Monday, July 16, 2007

Armchair Travel

A Travel Challenge - I blame Constance. I just went to her blog to take a look at pictures of Spectacle Island and I found a link to this reading challenge.

I always enjoy a challenge and if I commit myself I am much more likely to finish a pile of books that might be lurking around rather than just looking at them wanly and hoping that the stories they contain will just jump right into my head.

I took a close look at the rules and determined that if I could find 6 books that qualified in THE PILE then I could take part. (I am afraid that THE PILE is now of such epic proportion that it must be typed in all caps. Did I mention that I went to NMRLS and got a stack of freebies to review? Just throw another 10 titles on THE PILE Fecteau. You'll get to them.)

So here is the bit of rules that allow me to take part: Fiction or non-fiction works are fine, and do not need to be specifically travel related, as long as the location is integral to the book - I’ll leave that to your discretion.

And so - the list (all of which are possibilities for Summer Reading 2008):

INTO THE WILD by Jon Krakauer - The story of a young man who shucks off every bit of his identity to travel from Georgia, through Canada and into the wilds of Alaska.

COME BACK TO AFGHANISTAN by Said Hyder Akbar - An Afghan-American youth spends his summers with his father trying to help rebuild post-Taliban Afghanistan.

LOST AND FOUND by Carolyn Parkhurst - A mother and daughter try to connect while taking part in a round-the-world reality show.

DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? by Randa Abdel-Fattah - An Australian-Palestinian girl decides to put on the hajib - traditional head-wear - at her snobby Australian prep school. (This one is kind of a stretch, but if she were in Palestine, it wouldn't be a problem. It is the whole story since she is in Melbourne!)

SUMMER AT TIFFANY by Marjorie Hart - Two young girls spend the summer in New York City in 1945.

BREAKOUT by Paul Fleischman - An all day traffic jam in Los Angeles is about as hellish as travel can get!

So there you have it. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I just saw HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX last night and enjoyed it immensely. And now I am fixated on the DEATHLY HALLOWS. Here is a link to an essay by Stephen King about the end of the series.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Pile

Here is a list of books that I am reading for my own pleasure, accidentally bought when I was looking over the summer reading tables at Barnes and Noble or that I borrowed from Mr Flanders' book stash.

Do you know that Mr. Flanders has the most amazing collection of young adult books at the high school? I am storing them for him over the summer and I really would like to replace them with old copies of Someday Man Will Walk on the Moon or The Career Gals' Guide to Dressing Smart! or other outdated books I keep in the backroom, but he would notice. Someday, when I can't control myself any longer I am going to raise an army of 10th grade girls and storm his classroom with torches and pitchforks demanding that he donate them to the library. But that's a story for another day.

Back to the book list. I have put them in three categories for your reading convenience. (And bear in mind that I have another 40 or so books that I bought for the library that I need to test drive this summer as well. Boy this job is good for having an excuse to read all the time.)

First up are the books I am reading for my old lady book clubs that look interesting anyway:
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen - Circus, the Great Depression, murder, elephants; what's not to like?
EVENING by Susan Minot - It's a movie starring every great English speaking actress on the planet - plus a little girl from Beverly - and it is about love and death and that sort of thing.
LOST AND FOUND by Carolyn Parkhurst - A mother and daughter appear on a reality show. This is by the author of DOGS OF BABEL, which is one of my all time favorites and I demand you go read it right now if you like dogs, or trees or people or tattoos or anything. Go read it!

Next up is non-fiction:
THE BURN JOURNALS by Brent Runyon - A fourteen year old boy set himself on fire. Find out why.
INTO THE WILD by Jon Krakauer - This is the first paragraph of the author's note. "In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moos hunters." Way to hook a reader, Krakauer! I don't even like nature and I am dying to read this!
ELEVEN SECONDS by Travis Roy and E.M. Swift - Roy was a B.U. hockey player who was paralyzed in the first game of his freshman year. This is his story.

And of course I have plenty of fiction to read:
BREAKOUT by Paul Fleischman - This looks fascinating - it has two interweaving parts. In one a girl is trying to leave a lousy life in L.A. In the other she is looking back as an adult and performing a one woman show based on the events of the first story. And many students will love it because it is 137 pages.
HONEY, BABY, SWEETHEART by Dab Caletti - Take a quiet girl who likes to read and a thrill-seeking rich boy. Add a road trip, lost love and a book group of middle aged ladies! [Okay, I know I nearly had you until the middle aged ladies...]
BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan - A romance by the amazing author of REALM OF POSSIBILITY.
SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE by David Lubar. This looks hysterical. Also it has the word "freshmen" in the title so people will think it is easy and will be willing to read it!
LUNA by Julie Anne Peters - How did I miss this National Book Award finalist about a cross-dressing teen?

Did I mention that I have 35 books in my trunk to take camping? Plus I have to read EAST OF EDEN by John Steinbeck and GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens or Mrs. Cohen and Ms Lincoln are going to torment me for the rest of my life? Do you think there might be something wrong with me? Oh, and the new Harry Potter will need to be read, too. Good grief!

Friday, July 06, 2007

A NORTHERN LIGHT by Jennifer Donnelly.

Here is a possibility for next year. It is an interesting look at a smart girl in what appears to be a dead-end life. She lives in northern New York and helps out on her widowed Dad's farm, works as a waitress at a summer resort and longs to go to New York City to college. There is a mysterious death at the hotel where she works and the letters of the dead girl become entangled with Mattie's own complicated life.

I also just read P.L.A.I.N JANES by Cecil Castellucci which is a graphic novel about "art terrorism" which I liked very much until a friend pointed out a bunch of things about it that made me like it less. Mainly, that you barely knew anything about the secondary characters which was quite irritating now that I think about it . I still liked the story quite well.

But A NORTHERN LIGHT was far more rewarding a read. And it made me want to dig into AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY, which shares the same murder as inspiration.