Holden to change his mind and not run away, that it is the stronger man who lives humbly, rather than dies nobly, for a cause.  Holden had the idea of becoming a “catcher in the rye,” a godlike figure who symbolically saves children from “falling off a crazy cliff” and being exposed to all things “phony,” the evils of adulthood, and losing their kindness, spontaneity, innocence, and generosity.}

The hardest part of reading this story is deciding whose side you are on, the side of reason or the side of the antihero, Holden?  Will he be happier in reality after he goes to a mental hospital?

Knowing the historical and literary context of this novel would add to understanding and appreciation.  I would caution anyone who starts to read this book to keep their head about them, and I would specifically caution adults to not base any perceptions of teenagers on the teenager portrayed in this novel.  In June 2009, Finlo Rohrer from the BBC wrote that, 58 years since publication, the book is still regarded “as the defining work on what it is like to be a teenager. Holden is at various times disaffected, disgruntled, alienated, isolated, directionless, and sarcastic.”   But I would disagree.  Yes most humans probably go through a period of feeling isolated and directionless, not necessarily as teenagers, but what Holden is feeling and how he is acting is not the norm for all adolescents.  One must also remember that his mental state is shaky, which indubitably colors his experiences.