Annette's Reading Log

Eclectic is probably the best way to describe this log. I'll read a suspense thriller, followed by some historical fiction, then throw in a children's book or collection of nature essays. The only pattern is the lack of consistency.

We also enjoy reading the following magazines: Orion, The Nature Conservancy, High Country News, National Wildlife, and Discover.

Of course I read lots of other books, but I'll include the ones I think might be of interest to others. Or, at least the ones I remember to add to the page.

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Winter 2006 Favorites

Goodall, Jane. (2005). Harvest of Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating. Warner Books. ISBN 0446533629
Examining the implications of your decisions regarding food consumption, Goodall makes a passionate argument for making good choices about what you choose to eat. Exploring topics such as genetically modified foods, factory farms, obesity, and water consumption, she helped me understand why it's important to buy organic products and free-range meat. Although we'd already moved toward a more healthy diet, she changed our approach by noting that each purchase you make sends a message. I particularly liked her suggestion that paying more for organic foods is like making a charitable donation to an organization you believe is doing good work.
Hamer, Dean. (2004). The God Gene: How Faith is Hard Wired in our Genes. Anchor Books. ISBN 0385720319
Why do people believe in God? Why are so many people religious? This fascinating book explores the connection between genetics and the human thirst for spirituality and meaning in life. Although the book does a nice job describing the research that has been done so far, I'll reserve judgment until more research has been conducted. On the other hand, the topic fits well with my recent interest in the role of nature vs. nurture. Actually the part of the book I found most interesting was the character trait of "self-transcendence" which goes with my interest in positive psychology.

Horn, Tammy. (2005). Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 081312350
Honey bees have been a part of American history for four hundred years. This book traces the cultural history of bees and beekeeping throughout history.

Mycio, Mary (2005). Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl. Joseph Henry Press. ISBN 0309094305
Although it's been twenty years, I clearly remember the chernobyl disaster and have often wondered what happened to the area. From easy-to-understand explanations of the scientific issues surrounding the disaster and aftermath to fascinating descriptions of the site, this book answered my many questions. The author's conversational approach made me feel like I was walking with her through the "Zone".

Page, Jake, & Officer, Charles (2004). The Big One. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618341501
I've always been fascinated by the science of natural disasters. Page and Officer do a great job exploring the big earthquake of 1811.

Sachar, Louis. (2006). Small Steps. Delacorte Pres. ISBN 0385733143
In this follow-up to the award-winning Holes, Sachar focuses on the character of Armpit from Camp Green Lake. Armpit must make the "small steps" needed to survive in today's world. Also returning is X-Ray who tempts Armpit with the prospect of easy money. New characters include a young neighbor and a famous singer. Although lacking the interesting historical connections of Holes, this book once again explores authentic issues facing young adults.

Sutter, Paul S. (2002). Driven Wild: How the fight against automobiles launched the modern wilderness movement. University of Washington Press. ISBN 0295982195
Based on his doctoral dissertation topic, Sutter does an excellent job focusing in on the origins of the wilderness movement from the 1910s through 1930s. Through chapters on Wilderness Society founders Aldo Leopold, Robert Sterling Yard, Benton MacKaye, and Bob Marshall, the author examines the thinking that led to the need to formally establish wilderness areas in the United States. He stresses concerns about captialism and mass consumption, road construction in the National Parks, and the role of the CCC in expanding building in natural areas. In addition, he explores the debate about the purpose and definition of "wildness" and "wilderness" that are still being debated 100 years later.

