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.
Delaware:
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?
Hawaii:
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.
Indiana:
Iowa:
Kansas:
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.
Maine:
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.
Minnesota:
Mississippi:
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?
Montana:
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:
Ohio:
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.
Pennsylvania:
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.
Vermont:
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:
Wisconsin:
Wyoming:

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.

Hideout by Gordon Korman

“Adults have never stopped us before . . . All they are is bigger than us. That doesn’t mean much when you’ve got the right plan.”

Hideout is the fifth book in Gordon Korman’s “Man with the Plan” series about Griffin Bing and his five friends who solve mysteries, foil crooks, and have adventures while each using his or her special talents(s) to implement the Plan.

Griffin Bing is The Man With The Plan, the master planner for the group.
Savannah Drysdale has a special affinity for animals. She’s a dog-whisperer, especially for Luthor, her over-sized and ferocious-to-everyone-else Doberman.
Ben Slovak, Griffin’s best friend, has narcolepsy and a pet ferret, maybe not so much skills as idiosyncrasies. However, Ferret Face turns out to be a secret weapon in times of crisis.
Logan Kellerman is a consummate actor. Call on him to play a part, and he’s there.
Antonia “Pitch” Benson, the climber, can scale any cliff, climb any mountain, and ascend just about any house or tall building.
Melissa Dukakis has the tech skills. She’s a computer whiz and sometimes hacker.

Hideout has the six friends off to summer camp while the evil S. Wendell Palomino is busy stealing, or dog-napping, Savannah’s best friend, Luthor. Can they come up with a plan to save Luthor while keeping the camp authorities in the dark about the presence of a hundred and fifty pound Doberman in camp?

Griffin Bing: “Nothing is impossible if you have the right plan.”

I liked the way the kids banded together to work the plan and save Luthor. There is some law-breaking, lying, and disobedience involved, however, and the kids never do really reap any consequences for their ill-advised and sometimes illegal actions. It makes for a good story, but I have some qualms about children who read these books and take Griffin and his friends for role models. At least, the kids are adventurous and feisty. Maybe a dose of that intrepid spirit in our over-protected children’s reading wouldn’t be a bad thing. After all, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn couldn’t be said to be anywhere near law-abiding, either.

QOTD: The kids in this story aren’t superheroes, but each one does have a special skill or ability. What is your special gift or ability? What ability or interest or expertise do you add to any team or a group that you join?

House-Dreams by Hugh Howard

House-Dreams: The story of an amateur builder and two novice apprentices and how they turned an overgrown blackberry patch, ten truckloads of lumber, a keg of cut nails, and an antique staircase into a real home by Hugh Howard.

I’m not a home builder or a designer, so I’ll admit I skimmed through a lot of the more technical passages in this story of a man and his quest to design and build his own house. I’m also not an architectural elitist, so I sniffed and rolled my eyes at some of the author’s more pretentious statements about building a house designed to fit into a milieu of nineteenth century American architecture. However, since I’m in the beginning stages of own home remodeling project, a lot of the commentary and advice here was quite pertinent to my own situation.

Because we had a house fire in December, we’re going to have to replace the roof, the attic, and the kitchen in our house. We’ll also be getting new flooring throughout the house, and we may remodel one of the bathrooms while we’re at it. Any advice?

Mr. Howard’s house with its solid maple wood floors, antique staircase, Rumford fireplace, grubka stove, and marble countertops is way out of my league, but I did pick up a few tips:

1. Watch, learn and ask questions. Mr. Howard is a self-taught builder and designer. He asked a lot of questions at hardware stores.

2. Expect the job to take longer than you expected and to cost more than you budgeted. I sort of already knew this bit of house-building/remodeling wisdom.

3. Enjoy your home. I am totally overwhelmed with the thought of even as small a home-rebuilding project as we will be doing. However, I am determined to enjoy re-making our forty year old house to suit our current and anticipated needs. I’ll try to update you on our progress here on the blog.

In the meantime, I’ll take any advice you have on kitchen flooring, countertops, cabinets, bathroom flooring and other fixtures, roofing, and living room walls and ceilings. I might as well cast a wide net.

