“What’s Your Favorite Book?” Four Things All My Favorite Books Have in Common

My first week in college, it became readily apparent that I was going to need to figure out something interesting about myself. Every single new group introduction seemed to start with, “Tell us your name, where you’re from, and something interesting about yourself.” The things that made me unique growing up were completely commonplace at University. Waiting for my turn with nothing interesting to say caused more stress than I’d care to admit. Once I went on and on about how my hometown is named after a national monument that’s actually in the next town over. (As you can imagine, no one was at all interested. This also said nothing about me other than my ability to talk at length about nothing at all.) Picking a favorite book used to strike a similar fear in my heart. How in the world would I pick just one? Does the person asking want all my thoughts about why I chose a particular book or are they just making polite conversation? With so many beloved reading memories and meaningful books, how does a bookworm choose? Although my answer still changes with my mood, the question got easier to answer once I identified four characteristics of all my favorite books: Continue reading

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

oveThe first time I heard of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman was when I was busily reading my way through a huge stack of books under consideration for a book club pick. A friend recommended it to me with the caveat that it might not be a great fit for book club but that she really enjoyed it. As always seems to happen when someone recommends a book (or I learn a new word), A Man Called Ove was suddenly everywhere. I heard it compared to Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand (which I’ve read) and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper (which I have not). I heard that it was slow at the beginning and that it was an exceptionally great audiobook. So when my audiobook hold came up before the print copy, I took it as a sign from the library powers that be and started listening. Continue reading

Don Quixote for Kids

don-quixote-for-kidsI once had a literature professor assign the class to read Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes in its entirety, even though we would only discuss a few portions of the book. “If you don’t read the whole thing now,” he justified, “when will you go back and finish it? I’m doing this as a favor to your busy, post-college self.” I did not think it was very generous at the time, especially as I sat in my dorm room trying to cram all 1000+ pages into a weekend. It’s been over a decade since that class, though, and I still haven’t reread Don Quixote. Maybe my professor was on to something after all.

What I do make time to read, however, are children’s adaptations. I want my little bookworms to know more about Don Quixote and Sancho Panza than they’ll get from Wishbone. There are plenty of options out there, but here are my favorites: Continue reading

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien

mrs-frisbyMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien is one of the first chapter books I read aloud to our oldest child after we made it through the works of Roald Dahl. Once again, I chose a book to read him that seemed to be a childhood favorite among my friends, even though I’d never read it myself. I had liked the movie as a kid, so I was completely shocked to find the book is nothing like the movie. (You’d think I’d know better by now.) It’s been over two years since we read this together and it is still on both our lists of favorite books I’ve read aloud. Continue reading

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

temeraireRemember when I said that a narrator with a British accent can completely change an audiobook for me? By way of example, I offer exhibit A: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. It’s likely that I would have enjoyed the book in print, but I absolutely loved it on audio. I picked up the book (okay, downloaded the audiobook) after discovering that the new-to-me author of Uprooted had just finished up a NINE book series this year. I didn’t include this book in my list of Magical Regency reads only because there is no actual magic (unless you count talking dragons, of course). It has many of the same qualities I loved in the books on that list, however: a blend of fantasy, history, and proper manners. Continue reading