- The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien I know Christopher Tolkien was not impressed with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations, but, c’mon, wouldn’t The Silmarillion make a great miniseries? It could be Sherlock-style, a few long episodes per season. It has everything: sword fights and epic grudges and world building. I just want to see The Fall of Gondolin with Glorfindel as a real hottie.
- Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore This would make a great movie… if they could get it made. It would no doubt ruffle a lot of feathers, but think of it as a contemporary Life of Brian, right?
- Alana: The First Adventure, Tamora Pierce Since the success of the Lord of the Rings films, they’ve been looking for the next big fantasy franchise. They had a chance for a girl-centered fantasy series with The Golden Compass, but they blew it because they were too cowardly to actually make an adaptation of the book. So why not Alana? Or…
- Sabriel, Garth Nix Uhm, this would be amazing?! Seriously, it has all the makings of a huge fantasy film franchise. There’s cool magic and zombies and battles. With the 20th anniversary recently, this would be great on film and the charter magic would look so cool.
- Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor Another fantasy series that would be amazing on the big screen. Seriously, there is nothing like this book, but it would be so easy to market as “the next Harry Potter” or whatever they like to say these days. “If you liked Harry Potter, then Akata Witch will blow your mind.“
- The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, Uma Krishnaswami This would be such a fun kid movie! It would be kind of like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but… better! I don’t know, what are current “real life” kid movies popular these days? This one would be great.
- Zita the Spacegirl, Ben Hatke Another great kids’ movie in the making! Zita the Spacegirl keeps flying off the shelf in my library and I have no doubt that it would be popular with my students and their peers. It’s got fun and adventure and excitement, without feeling like an hour+ long toy advertisement.
- Pantomime, Laura Lam Okay, obviously by now you can tell that I really like fantasy. I love fantasy, and fantasy movies in particular. I like to see cool special effects. Pantomime would be another great fantasy movie, but with some diversity, for a change. It’s such a great book, and I think it would make an equally good movie.
- Midwinterblood, Marcus Sedgewick This is another one that would be a good miniseries. Remember that Syfy series, The Door? It would be like that, a limited run of six or twelve episodes and each one would be one time period, and it would all be a big mystery, like Lost or something.
- Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld I can’t decide if this would be a better movie or miniseries. It would take a lot of finagling to fit in the dual narratives, but if it could be done well, this would be a great show.
I might read on my way to the beach (the nearest one is more than an hour away by train), but I won’t read on the beach. It’s too sandy and hot. If I’m going to be at the beach, then I’ll play in the water. If I want to read, then I’ll read in the comfort of my own home, with the A/C on.
But here’s what I hope to read over the summer:
- The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal, E.K. Weaver I bought this on the Kickstarter months ago. I don’t even know if it will be out by this summer, but if not, I might just reread the webcomic. This is the perfect summer story: a road trip with groovy tunes and a sweet love story. I can’t wait to (re)read this.
- Nimona, Noelle Stevenson This one should be in the mail soon! I’ve already read it once this year, online, but I can’t wait to read the print-exclusive epilogue and, well, just reread it.
- Peter and the Starcatchers, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson I downloaded this last year from Audiobook SYNC, but I never got a chance to listen because I don’t use headphones (long story). Hopefully this summer, I’ll get a chance to listen to this one and some of this year’s offerings. I’ll need something to keep me entertained during inventory.
- Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen I’ve never read a single book by Jane Austen. I know, right? They just don’t seem very interesting to me. Northanger Abbey sounds like the most fun of the lot, so I’ll get a copy from the library, or maybe an ebook – the type in the library copy is so tiny. It’s no wonder nobody likes to read them.
- New On the Job: A School Librarian’s Guide to Success, Ruth Toor OK, I ordered this one with my collection development picks and it probably won’t make it in until the beginning of next year. I’m not even that new on the job, but I want to improve my skills as a librarian, of course. I actually have almost a month of inservice before the students come back for the 2015-2016 school year, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to read it before then and incorporate some of it into my planning.
- Dark Tower, Stephen King I probably won’t reread the whole thing, but The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, the not-flashback parts of Wizard & Glass, and Wolves of the Calla are just so readable. It’s like watching really good TV. Stephen King isn’t a very beautiful writer, but he spins one hell of a yarn.