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

Nonfiction
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

Poetry
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

Nonfiction
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

The Best Advice I Ever . . . 55 Words of Wisdom

So, in honor of Wisdom and Wit and 55, here is collection of 55 “words of wisdom” gathered mainly from children’s literature, picture books and the like. Follow these bits of sage advice, and you’ll likely stay well.

'Saint David' photo (c) 2009, Sue H J Hasker - Catching up! - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/1. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. … ~Dory, Finding Nemo.

2. “Do the little things.” ~St. David.

3. Encourage one another. ~Donna

4. Being careful isn’t nice; being friends is better. ~A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban.

5. “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

6. “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” ~The King, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

7. “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
“One runs the risk of crying a bit if one allows oneself to be tamed.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince.

8. “Housekeeping ain’t no joke.” ~Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

9. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” ~Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who.

10. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

11. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
~Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

12. “No fighting, no biting!’ ~Else Holmelund Minarik.

13. “People in masks cannot be trusted.” Fezzik, The Princess Bride.

14. “Never get involved in a land war in Asia; never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!” Vizzini, The Princess Bride.

15. “Winter may be beautiful, but bed is much better.” Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel.

16, “Let us eat one very last cookie and then we will stop.” Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel.

17. “When you say what you think, be sure to think what you say.”
~Carol Kendall, The Gammage Cup.

18. “If you don’t look for Trouble, how can you know it’s there?”
~Carol Kendall, The Gammage Cup

19. “The best thing to do with a bad smell is to get rid of it.”
~Carol Kendall, The Gammage Cup

20. “In some cases we learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.”
~Lloyd Alexander, The Book of Three

21. “Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives.”
~N.D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

22. “Always sprinkle pepper in your hair!” ~Shel Silverstein.

23. It is helpful to know the proper way to behave, so one can decide whether or not to be proper. ~Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

24. “Get a pocket.” ~Katy No-Pocket by Emmy Payne.

25. “Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” ~The Horse and His Boy by C S Lewis.

26. “Perhaps there some things that we are not meant to understand. Without a few mysteries and a few giants, life would be a very small thing, after all.” ~The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton.

27. “Life is a mess and a miracle. So pick up a broom and dance.” ~The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton.

28. “If this island is all there is, and we are trapped here with a sleeping giant, we have little hope. But . . . what if there are things under our feet and things beyond the sea that we have never dreamed of?” ~The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton.

29. “Where there’s life there’s hope, and need of vittles.” ~The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkien.

30. “Books we must have though we lack bread.” ~Alice Brotherton.

31. “You can pick up more information when you are listening than when you are talking.” ~The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.

32. You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. ~Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne.

33. “Any time you want to spend a nickel, you stop and think how much work it takes to earn a dollar.” ~Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

34. “All get what they want: they do not always like it.” ~The Magician’s Nephew by C S Lewis.

35. “Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.” ~The Magician’s Nephew by C S Lewis.

36. “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ~The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.

37. “Don’t be afraid to be afraid.” ~A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

38. “Read in order to live.” ~Gustave Flaubert.

39. “There is hardly any grief that an hour’s reading will not dissipate.”
~ Montesquieu

40. “Reading is one form of escape. Running for your life is another.” ~Lemony Snicket.

41. “Never explain anything.” ~Mary Poppins.

42. “Vote for Pedro and all your wildest dreams will come true.” ~Napoleon Dynamite.

43. “Just fly the plane, Maddie!” ~Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

44. “Eat chocolate cake. Listen to happy music.” ~Ruby Lu, Star of the Show by Lenore Look.

45. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” ~William Morris.

46. “When you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worthwhile.”
~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

47. “Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” ~G.K. Chesterton.

48. “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” ~G.K. Chesterton.

49. “Never hurry and never worry!” ~E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

50. “Be obscure clearly. Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand.” ~E.B. White

50. “You need two when the road is rough.” ~One Is Good But Two Are Better by Louis Slobodkin.

51. “Put it all back where it belongs.” Bored–Nothing To Do by Peter Spier.