Fall 2005 Favorites

Barry, John M. (1997). Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and how it Changed America. Touchstone. ISBN 0-684-81046-8
After reading "The Great Influenza", I decide to buy other books by this acclaimed nonfiction author. I really enjoy Barry's wealth of background information and ability to see the big picture beyond the individual event. It was a spooky coincidence that I'd purchased "Rising Tide", because a couple months later Hurricane Katrina caused flooding through Lousiana and Mississippi. Like the hurricane of 2005, the Flood of 1927 was filled with scandal and cries of racism.
Brashares, Ann (2005). Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-72935-9
I love this series. I recently watched the movie based on the first book, so it was fun to revisit this series with new mental images of the characters. It's amazing how well the author has been able to add depth to each character.
Ellis, Deborah (2000). The Breadwinner. Groundwood. ISBN 0-88899-416-2
Wow! This book is a wonderful way to introduce students to what life was like in the late 1990s Afghanistan under Taliban rule.
Hiaasen, Carl. (2005). Flush. Knopf. IBSN 0-375-82182-1
Like Hoot, Flush's plot is connected to an environmental issue. This time the topic is water pollution with children working both within and outside the system to address their cause.
Mann, Charles. (2005). 1491: New Revelations of the America Before Columbus. Knopf. ISBN 140004006x
I always enjoy a book that makes me look at the world in a new way. Mann presents many ideas that I've heard whispers of during the past 20 years, but never seen in one book. Providing many different perspectives, Mann does an excellent job tracing the history of many of the theories about what life may be been like thousands of years ago throughout the Americas.
Paulson, Gary (2000). Harris and Me. Harcourt. ISBN 0-15-292877-4
Set in rural Minnesota after WWII, the book focuses on a boy's experiences living with his cousins during summer vacation. Having spent summers on a farm in Iowa, it was fun to read all of their adventures. As usual, Paulson's writing is colorful and full of vivid images.
Paolini, Christopher. (2005). Eldest. Knopf. ISBN 037582670x
Second in a trilogy, this book traces the adventures of dragonrider Eragon and his dragon partner Saphira. Like many middle books in a trilogy, this one focuses on character development and expansion of the plot. I look forward to the next book by this young author.
Preston, Douglas. (2005). Tyrannosaur Canyon. Knopf. ISBN 0765311046
Since first reading Thunderhead many years ago, I've been a fan of Douglas Preston. This book returns to the beauty of the desert southwest. Although similar to other mysteries, this fast-paced book contains twists and turns that sets Preston apart from other mystery authors. A fan of public lands, hiking, museums, and science, the plot and settings were a perfect match for me.
Schmidt, Gary D. (2004). Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. Clarion Books. ISBN 0-618-43929-3
Winner of both the Newbery and Prinz honors, this "coming of age" novel is based on actual events. Set in 1912, the book follows a minister's son, Turner Buckminster as he explores life in his new community of Phippsburg, Maine. He soon meets Lizzie Bright Griiffin who lives on a nearby island. Soon, Turner becomes involves in the fight over the future of Lizzie's island home.

Summer 2005 Favorites

Barr, Nevada. (2005). Hard Truth. Scholastic. ISBN 0399152415
Once again Anna Pigeon is faced with a national park mystery. Set in Rocky Mountain National Park, it was interesting reading this book while camped at the park's entrance. Our favorite park ranger must deal with a wide range of issues including kidnapping, murder, abuse, religious extremists, and disabilities.
Collins, Suzanne. (2003). Gregor the Overlander. Scholastic. ISBN 0439678137
Book One in the Underland Chronicles, this fantasy adventure was recommended to me by a class of fifth graders from Oregon. Featuring an eleven-year old boy and his little sister, the story takes us from New York City to the hidden world of Underland. While Alice in Wonderland fell through a rabbit hole, Gregor falls through a hole in the laundry room of his apartment building into a land of giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats. Full of adventure, I've got to read the others in the series.

Donnelly, Jennifer. (2003). A Northern Light. Harcourt. ISBN 0152167056
Set against the backdrop of a real event from 1906, this novel weaves history, romance, and a murder mystery into an exciting historical fiction for young adults. This Printz honor book provides an wonderful glimpse of the life and options for young woman in the early 1900s. I particularly enjoyed the focus on words and word play within the book. Our central character, Mattie learns a new word from the dictionary each day. These words are then connected to events in each chapter.
Mackey, Mike. (2005). Heart Mountain. Western History Publications. ISBN 0966155637
This well-documented book examines life in Wyoming's Concentration Camp at Heart Mountain in th 1940s. Featuring original photographs and interviews with internees, this work of nonfiction does an excellent job providing a sense of what life was like for those people imprisoned during WWII.
Preston, Douglas & Child, Lincoln. (2005). Dance of Death. Warner Books. ISBN 0446576972
Special Agent Pendergast's homicidal brother is trying to commit the "perfect crime" which involves framing our hero. The Preston/Lincoln writing team always provide exciting thrillers that keep the reader thinking and guessing right up to the end.
Rowling, J.K. (2005). Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Scholastic. ISBN 0439784549
Harry is growing up fast. His sixth year at Hogwarts is clearly the setup for the final book in the series. Although the plot lacks the action of some of the previous books in the series, this one provides lots of character development.

Spring 2005 Favorites

Bordewich, Fergus M. (2005). Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. Amistad. ISBN 0060524308

Nancy Farmer's books are widely varied and always exciting. I got so engaged in this book that it's lead me to an entire exploration of my Norse heritage. We're even going on an exploration of the Viking sites in North America. The book tells the story of Jack and his little sister who are captured by Viking Berserkers and taken by ship to their home. The boy must undertake a quest through the land of trolls to save his sister.
Farmer, Nancy. (2004). The Sea of Trolls. Atheneum Books. ISBN 0689867441

Nancy Farmer's books are widely varied and always exciting. I got so engaged in this book that it's lead me to an entire exploration of my Norse heritage. We're even going on an exploration of the Viking sites in North America. The book tells the story of Jack and his little sister who are captured by Viking Berserkers and taken by ship to their home. The boy must undertake a quest through the land of trolls to save his sister.

