Part of me feels that writing this post with almost two full weeks of 2016 is wrong. However, I also know that many of us are on the first day of the break and looking for books to explore. And if NPR has already done it, I can too. Here are some of my favorite books that I read in 2016 (in no particular order).
The War That Saved My Life | Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This isn't your typical World War II novel. Bradley is a lover of words and isn't afraid of tackling hard topics. At 9, Ada has never left her home because her mother is ashamed of Ada's deformed foot. Ada and her brother, Jamie, leave London to escape the war and find acceptance. (I'm currently reading Jefferson's Sons by Bradly - also likely to get a five-star ranking and become part of my 8th grade lit circles I'm starting after break.)
A Man Called Ove | Fredrik Backman
Ove is a curmudgeon of a man, but you can't help but love him. I often found myself laughing aloud at the things he said that echo the inner-critic in all of us. Ove has to grieve the loss of his wife and find his place in the world without her. I can't wait for Backman's other books to come in for me at the library.
Anna and the Swallow Man | Gavriel Savit
Another World War II book. Another word lover. After Anna's father is captured by the Germans, Anna finds herself walking through Poland in an effort to escape. Along the way, she meets the mysterious Swallow Man, and they begin an unlikely friendship.
Ready Player One | Ernest Cline
I loved this book and can't wait for it to be a movie. Wade spends most of his time in a virtual reality world and learning 80's video game pop culture. That knowledge comes in handy when the world's creator dies and leaves users with easter eggs to find and puzzles to solve. Fantastic story and fascinating commentary on the ways virtual reality could affect our society.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend | Katarina Bivald
This is a book for book lovers. Sara travels from her home in Sweden to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to met her pen pal. However, upon arrival, she finds that her pen pal has died since the last letter. Sara stays in Broken Wheel and shares her love of books with the town. I loved all of the specific book references artfully sprinkled throughout the novel.
Crenshaw | Katherine Applegate
I'm surprised this book didn't get more traction since Katherine Applegate is the author of The One and Only Ivan. In Crenshaw, Jackson and his family end up homeless and living in their minivan. To cope, Jackson receives encouragement from his imaginary friend, a cat named Crenshaw. If I taught 4th-6th grade, I'd definitely teach this book. Applegate does an amazing job of humanizing the homeless population.
Defending Jacob | William Landay
Andy is the assistant district attorney. Andy's son, Jacob, is accused of murder. This is the story of Jacob's court case and Andy's journey to defend him. A great page-turner.
The Drunken Botanist | Amy Stewart
Okay, so I'm actually still reading this one, but I'm enjoying it so far. This is for anyone who loves to garden and loves to drink alcoholic beverages. Stewart explores the different fruits, veggies, and grains, that make up our favorite adult beverages. The book includes gardening tips, history, cocktail tips, and general-awesome knowledge with which to wow your cocktail buddies.
What Do You Do with An Idea? | Kobi Yamada & Mae Besom
This lovely picture takes on the journey of how we approach ideas. Do we hide it? How do we develop it? Do we share it with others? A great encouragement to those of us stuck in "the suck" to do something with our ideas.