52. “The world is so full of a number of things, I ’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

53. “There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.” The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

54. “If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” ~Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

55. “I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.” ~C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

My Psalm Project

I’m in the process of making a collection of songs based on the psalms as a playlist on my iTunes. Here’s what I have so far:

Psalm 5 Chuck Girard, Voice of the Wind
A Mighty Fortress (Psalm 46) Covenant Life Church
The Law of the Lord Is Perfect Ed Gungor, Shouts of Joy
Praise to the Lord the Almighty (Psalm 103 & 150) Fernando Ortega
The King of Love My Shepherd Is Fernando Ortega
Create In Me a Clean Heart Keith Green
The Lord Is My Shepherd (23rd Psalm) Keith Green
How Majestic Is Your Name (Psalm 8 ) Kristin Chenoweth
While the Nations Rage (Psalm 2) Rich Mullins
Psalm 3 Salvador, Into Motion
Psalm 6 Sons of Korah, Light of Life
Praise the Lord Sovereign Grace Music
Psalm 4 Waterworks, An Order for Compline
The Lord’s My Shepherd Wintley Phipps
My Soul Finds Rest (Psalm 62) Aaron Keyes, Not Guilty Anymore
God Be Merciful (Psalm 51) Indelible Grace Music

Suggestions? I would really like to find a good, singable version of Psalm 1, since I have Psalms 2-8, but not the first one. I know a song from childhood that’s based on Psalm 1, but I haven’t found a recorded version that I like.

Please add your suggestions for recorded versions of the Psalms in almost any musical style. I do like for the words to be understandable, and for the tune to be musical and easy to sing along with.

Twelve Projects for 2012

For several years now, I’ve been starting off the year with projects instead of resolutions. I don’t alway complete my projects, but I enjoy starting them and working toward a goal. And I don’t feel guilty if I don’t finish. If I do finish, I feel a sense of accomplishment. Win-win. So, here are my twelve projects for 2012, that I never got posted at the beginning of the year, and an update on each one as to how I’m doing as of the end of January.

1. Bible study project. I’ve picked twelve books or portions of the Bible to study in 2012—one per month. To be posted soon. In January I’ve just been reading in Psalms and trying to get my mind back after a long journey into lunacy.

2. Twentieth Century History Project. I’m continuing this project as I teach my twentieth century history at our homeschool co-op. We’re through the 1950’s now and into the years that I can actually remember.

3. North Africa Reading Challenge. You can still join, if you’d like. And here’s the update for January.

4. Praying for Strangers (and Friends) Project. I was quite impressed last year by my reading of River Jordan’s Praying for Strangers. I still can’t walk up to strangers and tell them that I’m praying for them or ask them for prayer requests. But in 2012 I hope to ask God to give me one person each day to focus on and to pray for. Maybe I’ll be praying for you one day this year. I need to make myself do this consistently.

5. Read Aloud Thursday. I really want to concentrate on reading aloud to Z-baby this year. Right now we’re reading The Lord of the Rings (her request), and maybe we will be reading it for the rest of the year! And I want to participate in Read Aloud Thursday each week at Hope Is the Word.

6. Texas Tuesday. I still want to read books about Texas, by Texas authors and set in Texas and post about them on Tuesday. I’d also like to round-up other reviews of Texas books either weekly or monthly, but I don’t have a plan worked out for that yet. I haven’t really done much about this project in January, and tomorrow is Tuesday.

7. U.S. Presidents Reading Project. I got David McCullough’s biography of Truman for Christmas, and I plan to read that chunkster during my Lenten blog break. I don’t know if I’ll read any other presidential biographies this year, but if I finish Truman I’ll be doing well.

8. 40 Inspirational Classics. I had a plan last year to post about 40 inspirational classic books over Lent, but I only managed to write about eighteen. Maybe I can post about the other twenty-two this year.

9. Shakespeare Project. I hope to plan a Shakespeare course for my homeschool co-op next year, and I’ll probably be posting about that quite a bit in the latter part of the year.

10. Meal planning project. I hate meal planning. When I do plan, I decide that I don’t want what I planned. So my “project” is to figure out a meal planning idea that works.

11. Wednesday’s Word of the Week. I was doing well on this project until the holidays came along, and then it got lost.

12. My Lenten Blog Break. For the past few years, I have taken a break from blogging during Lent. Ash Wednesday this year falls on February 22, less than a month from now. I hope to have posts pre-written and scheduled for Lent before I go on hiatus. If you are interested in guest-writing a post, particularly a post for Texas Tuesday or Wednesday’s Word of the Week, please email me at sherry.early@gmail.com. I’ll be happy to schedule your post on either of those subjects for publication on Semicolon if you can get it to me before February 22.

