12 Book Lists from 2014

I will round up the bloggers’ book lists at my Saturday Review of Books on December 27th, the day after Christmas, giving everyone plenty of time to post their lists. Also, on the day after Christmas I’ll start posting my several lists of favorites and books I’m looking forward to reading in 2015.

In the meantime, the other end of the year book lists are already starting to multiply. I have a love/hate relationship with lists of “best books” or “favorites”, mostly love. But it is frustrating to see how many books there are that I would love to read and how little time I have to read them all.

On the other hand, what a blessing to have so many books to choose from! What an embarrassment of riches!

14 Best Books of 2014 (with runners-up) by Tony Reinke at Desiring God. These are Christian nonfiction, and there are at least a couple that I want to read, including John Piper’s book on authors George Herbert, George Whitfield, and C.S. Lewis and Karen Swallow Prior’s biography Fierce Convictions, about poet and reformer Hannah More.

Christian Science Monitor’s 10 best fiction books of 2014. Almost all ten of these sound intriguing, and I added most of them to my TBR list at Goodreads.

Speaking of Goodreads, Goodreads Selects Best Books of 2014. Some of these were already on my radar; others are new to me.

Mary DeMuth’s Best Ever Gift Guide for Book Lovers. I added four books to my TBR list from Mary’s gift guide, and I could have added more:
Rush of Heaven by Ema McKinley and Cheryl Ricker.
The Invisibile Girls by Sarah Thebarge.
Living Without Jim by Sue Keddy.
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.

The Best Books of 2014, according to Slate staff. Some of these are a bit too risqué or my tastes, but others sound intriguing:
Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War by Mark Harris.
Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade by Walter Kirn.
Lock In by John Scalzi.
Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea’s Elite by Suki Kim.

And another Slate list: 27 Books you shouldn’t have overlooked in 2014. I think I’ll not overlook at least one of these:
Like No Other by Una LaMarche. YA fiction, “featuring Jaxon, who is black, and Devorah, a Hasidic girl who isn’t even allowed a phone.”(!) They meet in a stranded hospital elevator during an electrical outage. Color me curious.

Newsweek: Our Favorite Books of 2014. Not my favorites, but maybe you will find something here?

Washington Post: The Top 50 Fiction Books for 2014. Many interesting pick here:
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu. About an Ethiopian emigrant, this one fits into my interest in all things African.
The Children Act by Ian McEwan. Mr. McEwan is always provocative–and evocative.
Lila by Marilynne Robinson. I already had this one on my list before it was even published.
An Unecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine.

Washington Post: 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction.
Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China by Evan Osnos. National Book Award winner.
Congo: The Epic History of a People by David van Reybrouck, translated by Sam Garrett. If it’s readable.
Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon by Kim Zetter.
John Quincy Adams: American Visionary by Fred Kaplan. For my U.S. presidents project.
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben MacIntyre.

Hornbook presents its Fanfare! The best books of 2014. I’ll need to read the following, all of which I’ve seen recommended on numerous lists and in numerous reviews:
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. National Book Award winner.

Entertainment Weekly: 10 Best Nonfiction Books of 2014. The usual suspects, plus a few more.
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison is starting to sound interesting. Also, maybe I’ll buy What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe as a gift for Engineer Husband.

NPR’s Book Concierge: Our Guide to 2014’s Great Reads.

As she does every year, Susan Thomsen at Chicken Spaghetti has lots more 2014 book lists, specifically those that include children’s and YA books.

