At last, our editors have made their choices for the best children's books of the year, from picture books to middle grade to young adult titles. It wasn't easy to decide, but after we roared our terrible roars, and gnashed our terrible teeth, we settled down long enough to agree on 30 excellent books.
What are your favorite children's books of the year? Let us know in the comments below. You can also click here to enter a contest for a selection of winter/holiday books and, as a bonus, a few titles from the list above. Happy reading!
Today is the pub date of Stephen King's 11/22/63, which is a great novel for fans of time-travel, love stories and books that give you the creepy crawlies.
Maybe it's the fact that I grew up watching my aunts, grandmother and mom cry over the film version of Somewhere in Time, but I have long had a soft spot for time-travel stories. If you finish 11/22/63 hungry for more, check out one of these classics.
1. Time and Again by Jack Finney (1970). In Finney's world, all you need to go back in time is the power of the mind. Just lock yourself in a period-perfect 1882 apartment (reading nothing but the news and books of the day, wearing the clothes, eating the food), and you'll eventually open the door and find yourself in 1882. Talk about an imagination-capturing idea. The swoon-worthy love story is just a bonus. Will someone make a movie of this book already? (Trivia tidbit: King is a fan of this one too, and would have dedicated 11/22/63 to Finney if a baby granddaughter hadn't arrived on the scene...)
2. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (1889). One of my favorite things about time-travel books is the potential for fish-out-of-water humor, and this classic has it in spades. It's the most hilarious look at medieval times until Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
3. The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen (1988). Modern-day teenager Hannah is bored by her Jewish heritage and all the sad stories and ceremonies that mean so much to her parents. That is, until she opens the door during a Seder dinner and finds herself in 1942 Poland, just before the town is rounded up by the Nazis. This heartbreaking story has a lot to say about compassion, respect for history and growing up.
4. Many Waters by Madeline L'Engle (1986). Yes, A Wrinkle in Time is terrific! But there's something about seeing secondary characters Sandy and Dennys finally get their own story that's appealing. The fact that it's a twist on the Noah's Ark story doesn't hurt either; L'Engle is at her best when she's working with biblical themes. Also: angels! unicorns! hot blond twins in tattered outfits on the cover! I'm pretty sure all those things are major reasons I read this to pieces in my tweenage years.
5. Forever by Pete Hamill (2003). OK, so it's not a time-travel novel per se, but it feels like one. Hamill's hero comes to New York from Ireland in 1741, and is cursed/blessed with eternal life by an African priestess—as long as he never leaves Manhattan. He's New England's Forrest Gump, with angst. A brilliant evocation of Manhattan's storied history and a sympathetic tale of a man who must watch everyone he loves die, this is Hamill at his best.
Yep, you've read this post right—there's no mention of The Time-Traveler's Wife! But hey, it's not in my top 5. Maybe it's in yours? If not, what's your favorite time-travel book?
Yesterday we posted a little something on Bristol Palin's memoir, Not Afraid of Life, including an excerpt and a quick summary of what readers might expect in the book.
We then asked readers: Will you be reading Bristol Palin's new memoir?
A roaring wave of responses came back at us (and more keep on coming!) on Facebook and Twitter and had us laughing all day. So naturally, we picked our (and your!) Top 10 favorite reader responses. Enjoy!
1. "Sure, just let me finish lighting my face on fire." - Zach
2. "Would rather clean toilets with my tongue." - Jennifer
3. "Sure, right after I finish Snooki's book." - April
4. "I stopped reading children's books decades ago!" - Cherie
5. "Or will I be afraid of life after reading the book...?" - @NYUPress
6. "I have so many other things to do first--like watch grass grow." - Bev
7. "Waste of a tree's life." - Amanda
8. "Sure! Right after I have a lobotomy." - Victoria
9. "Can the Palins write books? We know they don't read them!" - Tracy
and last but not least, a cheerful:
10. "All of these comments make me happy." - Rachel
So according to, oh, everyone we know on the Internet, a self-taught biblical scholar says the world is ending on Saturday, and a whole lot of people (though not necessarily their families!) believe him.
I suppose we'll find out the truth in due time (I had some ice cream this afternoon just in case), but whether or not the end of the world is nigh, post-apocalyptic literature definitely is. This week's top 10 list highlights our favorite books in the genre from the past 10 years, from the obvious to the obscure:
What's your favorite end-of-the-world novel?
Several of you requested a Top 10 list of short story collections back when I asked what "best" lists you want to see.
So, here are 10 collections BookPage strongly recommends, ordered alphabetically. Read 'em from beginning to end, or read them in bite-sized pieces. That's what I love about story collections. They're perfect when you don't have time to read a whole book, or you want the satisfaction of a beginning, middle and end in a short period of time.
In Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, Danielle Evans takes as her subject people in transition: adolescents, children split between divorced parents, college graduates drifting between partners and jobs. Moral ambiguity is explored beautifully in the best of these stories as well as the deeply felt moments of choice and regret. (Keep reading this review.)
In Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, Yiyun Li explores the big themes—individuality, honor, family ties and love—and sets them against a richly detailed tapestry of Chinese life. Though each story takes place in modern-day China, they are formally rigorous and crafted with an elegance that harkens back to stylists like Chekhov and William Trevor. (Keep reading this review.)
Kelly Link's second short story collection is aptly titled Magic for Beginners, for the short fiction she presents here is truly magical, with masterfully crafted stories that are as dark as they are delightful. (Keep reading this review.)
David Bezmozgis' Natasha: and Other Stories, seven stories about growing up a poor Russian Jewish immigrant in Toronto, are so Russian in tone they should be read with a glass of tea at hand and a cube of sugar between one's teeth. Yet they are so Western in theme that even if you've never set foot outside your hometown, they'll make your heart ache. (Keep reading this review.)
Hailed as Alice Munro's best collection yet, Runaway is the 12th book from an author who has perfected the short story form. In these eight selections, each of which takes place in her native Canada, Munro examines the nuances of human relationships, exploring the complexities of marriage, the difficulties of parenting and the responsibilities inherent in friendship. (Keep reading this review.)
Karen Russell's startlingly original collection, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, features graceful and seductive prose that transports the reader into surreal and yet utterly plausible realms. (Keep reading this review.)
The stories in Swim Back to Me, Ann Packer’s collection, are powerful. They focus on situations that make us uncomfortable to varying degrees—from the disorienting feeling of misjudging a co-worker, to the adolescent recognition of being ditched by a friend, to the excruciating pain of losing a child. (Keep reading this review.)
From the opening tale of Nam Le's The Boat, it's hard not to be giddy: Wait, was that a brilliantly self-conscious and humorous slice of the writing life, which doubled as a poignant story about fathers and sons and family tragedies? Yes. Yes, it was. Things only get better from there. (Keep reading this review.)
Most of the 12 stories in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's The Thing Around Your Neck focus on men and women who travel between Africa and the United States. Nigeria is the place where most of Adichie’s characters live, leave and long to return, while the U.S. is a place of promise, new beginnings and ultimate disappointments. (Keep reading this review.)
Jhumpa Lahiri has carved out a distinctive literary niche, and her tales of Indians encountering contemporary American life have resonated with a wide swath of readers. Her story collection, Unaccustomed Earth, only burnishes that estimable reputation. (Keep reading this review.)
What collections are we missing from this list? Why do you love short stories?