54 Wonderful Projects

I love projects: reading projects, relationship projects, educational projects, travel projects, daily projects, weekly projects, goofy projects, serious projects, all kinds of projects. There’s something about the discipline and the long term commitment to a project that intrigues me, even though I’m much better myself at beginning projects and reading about them than I am at actually completing them.

Here are a few of the projects that I have been working on, or I wish I could do, or I wish I’d thought of, or I plan to try someday, or I at least want to read about:

1. Wave at the Bus. This dad dressed up in a different costume every day for an entire school year to wave at his high school son’s school bus as it passed by the house.

2. The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma. Alice (actually Kristin Brozina) and her dad Jim read together every night for at least ten minutes, usually longer, for 3218 consecutive nights, or nine years. Wow! A review of the book by Sam Sattler at Book Chase.

3. The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else by Christopher Beha. New York TImes Book Review.

4. Praying for Strangers by River Jordan. Ms. Jordan not only prays for a stranger each day, but she also often feels led to tell the person that she will be praying and asks for prayer requests. That’s a little intimidating. See, I’m really rather shy and reserved. The idea of going up to a complete stranger and telling them that I’ll be praying for them is, well, actually terrifying. I did try doing this, but I can’t make myself go up and talk to people I don’t know. So I’ve been sort of praying covertly.

5. Use a plan to read through the entire Bible in a year. I have done this project and plan to continue doing it each year. THis book looks good (reviewed by Becky): Read Your Bible One Book At A Time: A Refreshing Way To Read God’s Word with New Insight and Meaning by Woodrow Kroll. And here’s a Semicolon post with more ideas for Bible study and Bible reading projects.

6. 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.

7. A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. I read this book when I was in high school, I think, and it may be the book that inspired my fascination with people who take on Big Projects. The second half of Mr. Jenkins’ walk across the United States is chronicled in The Walk West.
I also read this nonfiction book about two women at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century who walked across the country: Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt. Two fictional accounts of this mother/daughter walk are The Daughter’s Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick and The Year We Were Famous by Carol Estby Dagg.

8. A family I know had a project of visiting and taking a picture of every county courthouse in Texas. That’s 254 pictures of 254 county seat courthouses. What a great idea for learning and family bonding.

9. From The Bard Blog: “One big undertaking in 2010 was my Summer Shakespeare extravaganza. I made sure to see as many productions of the Bard as I could within a 2 month period.” Or for more Shakespeare madness, one could try out this project: reading Shakespeare’s 38 plays in 38 days, one each day.

10. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovich. Sankovitch vowed to read one book a day for an entire year and blog about it as a way of coping and working through her grief over the death of her sister.

11. In A Severe Mercy by Sheldon VanAuken, the author relives his courtship and marriage with his beloved wife Davy, who died of cancer. He celebrates their life together by consuming the music, the books, old letters, notes, diaries, and other artifacts of their marital life. He calls it The Illumination of the Past. It seems to me to be an almost obsessive way to mourn, but the way Mr. Van Auken writes about his journey makes it a healing process.

“I travelled through the past at the rate of a month or two a day. I could not go much faster and still listen to the music–often whole symphonies–and read the poems. The books, novels, and the like, I read at night, after I had written to her.”

12. No-Man’s Lands: One Man’s Odyssey Through The Odyssey by Scott Huler. The author retraces the route of Odysseus from Troy to Ithaca. I haven’t read the book, but I’d like to someday.

13. The Year of Living like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do by Ed Dobson. The fact that this book is recommended by Rob Bell, who annoys me, is something of a letdown. But it still sounds intriguing.

14. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs. Mr. Dobson was inspired to do his Jesus project by his reading of Mr. Jacobs’ book. Mr. Jacobs was (is) a nonobservant Jewish man who took a year to endeavor to live a strictly Biblical, law-abiding life.

15. The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs. Before he “got religion”, Mr. Jacobs chronicled his journey as he read through the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica in a year.

16. Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea. If one man can read an entire encyclopedia in a year, why can’t another read the twenty volume Oxford English Dictionary in a year? And then write a book about it.

17. Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses by Bruce Feiler. Mr. Feiler. an American Jew, made a 10,000-mile journey from Mount Ararat to Mount Nebo, following in the footsteps of the patriarchs.

18. Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill. “In pursuit of a book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books in order to get to know her own collection again.”

19. Prayer Walking: A Journey of Faith by Dan Crawford and Calvin Miller. Recommended by Joe McKeever. This prayer project seems to me just as intriguing as the praying for strangers book (#4). But how does one develop the self-discipline to be consistent in prayer?

20. Racing Odysseus by Roger H. Martin. Recommended at Seasonal Soundings. “Roger H. Martin, president (at the time) of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia goes back to school as a freshman at the age of 61. Martin’s sabbatical takes him to St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.”

21. Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana. This project is one that I would not dare to undertake even if it were possible in this day and age. Nevertheless, it would be worth reading about. Recommended by Lars Walker at Brandywine Books.

22. A memory project: Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art & Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. Absolutely fascinating.

23. My 20th Century history project.

24. I’ve mentioned this Blank Bible Project before, and I still think it’s a great idea. I’m not doing this project, but I have been writing notes in my Bible for several years with the intention of giving the Bible to one of my children someday.

25. My Newbery project. The plan is to eventually read all of the Newbery Medal books and all of the honor books, too.

26. My Reading Through Africa project.

27. 100 Movies of Summer. I started this project last year, and of course, we didn’t finish. But we did watch several old movies (actually, nine) that I either hadn’t seen or hadn’t shared with the urchins. I think we’ll try again this summer to watch some more—maybe we’ll finish all 100.

28. Make some art, maybe a photograph or a painting or a drawing. Put the art in a nice frame, one that isn’t brand new. Then, hang your framed art in a place you aren’t supposed to, but where people will assume it is supposed to be, like the lobby of your apartment building, in the hallway at your office, on the smallest wall in a motel room, in the quiet corner of a library, outside the downstair’s restroom at a restaurant or bar, the back room of a club, in the bathroom of a museum. From the website 52 projects.

29. List the years that you have been alive. Then, in a word, sentence or short paragraph, write down a significant memory from each year. From the website 52 projects. It sounds like a great birthday project, doesn’t it?

30. 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp Anne Voskamp started a list of 1000 reasons to be grateful to God. She ended up with a life full of gratitude and blessing, even in the hard times.

31. In the Neighborhood: The Search for Community on an American Street, One Sleepover at a Time by Peter Lovenheim. “When a murder-suicide occurred in his community, a suburb of Rochester, NY, Lovenheim, a journalist and author who teaches writing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, set out to get to know his neighbors and create a sense of community that is lacking in contemporary America by asking if he could spend the night at their houses.”

32. The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son by David Gilmour. I have a feeling from reading the reviews that this book might be a little too male for my taste, but I’d like try it. Father David Gilmour allows his sixteen year old son, Jesse, to drop out of high school with two conditions: he couldn’t do drugs, and he had to watch three movies a week with dad. The book is about their movie-led “homeschooling” experiment.

33. 1000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz. If I had the money, I’d do it –or write my own list. No doubt.

34. 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die: A Comprehensive Reference Source, Chronicling the History of the Novel. Preface by Peter Ackroyd. General Editor: Peter Boxall. Arukiyomi has a spreadsheet for keeping track of the book you’ve read from the 1001. Of the books on the 2008 list, I’ve read 126. I think it’s skewed toward the last hundred and eleven years, and I’ve read many more nineteenth century novels than twentieth century and beyond. Nevertheless, it’s a fun project.

35. One Red Paperclip. I remember hearing about this project: this guy traded his red paper clip for something a little better. Then he traded again. And again. “I’m going to make a continuous chain of ‘up trades’ until I get a house. Or an Island. Or a house on an island. You get the idea.”

36. England’s Thousand Best Churches by Simon Jenkins and Paul Barker. Now wouldn’t visiting all of these churches be a project to remember!

37. In 2008 Stephanie Dean made a New Year’s resolution to use her slow cooker every single day for the entire year. Here’s a list of the recipes she used.

38. While we’re on the subject of cooking projects, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell was the inspiration for the movie Julie and Julia (which I haven’t seen). Ms. Powell’s project was to cook all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I in a year.