Friedman, Thomas. (2005). The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 13 9780374292881

A Pulitzer Prizewinning author, Friedman is one of my favorite nonfiction authors. His blog, columns, articles, and books are always right on target. If you want to understand what's unfolding in the world today, read this book. If you're interested in the impact of globalization, read this book! If you want to understand why "open minded" people have become so vocal about the need for change in US policy, read this book!

Winter 2005 Favorites

Berry, John. (2004). The Great Influenza. Viking. ISBN 0670894737

As Amazon states, this is easily one of the best nonfiction books of 2004. I first became interested in the Spanish Influenza Epidemic after reading a diary excerpt by a young adult from central Illinois written in 1918. Having read many of the young adult novels on epidemics and pandemics, l found the topic very interesting. This nonfiction medical history goes well beyond the Influenza pandemic of 1918. Much of the first section of the book focuses on a fascinating history of medicine including the scientists and practioners. From bleeding to germ theory, the book traces the evolution of medicine science. The author skillfully traces the pandemic in a way that clearly explains the perspectives of the science community as well as the general public.
Fergus, Jim. (1998). One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 031218008-X

This work of historical fiction has roots in a real peace conference that takes place in 1854 between the U.S. Army and the chief of the Northern Cheyenne. At this meeting it was suggested that because the tribe is a matrilineal society that it would only take 1000 white women to assimilate the Native Americans into the "white man's" world. The novel speculates on what would have happened if this idea had been implemented. This fascinating novel is presented as a series of journals written in the late 1800s by a women who heads west as part of this "mission".

Laskin, David. (2004). The Children's Blizzard. HarperCollins. ISBN 0060520752

I've always been fascinated by weather and diaries, so this was a great combination. This nonfiction book draws on historical documents such as journals and diaries to tell the story of people who experienced the blizzard of 1888. Hundreds of people were killed by this freak storm that hit just as students were being dismissed from country school on a sunny January day. My only criticism is that the author didn't include more direct quotes from diaries and instead retold the story in his own words.

Rollins, James. (2004). Sandstorm. William Morrow. ISBN 0060580666

It's always fun to read an old fashioned, adventure novel. Set in London and the Middle East, the book is non-stop action. When I see the name James Rollins, I know it's going to be a quick, exciting read.

Fall 2004 Favorites

Conley, Robert J. (1997). War Woman: A Novel of the Real People. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-17058-0
This book is a great example of historical fiction. Written by a Cherokee, the novel explores the life of a strong Cherokee woman from 1580 through the mid 1600s.
Preston, Douglas & Child, Lincoln (2004). Brimstone. Warner. ISBN 0-446-53143-X
Once again Preston and Child have written an exciting suspense. With much of the book set in Italy, this novel reminded me of the books by Dan Brown. What I particularly enjoy about the books starring Agent Pendergast is the hint of supernatural and unknown that's woven into the otherwise traditional mystery. Extremely well-written, these novels are about the only mysteries that I'm willing to read because they keep me thinking from beginning to end.
King, Stephen (2004). The Dark Tower VII . Grant. ISBN 1-880418-62-2
I had to wait over 20 years for this book. The first book in the series came out in the early 80s. It's strange, but I was really ready for it to end. I felt like our characters had been searching forever! I really enjoyed the way King provided "the ending," "the epilogue," "coda," poem, and "author's note." It provided the alternative endings and addressed the issues that were still in my mind. That's what I LOVE about Stephen King, he knows his audience, or "Constant Reader" as he called us, so well that he anticipated our thoughts about the conclusion.


Summer 2004 Favorites

Balliett, Blue (2003). Chasing Vermeer. Scholastic. ISBN 0-439-37294-1
I love museums, the arts, and mysteries, so I knew this book would be fun. It immediately reminded me of one of my favorite children's books From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. With the map, math challenges, and art connections, the book also has unlimited classroom connections.

Barr, Nevada (2003). High Country. Putnam. ISBN 0399151443
After a few books set in the eastern part of the US, Nevada Barr is back out west. Set in Yosemite National Park, our favorite Park Ranger has gone under cover to solve the disappearance of four people.

Bradbury, Ray (1953). Fahrenheit 451. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-41001-7

I last read this book thirty years ago when I was a teenager. It was a time of social activism and fit perfect with the times. It's interesting... at that time I was mostly interested in the censorship and anti-war themes. Today, I see the bigger themes regarding society in general, in addition to those timely topics. I decided to reread this book for three reasons. First, after seeing Fahrenheit 911, I thought the book would be an interesting connection to the social activism of today. Second, it's around the 50th anniversity of the book's publication. Finally, I'm working on materials for my graduate course and I thought it would be fun.

