Read one Newbery medal book from every year from a decade (2010s)

Today the Newbery award winners were announced, and the selection is much better than last year’s all-white winners. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander took the medal and El Deafo by Cece Bell and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson were named Honor books.

I read The Crossover in December, and it is fantastic. Really a great choice for the Newbery Medal. And I’m happy to see Brown Girl Dreaming on this list. Woodson seemed like the frontrunner to take the medal this year. She now has four Newbery Honor books (Brown Girl Dreaming, After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers, Show Way). I hope she gets the grand prize soon; she deserves it.

The other Newbery Medal books I read to complete this 101 in 1001 challenge were Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (2011 winner), Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (2012 winner), The One and Only Ivan by KA Applegate (2013 winner), and Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (2014 winner). I read the 2010 winner, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead before I started my 101 in 1001 challenge, and I recommend it to everyone. It’s one of my favorite books. I didn’t enjoy Dead End in Norvelt or Flora and Ulysses. But Moon Over Manifest is pretty good and The One and Only Ivan is great.

Diverse Book Recommendations

I don’t often make recommendation posts (unless you count any of my positive reviews), but with the confusion over the Diversity on the Shelf challenge, I thought I’d put one together.

In case you don’t know, Diversity in the Shelf is a challenge to read more books by authors of color or with main characters of color. That’s it. If you’re looking for a challenge that defines diversity more broadly, Alysia has linked some great ones in her post (follow the link above).

That doesn’t mean that a challenge based on race can’t encompass different kinds of diversity too. So if you’re looking to diversify your reading even further here are a few suggestions.

I have read all of these books, but I am not perfect. Please let me know if I have included any problematic titles on this list or if I have gotten anything wrong in the details.

*The family’s race is never described, so it’s possible to read them as any race.

Have a suggestion of your own? Let me know in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for more diverse reads.

Words for Wednesday

When I finally got to see the movies , they were completely different than I thought. I could see why Jeanie had liked them. For one thing, the Chinese were actually people who could be brave or sad. They had subtitles in English, too, which was good. It was something to see Chinese do more than be the sidekick to some white guy in a fight, or see the Chinese actually win. I mean, I almost felt like crying when I saw it: a kind of bubbling feeling deep down inside that had me almost cheering and crying while this Chinese mother led her three sons in beating up the bad guys. And it was even better when I saw the Chinese girls fighting.

-Child of the Owl, Casey Young

Child of the Owl by Laurence Yep

You know those books that you’re afraid to reread because you know they will never live up to your memories and expectations of their stories? I put off rereading Child of the Owl for 14+ years because of such fears.

I think I was about 12 when I first read Child of the Owl. I don’t remember exactly. Maybe I only think I was 12 because Casey is 12. I don’t even really remember my first impression of the book. I think it was only later that I realized the significance of this book on my life.

I can point to two mirror books that I’ve read in my life. Two. I’m sure if I thought about it, there are more books where I related to the characters and saw myself in their stories. But all of those books would be a stretch in some way.

It’s not a stretch with Child of the Owl.* I am Casey Young. I know what it is to live life looking Chinese but not feeling Chinese. To have people speak Chinese to me and then act like I’m deficient when I don’t speak back. I don’t ever remember explicitly wishing I weren’t Chinese (or Asian), but there have definitely been times in my life when I wished people wouldn’t look at me like a foreigner, when I wished to be treated just like a (white) American.

I’m so happy I read this book as a kid, and I’m mad that I waited so long to reread it. However, I think I reread it at a time when I could fully appreciate what it meant to me when I was younger, even if I didn’t understand it then and can barely articulate it now.

Challenge count:
Finishing this book competes my 101 in 1001 goal to reread Child of the Owl.
This is my third book read for the Diversity on the Shelf 2015 challenge.
This is my third book read for my booklikes challenge.

*The second book, in case anyone is wondering is The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan. I didn’t fully understand the significance of that book in my life either until I’d reread it a couple of times. There’s definitely something to the fact that I see myself most clearly in two books about Chinese characters by Chinese authors (related to how other people treat me vs how I see myself), but I don’t want to get too deep into that.