39. Then, of course, there are the “40 days” spiritual projects (based on the 40 days of Lent?):
Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life,
Get out of That Pit: A 40-Day Devotional Journal by Beth Moore,
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed by Scot McKnight.

40. Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry Blackaby and Claude King is one of the best Christian “project books” that I’ve ever read. Mr. Blackaby walks you through the steps to knowing God through Christ and then knowing and doing His will in your life. I need to repeat this project.

41. Do you believe this one? Organizing Magic: 40 Days to a Well-Ordered Home and Life by Sandra Felton. I tried Flylady, and I crashed. I’ve read other organizing books, and the authors obviously didn’t have eight children and a husband who wants to store everything in the attic until he can get around to using it or fixing it.

42. The Six Hundred Club was a project for memorizing some of the most famous and inspirational 600 lines of poetry or 600 lines from Shakespeare’s plays, a brainchild of my English professor, Dr. Huff. Dr. Huff invented The Six Hundred Club, and I am a proud member. You can read more about it here, and if you would like to embark upon this particular project, email me. I’ll be happy to send you the lines from Shakespeare or the particular poems to be memorized.

43. A poem-writing project: Where I Am From. Here are some instructions for writing your own “where I am from” poem. If you write one, please come back and share it with the rest of us.

44. The U.S. Presidents Reading Project has a list of all of the U.S. presidents and suggested reading selections (non-fiction) for each one. The challenge is to read one biography of each one. A couple of years ago I read biographies of George Washington, John Adams, James and Dollie Madison, and Alexander Hamilton (I know, not a president, but closely related). Last year I read about John Quincy Adams and his wife Catherine and about my favorite president, TR, “Teddy” Roosevelt. I have American Lion by Jon Meacham on my shelf awaiting me, and I also have two presidential books in my library basket, 1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs–The Election That Changed the Country by James Chase and Florence Harding: The First Lady, the Jazz Age, and the Death of America’s Most Scandalous President by Carl Serrazza Anthony.

45. Texas Tuesday Project. I also plan to go back to posting about books set in or published in or related to Texas on Tuesdays. Or at least on most Tuesdays. Some Tuesdays?

46. My Madeleine L’Engle reading project, with a goal of reading or re-reading her complete oeuvre, is ongoing. It started out as a project for January 2007, but I quickly saw that I’d need more time to read all of the books. Here’s a link to my annotated bibliography of Madeleine L’Engle’s books.

47. The Happiness Project: Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin. Reviewed by Amy at Hope Is the Word.

48. I forgot all about Carrie’s Reading My Library Challenge. She and her children are reading all of the children’s picture books in her library. And BekahCubed plans to read Every Single Book in her local branch library in Lincoln, Nebraska. Maybe the two of them should write a book together.

49.Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder. Back in the 1980’s author Tracy Kidder spent a year in a fifth grade classroom—and lived to write about it. I remember it as an excellent and insightful look into the life of a teacher and her students. Kidder also wrote House about the trial and joys of having your own house built. Now that’s a project!

50. Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer. Mr. Foer spent a year developing his memory so that he could compete in the U.S. Memory Championships. Reviewed by Alice at Supratentorial.

51.

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Can you suggest more projects or project books to fill out the list? Why 54? Stay tuned to find out . . . next week.

Armchair BEA: Fifty Favorites

A lot of book bloggers and other bookish people are going to spend the greater part of this week in New York City at BookExpo America. However, many of us live too far away and can’t afford to go to BEA, so we’re celebrating books and blogging where we are. The assignment for today is to introduce yourself and your blog. So I thought that sharing with you a few of my favorite (mainly bookish) things would be a good way for us to get acquainted.

French Novel: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

Spanish novel: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

American novel: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Russian novel: The Brothers Karamazov by Feodor Dostoyevsky.

Memoir/biography: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.

Christian author: C.S. Lewis

Mystery author: Dorothy Sayers

Musical: Man of La Mancha

Candy bar: Baby Ruth

TV series: LOST, of course.

Current TV series: Friday Night Lights, even though it’s frustrating the heck out of me.

Board game: Scrabble

iPhone app: Words with Friends, an app I just discovered and cant get enough of.