- The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes, Soman Chainani I am so ready to finally get my hands on this and read it! I loved The School for Good and Evil, but I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t picked up the second book in the series. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Agatha and Sophie next!
- Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman One of my friends just bought a copy of this recently and I immediately asked if maybe I could borrow her copy? I have my own, but it’s at my mother’s house in the USA. (#expatproblems) Footnotes as such a pain on ereaders, so I’ll have to read her print copy… Or just buy it for myself, you know? I haven’t read this book in years.
- The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Edward James I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get my hands on this one, at least not at a reasonable price. It’s not one of Amazon.co.jp’s big sellers, and that means you pay a premium for getting it imported. But I would love to read more about children’s literature, and summer is the perfect time for digging into something heavy. Then I’ll start the new school year feeling smarter!
- The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice This was one of two print books I brought with me to Japan when I moved. It’s such a trashy book. I have this lovely, beaten up old mass market paperback. The pages are all soft and it’s so cozy to reread. I know almost every word, but: Lestat. Swoon. This, I might even throw in my bag, if I were going to the actual beach.
I decided to do something different for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. It’s a freebie this week, and instead of writing about books that I love and remember well (or books that I hate and will never, ever read), I thought about the books that I had mostly forgotten, but when I wrack my brain, I vividly remember reading these… Even if I’ve forgotten everything but the title (or, in the case, of Wizard’s Hall, which I had forgotten the title but remembered the cover). None of these come up if you ask me for my top ten favorite anything, and most of them were only borrowed from the library, not bought, so I don’t have copies at home. But once I remembered that they existed, I felt a pang of fuzzy nostalgia for these books. Some of these were exciting new discoveries (the mystery and intrigue of Dead Girls), while some fed my appetite for ghost stories (Here There be Ghosts), and others held me over while I was starving for the next Harry Potter (Wizards Hall). I don’t give these books enough credit.
So, from left to right, top to bottom:
- The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf, Gerald Morris
- Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters, Gail Giles
- Little Butterfly, Hinako Takanaga
- Chobits, CLAMP
- Heir Apparent, Viviane Vande Velde
- Here There Be Ghosts, Jane Yolen
- Wizards Hall, Jane Yolen
- Demon Diary, Kara
- The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, Erin Datlow and Terri Windling, editors
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme at The Broke & the Bookish is “Top Ten Books I Will (Probably) Never Read.” While you should never say never, I also think it’s important to make honest assessments of ourselves as readers and admit we will never read anything, because it is just not possible.
So, that said: my Top Ten Books I Will (Probably) Never Read. Fair warning, this is more like #unpopularopinion: the blog post.
- The Bible, Anonymous I’m not Christian. I was raised with a kind of bland, default Christianity: I was baptized, we celebrated Easter and Christmas with candy and presents, but there was no belief, just tradition. I have no particular reason to read the Bible. For one thing, it’s impossible to live in America and not at least get the gist of the Bible stories: Eden, burning bushes, golden calfs, Bethlehem, forty days in the desert, the Last Supper, crucifixion, and so on. For another, it doesn’t have any interest to me as a person of (no) faith. I know it’s a hugely important work of literature in Western history, but… I just don’t care, and there are only so many hours in a day.
- Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen Oops? My aunt bought me a copy of this in high school and I just didn’t care. I still don’t, really. I’m not sure there’s anything less interesting than the heterosexual romance of a couple of well-to-do people and, as far as I can tell, not a whole lot else happens. As I told my mother when I first tried to read this, “There aren’t enough sword fights.” Sorry, but this sounds like a snoozefest.
- Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy This sounds like another old time-y straight romance, and that just doesn’t sound interesting to me at all. I think it’s a tragedy. I don’t really care to find out. I remember a high school friend of me was bribed to read this. I don’t remember if she ever finished it, or if she liked it. I do remember that my mother didn’t like the idea of bribing me to read anything, no matter how edifying.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jeff Kinney My students love this series, but I picked it up, skimmed it, and decided it was not for me. Unlike The Lightning Thief, I’m not even sure I would have cared for this one at all if I were still in the target age range. The illustrated novel format alone isn’t enough to make it appeal to me, and the story was mostly boring and the kid was a jerk. (No, I have not shared this opinion with my students.)
