Best Books Published 2009
1. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (FIC)
2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (YA)
3. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld (FIC)
4. The Gates by John Connolly (FIC)
5. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson (MYS)
6. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (MYS)
7. A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert (FIC)
8. Genesis as illustrated by R. Crumb (GN)
9. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (YA)
****10. The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt (FIC) [I haven't read this one yet but I'm going to in the near future, and I'm sure it will make my list then.]
The Weekly Geek post inspiring this one can be found here.
I was really excited when I read about Amy’s Great Idea (nudge, nudge–see what I did there?) to have a week spotlighting my childhood favorite series, The Babysitter’s Club by (Smith alum!) Ann M. Martin. Like many girls of a certain age, these books helped form my love for books and reading.
My favorite character was Stacey, the ever cool New York City-native with hair I dreamed about (mostly I blame Keri Russell), but I had to acknowledge, even then, that I had more of a Mary Anne personality. Although I loved the characters and their exploits, I had (and still have) two major complaints about the original series: 1) the redundant second chapter detailing how the club was formed and what the members are like–which any self respecting BSC reader should know by heart after at least #32, and 2) the outdated, ridiculous fashion sense of the characters.
In order to keep up with the new trends of kids these days, Scholastic enlisted Raina Telgemeier to transform the first four books in the Babysitter’s Club into graphic novels. I’ve read them all, and I’m here to tell you that THEY ARE AMAZING. Okay, maybe not Persepolis or Maus amazing, but Telgemeier manages to revitalize the series in a way I didn’t know was possible. She addresses complaint #1 by having a list of the characters and their positions in the club on the first page and adresses complaint #2 by, well, drawing Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn in twenty-first century appropriate outfits. I was further pleased to find that the handwritten journal entries, one of the highlights from the regular print version, are still included.
I highly recommend the graphic novel adaptations as a great nostalgic turn, and maybe a way to get your favorite tweens into your childhood joy.
As a bonus, the song that still gets stuck in my head ALL THE TIME:
Dear Mr. Stine (Can I call you Bob?),
Yesterday, for the first time in over ten years, I read a Goosebumps book, Vampire Breath (1996). I didn’t get around to reading as a tween–I think I was done after Say Cheese and Die Again. I’m finally at that age where books and movies and music I cast off as being “babyish” have begun to charm me with their nostalgic pleasantness, so please don’t think I wasn’t able to appreciate a middle-grade novel in my “advanced” years.
I have to tell you Bob, you used to scare the beejesus out of me. Granted, I happen to be the only person in existence who was terrified after watching Hocus Pocus, so I’ll let you interpret that comment as you see fit. Nevertheless, Vampire Breath was everything I was hoping for: a good setup with two bullies (one’s even a girl! Kudos to you, Bob) find a creepy hidden passageway and awake a hundred year old vampire named Count Nightwing, nervous tension with the threat of said bullies being turned into vampires if they don’t help the Count find his teeth, and a creepy ending (Don’t worry, Bob, I’ll leave that out, just in case you haven’t read it yet).
Sure, I finished the hundred plus page book in less than half an hour, but who’s keeping track of time? I was even excited when I got to the end and saw a form to join the Goosebumps fan club for just $8.95–too bad the offer expired in 1997. Bring it back! I’ll join!
Thanks for the chills, Bob.
P.S. A Night in Terror Tower was way scarier.
P.P.S. I’m not going to reread that one, just in case it loses its magic.
Grade: This is ungradeable. It’s GOOSEBUMPS!
Recommended: As a dose of nostalgia for my fellow 20 somethings. Just don’t be disappointed if your younger siblings don’t think it’s as cool. Count Nightwing doesn’t even sparkle.
Five points to me towards the Four Month Challenge!
I finally started using Goodreads and I must admit I’m a liiiiitle addicted. I promise not to make it awkward if you add me.
I made the innocent mistake of reading Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World within a month of one another, and I’m completely dystopia-ed out. Maybe that explains my otherwise unexplainable urge to read Babysitters Club and Goosebumps books. I already had to hold off finishing The Girl Who Played With Fire because it was making me too anxious–I think I need someone to hold my hand as I read that one.
In fact, even writing about these books is making me nervous. Instead, here is a picture of two super cute Persian cats who were up for adoption at the MSPCA a few months ago. (They were adopted!–sadly, not by me.) Doesn’t his cute little old man face just get you??
So, uh…anyone read any good books lately? *ahem*ahem*
- I paricipated in the 24 hour Read-a-Thon for the very first time! I made a few beginner’s mistakes in regard to book selection, but I’ll be prepared for next time.
- The first (hopefully annual) Boston Book Festival showed some great promise; hopefully they’ll have it again next year and it won’t rain!
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: I’m glad I read this book, but it wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. Review forthcoming.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I never thought I’d read a Jane Austen novel, and I certainly never thought I’d actually enjoy it. Why didn’t I read this earlier? Elizabeth Bennett isn’t my favorite heroine ever, but she’s pretty fabulous.
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: I’m kind of partial to Elinor. Also Colonel Brandon. I blame Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman.
- The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall: I’ll be honest, I hated Gone With the Wind, so Randall didn’t have to try hard to make me like her interpretation. I hope she doesn’t look at her Good Reads reviews, though; it would give her a complex for sure.
- Commencement by Courtney J. Sullivan: I want back the time it took me to read this novel. I didn’t like any of the characters and the big conflict is ridiculous. Also there was surprise!mom death. I believe the New York Times said this was a “beach read for smart women,” and to that I say, “No, no, no.”
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson: So good.
- The Gates by John Connolly: Read-a-thon!
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: Read-a-thon!
- Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley: Not as good as I thought it was going to be, but still rather sweet–er, charming.
- Kristy’s Great Idea: A Graphic Novel by Raina Telgemeier
- The Truth About Stacey: A Graphic Novelby Raina Telgemeier
- Claudia and Mean Jeanine: A Graphic Novelby Raina Telgemeier
- Read My Lips: Sexual Subversion and the End of Gender by Riki Wilchins
- Butch Is a Noun by S. Bear Bergman: Read-a-thon!
- The Working Poor: Invisible In America by David K. Shipler: Highly reccommended. Review forthcoming.
- Invisible Monsters by Chuck Pahlanuik
- Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- I Am America and So Can You by Stephen Colbert: Amusing, but I like Jon Stewart’s America better. Then again, I did miss out on the funny charts and graphics, so maybe I shouldn’t compare the two.
- The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling: For the Harry Potter challenge! My heart belongs to Jim Dale.
My Favorites of the Month
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
- The Gates by John Connolly
- The Working Poor: Invisible In America by David K. Shipler
- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
25% of the books I read in October can be listed as favorites?? That has to be an all time record!
- The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larsson
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Hopefully I’ll finish this one tomorrow.
- I joined the Four Month Challenge. I’ll be starting out with the five-point Vampire challenge by reading Vampire Breath by R.L. Stine. I picked it up at the thrift store and I’m super excited to enjoy a little Goosebumps nostalgia.
- For the Harry Potter Challenge, I finished …and the Goblet of Fire and started …and the Order of the Phoenix. Hopefully I’ll finish a post on these soon.
- I’m participating in Babysitter’s Club Week hosted by My Friend Amy and will be posting a review on either the surprisingly delightful graphic novels or the one BSC book we actually have in the house, if I can find it.