Blog other than my own: The Common Room or Mental Multivitamin

Computer brand: Apple

Fruit: Strawberries

History mini-series: John Adams, based on the book by David McCullough

Beverage: Iced tea with lemon and sugar

U.S. President: Teddy Roosevelt. He was by far the most interesting and personable of the presidents, even if I don’t agree with all of his policies and actions.

Shakespeare comedy: Much Ado about Nothing

Shakespeare tragedy: Hamlet

Shakespeare adapted to movie: Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V

Charles Dickens novel: David Copperfield

Nonfiction U.S. history book: Men to Match My Mountains by Irving Stone.

Nonfiction British history book: The Conquering Family and its sequels by Thomas Costain.

Poet: Edgar Allan Poe

Poem: Renascence by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Narnia book: The Silver Chair

Movie (comedy): The Princess Bride or It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Comedic novelist: P.G. Wodehouse

Fantasy novel: The Lord of the RIngs, grandaddy of them all.

Time travel books: Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis.

Romance novel: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Fictional couple: Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.

Movie (drama): Chariots of Fire

Hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts.

Love song: Desperado by The Eagles.

Month: October

Season: Autumn

Pie: Pumpkin with pecan halves arranged in a pleasing pattern on top.

Color: purple

Dystopian novel: Children of Men by P.D. James.

Announced 2012 presidential candidate as of today: Rick Santorum????

Classic children’s book: Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott.

Young adult novel: Christy by Catherine Marshall.

Picture book: Oh, Were They Ever Happy by Peter Spier.

Easy reader: Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel.

Quotation: “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” ~C.S. Lewis.

Book of the Bible: The Gospel of John.

Bible verse: Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68

If you just can’t get enough of this sort of thing and want more ME, here’s a post on 52 Things that Fascinate Me.

Happy Armchair BEA to all ye who enter here.

Summer Reading: 52 Picks for the Hols

I used to love to read the British slang in books by C.S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, P.G. Wodehouse, and others. It took me a long time to figure out that those kids weren’t carrying actual torches in their pockets (how?), but rather normal old flashlights. And “hols” were holidays, any break from school.

Some of the books on the following list are old, some are new. Some I’ve read and loved, and others I plan to enjoy this summer. So, whether you’re taking a break from school for next few months/weeks or just easing into a different routine for the summer, here are some summer-y suggestions for your reading pleasure:

Picture Books: (Preschool/Kindergarten)
1. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey.
2. The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow. About a summer thunderstorm.
3. Roxaboxen by Alice McLarren. A group of children in Arizona or New Mexico, somewhere dry and desert-y, make a play town out of old woden crates, rocks, cacti and desert glass. The illustrations are by Barbara Cooney. This book reminds me of the story Engineer Husband tells of making “towns” in the dirt in his backyard and then flooding them with the garden hose. Except I don’t think Roxaboxen ever suffered any floods.
4. Nothing To Do by Russell Hoban. I love this book. Unfortunately, it’s out of print. Walter Possum, a Frances-like character but related only by author, is bored and can find nothing to do. When he complains his father gives him a “magic stone” that will give him ideas if he will only rub it and think really hard and wait for the ideas to come. This one is just as good as the Frances books, and I wish I owned a copy.
5. Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion. Harry, a white dog with black spots, tries to find a way to cool off at the seashore.
6. Cranberry Summer by Wende Devlin.
7. Hot Air Henry by Mary Calhoun. Henry the cat takes an accidental trip in a hot air balloon.
8. The Summer Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown.
9. On A Summer Day by Lois Lenski. Out of print and hard to find. Try your library. Isn’t the cover delightful?
10. A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle.

Younger Readers: (Ages 5-9)
11. Because of Winn-DIxie by Kate DiCamillo.
12. Betsy’s Busy Summer by Carolyn Haywood. Ms. Haywood’s books are delightfully old-fashioned and fairly easy to read. I may read this one with Z-baby.
13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.
14. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor.
15. Many Moons by James Thurber. THere’s a newer version of this classic about a princess who wanted the moon with illustrator Marc Simont. It’s OK, but I like Slobodkin’s watercolors.
16. Moxy Maxwell Does NOT Love Stuart Little by Peggy GIfford.
17. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look.
18. Henry and Mudge in the Green Time by Cynthia Rylant. (very easy)
19. Summersaults by Douglas Florian. Kid poetry for summer.
20. The Littles and the Big Storm by John Peterson.

