Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Most of 2010

Ok, January is not over, and I don't think it's too late to talk about last year's books. 

I took the 100+ Book Challenge and read 101 books in 2010.

Most were Middle-Grade and Young Adult, since that's what I write. I read a little non-fiction, even some books for grown-ups. Most of the time I tried to pick the best of what's out there.

I mean, why waste the time if it's not great? Some of it wasn't. And sometimes I just read the shortest, because it was New Year's Eve and I was running out of time.

Here's The Most of my year's reading.

*Note: Keep in mind these aren't books necessarily published this year, only read this year by me.


Beowulf. Reread this for my poetry novel. Still fascinating to me to be in that ancient world.

Most Important

* Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parent Need to Matter More Than Peers, by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate'.
     This isn't even fantasy and it still wins. This book has changed everything about the way I see parenting. I wish I could buy one for every parent I know. Especially in the wake of the Tiger-Mother brouhaha, Hold On to Your Kids is a book that matters. Being a mom or dad is the hardest thing on earth; good thing someone brilliant figured out a simple key: that it's all about relationship.

Most Books by One Author

Diana Wynne Jones: I read 19 of her books this year. Discovered Diana for the first time at the end of 2009, and was hooked. My favorite are her Chrestomanci books and Dalemark series. I didn't love her more realistic, modern-set fantasies as much, but they're still entertaining. I consider Howell's Moving Castle a nearly-perfect book, but I read that in 2009, so I shouldn't talk about it here.

Most Addicting

The Thief and its sequels, by Megan Whalen Turner. I started reading this aloud to my family when we got stuck for two hours on the freeway in a snowstorm, and it got us through. I had to rush out and buy all the sequels as soon as we finished. My son got mad when I kept reading ahead, but I couldn't help it. Really.


The Swarm, by Frank Schatzing. I forget how many pages, but it was huge, and not a quick read, either. The editor in me wanted to cut it back, but I enjoyed especially the last third of the book quite a lot. And I liked the eco-message.


The Teacher's Funeral, A Comedy in Three Parts, by Richard Peck. My 11-year-old and I couldn't stop giggling. And Peck is a brilliant writer. Besides being a charming person. Besides, I can say I shook his hand, and he smiled in my face, and said he was charmed to meet me. Perhaps I have a bias.

Most Beautiful Fantasy

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula LeGuin. I can't believe I got through my teens without ever reading this. LeGuin is proof that fantasy can be fine literature, regardless of what the anti-fantasy people say.

Most Waited For By My Family

The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan. We're Percy Jackson addicts around here.

How many books will you read this year? I'm still trying to decide between quantity again, or length this time.

Happy reading in 2011!

