Sharing What You Read

I am a voracious reader. That means I read everything. All the time. And I am ALWAYS looking for book recommendations. I love fantasy, historical fiction, and young adult books, but I have been known to read romance, spy thrillers, biography, and even nonfiction. Very often, I want to share something I have read with someone else who will enjoy it. Young adult books are easy–I share them here on this site on my Reviews page. For other types of books, I talk and talk and talk about them to my friends and family. After all, if you are a reader, you pick books that people you know like.

Years ago, I used to take my sons, now adults, to Hicklebee’s Book Store in San Jose. It’s an independent children’s bookstore, full of treasures signed by authors (rocking chairs, photographs, books, and other items), stuffed animals, games, and, of course, books. While I browsed, my boys would select something for themselves. One year I said no more toys. They had to select a book. My oldest son was eleven that year and surly about choosing a book. The owner of Hicklebee’s, Valerie Lewis, selected a book off the shelf. To my son’s dismay, she opened the book and began reading out loud to him, right there in the store! His shock and embarrassment quickly faded, and by the time she turned the page he was craning his neck to see the page. By the middle of the second page, the book was in his hand and the bookseller had vanished, off to do her magic with another reluctant reader. THAT is the power of book recommendation! The book? Holes, by Louis Sachar.

Two years ago, I read an amazing young adult book and told my class of fifth graders about it as I read it. I enthused about the strong female character, the impossible situations she found herself in, and her incredible drive to survive in spite of everything. Before I knew it, half the class had bought it, still in hardcover, and the other half was lining up to borrow it. By then I had read the second in the series, and was eagerly anticipating the third, due out that summer. Students competed in my blog contest that summer to win a copy of the third book. What was the first one? Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.

Over the last couple of years, I have seen an oddly illustrated cover appear on a lot of my students’ desks. I say oddly because the cover art does not appeal to me at all. Yet student after student picked this book from the library or showed up with their own copy. Last spring I bought a copy for myself. When I finished it, I immediately went out and got the rest of the series and read them one right after the other. Students said, “Oh, Mrs. Ulleseit, you haven’t read those before? They are so good!” The book? The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart.

This year, as I begin Reader’s Workshop with my students, I realize that a huge part of the program’s success will rest with book recommendations made by students to each other. And “Oh, that’s so good!” is not enough. I must strike a balance between enthusiastic generalities and laborious book reports. If students can write short book reviews like I have on this site, other students will read them and pick up the book. If they do a really good job writing them, I will post them here on my site. I can’t possibly read every single young adult book out there, so why not get some help? If you’ve read a great book lately, write up a quick review like the ones I have posted and send it to me. I’ll add a picture of the book’s cover and post the review with your name on it. And maybe I’ll get some ideas for books to read, too!

In hardcover: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

20 responses to “Sharing What You Read”

  1. Caitlin Perkins Avatar
    Caitlin Perkins

    Submitted on 2011/09/06 at 4:49 pm

    I LOVE the Hunger Games! It is one of my favorite book series, along with Harry Potter. I also like the Twilight series as well. You can sort of tell I am a fantasy fan.

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/06 at 6:53 pm | In reply to Caitlin Perkins.

      Me, too, Caitlin! Have you read Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater? It’s the beginning of a trilogy, too…

    2. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 2:07 pm | In reply to Caitlin Perkins.

      i love the TWILIGHT series too!!!!!

    3. Submitted on 2011/09/27 at 7:52 pm | In reply to Caitlin Perkins.

      I love books right now I am reading Hex Hall. It is like Harry Potter but better. Can you tell me what hunger games is about?

  2. Submitted on 2011/09/09 at 12:13 pm

    Read everything indeed. As long as it isn’t the dreaded creation that shouldn’t exist in this holy and pure world(Non-Fiction), I can read pretty much everything consisting of good solid typed words and weaved stories.
    Basically, I love fiction.
    Mrs. Ulleseit, since you enjoy Realistic fiction/Historical fiction very much, I recommend the book series Ranger’s Apprentice and The Youngest Templar.

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/09 at 2:49 pm | In reply to Albert.

      I like your description of nonfiction 🙂 Next time I need a book to read, I’ll check out the ones you mention. Thanks for the tip!

    2. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:15 am | In reply to Albert.

      Albert, you finally started something OTHER than Sci-Fi. Hooray! 🙂 🙂 😛 🙂

      1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 12:12 pm | In reply to Albert.

        Amrita, I read Fantasy and Sci-Fi often. I’m waiting for the final book – I’ve read lots of other books as well. Especially realistic fiction and historical fiction. Those two are really good genres.

    3. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 12:28 pm | In reply to Albert.