Middle Grade Readers: (Ages 9-13)
21. Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder. Four children find a wall that can transport them through time and space. Semicolon review here.
22. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall.
23. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis. The Dawn Treader movie is supposed to come out in December, so this summer would be a good time to read the book if you haven’t already done so. It has one of the best opening lines in literature, and Eustace’s redemption is a beautiful story. “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
24. Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson. A great old-fashioned book about a boy who spends the summer in a small town with his uncle and aunt. Exciting things happen whenever Henry is around!
25. SIx Innings by James Preller. Baseball and summer just go together. Semicolon review here.
26. Leepike RIdge by N.D. Wilson. Semicolon review here.
27. The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mich Cochrane. Semicolon review here.
28. Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff.
29. Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze by Elizabeth Enright. It doesn’t take place in the summer, but I thought it did. It would make a great summer adventure.
30. Galveston’s Summer of the Storm by Julie Lake. Very lazy Texas summer with Texas foods and hot weather and front porches and grandmother’s house. Then disaster!

Young Adult:
31. The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork. Brought to my attention by Mitali at Mitali’s Fire Escape. Semicolon review here.
32. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle. One of my favorites. I think it’s time for a re-read.
33. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene. A 12 year old Jewish girl from Arkansas meets a German prisoner of war and helps him to escape. As her family life deteriorates, her emotional involvement with her German friend grows.
34. Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins. Semicolon review here.
35. Heist Society by Ally Carter. I haven’t read this one yet, but I want to.
36. They Never Came Back by Caroline B. Cooney. Another one the I want to read. Here’s Jen’s review.
37. The Chosen by Chaim Potok.
38. Watership Down by Richard Adams. Hey, LOST (TV) isn’t really over, is it, until we’ve read all the books that LOST references? Watership Down was one of Sawyer’s reads, and even Boone said that he’d read it in AUstralia. If you haven’t, you should. It’s about bunny rabbits.
39. Ask Me Anything by J. Budziszewski. Professor Theophilus gives provocative answers to college students’ questions. The book is written by a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin.
40. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. The final book in the Hunger Games trilogy will be out AUgust 24th. Still summer, but barely.

Adult Fiction and Nonfiction
41. The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle.
42. Bring Me a Unicorn: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1922-1928. Before she was married to famous aviator Charles Lindbergh, Anne Morrow, daughter of the American ambassador to Mexico, kept a journal and wrote a plethora of letters. This book is the first of five volumes of collected letters and journal entries of Anne Morrow soon-to-be Lindbergh. The others are called: Hour of Gold Hour of Lead, Locked Rooms Open Doors, The Flower and the Nettle, and War Within and Without.
43. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. It’s been a long time since I read this classic, but I remember it as a very summery book. Sad and summery.
44. Miracle in Philadelphia by Caroline Drinker Bowen. Read about that hot summer in Philadelphia 1787, and and celebrate the miracle that is the U.S. Constitution.
45. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. June selection for the Semicolon Book Club.
46. Mrs. Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson. July selection for Semicolon Book Club. I just read my first book by D.E. Stevenson, and I’m looking forward to another.
47. 1776 by David McCullough. Another summertime American history book.
48. Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. Just read it. It’s wonderful.
49. Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. Every summer should include travel and adventure.
50. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees. Reviewed by Florinda at the 3 R’s.
51. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Everyone recommends this one. This summer I’m going to read it.

52. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. I guess this one is really a YA fiction title, but I ran out of room on that list, and it’s just as good for adults. Marcelo’s summer job at his father law office teaches him about the real world, but his co-workers learn a few things, too, from the wonderfully honest and autistic Marcelo. Semicolon review here.

I case that’s not enough, here a few more lists:

Death in Summer: Mysteries for Hot Days
Summer Reading: 2006

This post is linked to Armchair BEA because these are the books I’d be talking about, and in some cases looking for, if I were there. Come back tomorrow for an interview with a very special and stunningly beautiful blogger and Armchair BEA participant. And Thursday I’ll give you a list of all the books I’d like to snag see if I were at BookExpo America this week. Those of you who are ther: enjoy!