If people would just read Fahrenheit 451, we wouldn't need Fahrenheit 911.... just a thought. The book focuses on the larger issues of access to ideas, information, and multiple perspectives. Actually much more thought-provoking than the movie, but isn't that one of the primary advantages of the written word? Rather than being told what it think, fiction provides a context for thinking.

It's nice to know that Fahrenheit 451 isn't currently on the 100 most banned book list, but Of Mice and Men, The Chocolate War, Harry Potter, and The Giver are in the top 10. Book Burning isn't just a thing of fiction - past or future.

Child, Lincoln (2004). Death Match. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50670-8
Although I was not immediately drawn to the topic, I knew it would be good based on the author. It was. Focusing on a matchmaking service, the thriller examines interesting issues such as artifical intelligence.
Freedman, Russell (2004). The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights. Clarion Books. ISBN 0-618-15976-2
This is another great book by Russell Freedman. Through photographs and interesting text, this book traces the challenges faced by Marian Anderson.
Friedman, Thomas L. (1989, 1995). From Beirut to Jerusalem. Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-41372-6
This book does a great job explaining the history of the middle east and has many implications for today.
Friedman, Thomas L. (1999). The Lexus and the Olive Tree. Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-49934-5
Written by a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist, the author explores how globalization is changing the world.
Friedman, Thomas L. (2002). Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in an Age of Terrorism. Anchor Books. ISBN 1-4000-3125-7
Written by a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist, the author explores how globalization is changing the world.

Hesse, Karen (2002). Stowaway. Margaret K. McElderberry Books. ISBN 0-689-83987-1
It's always fun to see what form Karen Hesse's books might take from free prose in Out of the Dust to journal in Stowaway. The book is a fictionalized journal based on a real stowaway on an actual voyage of Captain James Cook.
King, Stephen (2004). Song of Susannah. Donald M. Grant. ISBN 1-880418-59-2
Book VI in the Dark Tower series, Song of Susannah is as complicated and compelling as the other five books. If you haven't read the others in the series, this one won't make much sense. You reallly need to start at the beginning. This book really sets things up for the grand finale coming out this fall.
Kunstler, James Howard (1993). The Geography of Nowhere. Touchstone. ISBN 0-671-70774-4
This book is both serious and hilarious while tracing the evolution of the American city and suburb.
Kunstler, James Howard. Home from Nowhere (1996). Touchstone. ISBN 0-684-81196-0
A continuation of The Geography of Nowhere, this book focuses on issues in urban architecture and ideas for planning comfortable living environments. Check out the Kunstler's website.
Magee, Bryan (2001). The Story of Philosophy. DK Books. ISBN 0-7894-5311-X
It's always fun to see what form Karen Hesse's books might take from free prose in Out of the Dust to journal in Stowaway. The book is a fictionalized journal based on a real stowaway on an actual voyage of Captain James Cook.
Preston, Diana & Michael (2004). A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier. Penguin. ISBN 0-670-04443-1
When we were in Sydney Nova Scotia waiting for some printing to get done at Staples, we decided to stop at the bookstore. This is always an expensive trip for Larry and I. We spent an hour in the Canadian new releases section. The book that most peaked my interest was about an Englishman from the 1600s. His name was familiar, but that was about it. The title of the book caught my interest. Dampier's (1651-1715) works affected writers such as Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe. His observations influenced Captain Cook and Charles Darwin. I loved his sense of curiosity. The combination of naturalist and buccaneer was fascinating. The authors tell the story of his life in very clear, interesting narrative. They interweave his adventures with his later works.
Ray, Paul H. & Anderson, Sherry Ruth (2000). The Cultural Creatives. Touchstone. ISBN 0-609-80845-1
Are you a cultural creative? This is one of many interesting questions posed by this book. Focusing on the distinct values and lifestyles of a subset of the population, I felt like they were profiling my life.
Thomas, Joyce Carol (2004). Linda Brown You Are Not Alone. Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 0-7868-0821-7
This book contains a collection of stories, poems, and personal reflections written by famous authors based on the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Spring 2004 Favorites

Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitare (1968). Ballantine Books. ISBN 0345326490
This is one of those books I read back in the 1970s that was interesting to revisit as my understanding of the issues of the environment, ecology, and conservation have evolved.
Diamond, Jared (2002). Germs, Guns, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Norton. ISBN 0393317552
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Diamond does a great job connecting science and social studies through examining geographical and environmental factors that shaped today's world. The book brings together many of the pieces of history and science that traditional classes never connected.
Martel, Yann (2001). Life of Pi. Harcourt. ISBN 0-15-100811-6
All I can say is, wow. One of my graduate students used this novel for a public library - high school collaborative project, so I thought I should check it out. This is one of those books that I'd been passing up at the bookstore. A novel about a boy, animals, a lifeboat, zoos, and religion is a strange, but effective combination. The perfect "book club" novel, the reflective questions at the end of the book made me want to search the Internet, think about religion, and talk to others. My personal notes on the book included words like inspiration, imagination, illusions, and importance along with storytelling, meaningfulness, and freedoms. This is a thought-provoking book that can be read at many levels and is perfect to get teens and adults talking.
Peck, Richard. The River Between Us. Dial Books. ISBN 0803727356
An interesting look at the Civil War era in Illinois, Richard Peck transports readers back in time. Like his other books for middle school students, this piece of historical fiction is easy and interesting to read.
Roberts, Cokie. Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. William Morrow. ISBN 0399151443
This book provides an interesting look at the mothers of the founding fathers. Although poorly organized, the book provides insights into the lives of well-known as well as lesser-known women.
Williams, Terry Tempest (1984). Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-0969-0
Explores the experiences of the author teaching on the Navajo reservation. Describes how her growing appreciation for the culture of the Native American people helped her understand her own heritage and people.


Winter 2004 Favorites

Brown, Dan (2001). Deception Point. Atria. ISBN 0-7434-9030-4
Set in Washington DC and the Arctic Ocean, this is another great adventure from Dan Brown. I liked the fact that the main character is a female!
Brown, Dan (2000). Angels and Demons. Atria. ISBN 0-7434-8622-6
After reading the The DaVinci Code I decided to go back and read this earlier adventure of Robert Langdon.
DiCamillo, Kate (2003). The Tale of Despereaux. Candlewick Press. ISBN 0-7636-1722-9
This 2004 Newbery award winning book tells the story of a small mouse with big ears who falls in love with a princess. The unique narration makes that reader feel a part of the story. In addition, the book addresses important ideas including consequences, prejudice, honor, empathy, and forgiveness.
Funke, Cornelia (2002). The Thief Lord. The Chicken House. ISBN 0-439-40437-1
Interesting book for kids about running away to Venice, Italy.
Gear, W. Michael & Gear, Kathleen O'Neal (2001). Dark Inheritance. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-52606-1

I've enjoyed other books by these authors, so I knew I'd like this one. This thought-provoking suspense involves genetics, "augmented apes", big corporations, and families.
Hiaasen, Carl (2002). Hoot. Knoft ISBN 0-375-92181-8
This 2003 Newbery Honor book focuses on a middle school boy who finds adventure after moving to Florida. He has to make tough choices when he learns that burrowing owls are living in a vacant lot that is about to be turned into a restaurant.
Paolini, Christopher (2003). Eragon: Inheritance Book One. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-92668-2
This book is the first in a trilogy featuring a teenager named Eragon and his perilous journey. If Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings are on your "favorites" list, you have to read this book! Dragons, elves, dwarfs, monsters, sword fighting, and magic are just a few of the classic elements in this exciting new series written by a teenager. For more information about the series, go to
Reynolds, Peter H. (2003) The Dot. Candlewick. ISBN 0-7636-1961-2
Through the help of a supportive teacher, Vashti learns that anyone can become an artist. This great picture book is a story about self-discovery. I'm using it in workshops to help teachers become more effective mentors! For more information about the author and many great online books, go to