- Lord of the Files, William Golding Oh, boy! A whole book about a bunch of boys being horrible to each other with some really horrific violence against animals and woman-hating in a book notable for the fact that there are, as far as I know, no women. This is the only book I was ever assigned but did not read. I still got to hear all about them murdering the sow in English class. I wanted to barf.
- Ulysses, James Joyce Is this book actually about anything? I don’t even know. It’s always sounded long and boring and generally if people list it as one of their favorites, I take that as a sign to start backing away slowly. I’m sure plenty of wonderful people have loved this book. I just haven’t met them.
- Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov You know what I would rather do than read 300+ pages about a slimy pedophile blaming his victim? I would rather get shampoo in my eyes, and if there is one thing that always ruins my morning, it is shampoo in my eyes. I hate that awful burning, stinging sensation, and I would rather get shampoo in my eyes every day for the amount of time it would take me to read this than actually read it, even if Humbert Humbert is supposed to be the bad guy and it’s technically very well written.
- 50 Shades of Grey, E.L. James I don’t only hate on classics! I’m an equal opportunity hater. I picked this up because I thought it would be so bad it’s good, ready for some dramatic readalouds, like with that Harry Potter fanfic, “My Immortal.” Instead, it was just horrible and boring and I put it down after about two pages because the prose was awful.
- Deathless, Cathrynne Valente Nope, nope. I just don’t want to read this and you can’t make me. There’s a lot in it that I think I might like, but there’s a lot in it I know I won’t like, and it has really negative associations that have nothing to do with the book itself and everything to do with the people who first recommended I read it. Now every time I hear about it, I cringe. Unlike the other books on this list, it’s not even the book’s fault. So I feel a little bad, but I’m still never going to read it.
- A Song of Ice and Fire, G.R.R. Martin Is there any book I am less interested in reading than Deathless? Yes, and it is A Game of Thrones. Even though it has sword fights, I was never really interested in political intrigue, and this just sounds rapey and violent and full of terrible people being terrible to each other. There’s enough of that in the real world, thanks.
This week at The Broke & The Bookish, the Top Ten Tuesday theme is “Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who _______,” fill in the blank. I decided to go with “Top Ten Books Which Feature Characters Who I’d Like to Befriend.”
Isn’t that why we read, right? I love to spend time with these characters. Here are some that I would love to be their friend.
- Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling I don’t know if I want to be Hermione’s best friend, or if I just want to be Hermione. I’m not even sure we would have gotten along in school, because we would have been too similar and always competing to be the best in our class. I’m sure as adults, we could look back fondly on our respective know-it-all, insecure school days and laugh about how much we had in common, even though she was learning spells and defeating Dark Lords while I was stuck studying algebra and defeating school administrators, which is not quite as exciting. But Hermione is clever and caring, which are two traits I value highly in my friends.
- Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block Weetzie Bat would either be a wonderful friend, or her quirky weirdness would get old fast if it felt too forced. I think Weetzie is a genuinely oddball individual with a big heart. I would have loved to be her friend in high school. I needed a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and that’s Weetzie’s M.O. It would have been so fun to hang out with her, because she’s so daring and adventurous and I’m so… not. Plus, Weetzie needs a friend to gently check her casual hipster racism so she stops wearing feathered headdresses.
- His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman Many of the characters in my list are kids or teenagers, either people I would have liked to be friends with when I was their age, or who I would like to mentor now as an adult. But I would want Mary Malone to be mymentor. She’s everything I wish I could be: compassionate, courageous, clever. She’s a scientist, a researcher like I want to be. (I want to study children’s literature, not Dust.) I would love to hear all about her adventures in other worlds, and emulate her as a teacher who is honest and open with her students, a good guide and role model, even if she is the “serpent.” I want to talk to her about Dust and science and falling in love and China.
- Let’s Eat Ramen, Nagumo + Aji-ichi I love ramen and, unlike Saeki, I have no shame about walking into a ramen shop full of businessmen slurping their noodles. I bet Saeki knows more about it than me (and she can read Japanese, which I can’t, really), but I’m not worried about going to a ramen shop with no other girls in sight. We could be ramen buddies! I hope she likes miso. (It would be a little weird, hanging out with a high school girl.)