2014 101 in 1001 List in Review

I managed to finish a few goals this year, despite largely ignoring my 101 in 1001 list in favor of yearly reading challenges. I blogged about some, but I think I missed most of them, so here’s a quick review of what I accomplished in 2014.

I’ve completed 47 goals total so far, so I’ve got 54 to go and about seven months to get it all done. This year I’ve only signed up for one reading challenge so hopefully I’ll devote more time to crossing off a few more goals from the 101 in 1001 list. And if not, I’ll just roll all of them over onto a new list.

*Click on 2014 in the sidebar to see all the books I read last year.

The Bird King: An Artist’s Notebook by Shaun Tan: a mini review

I wanted to start off the new year by finishing Child of the Owl first, but the best laid plans and all that. Chance crossed my path with The Bird King at my library so I checked it out, and read it in one evening. I meant to read it last year but never got around to it.

The Bird King is a really lovely read whether you’re new to Shaun Tan’s work or an old fan.* I enjoyed learning about Tan’s process and recognizing bits of final works in his sketches. I’m fascinated by behind the scenes looks into any creative endeavor, and reading The Bird King was a little like getting a short commentary track on Shaun Tan’s artistic process. The sketches in the book are eclectic and include whimsical sketches (what I was expecting) but also reference drawings, portraits and several landscapes. My favorite drawing in the book is probably Tan’s sketch of his childhood neighborhood, Mawson Crescent. I love the descriptions he wrote to accompany the sketch (“‘hugged’ by organic growth”). Reading The Bird King has definitely inspired me to reread Tan’s works (especially Lost and Found), and it was a great way to start my reading in 2015.

Challenge count:
This is my first book read for the Diversity on the Shelf 2015 challenge.
This is my first book read for my booklikes 2015 reading challenge.

*Though I think you’ll really get the most out of it if you’ve at least read one of the books he references in The Bird King. The book is only sketches and it’s cool to know what the end (more polished) product looks like.

2015 Reading Challenges

Last year I participated in quite a few readathons and reading challenges. This year I’m only signing up for two. I’ll participate in the booklikes challenge (75 books as always) and Diversity on the Shelf (again!).

My Little Pocketbooks

Alysia is a fantastic host, and I really enjoyed doing this challenge this year. I stretched myself to read more diversely than I ever have before (probably) and I want to maintain my progress. This year I tried to outdo my numbers from 2013. In 2015 I’m only aiming to match my numbers from 2013 (I listed these numbers in my 2014 wrap up post.)

Even though I’m not signing up for as many challenges this year, I still have lots of reading goals. I’m going to try and concentrate on my 101 in 1001 list a lot more in 2015 (seeing how my end date is July 29, 2015!).

If you’re thinking of signing up for a reading challenge next year check out A Novel Challenge. They’ve got a ton (that’s how I discovered Diversity on the Shelf last year).

ETA: I didn’t pick a shelf level yet! I’m going to sign up at the 4th shelf (19-24 books) this year, but will almost 100% increase that to the 5th shelf (25+ books).

Edited again: I feel like such a dope. I didn’t include any information about the challenge in this post. If you click on the banner, it will take you to Alysia’s site and all the info you need. But the main point of the challenge is to read books by authors of color and/or with a main character of color. All genres and formats are accepted. Rereads and crossovers are allowed. You don’t have to set a list beforehand and you don’t have to be a bookblogger to participate.

2014 Reading Wrap Up

I’m not done reading yet (seeing how 2014 isn’t over), but one of my reading challenges requires a wrap up post before December 29. So I’m writing this now with the hopes of squeezing in at least one more book this year to just finish my (personal) diverse reading challenge.

1. Newbery Reading Challenge (level: L’Engle, 15-29 points)

I currently have 16 points, and I’ll probably end the year with 16 points. The book that completed this challenge for me was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler.