      If you like Sci-Fi you should read Pendragon. Please don’t get annoyed about me putting it a lot. I love them.

  3. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 9:38 am

    If you like science fiction or fantasy, you should definitely read Pendragon. It is a series with ten books. I believe that everyone should read this series. If you hate fantasy for some reason, I think you will still love this series. The first couple of books are kind of boring, but it’s worth it when you get to the seventh book and on. The series is amazing.

    I also enjoyed Keys to the Kingdom. It is by Garth Nix. It is a seven book series it each book is associated with the days of the week. The first book is Mister Monday and the last book is Lord Sunday. The books are really good from the beginning it self but they are absolutely wonderful by the last book.

    Another really awesome series is Hex Hall. I loved the book and I got the next one, Demonglass, as soon as possible. When I finished that one, I ran to my computer and tried to put the next book on hold. I before saw the name on Goodreads and I typed it in on the library hold place. I didn’t find it so I went back on Goodreads to make sure I wasn’t making things up. I found the third book, Spell Bound, there and didn’t understand. I typed it on the request page and it still didn’t come. I realized that I would be going to Barnes and Nobles then with my cousins. When I asked the people in the bookstore, they said it wouldn’t come out until March! I was so mad. I loved those books. Now I have to wait so long just for one book. I guess it’s worth it.

  4. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 9:40 am

    I’m starting to think that I should start a series of dragons after I finish the book Dragon Rider.

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:05 am | In reply to Kevin.

      I reccomend the book series Inheritance.(First book is called Eragon)
      It’s Dragon-Based, so no worries.

  5. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 9:45 am

    You are very right, the Hunger Games is very interesting, and it has actions that make you feel like you are actually THERE with Katniss. I also read Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, although both of those never made a lasting impression like the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games was the hook, the one that made you get started. For me, the hook is usually the best. 🙂 I also love the book Holes. 🙂 It has great details, and after a few pages, I was hooked.

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/22 at 10:53 am | In reply to Michelle.

      Indeed. I enjoy post-apocolypse books very much, and this is a incredible way.

  6. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 9:58 am | In reply to Albert.

    Hey, nonfiction isn’t so bad. Try reading Eyewitness books like Cat or Early Humans maybe. They’re pretty good.

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/21 at 8:26 am | In reply to Amrita.

      Those are mostly made to entertain while learning facts at the same time. However, because of this factor, the information is not as accurate as it usually is. However, I agree that ‘Eyewitness’ books are a good pasttime.

  7. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:13 am

    I would suggest four series. One is Gregor the Overlander, in which a New York City boy finds a tube in an underground world in his laundry room(I will not give away any more about the story). Another is The Lord of the Rings(in which there is a relevent book before the series called The Hobbit), where Frodo Baggins takes a long journey with his companions to destroy a ring of evil power. Another is Peter and the Starcatchers, a must-read about the life of the legendary Peter Pan before, while, and after his time with Wendy, without all that extremely kiddy stuff. The last series I would reccomend is The Hardy Boys, a thrilling mystery about Frank and Joe Hardy, the sons of a famous detective. As seperate books, I would reccomend Dragon Rider, Al Capone Does my Shirts(which has a sequel), Eolyn, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes(unabridged), Flush, and The Jungle Book(unabridged). I absolutely loved The Hunger Games series and am going to read Mockingjay.

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/21 at 8:31 am | In reply to Amrita.

      I suppose I should recommend some books as well. If you want a good realistic or historical fiction, I recommend the Young Samurai series. It is about a son of a skilled navigator being stranded on Japan due to a Shinobi(Ninja) attack. He begins to learn about Japan, and the art of a ‘Samurai’, which are the japanese contrast to knights. I also reccomend the Youngest Templar for a good historical fiction book – It is biased on the Holy Crusade, about, you guessed it, a young squire, as is most books. If you need some more calmer, shorter books, I reccomend the ‘Janitor’s Son’ or ‘Lunch Money.’ If you want a female main character, but still similar to the previous, you should try ‘The Report Card.’

  8. Submitted on 2011/09/19 at 10:13 am

    i am a bit picky in picking out books but after reading a book i thought was bad usually is really good

    1. Submitted on 2011/09/28 at 9:54 am | In reply to Christopher.

      In my opinion, books cannot be ‘really good,’ as you so elegantly put it. Books have different styles of being their own kind of ‘good.’
      Some revolve around romance, some around action. Mystery, a paticular genre, or such.
      However, this would merely count as the structure of a story. The real story is usually biased on what I enjoy calling ‘Tags’ such as zombie, post-apocalypse, etc etc.

Leave a Reply

All my news and events are announced in the Paper Lantern Writers’ newsletter.

This site contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. Thanks.