Book News

Texas Bluebonnet Award 2015-2016 Master List
Auxier, Jonathan. 2014. The Night Gardener.
Brown, Don. 2013. The Great American Dust Bowl.
Bryant, Jen. 2014. The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
Cammuso, Frank. 2013. The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Book One: Spelling Trouble.
Cavanaugh, Nancy J. 2014. Always, Abigail.
Daly, Cathleen. 2014. Emily’s Blue Period. Illustrated by Lisa Brown.
de los Santos, Marisa and David Teague. 2014. Saving Lucas Biggs.
Eddleman, Peggy. 2013. Sky Jumpers.
Egan, Kate; with Magician Mike Lane. 2014. The Vanishing Coin. Illustrated by Eric Wight.
Ehlert, Lois. 2014. The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life.
Engle, Margarita. 2013. Mountain Dog. Illustrated by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov.
Gandhi, Arun and Bethany Hegedus. 2014. Grandfather Gandhi. Illustrated by Evan Turk.
Healy, Christopher. 2012. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.
Hill, Laban Carrick. 2013. When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop.
Philbrick, Rodman. 2014. Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina.
Schanen, Adriana Brad. 2014. Quinny & Hopper. Illustrated by Greg Swearingen.
Searles, Rachel. 2014. The Lost Planet.
Singer, Marilyn. 2013. Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents. Illustrated by John Hendrix.
Tonatiuh, Duncan. 2014. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation.
Turnage, Sheila. 2014. The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing.
I’ve read and reviewed six out of twenty of these nominated books, and I’d like to take a look at the rest. Links are to Semicolon reviews.


Publisher’s Weekly: Best Middle Grade Books of 2014. I’ve read and reviewed five of the fourteen books on this list, and I need to read at least two more for Cybils. I’ll just say that it’s not my list, but it’s not too bad either.

Book Tag: Large Families

Erin at her blog Seven Little Australians has a post called Families of Six Plus Children about children’s books that feature families with six or more children. Her list includes All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, The Mitchells: Five For Victory by Hilda Van Stockum, The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit, Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner, Children on the Oregon Trail by A Rutgers Van Der Loeff, Seventh Pebble by Eleanor Spence, Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott (one of my favorites), First Farm in the Valley by Anne Pellowski, and Ten Kids, No Pets by Ann Martin. Read more about her selections at Seven Little Australians.

I thought children’s and young adult books about “Large Families” would be a good topic for a round of Book Tag. The rules are:

“In this game, readers suggest a good book (or series) in the category given, then let somebody else be ‘it’ before they offer another suggestion. There is no limit to the number of books a person may suggest, but they need to politely wait their turn with only one book suggestion per comment.”

I’ll start the game with my suggestion, Gentle’s Holler by Kerry Madden, the story of Livy Two and her little sister Gentle, who is blind. Each of the children in this loving but poverty-stricken family in the mountains of North Carolina has his or her own personality, standing out from the rest of the family in one way or another. The sequels are Louisiana’s Song and Jessie’s Mountain.

What are your favorite large family books?

50+ Nonfiction Books for 50 States

I’m going to move this post to the top of the page for a while, until I get at least a suggestion for each state.

I found this list of 51 adult nonfiction selections, one for each state in the union and D.C.,, interesting but rather slanted toward the liberal (Obama’s book for Hawaii and Biden’s memoir for Delaware?) and the trendy and lurid (lots of drug memoirs and true crime). Maybe “Flavorwire has dug up some of the best nonfiction about specific American locations — in this case, our 50 states — and found 50 books that will shed light on every corner of the country,” but maybe there are better nonfiction books for at least some of the states.

So I thought, why not come up with our own list? I wrote in the ones that I liked or agreed with from the Flavorwire list and added in a few of my own suggestions.