Fall 2003 Favorites

Agatston, Arthur (2003). The South Beach Diet & Good Fats, Good Carbs Guide. Rodale. ISBN 1-57954-646-3
We're trying this new diet just like everyone else... the only problem for us is no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, carrots, cake, cookies, popcorn, muffins and worst of all, no beer... what will we eat!?! We made it through our first breakfast, wish us luck!
Brown, Dan (2003). The DaVinci Code. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50420-9
My sister Arrion bought this one for my birthday, it was a great choice! If you like suspense with a little art, history, religion, and code-breaking thrown in, you'll love this book. I know a book is good when I find myself going to the Internet to check the art, history, and background facts.
Brown, Dan (1998). Digital Fortress. Thomas Dunne. ISBN 0-312-18087-X
The DaVinci Code was so interesting that I thought I'd go back and read the other novels by Dan Brown. This thriller focuses on intelligence gathering and code-breaking.
Card, Orson Scott (2003). First Meetings in the Enderverse. TOR. ISBN 0-765-30873-8.
Card is one of my favorite authors. As a long-time fan of the Ender's Game books, I was excited to see additional short stories related to the characters.
Farabee, Charles (2003). National Park Ranger: An American Icon. ISBN 1-57098-392-5
Written for readers of all ages, this book examines the history and role of the National Park Ranger. I always thought it would be cool to be a park ranger. It's interesting to note that women were not allowed to be Park Rangers until the 1970s!
Franken, Al (2003). Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Dutton. ISBN 0-525-94764-7
Although Michael Moore's books are more fun to read, Al Franken has some interesting perspectives.
King, Stephen (2003). Wolves of Calla. Donald M. Grant. ISBN 1880418568
Book V of the Dark Tower series really has two stories. First is the ongoing quest for the Dark Tower. Second is the story of the people living in a small town called Calla. If you haven't read the other books, don't start here! You really need to read the books in order to follow this ongoing story. If you've been a long-time fan of Stephen King, you won't be disappointed.
Lee, Syndi (2003). OM Yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice. Raincoast Books. ISBN 0-8118-3513-8
Great warmup followed by seven different routines for each day of the week. Stick figures illustrations are really easy to follow.
LeGuin, Ursula K. (2003). Changing Planes. Harcourt. ISBN 0-15-100971-6
Interesting look at other worlds.
Moore, Michael (2003). Dude, Where's My Country? Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-53223-1
Everyone who's frustrated with the current direction of the country should read this book. It's one that you'll want to share with your friends and family. For fun, check out his website at
Herrera, Hayden (2003). Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo. Perennial. ISBN 0-06-091127-1
I've always loved a well-written biography. This one reminded me of the biography I read in college about Georgia O'Keefe. After watching the award-winning movie "Frida" based on the book, Larry got me the book for my birthday. The movie and the book are great companions.
Preston, Douglas (2004). The Codex. Tom Doherty. ISBN 0-765-30700-6
This exciting book follows three brothers as they search for their father in the jungles of Central America.
Sting (2003). Broken Music: A Memoir. Random House. IBSN 0-385-33678-0
This great autobiography provides interesting insights into the life of one of my favorite musicial artists, Sting.


Summer 2003 Favorites

Avi (2002). Crispin: The Cross of Lead. Hyperion. ISBN 0786826479
This Newbery award winning book is set during the middle ages.
Brashares, Ann (2003). The Second Summer of the Sisterhood. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385729340
Super sequel to the original story. It really reminded me of high school!
Farmer, Nancy (2002). The House of the Scorpion. Atheneum ISBN 0-689-85222-3
This Newbery Honor Book is a wonderful science fiction book for children and adults. It does a great job blending current issues with future environments. I've enjoyed many of her other award-winning books including A Girl Named Disaster and The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm.
Hillenbrand, Laura (2002). Seabiscuit: An American Legend. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0449005615
I can't believe how much I got caught up in this story and the movie too!
Hillerman, Tony. The Sinister Pig. Harper-Collins. ISBN 006019443X
I keep reading these books because I enjoy the characters. However, the stories are pretty predictable.
Patterson, James (2003). The Lake House. Little, Brown, Co. ISBN 0-316-60328-7
This followup to When the Wind Blows isn't as exciting as the first, but it's still a fun suspense.
Preston, Douglas & Child, Lincoln (2003). Still Life With Crows. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-53142-1
A fan of all the books by Preston and Child, this thriller is set in Kansas. It's fun to see how Special Agent Pendergast handles the small town.
Rowling, J.K. (2003). Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Arthur A. Levine Books. ISBN 0-439-35806-X
I've loved all the Harry Potter books. It's interesting to see how Harry is maturing in this book.
Taylor, Theodore (1995). The Bomb. ISBN 0-380-72723-4.
This book for young adults won the Scott O-Dell Award for historical fiction. It focuses on atomic bomb testing on the Bikini Atoll.
Zindel, Paul (2001). The Gadget. ISBN 0-06-027812-9
This award winning author died this year. This book is about a boy's adventures living in Los Alamos while the bomb was being developed.