Books Read in 2010

  • The Water Horse, Dick King-Smith
  • The Wide Window, Lemony Snicket
  • Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  • The Forgotten Door, Alexander Key
  • Island: Book 3: Escape, Gordon Korman
  • Island: Book 2: Survival, Gordon Korman
  • A Conspiracy of Kings, Megan Whalen Turner
  • The King of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner
  • Island: Book One: Shipwreck, Gordon Korman
  • The Queen of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner
  • Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., Gabor Mate', M.D.
  • The Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Mr. Monday, Garth Nix
  • Sabriel, Garth Nix
  • The Thief, Megan Whalen Turner
  • The Clockwork Three, Matthew Kirby
  • Exposed, Kimberly Marcus
  • The Lost Hero, Rick Riordan
  • Things As They Are, Andrew Clements
  • Freaky Friday, Mary Rodgers
  • Because of Winn-Dixie, Kate DiCamillo
  • A Long Way From Chicago, Richard Peck
  • The Teacher's Funeral, A Comedy in Three Parts, Richard Peck
  • Season of Gifts, Richard Peck
  • Scumble, Ingrid Law
  • Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
  • Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
  • The Swarm, Frank Schatzing
  • The Life of Pi, Yann Martel
  • Criss Cross, Lynne Rae Perkins
  • The River Between Us, Richard Peck
  • When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
  • The Loser's Guide to Life and Love, A.E. Cannon
  • Wolves, Boys, And Other Things That Might Kill Me, Kristen Chandler
  • Hate That Cat, Sharon Creech
  • The Wish, Gail Carson Levine
  • The Tiger Rising, Kate DiCamillo
  • Archy and Mehitabel, Don Marquis
  • Archer's Goon,Diana Wynne Jones
  • Glimpse, Carol Lynch Williams
  • Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
  • The Homeward-bounders, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
  • Hexwood, Diana Wynne Jones
  • It's Like This, Cat, Emily Cheney Neville
  • Year of the Griffin, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Sweethearts, Sara Zarr
  • Everything is Fine, Ann Dee Ellis
  • The Book of Three, Lloyd Alexander
  • The Pictish Child, Jane Yolen
  • The Ramsey Scallop, Frances Temple
  • The Dark Lord of Derkholm, Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Time of the Ghost, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Eight Days of Luke, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Just Ella, Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • The Game, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
  • The Crown of Dalemark, Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Spellcoats, Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Red Pyramid, Rick Riordan
  • Drowned Ammet, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Cart and Cwidder, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Enchanted Glass, Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Pinhoe Egg, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Conrad's Fate, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Witch Week, Diana Wynne Jones
  • The Magicians of Caprona, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Hadji Murat, LeoTolstoy
  • Wings, E.D. Baker
  • Sea of Trolls, Nancy Farmer
  • The Lives of Christopher Chant, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Charmed Life, Diana Wynne Jones
  • Interworld, Neil Gaiman
  • Wings, Aprilynne Pike
  • Midnight Magic, Avi
  • Murder at Midnight, Avi
  • How To Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell
  • A Necklace Made of Raindrops, Joan Aiken
  • Caleb's Story, Patricia MacLachlan
  • Book of the City of Ladies, Christine de Pizan
  • Beowulf, Burton Raffel, translator
  • Calamity Jack, Shannon Hale
  • Rodzina, Karen Cushman
  • The Way He Lived, Emily Wing Smith
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
  • The BFG, Roald Dahl
  • The Whipping Boy, Sid Fleischman
  • Stardust, Neil Gaiman
  • The Golden Bowl, Henry James
  • Odd and the Frost Giants, Neil Gaiman
  • Lake of Secrets, Lael Littke
  • Dark Interval, Joan Aiken
  • The Dark Divine, Bree Despain
  • Stealing Death, Janet Lee Carey
  • Jingo Django, Sid Fleischman
  • Jim Ugly, Sid Fleischman
  • Bandit's Moon, Sid Fleischman
  • Humbug Mountain, Sid Fleischman


  1. great run-down on your book list :) My goal is to read 100, although some of those will be picture books and chapter books I read with my kids...and I don't plan on reading any really BIG books.

  2. Oh, A Wizard of Earthsea. When I first read it as a young teen, it made me want to be a writer. Nobody does it better than Le Guin.


  3. Gaylene: I counted books I read aloud, but hmmm...picture books. Is that cheating? :) Just kidding. It's your goal, after all. The 100 goal does eliminate the possibility of many really large books. I almost didn't make my goal because I stopped to read The Swarm. Good luck!

    Matt: I thought I'd read Earthsea before, but I realized it was another book in the series, which I read out of context and was a little too young to appreciate. I didn't give the others a chance later. Too bad for me. I'll definitely be reading more LeGuin this year.

  4. I read 118 books (mostly novels, but this also includes novel length short story collections, nonfiction books, and writing craft books.)
    I also read 81 picture books, plus a few early readers

    I have an annotated bibliography of these and all the books I read for my MFA program.

    I think I'll read a little less this year, but as I look at my recently read stack, I realize I've already read 5 novels.

  5. Ok, Sarah, you definitely win. Awesome job! And congrats again for finishing your MFA and landing an agent.

  6. You totally sold me on the most important book. I'm getting that one asap.

    Didn't you just love the Thief series? Sweet fudge and ice cream, I couldn't GET enough of those books! Gen is the ULTIMATE character. Seriously, so incredible!

  7. Laura: I'm in love with Gen! He's such a lovable little brat.

    And I'm glad I convinced you to read Hold On. I wish I'd had it when my kids were littler. I'd have done everything differently. I might have grown up a little sooner myself. It's a book that makes you do some serious soul-searching, and still makes being a good parent feel within reach. I'd love to talk about it with you when you're done.


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