Alabama: Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake-Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia by Dennis Covington. This exploration of Alabama/Appalachia sounds fascinating. Suggested by Nancy Pearl in Book Lust To Go.
Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg. Reviewed at Hope Is the Word.
Alaska: Tisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaska Wilderness by Robert Specht and Anne Purdy. I’ve seen this one recommended by more than one person. Anyone here read it?
Or maybe A Land Gone Lonesome by Dan O’Neill, recommended in this article at Salon.
Flavorwire suggests Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, a book I have not yet read.
Arizona: Going Back to Bisbee by Richard Shelton. Memoir.
Arkansas: Cash by Johnny Cash with Patrick Carr. From Flavorwire. I haven’t actually read this one, but it sounds good. Any other suggestions from Arkansans?
California: Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water by Marc Reisner. I’m adding this book because it looks interesting and informative. Has anyone else read it?
Colorado: A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird.
Connecticut: A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle. Or The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by the same author. Both are reflections on family life in a Connecticut farmhouse.
Florida: Dream State: Eight Generations of Swamp Lawyers, Conquistadors, Confederate Daughters, Banana Republicans, and Other Florida Wildlife by Diane Roberts.
Georgia: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. From Flavorwire. I haven’t read this one either, but I’ve intended to read it. Comments anyone?
Idaho: The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan.
Illinois: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. Another book I’ve been intending to read, recommended by my sister. READ.
Kentucky: The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart.
Louisiana: Huey Long by T. Harry Williams. I read this doorstop of a biography about thirty years ago, and I still remember it. For better or for worse, my conception of Louisiana politics is highly formed and colored by this book.
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life by Rod Dreher. I can’t resist providing an antidote to Mr. Long’s out-sized loudmouth life with this tribute to a small life well-lived, also in Louisiana. If you only read one of the two, read Dreher.
Maryland: Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore by Madison Smartt Bell.
Massachusetts: Paul Revere and the World He Lived In by Esther Forbes.
Michigan: The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, a Death, and America’s Dilemma by Alex Kotlowitz. Crime and racial division in southern Michigan.
Missouri: Truman by David McCullough. Truman was probably about the best thing that ever came out of Missouri. However, my cousin commented on Facebook that he tried to read this bio, and that it was as dry as the man himself. Other suggestions for the Show-Me state?
Nebraska: My Nebraska: The Good, the Bad, and the Husker by Roger Welsch.
Nevada: Men to Match My Mountains: The Opening of the Far West, 1840-1900 by Irving Stone. I could make this one the definitive book for California, Utah, Nevada, and Colorado, but I put it here, arbitrarily. No matter which state you focus on, this book is fantastic, readable, well researched, educational, and entertaining.
New Hampshire:
New Jersey:
New Mexico: The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. From Flavorwire. Engineer Husband recommends this Pulitzer prize winning classic.
New York: The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson. An unromantic contrast to West Side Story, this book tells how God was still working among gang members in New York City in the 1950’s and 60’s.
North Carolina:
North Dakota:
Oklahoma: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. This book could be classified under “North Texas” or even Kansas, but Oklahoma seems like the center of the Dust Bowl.
Oregon: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.
Rhode Island:
South Carolina: Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepard. Adam Shepard went to Charleston, South Carolina with $25, a sleeping bag, and the clothes on his back. His goal was, by the end of a year, to have a car, a furnished apartment, and $2500 in the bank.
South Dakota:
Tennessee: Maybe The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan?
Texas: Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger. Texas is a big state, practically five states, but this book at least illuminates one aspect of Texas culture.
Utah: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston.
Virginia: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. From Flavorwire. OK, I’ll go along with this recommendation, even though I’ve tried it and not been able to get in the mood for this nature observation journal of a modern-day pilgrim. I’m still willing to grant that it’s probably very good, and I’ll probably enjoy it very much someday.
Or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Washington: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.
Washington D.C.:
West Virginia:

What do you think? Do any of my readers live in one of the states for which I do not yet have a book listed? I’m even willing to reconsider one I’ve already listed if you have a better choice. Help me fill out this list with books to give us a sense of each state in the union.

Sunday Salon: Books Read in February, 2014

Children’s and YA Fiction:
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, reviewed at Semicolon.
Jinx by Sage Blackwood, reviewed at Semicolon.
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, reviewed at Semicolon.
Sidekicked by John David Anderson, reviewed at Semicolon.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your A–– by Meg Medina, Cybil Award winner reviewed at Semicolon.
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, reviewed at Semicolon.
Merlin’s Blade by Robert Treskillard, reviewed at Semicolon with a list of other recommended Arthurian novels and poems.
Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, review coming soon.

Adult Fiction
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, reviewed at Semicolon.
Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, reviewed at Semicolon.
Queen’s Play by Dorothy Dunnett.

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Chid by Donalyn Miller.
The Last Lion 2: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone, 1932-40 by William R. Manchester. Strangely, alarmingly reminiscent of today’s news from Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia.

Did Not Finish:
A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn. Dare I say I was perplexed and not at all guided or entranced? And I didn’t like any of the characters.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel by Anthony Marra. I got tired of the f-word and the dreariness and despair of post-communist Chechnya.

The Daphne Awards

This idea is genius! Jessica Crispin at Bookslut has come up with the idea of a book award that goes back in time to correct and adjust the mistakes of past years of book awards. As a beloved literature professor once told us, the definition of a classic (or a book that should be “award-winning”) is a book that stands the test of time. So, starting with 1963, fifty years ago, the Daphne Awards will be given to those books that have lasted and still speak to today’s readers.

