Often when I tell people I am a school librarian, they tend to believe my job entails sitting at a desk reading all day long. As many of you know the fantasy of what a school librarian does and the reality are very different; most of my days I am constantly jumping from a project to teaching to administrative duties and don’t sit down for more than thirty minutes. When I get home I put my mom hat on and am taking care of my family’s needs until everyone is fast sleep. At that point, in a fantasy world I would sit down with a cup of tea and read; however, the reality looks more like me flopped in bed, watching one non-cartoon show before turning out the lights to repeat the next day. All of this is to say that summer is when I am able to get the bulk of my reading done. It is my time to sit and read all the books I have stacked on my desk and nightstand throughout the school year waiting to devour.
Here is my list of books I am itching to read and share with my students (and you):
Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith: If you’ve never read anything by Jennifer E. Smith, I highly suggest you do so now! If any of your high school students are looking for romance books similar to All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jennifer E. Smith’s are my go-to. In her newest book, Hugo and his girlfriend plan a trip traveling across America by train. However, Hugo’s girlfriend dumps him and unfortunately her ticket is non-transferrable. Hugo seeks out a traveling companion with the same name as his ex-girlfriend and hence a romantic journey ensues.
Dig by A.S. King: A.S. King’s writing reminds me somewhat of Alice in Wonderland–things are not what they seem and characters are wildly complex. In her newest novel, King focuses on five teenagers grappling with their identities and their family’s history. Each of them is a grandchild of wealthy Pennsylvania builders Gottfried and Marla Hemmings; and all of them are set to inherit nothing. One sells pot, one has cancer, one carries a shovel everywhere they go, one lives in a flea-infested trailer, and one seems to evade time and people. When they finally come together, will they be able to dig themselves out?
We Told Six Lies by Victoria Scott: After reading Karen McManus’ One of Us Is Lying, her debut YA murder mystery, I was sucked into this vortex of wanting more whodunits. Subsequently, I read Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious and Kit Frick’s See All the Stars and then of course McManus’s second book, Two Can Keep a Secret. Here is my next murder mystery fix! Cobain is the prime suspect in his girlfriend’s disappearance, but the night she goes missing he was waiting for her to run away together. Now he has to take it upon himself to find her and find out the truth, but the truth about Molly may be more than Cobain bargained for.
Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson: Speak still remains one of the most checked-out books in my school library. I remember reading Speak when it first came out and how shocking it seemed to be at the time; fast forward 20 years later, post-#MeToo movement and Anderson’s story seemed to be a reality for many women. Hence after all this time, Anderson is ready to tell her own true story in Shout.
This year I was able to attend the Texas Library Association conference and one of the amazing benefits was acquiring advanced reader copies of books by popular authors. I love this not only because I feel like I have been given a forbidden gift, but also because it gives me time to read the book before it is published, promote the book, and book talk it to my students. So here is my list of anticipated publications:
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys: The first time I ever read anything by Ruta Sepetys a teacher-friend gave me a copy of Between Shades of Gray; it was so poignant, that it has stayed with me for almost a decade. When Salt to the Sea, her second novel set in WWII, was being released, I had it pre-ordered for months. So when I found out I could get an advanced copy of her newest novel at TLA, that was my first stop! This story takes place in 1957 Madrid under the rule of fascist dictator General Francisco Franco. Fate brings eighteen year-old Daniel and Ana together to stealthily reveal a web of Spain’s struggles post-Spanish Civil war.
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen: Sarah Dessen’s books were the first romances I ever read as a pre-teen. I remember completing a school project in 7th grade on her book Keeping the Moon and I have read everything she has written since. Emma’s mother died when she was twelve, leaving her and her father to live a pretty steady (if not boring) life. Until one summer, Emma is sent to stay with her mother’s family who she hasn’t seen in years. In North Lake, she experiences the drastically different lives her mother and father led in their youth, and she, too, begins to feel torn. Roo, her male childhood best friend, holds her hand as she discovers the truth about her family and herself.
Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley: When I read the description of Smedley’s debut novel, I was hooked and had to have a copy! The story begins with Nate being stabbed in his front yard by his best friend, Cam. Throughout the novel Smedley takes us on a ride from the day Cam and Nate became best friends, to the truth about Nate’s family, his unfaithfulness to his girlfriend and what Cam and Nate truly mean to each other.