2. I Love Picture Books Reading Challenge

I wanted to read all the picture books Ama left me (a lofty goal of 200+ picture books). I didn’t finish, but I did read a lot of good picture books (Ama’s collection is pretty solid if you ignore all the terrible American Indian books she owned). I’ll finish this challenge up with 175 books read.

3. Diversity on the Shelf (level 5: 25+ books)

I hit 25 books for this challenge back in April, but I had my own numbers in mind for 2014. I wanted to make sure I was expanding my diverse reads, so I set myself these goals in these categories:

35 Asian/PI, 16 Black, 10 Latin@/Hispanic, 3 Indigenous peoples, 4 Disabled/neuroatypical, 8 MOGAI

For a book to count the main character or author had to fit the category. I’ve currently hit every goal except for my Latin@/Hispanic. I’m currently one book short, and I’m hoping to finish Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe in the next few days.

I haven’t revisited either my Newbery or picture book goals in a while (as my reading challenges page will show you), so I’m pretty surprised that I managed to finish one and do so well on the other. I definitely concentrated most on my diverse reads this year, so those results aren’t surprising.

I can’t believe 2014 is almost over. I had a lot of fun participating in all these challenges. Thanks to the hosts! I can’t wait for 2015 and its reading challenges to start. I’ll have a sign up post soon for the challenges I’m doing, and my 2014 book analysis will be up in the new year (it’s way more in depth than this).

Three Books on Asexuality

I’ve known about asexuality for about two years (thanks, House, even though your depiction of asexuality was terrible). But I didn’t really learn about asexuality until this year. Most of my information comes from the internet, but I wanted to read some books about asexuality, too. It’s very difficult to find books with asexual protagonists (my library has zero fiction books with an asexual character as far as I can tell), so I’ve settled for nonfiction for now.

InvisibleThe Invisible Orientation by Julie Sondra Decker 

Of the three books on Asexuality that I’ve read this year, this one was my favorite. It’s written in very clear, accessible language. It covers a variety of topics and issues. It’s a great starting point for anyone looking to learn more about asexuality.

The book covers Asexuality 101, asexual experiences (this section is very inclusive), myths of asexuality, a section specifically for asexual people (and any questioning people), and friends/family/acquaintances of asexual people. And I haven’t checked them all out yet, but the resources at the end of the book look great.

IntroductionAsexuality: a brief introduction from the pages of AsexualityArchive.com

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as The Invisible Orientation, but it was still an interesting read. There are several mentions of the “opposite” gender, “either” genders and “both” genders which I found annoying. It also seems weirdly sex-shaming (with all the, “Aces don’t understand why someone would wear ‘sexy’ clothing. It just looks uncomfortable.”) I definitely don’t agree with all the opinions presented, but some of the information is still good.

Asexuality: a brief introduction covers Asexuality 101, common questions, possible signs of asexuality, myths and misconceptions, what asexuality isn’t, and the difference between celibacy, abstinence and asexuality (among other topics). I enjoyed the Personal Perspectives chapter at the end.

UnderstandingUnderstanding Asexuality by Anthony F Bogaert

Understanding Asexuality is the most scientific of the three books that I read, but it’s not a difficult read. The writing is very accessible though I found Bogaert’s use of exclamation points (and asking questions just so he could answer them) distracting. The book was also very repetitive by the end. I lost interested and just skimmed the last four chapters.

If you’re interested in the biology behind asexuality and how people are studying it, this is the book for you. I didn’t find it that interesting. There’s too much speculation for me.

The study of asexuality is relatively new, so there’s just not that much information about it. I hope that changes in the future though. I’d love to see more books written about asexuality and asexual people in the future.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander: a mini review

I started reading this book because I’m always looking for good basketball books. I was not expecting the novel in verse or the punch in the gut that I got (emotionally speaking).

Summary: “With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood from Kwame Alexander (He Said, She Said 2013).

Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

I’ve read a fair number of really good novels in verse, and The Crossover is no exception. It’s a really lovely, emotional coming-of-age story. Similar to Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes there were poems that I stopped and read aloud just to hear the rhythm of the words.

I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling the story, but The Crossover exceeded all my expectations.