If you look back at the books that won the Pulitzer or the National Book Award, it is always the wrong book. Book awards, for the most part, celebrate mediocrity. It takes decades for the reader to catch up to a genius book, it takes years away from hype, publicity teams, and favoritism to see that some books just aren’t that good.
Which is why we are starting a new book award, the Daphnes, that will celebrate the best books of 50 years ago. We will right the wrongs of the 1964 National Book Awards.

The Daphne awards have four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s literature. Of course, I’m most interested in the last category. First, I thought I’d look to see what children’s books, published in 1963, won awards:

Caldecott Award: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.
Caldecott Honor Books: Swimmy by Leo Lionni.
All in the Morning Early by Evaline Ness.
Mother Goose and Nursery Rhymes by Phillip Reed.
It must be remembered that the Caldecott Medal is given for “most distinguished picture book,” majoring on the excellence of the illustrations in the book. I’m assuming that the Daphne Awards are more literary in nature.

Newbery Medal: It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Cheney Neville
Newbery Honor Books: Rascal by Sterling North and The Loner by Ester Wier.

Carnegie Medal: Time of Trial by Hester Burton. (Never heard of it or her)

Kate Greenaway Medal: Borka: The Adventures of a Goose With No Feathers by John Burningham. I have heard of Mr. Burningham and read some of his picture books, but not this one. Wikipedia says Borka was his debut book, and from the description, quoting Kirkus Reviews, it doesn’t hold up to the American offerings for the year 1963. “Borka is an ugly duckling who does not undergo a transformation; she is as bald as a goose as she was when a gosling. … The freely stylized illustrations in bold lines and appropriate, vivid colors are many and strong.”

The National Book Awards didn’t have a children’s literature category until 1969.

Other popular and distinguished children’s books published in 1963:
Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. Excellent beginning reader that has stood the test of time.
Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. Not my favorite Dr. Seuss, but a popular entry.
Stormy, Misty’s Foal by marguerite Henry. Another book that is still popular among the horse-lovers.
I Am David by Ann Holm. A twelve year old boy escapes from prison camp in Eastern Europe. Cold War literature that I’d like to go back and re-read to see if it stands the test of time.
Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander. I’ve read this one, but I don’t remember it.
Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H.A. Rey.
Sister of the Bride by Beverly Cleary. What we would call YA romance nowadays without all the angst and sex.
The Winged Watchman by Hilda von Stockum. Excellent WW2 adventure fiction, written by a Dutch-American author and published by Farrar Strauss and Giroux in English in January, 1963.
The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell. I had forgotten about this one, a lovely little story with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. Mr. Sendak was rather busy in 1963 (see below).

Now the Daphne shortlist for Young People’s Literature published in 1963:

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The Dot and the Line by Norton Juster
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Mr. Rabbit (and the Lovely Present) by Charlotte Zolotow. I don’t know why they left off the last four words in the title.
Harold’s ABC by Crockett Johnson
Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back by Shel Silverstein
The Moon by Night by Madeline L’Engle
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol
Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey

If I were choosing from that list, I’d have to go with Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present or with Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective. Where the Wild Things Are is a wonderful story, but Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (illustrated by who else but Maurice Sendak?) should have been at least honored, and Encyclopedia Brown still lives! I love Madeleine L’Engle’s books, all of them, but I’m not sure The Moon By Night was her best, just as Lafcadio wasn’t Shel Silverstein’s finest (see either. The two others are by authors I know, Edward Gorey and Norton Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth), but I don’t know the books.

WINNER (if I’m choosing): Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present by Charlotte Zolotow.

Sunday Salon: Books Read in January, 2014

Children’s and Young Adult Fiction:
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. Post-apocalyptic romance that takes Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion as its inspiration.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Well-written but disappointing in its worldview.
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. Deserving of the Newbery Medal it just won for Best American children’s book.
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos. A “problem novel” about a teenage boy who is dealing with abusive parents and depression (or perhaps bipolar disorder?). Engaging, but something about his YA novel bothered me. Cybils nominee in the category of YA fiction.