- The School for Good and Evil, Soman Chainani Although she’s grim looking, with tangled hair and tattered clothes, Agatha genuinely has a heart of gold. She spends the whole book looking out for Sophie, her best and only friend, even though Sophie is shallow, vain, and very unkind to her. Agatha is a good person with a good heart, the kind of person anyone would want to be their friend, and she deserves someone who won’t put her down all of the time like Sophie.
- Saiyuki, Kazuya Minekura The boys of Kazuya Minekura’s Saiyukiare a tough talking, rude bunch, who act like they don’t have time for anyone’s BS, but really, they’re all good people. I want to go on a road trip with them across ancient China! They have this great camaraderie, even when they’re at each other’s throats, and I really like that. They can fight with each other and still care about each other, too. It was the “breaking of the fellowship” vibe from the last Tokyopop translated volume that really had me on tenterhooks, because I would hate for this band to break up!
- Castle of Shadows, Ellen Renner Princess Charlotte, usually known as Charlie, is a scrappy but upstanding young girl. She has a hard time of it sometimes, and I wish I could live in her world and maybe do a bit of a better job teaching her than her tutors. I like to think she’d find me cool enough that she wouldn’t always skip her lessons. With no mother, or even really a maternal figure, it sounded like she could really use a “cool big sis” in her life, and I think she sounds like great fun to get to know. She’s very admirable, and also very funny.
- Hetty Feather, Jacqueline Wilson In the first book, Hetty’s very young, and I wished I could reach into the pages and take better care of her than the awful foundlings home. By the end of the last book, she’s grown up to be a very courageous, if somewhat brash, young woman, who is very certain of her morals and unafraid to find her own way in a society that doesn’t have a place for someone like her: a foundling, an orphan, a poor girl who refuses to settle in to be either a servant or a farm wife. I hope some of her courage would rub off on me.
- Changeless, Gail Carriger i know a lot of people don’t like Madame Genevieve Lefoux because she’s… morally ambiguous, to put it tactfully, but I think befriending her would certainly make life a lot more interesting. Unlike the others on this list so far, I’m not even 100% sure I would trust her. Okay, I probably would trust her, because I’m a trusting person, but it would be a bad idea. I would befriend Mme Lefoux against my better judgement, no doubt beguiled by her vanilla and machine oil scent and incredible fashion sense.
- The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice I saved the two most questionable choices for last. Like Madame Lefoux, I am sure Lestat is not to be trusted, but I’m still intrigued by this soulful rock star memoirist persona. At least i would be smart enough not to trust him. (Even I’m not that gullible!) Like Madame Lefoux again, having Lestat in your life would certainly make everything a lot more exciting. But maybe that’s why it’s best to only visit him in his own book, where you can safely shut the covers on him.
I’m very particular about who I decide is a “favorite author,” and my criteria have changed over time. I’d much rather tell you my favorite books, but that’s not the prompt – although there is considerable overlap, of course. I just don’t necessarily think I’ll like every single thing an author writes, and that’s OK. Or, like, what if they’re a good writer, and I like their book(s), but they’re a terrible person? (I enjoyed Ender’s Game, but even so, I wouldn’t put Orson Scott Card anywhere on my “Top Ten Favorite” anything.)
So it took me awhile to come up with this list, and I’m still not entirely satisfied with it. I mean, what about Stephen King? I loved Dark Tower, but not only have I not read anything else by him, I never will! So I went with authors who wrote formative books for me as a reader, or my favorite books, or whose books I usually like – it’s not all the same, you know?
- J.K. Rowling OK, OK. I’m really only talking about her Harry Potter stuff here, because I’ve never read (and don’t plan to read) The Cuckoo’s Calling or The Casual Vacancy, but, you know, I really really love Harry Potter and it was such a huge part of my childhood and my development as a reader (and as a person) that I can’t leave J.K. Rowling off of this list.
- Philip Pullman See? I told you there would be overlap with my favorite books. Of course I put him on this list because of His Dark Materials -and the related books, especially Once Upon a Time in the North. Unlike J.K. Rowling, I’ve read some of his other stuff, like Clockwork, which is great, and The Tin Princess, although that’s odd for me because it’s the fourth Sally Lockhart book, but I haven’t read the others. (I never start in the middle of a series!)