Spring 2003 Favorites

Barr, Nevada (2003). Flashback. Putnam. ISBN 399149759
I've enjoyed all 11 of Barr's Anna Pigeon mystery novels set at National Parks. This one set in the Dry Tortugas National Park was particularly interesting because it told the story through alternating chapters set today and during the Civil War. We've been wanting to visit this island 70 miles off Key West in the Gulf of Mexico.
Card, Orson Scott (2002). Shadow Puppets (Ender Book 7). TOR. ISBN 0765300176 .
This book follows the storyline of Shadow of the Hegemon and Ender's Shadow which I read over the last couple years.
Cushman, Karen (2003). Rodzina. Clarion Books. ISBN 0-618-13351-8
This book for middle-schoolers explores the life of children who ride the orphan train in 1881. I love all the books by Cushman including Midwife's Apprentice and Catherine Called Birdy.
Gear, Michael W. & Gear, Kathleen O'Neal (2002). Raising Abel. ISBN: 0-446-52615-0
This suspense has a great mix of current issues in genetics and archaeology along with a thrilling mystery. I love books with an ongoing "chase" theme where innocent people must stay one step ahead of a killer. In this case, two adults and a child find themselves running for their life.
Greenberg, Jan & Jordan, Sandra (2001). Vincent van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist. Delacorte Press. ISBN: 0-385-90005-8
Winner of the Robert Sibert Honor book award, this short biography does an excellent job exploring the life of this fascinating artist.
Menzies, Gavin (2002). 1421: The Year China Discovered America. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN: 0-06-053763-9
We've known for a long time that Columbus didn't "discover" America. Even when I was in school in the 60s and 70s, we learned that the Vikings explored North American long before the Spanish, French, or English. In his book, 1421: The Year China Discovered America, Gavin Menzies presents a fascinating and refreshing new perspective on early exploration. Having recently traveled to China, I was already interested in Chinese history. Having long been frustrated by the traditional, European-centered view of world exploration, this book provides an exciting alternative view of early navigation, exploration, mapmaking, and history. Gavin Menzies provides an extensive companion website full of maps and other materials.
Northup, Christiane (2003). The Wisdom of Menopause. Doubled. ISBN 055338080X
This book contains lots of great advice and information.
Stone, Irving (1937). Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent VanGogh. Plume. ISBN 0-452-27504-0.
While in Toledo, Ohio I had the chance to visit a unique exhibition of works by VanGogh. Using the theme of "Fields" the special exhibit provided a rich view of the work of this interesting Impressionist artist. Having always been drawn to his artwork which includes the famous "Starry Nights", I became fascinated with his life. Dear Theo contains excerpts from the over 650 letters VanGogh wrote to his brother. Many of the letters contain details about his approach to life, nature, and painting. Readers also gain insight into the physical and psychological illnesses that ultimately led to his suicide.
Watts, Duncan J. (2003). Six Degrees: The Science of A Connected Age. IBSN: 0-393-04142-5
This is an interesting book about how the world is connected. If you like a mix of math, science, sociology and technology, you'll love this.
Williams, Terry Tempest (1994). An Unspoken Hunger. ISBN: 0-679-43244-2
This collection of short essays is full of the passion for nature that has drawn me to all the works by Terry Tempest Williams. A quick read, this collection would be a nice introduction for people unfamiliar with her work as a nature writer. One of my favorites is her eulogy for Edward Abbey.

Winter 2003 Favorites
Bodanis, David (2003). E=MC2: The Biography of a Formula. ISBN 0641512430
I love biographies, but I wasn't sure what to think about the biography of a formula. As I read the book, I began to understand why they gave the book this title. Many people contributed to this formula over many years. One of the best parts was the large amount of content focusing on dispelling misunderstandings and giving credit to some of the lesser known contributors.
Child, Lincoln (2002). Utopia. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50668-6
Having been a fan of Lincoln Child for a number of years, I knew Utopia would be a winner. I've always enjoyed exploring the world of theme parks so the setting immediately grabbed my interest. When you add the elements of robotics, a reluctant professor, and thousands of potential hostages, you get an exciting page-turning suspense thriller.
Hobbs, Will (2003), Wild Man Island. HarperCollins ISBN 0380733102
My Side of the Mountain, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Hatchet are classical survival books for kids. Wild Man Island is a survival book for a new generation. Like all the books by Hobbs, these high interest books are perfect for reluctant readers. Set on the islands of Alaska, a teenager becomes lost while on a kayak adventure.
Kingsolver, Barbara (2002). Small Wonder: Essays. HarperCollins. ISBN 0060504080
As I read about her feelings regarding Sept 11, the environment, and a wide range of other topics, it occurred to be that this is the type of stuff I would write if I had a flare for writing short essays.
Ryan, Pam Munoz (2002) Esperanza Rising. Scholastic. ISBN 043912042X
Set during the Depression, this award-winning children's book focuses on a girl growing up in an affluent family in Mexico. A series of circumstances cause the family to lose everything and move to California as migrant farm workers.
Favorites from 2001-2002
I started building this page in early 2002, but I thought I'd go back and make a list of books from 2001 and 2002 off the top of my head.
Austen, Jane (1813). Pride and Prejudice.
This is one of those books that I didn't read in high school or college. After watching Bridget Jones Diary and the movie Pride and Prejudice, I went back to read the book. It's great!
Barr, Nevada (2002). Hunting Season. Putnam. ISBN 0399148469
I always enjoy the books about Anna Pigeon, the National Park Ranger. I liked the last one, Blood Lure better.
Brashares, Ann (2001). The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385729332
This book explores a summer with four friends who share a special pair of pants.
Collins, Jim (2001). Good to Great. Harper/Collins. ISBN 0066620996
This book focuses on moving organizations from "good" to "great" with lots of applications for education.
Crichton, Michael (2002). Prey. Harper/Collins. IBSN 0-06-621412-2
I love Crichton's combination of science, technology, and a thrilling story.
Evans, Nicholas (2001). The Smoke Jumper. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-33403-6
This adventure is by the same author as The Horse Whisperer and The Loop.
Hillerman, Tony (2002). The Wailing Wind. Harper-Collins. ISBN 0-06-019444-8
This "quick-read" was okay, but a little predictable.
King, Stephen (2002). Everything's Eventual: 14 Dark Tales. Scribner. ISBN 0743235150
King is the master of short stories.
King, Stephen (2001). Dreamcatcher. Scribner. ISBN 0743211383
A long-time fan of King, this is a fun combination of Stand By Me with some horror and science fiction thrown in.
King, Stephen (2000). On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Scribner. ISBN 0684853523
This great autobiography really contains two books. First, is a great autobiography. Second, is a wonderful look at the writing process.
Lear, Linda (1997). Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature. Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 0-8050-3427-7
This wonderful biography was well-researched. After reading it, I immediately purchased Carson's earlier works to read again.
Park, Linda Sue, (2001). A Single Shard. Random House. ISBN 0440418518
Winner of the Newbery award for children's writing, this book focuses on an orphan named Tree-Ear and his quest to become a potter during the middle ages in Korea. When I was in South Korea I bought copies of this book in Korean. They had different versions with different illustrations.
Pink, Daniel (2001). Free Agent Nation. Warner ISBN 0-446-52523-5
Explores how American's new independent workers are transforming the way we live.
Preston, Richard & Child, Lincoln (2002). Chamber of Curiosities. Warner. ISBN 0-446-53022-0
If you love a mystery, this is the book for you. Based on some of the characters from earlier books, this story mixes history and crime.
Pullman, Philip (1995). The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials Series #1). Random House. ISBN 0440418321
Pullman, Philip (1999).
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials Series #2). Random House. ISBN 0345413369
Pullman, Philip (2001).
Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials Series #3). Random House. ISBN 0345413377
This is a great series for anyone who loves the Harry Potter books. It's fun to have a girl as the protagonist.
Redfield, James (1993). The Celestine Prophecy. Warner ISBN 0-446-67100-2
This is a great book to raise your spirit.
Rennison, Louise (2000). Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. Harper/Collins. ISBN 0060288140
Kids will love this humorous books about growing up in today's society.
Quinn, Daniel (1993). Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit. Bantam. ISBN 0-553-37540-7
Quinn (1998). My Ishmael. Bantam. ISBN 0-553-37965-8
These are two books that everyone should read. They provide a unique spiritual adventure.
Rowling, J.K. (2001). Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Arthur A. Levine Books. ISBN 0439139600
Another great Harry Potter book. I've enjoyed all of them.
Vowell, Sarah (2002). Partly Cloudy Patriot. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0743223527
I've enjoying the work of Vowell lately. It's fun to back and listen to her PRI broadcasts on This American Life.
Vowell, Sarah (2001). Take the Cannoli. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0743205405
I've enjoyed listening to the essays of Sarah Vowell on public radio, so I wasn't sure if reading her books would be the same experience. However as I read the book, I could almost hear her trademark nasal voice reading to me aloud. I'm not a particularly cynical person, but there's something about the way that Vowell views the world that I find hilarious!
Williams, Terry Tempest (1992). Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. ISBN 0679740244
This book explores the parallel stories of the author's experience with the changes in a wildlife preserve and her mother's experiences facing cancer.
Williams, Terry Tempest (2002). Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert. Knopf. ISBN 0375725180
One of my favorite nature writers, Williams does an outstanding job describing her love of the red canyons of southern Utah. Through short stories and essays, you feel like you're sharing her experiences.
Favorites from 1999-2000

Allende, Isabel (1999). Daughter of Fortune.

Card, Orson Scott (1999). Enchantment.

Card. Orson Scott (1999). Ender's Shadow

Case, John (2001). The Syndrome.

Churchill, Jill (1999). A Groom with a View.

Cussler, Clive (2000). Blue Gold

Cussler, Clive (1999). Serpent.

Darnton, John (1999). The Experiment.

Gear, Kathleen O'Neal & W. Michael (1999). The Visitant.

Hernon, Peter (1999). 8.4

Hillerman, Tony (1999). Hunting Badger.

Jakes, John (2000). On Secret Service.

Page, Jake (2000). Cavern

Patterson, James (2000). Cradle and All.

Preston, Douglas & Child, Lincoln (2000) The Ice Limit.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter (First 3 Books)



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Created by Annette Lamb, 3/03. Updated 12/05.