Adult Fiction:
The Circle by Dave Eggers. Eerily reflective of now and the possible future in regard to social media, in particular.
Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett. A riot of a historical adventure story with loads of wordplay.
Uneasy Money by P.G. Wodehouse. A silly romp with characters who could be Bertie and Jeeves, but aren’t.

House-Dreams by Hugh Howard. How a writer and self-taught builder/contractor/home designer built a home for his family—mostly by himself with a little bit of hired help.
Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal by Ben Macintyre. World War II true espionage story about a criminal turned British double agent.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

Did Not Finish (DNF):
Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian. Too much, you guessed it, (teen) sex and violence. In addition the characters, all of them, are extremely unsympathetic, and the dad’s 180 degree change of behavior was unbelievable. Add in nasty language and nasty behavior. I gave it a good 100 pages, and I can’t guarantee that it doesn’t get better, but I decided to DNF this YA Fiction Cybils nominee and hope that it doesn’t win.

Setting: 1936-39, Just Before the War

A friend of ours is writing a book of stories set in a small English village just before World War II, and I’m reading The Last Lion, the second volume of a three volume biography of Winston CHurchill, about the years from 1932-1940. So I’m particularly interested in the time period right now, especially in Europe and Asia. (I didn’t include books set in the United States during the 1930’s.) Do you have any recommended additions to this list?

Spanish Civil War:
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell. Nonfiction.
Life and Death of a Spanish Town by Elliot Paul. Fiction.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Fiction.
Winter in Madrid by CJ Sansom. Fiction. Semicolon review here.

Sino-Japanese War and The Nanjing Massacre:
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Fiction. Semicolon review here.
When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro. Fiction. Semicolon review here.
Living Soldiers by Ishikawa Tatsuzo. Fiction.
Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin, reviewed at Semicolon. Fiction.
The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder. Fiction. Reviewed by Nicola at Back to Books.
The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. Nonfiction.
Dragon Seed by Pearl S. Buck. Fiction.

The Kindertransport, 1938-39:
Sisterland by Linda Newbery. YA fiction.
Far to Go by Alison Pick. Fiction.

Stalinist Russia, Before the War:
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler.
Sashenka: A Novel by Simon Montefiore.

Britain, Before the War:
Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson. Fiction.
A Blunt Instrument and No Wind of Blame by Georgette Heyer. Fiction.
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. Fiction.
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson, reviewed at Semicolon.
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940 by William Manchester. Nonfiction.
Several Agatha Christie mysteries take place during this time period, titles too numerous to mention.

Continental Europe, Before the War
Pied Piper by Nevil Shute.

Cybils Challenge

I’ve decided I’m going to at least TRY to read all of the Cybils nominees, although there are a few (mostly YA) that I’m fairly sure I won’t like well enough to finish. Also, I don’t do graphic novels or book apps. Prerogative of age. (I sound old and grouchy. But I’m not. I’m actually excited to start a new Cybils reading adventure.)

So, I’m all set to join Beth at Library Chicken and Stephanie at Love.Life.Read in my modified version of a Cybils finalists challenge. I wonder if I can manage to read all or most of them by February 14th, the announcement date for the winners?

Elementary & Middle Grade

Fiction Picture Books
Count the Monkeys, Mac Barnett
If You Want to See a Whale, Julie Fogliano
Journey, Aaron Becker
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Peter Brown
Open This Little Book, Jesse Klausmeier
Sophie’s Squash, Pat Zietlow Miller
The Bear’s Song, Benjamin Chaud

Anubis Speaks!: A Guide to the Afterlife by the Egyptian God of the Dead, Vicky Alvear Shecter
Barbed Wire Baseball, Marissa Moss
How Big Were Dinosaurs?, Lita Judge
Locomotive, Brian Floca
Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, Annette LeBlanc Cate
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos, Deborah Heiligman
Volcano Rising, Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Susan Swan

Easy Readers
A Big Guy Took My Ball! (An Elephant and Piggie Book), Mo Willems
Joe and Sparky Go to School, Jamie Michalak
Love Is in the Air (HC) (Penguin Young Readers, L2), Jonathan Fenske
Penny and Her Marble (I Can Read Book 1), Kevin Henkes
The Meanest Birthday Girl, Josh Schneider
Urgency Emergency! Big Bad Wolf, Dosh Archer

