Friday, January 1, 2010

Native Mom Booklist 2009

It's time for my annual blog post where I recommend books from among the many I've read this year. When I got my Kindle last year, I really put it to good use. I have more than 40 books on it and have read about 30 of them this year. So here are the books I recommend.

1. Columbine, Dave Cullen
2. The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak
3. Hands of My Father, Myron Uhlberg
4. Dog on It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery, Spencer Quinn
5. The rest of the Twilight Saga books

Unfortunately, I was not able to recommend a "top 10" list of books, mostly because I spent a lot of time reading classics, books like Pride and Prejudice and Tender is the Night, which I've been meaning to work into my reading list for a while. Love the classics, just didn't include any in my recommendations this year.

My favorite - Columbine by journalist Dave Cullen. I talked about this book to everyone and even blogged about it earlier this year. Cullen does an amazing job of telling the story of the tragedy at Columbine from so many different perspectives. While the subject matter is difficult, it is a fascinating look at media, society, culture, violence, mental illness, and the teenage experience in America. A must read!!!

The Book Thief, written by Marcus Zusak and published in 2005, has been on the NY Times bestseller list for young adults for more than 100 weeks. I decided to read this without knowing a thing about the plot simply because I had seen it on so many recommended reading lists. In fact, I did not know it was a book intended for young adults until months after I read it. One reviewer called this book Harry Potter and the Holocaust. I think it is more than that. It's a completely fresh and unique take on the telling of World War II and the evil that was the holocaust. The war is shown from the perspective of the German people, how they were affected, and the main characters are children. The narrator is Death, which I found strange at first, but it became one of my favorite things about this book by the end because even Death hates war. I found this book especially meaningful considering the war our country has been in for nearly the last decade. A very well-written book that will leave you thinking about it long after you've closed the cover.

There are many kinds of discrimination we've been able to overcome in our country and author Myron Uhlberg writes an eye-opening account of the discrimination his family faced in the book Hands of My Father. The book is an account of his life as the hearing son of two deaf parents and the difficulty the family faced as he grew up in the 30s and 40s in Brooklyn. Uhlberg learned American Sign Language before he could speak and was a vital link between his parents and the hearing world. But being that link, especially as a young child, exposed him to the cruelty and disrespect that people who are deaf can often encounter, especially during a time in our history before the Americans With Disabilities Act. This book illustrates the struggle the family faced just to live a normal life when society thought two deaf adults weren't capable of taking care of their own children; when finding work was exceedingly difficult, especially for a deaf man; and when being the child of a deaf parent meant other people treated you as if you were handicapped. The author's story is stark, startling, and ultimately moving.

On a lighter note, I had a great time reading the book Dog On It: A Chet and Bernie Mystery. I don't read much from the mystery genre, but I'll be honest and admit that the "dog as narrator" caught my attention. Chet, the canine narrator, works alongside Bernie, a downtrodden and struggling private detective to solve a missing persons case. This book is just pure fun. The characters were colorful, the mystery was simple but entertaining, and the dog was adorable. If you're a dog lover and you want an easy, fun and entertaining read, this is the book for you.

And if you are female, I recommend reading the Twilight saga. Once you pick up the first book, you'll have to read all four. In fact, I recently re-read all the books again after seeing New Moon. Romance, werewolves and vampires, enough said.

Feel free to send me your best book picks, I've got plenty of room on my Kindle for more!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Native Mom,
In regards to your review of "Columbine" by Dave Cullen, I too thought it was a great book, when I first read it. Then I began to read other books on the same subject and gradually came to a different opinion on it. I no longer consider "Columbine" to be as wonderful as I thought it was. I share the opinion of other readers and reviewers, and that is that the book "Columbine" isn't as accurate as most would think.

One reviewer of "Columbine" has really helped me to form this opinion, and that person is Randy Brown. Brown's oldest son Brooks was a classmate and friend of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and Brown also has spent as much and probably even more time than Cullen studying what happened at Columbine. Brown is quite distressed at Cullen's book because he says it's filled with errors; in fact, he all but calls "Columbine" a 'work of fiction.' If you haven't read his negative 1-star review of the book then I urge you to do so. You can see Mr. Brown's review and follow-up comments here:

In addition to that review I would also urge you to read (again, if you haven't already) Ralph Larkin's book "Comprehending Columbine". That book takes, in my opinion, a much more accurate look at what happened at Columbine and why. Also good reading is Brooks Brown's book "No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death At Columbine".