Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Top 10 in 2012: Lisa's List of Great Reads

Lisa is our maven of non-fiction. She has great taste in fiction as well, but she is definitely the one who most often brings great and true stories to our attention. This year is no different, she's got tons of titles that we can't wait to explore and learn from:

Chuck Close: Face Book by Chuck Close
Nothing can stop Chuck Close from making art. Not dyslexia, face-blindness, nor a stroke that put him in a wheelchair. Meet the face-blind artist famous for his images of faces, and check out his media and techniques in this beautifully designed autobiography. Chuck Close is my new hero! I'd say he's inspirational, but he'd be insulted. He claims, "Inspiration is for amateurs. Artists just show up and get to work." Get to work. Find this book, and be ready to be wowed!

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Imprisoned by the Nazis, Julie must tell the truth or die. But is it the truth she tells? This gripping, vivid tale of espionage, friendship and courage set during WW II will keep you reading late into the night.

This instant classic is heart wrenching, thought provoking, funny, and brilliant.

The second title in the Lumatere Chronicles once again illuminates causes and effects of deep-seated ethnic hatred, fierce devotion and loyalty, sacrifice and love, and even humor, in an intricately plotted story with characters you’ll hate to leave when the book ends.

If you've been to the Delmarva shore you've likely seen the horseshoe crabs that wash up on the beach. But did you know that they're a critical source of food for rufa red knot birds that fly from the bottom to the top of the earth and back each year? One amazing bird in particular, B95, aka the Moonbird, has made this trip about 20 times. The little guy has flown farther than the distance from earth to the moon! Learn about these amazing birds, the people who are trying to save them, and what you can do to help in this fascinating book.

My Name is Parvana by Deborah Ellis
When she's imprisoned and interrogated by U.S. Troops after her family's Afghan school for girls is blown up, Parvana remains silent. As she endures the questions and torture (sleep deprivation and non-stop Donny Osmond music) Parvana recalls the series of events that led her to this place. If you ever complain about school, read this book. It offers a grim portrayal of education options for girls in Afghanistan. An important and disturbing book (that offers just a glimmer of hope).

When Jamie's bereft, alcoholic father moves his shattered family to the country Jamie's lone potential friend is Sunya. But can he be friends with a Muslim when he's constantly told, "Muslims killed your sister"? Mum's left, dad's drinking, and older sister Jas is preoccupied with her new boyfriend. Roger the cat is Jamie's only reliable source of love. Grief, prejudice, abandonment, bullying, friendship and love are painfully and humorously portrayed in this outstanding novel.

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater  (see our full review here)
I loved this book almost to the last page. Then I checked to make sure my book wasn't missing some pages. I HATE when authors leave too many plot points unresolved until the sequel! Yet here it is on my top ten list. That's how compelling it is! Blue's story sucks you right in. Her clairvoyant kin have always told her that her kiss will cause her true love to die. She's finally in love. How will it end? (You'll have to wait for the sequels to find out.)

Sometimes the best friend who's a girl isn't fated to be the girlfriend. Unfortunately for Luca, he only discovers this after using a billboard in their midwestern town to ask Tessa to the prom. When Tessa reveals to him that she's a lesbian, Luca's anger and hurt set off a series of events that lead to the cancellation of prom, religious protests, and national media attention. Told from alternating points of view, this novel deals sensitively with issues of friendship and trust, and offers a rocking good ending.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Ever wonder what your life would be like if your disfigured face caused horror to those around you? Could you befriend someone with such a face? Meet Auggie, as he attends real school for the first time. Read his story. Expand your world.

Other title worth checking out:
Celebrating the end of senior year with a glass blower, a graffiti artist, and a poet as main characters, you know you're in for a creative ride in this romance full of hidden identities and almost missed opportunities.

Read about the inspiration behind those adorable Mars rovers!

Fired from the company he created, Steve Jobs was later hired back by Apple and went on to change our world. (Can you imagine a world without iPods, iTunes, iPhones, etc?)

The special traits of her autism were the source of Temple Grandin's success. An amazing story about an woman who embraced her uniqueness.

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