Early Chapter Books
Dragonbreath #9: The Case of the Toxic Mutants, Ursula Vernon
Home Sweet Horror (Scary Tales), James Preller
Kelsey Green, Reading Queen (Franklin School Friends), Claudia Mills
Lulu and the Dog from the Sea, Hilary McKay
The Life of Ty: Penguin Problems, Lauren Myracle
Violet Mackerel’s Natural Habitat, Anna Branford

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems, Marilyn Singer
Forest Has a Song: Poems, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Poems to Learn by Heart, Caroline Kennedy
Pug: And Other Animal Poems, Valerie Worth
The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses, Lisa Wheeler
What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings, Joyce Sidman
When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders, J. Patrick Lewis

Speculative Fiction
Jinx, Sage Blackwood
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase, Jonathan Stroud
Rose, Holly Webb
Sidekicked, John David Anderson
The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Kathi Appelt
The Water Castle, Megan Frazer Blakemore

Middle Grade Fiction
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Chris Grabenstein
Prisoner B-3087, Ruth Gruener
Serafina’s Promise, Ann E. Burg
The 14 Fibs of Gregory K., Greg Pincus
Ultra, David Carroll

strong>Young Adult

Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays, Roaring Brook READ and reviewed.
Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II, Martin W. Sandler. READ.
The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler’s List, Leon Leyson READ and reviewed.
The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, Catherine Reef READ and reviewed.
“The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, James L. Swanson READ and reviewed.

Speculative Fiction
Conjured, Sarah Beth Durst
Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin Trilogy), Robin LaFevers
Pantomime (Strange Chemistry), Laura Lam
Shadows, Robin McKinley
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Waking Dark, Robin Wasserman
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, Ian Doescher

YA Fiction
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, Evan Roskos
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell READ.
Out of The Easy, Ruta Sepetys
Rose Under Fire, Elizabeth Wein READ and reviewed.
Sex & Violence, Carrie Mesrobian
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, Meg Medina

12 Best Books Read in the Semicolon Family in 2013

Eldest Daughter (28) is on a Catholic reading binge. She recommends Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene and The Letters of Caryll Houselander. She also read and enjoyed The Pale King by David Foster Wallace.

Artiste Scientist Daughter (24) shares my love for Madeleine L’Engle. She says the best book she read this year was L’Engle’s The Genesis Trilogy: And It Was Good, A Stone for a Pillow, Sold Into Egypt, reflections on the first book of the Bible and Ms. L’Engle’s insights into the nature of God, questioning, creation, and grief.

Brown Bear Daughter (19) read Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative by Robert Webber for her Old Testament Theology class at Houston Baptist University, and she learned a lot about the meaning of worship. I know the book made her think because she left this quote on her Facebook page:

“For some people the truth declared in worship will be received with exuberance; for others the truth of God’s story will be received with reserve, a quiet sense of joy, or even relief. But with us all, a worship that does God’s story should result in a delight that produces participation. Because God is the subject who acts upon me in worship, my participation is not reduced to verbal responses or to singing, but it is living in the pattern of the one who is revealed in worship. God, as the subject of worship, acts through the truth of Christ remembered and envisioned in worship. This truth forms me by the Spirit of God to live out the union I have with Jesus by calling me to die to sin and to live in the resurrection.”
Robert E. Webber, Ancient-Future Worship

41iZTZnvDJL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Drama Daughter (22) says she started many books, but didn’t finish many. She did finish, and enjoy, Sarah Dessen’s 2013 novel, The Moon and More.

Engineer Husband also has trouble finishing books, and he’s still reading his favorite from 2013, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.

Karate Kid (16) says his favorite read this year was Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. (Yuck!)

Computer Guru Son (26) recommends Anathem and Cryptonomican, both by Neal Stephenson. He’s also proud of having finished reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace—the whole thing, all 1000+ pages.

Betsy-Bee (14) read The Story of the Aeneid, an adaptation of the Virgil’s classic, plus some excerpts from the actual Aeneid, and she says it’s the the only thing she really remembers reading from 2013. She promises to read more (and remember?) in 2014.

And Z-baby (12) is listening to Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis on her new Kindle. We have a family tradition of loving, reading, listening to, watching, and re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia. And long may it last!