- Holly Black I haven’t read every single thing she’s written, and while some of it doesn’t interest me (Curse Workers?) and some of it didn’t do it for me (Valiant, oops), I loved Tithe when I was a teenager and I loved Doll Bones as an adult, and I can’t wait to read The Darkest Part of the Forest. I credit Holly Black with introducing me to urban fantasy, which was, like, totally mind blowing to me at the time.
- Neil Gaiman Again, I haven’t read everything, but what I’ve read, I’ve really liked, for the most part. (I did not particularly care for American Gods.) Good Omens? I loved it, and I’ve read it a bunch of times. Fortunately, The Milk? I read this no less than ten times out loud to my students (five grades, two classes per grade, once for myself, twice for book club) and it never got any less funny. Anansi Boys? I haven’t read it in ages, but I remember that I really liked it.
- David Almond I remember there was a time when I read any David Almond books that I could get my hands on. There weren’t many then; my local library had Skellig,Kit’s Wildnerness, and my favorite, Heaven Eyes. Something about them, especially Heaven Eyes, really spoke to me. I remember reading about Erin and January drinking “pilfered sherry,” and knowing, somehow, that this book was going to matter to me.
- Jacqueline Wilson Unlike the other authors on this list, I didn’t discover Jacqueline Wilson until adulthood, although she writes books for children. I picked up her The Lottie Project after making a display of the original, ugly old cover and the new and improved cover to make a point about not judging books by their covers. Then I read Hetty Feather because I liked the cover of Sapphire Battersea (never read out of order!) and omg it was so good. I went on to tear through a whole bunch of her stuff – Lily Alone, Midnight, Secrets, and a few others – and I was just as excited as my students when we got our library copy of Opal Plumstead.
- CLAMP Hey, mangaka are still authors! CLAMP wrote the first ever manga I read, Wish, and my favorite ever manga, TSUBASA: RESERvoir CHRoNiCLE, and many, many other manga that I’ve loved and made part of my personal mythology: CardCaptor Sakura, Tokyo Babylon, X. They’re also probably responsible for my weird thing about characters who have something wrong with their eyes. (“It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye, and then it’s a pairing!”)
Kazuya Minekura Another mangaka for this list. I’m not as familiar with her work, and I haven’t read everything like I have with CLAMP, but not only do I really love Saiyuki, I have a special place for it in my heart because I have so many fond memories of fangirling about it with so many of my friends. Her Wild Adapter was something else, too, and the full color Stigma that I found for ¥105 remains one of my best Book•Off finds ever.
- Brian Jacques Except for maybe American Girl or Goosebumps, Brian Jacques’s Redwallwas the first series that I read everything – and I mean everything. I read the whole series in publication order, and then again in chronological order. My bff Mousey became “Mousey” (and eventually, “Mousey”) because of this series. I made all of my first online friends through Redwallforums. I tried to read Castaways of the Flying Duchman, but I just couldn’t do it for some reason. Still, I owe Brian Jacques so much for my reading life that he deserves a spot on this list.
- J.R.R. Tolkien I guess you probably saw this coming? I did mention a lot of overlap with my favorite books. I’ve been reading Tolkien for over ten years, and you know what? it never gets less good. Sometimes, I reread certain things and cringe, but no. The Lord of the Rings is still a masterpiece, and I recently (last year) read The Silmarillion for the first time and guess what? it was great, too! Tolkien was a formative reading experience for me, and a community touchstone for nerds.
Let me tell you, it was really hard not to just quote entirely from His Dark Materials with a little Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings thrown in for good measure.
Remembering is just an invention of the mind.
–Freak the Mighty, Rodman Philbrick
You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.
If you love books enough, books will love you back.
–Among Others, Jo Walton
Buying a book is not about obtaining a possession, but about securing a portal.
–The Magician’s Book, Laura Miller
If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.
–Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, Mo Willems
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.
–The Fault in Our Stars, John Greene
The stories we love best do live in us forever. … Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.
–Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Someone else always has to carry on the story.
–Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. … This is it. There is nothing else.
–The Magicians, Lev Grossman
… and the most important, beautiful, and heartbreaking book quote of all:
We have to build the Republic of Heaven where we are, because for us, there is no elsewhere.
–The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman