I’d like to introduce you to a very special friend, my pookie bear, Megan. Megan and I became instant best work buds while working at the University of Guelph way, way back in 2011/12 before she left me to return to PEI.
An avid reader, I asked Megan to share some of her favourite 2016 reads to inspire last minute Christmas gifts…or to add another book to your library holds list. She’ll tell you a bit about her reading goal for this year and tell you about her favourite books of the year as well as her fave books to gift her cutie-pie nephew, because we agree that books are the perfect gift for wee kiddos.
I’ve been engaging in a little reading challenge this year. My goal was to read 50 books in 52 weeks (a book a week plus a two-week vacation). I am a few books behind, but I think I’m going to make it. (ps: you can follow Megan’s book challenge and book ratings on Goodreads)
The rules of my challenge were simple – I wouldn’t re-read any books this year (I have a nasty habit of re-reading books I love and never reading anything new), I would read anything that was recommended (although this shifted a bit as I now have over 200 on the list – I’ve been able to be a bit choosy), and I would finish everything I started. I’ve accepted recommendations from friends, colleagues, librarians, strangers – and I’ve added some titles from lists and blogs.
One of the things that I think is really great about this challenge is that I’m reading everyone’s favourite books. I’ve had a few “meh” books, but nothing awful and many incredible. So here are a few of my faves.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – You know how sometimes books just reach from the pages to grab you and captivate you? Yeah, this book is that. I don’t even know how to describe the plot. Kind of mystery, lots of heartbreak, really well developed characters. My one beef about the book is that the language is a little bit flowery. Normally this would annoy me in a book, but I just loved this story so much. There is a line in the book that I think sums it up so well: “Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.” You need to read this book (but you can skip his other books – not even close to as good as this one!)
The Graveyard Book b Neil Gaiman – Honestly, I picked this one up because I love Neil Gaiman, no other reason. Seriously, read anything Neil Gaiman has written (graphic novels especially) and be entertained. But I picked this book because it’s just so cute and clever. It’s a YA book about a kid that lives in a graveyard with ghosts. A super quick, easy read that reinforces that Neil Gaiman can do absolutely everything.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – OMG this is a good read. It’s about an intersex man named Cal (initially called Callie). The first half of the book is about Cal’s grandparents migrating to the US and the second half of the book is about Cal’s life, as he comes to terms with his gender identity. It’s a great read, a bit wordy, but overall I really like Eugenides’ mixed narrative style and use of humour and irony. There are a lot of parallels with Greek mythology in this book, which was fun to explore. And I’m so fascinated with gender identity – this book really inspired me to do more reading and research about intersex that I never would have done on my own.
The Giver by Lois Lowry – I know, I know. Everyone in the world has read this book. Well, except me. I do agree with the million people that recommended it though. It’s a must read, if you haven’t already.
And finally, for some Canadian content:
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – This book kind of came out of nowhere for me. As much as I say I have an open mind about books, I was not looking forward to this one. Basically, it follows the story of a few groups of people after a flu pandemic kills most of the population. It’s really understated; nothing flowery or fancy, just a really well-told story that connects a few groups of people and events over a span of 20 years. I love this quote: “No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed up as bears or peppers for Halloween.”
…doesn’t that sound peaceful?
– Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
– She’s Come Undone – Wally Lamb
– The Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom
– I’ll Give you the Sun – Jandy Nelson
– Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden (anything by Joseph Boyden is wonderful)
– Code Name Verity – Elizabeth Wein
– The House at Riverton – Kate Morton
– Rules of Civility – Amor Towles
– The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – All kids love this book. It’s like crack for kids. I don’t know why, but I’ve never met a kid that didn’t adore this book. My nephew had a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake for his first birthday and omg it was cute.
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton – Sandra Boynton is a baby whisperer, I think. Babies love her books. The Going to Bed Book is one of my favourites (although I really don’t understand why they would take a bath BEFORE exercise), right up there with Little Pookie and But Not the Hippopotamus.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt – The cutest book ever. Because apparently, crayons have feelings too. But don’t worry, there is a sequel and the crayons come home.
Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt – I’m not sure if kids actually like these books, but I think they are hilarious. My nephew is a bit too little for them now, but I can’t wait to start reading Scaredy Squirrel’s 100% safe non-adventures with him.
I hope you find something for you or a loved one from this list.
Tomorrow some DIYs and Thursday I’ll share my favourite for adults and kids.
Thinking about doing a half-marathon with pretty much no experience? Megan will be back on the blog in January with some training, tips, and thoughts about running.