Some of My Favorite Reads

   I love to get lost in a good book. I have been an avid reader since I was young, and I'm really grateful that my parents encouraged my reading habits. Today I really felt like writing about some of the books that I have loved at different points in my life. I can get pretty wordy when I talk about things I love and am passionate about, so I'll try not to make this too long of a post...

 For Children...

   The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm by LeVar Burton. Though this is a children's book, this is actually one of the newest books I've added to my collection. I bought it because LeVar Burton is awesome and he is and education advocate, so I knew that anything he wrote would be done in a way that promotes knowledge and understanding. As someone who works with children, this book really appealed to me. And I absolutely love it. When I first read it, I didn't just cry, I sobbed. It is such a beautiful story, it is so perfect to help children. The reality is, bad things happen. Little ones see these things on the news, or they experience tragedy themselves, and it leaves them with feelings they can't fully comprehend. This book can be so great in helping them to be able to understand and work through negative emotions. I think every parent should have this book, seriously. I can't say enough good things about this book.

   There are so many other books from my childhood that I love so much, however I don't personally own them. A couple really great ones to mention are Lily and the Wooden Bowl by Alan Schroeder and The Rough Face Girl by Rafe Martin. These are both stories that will encourage young readers to be kind, caring, and genuine. 

For Teens/Young Adults...

   I'm not a huge fan of what has become the Young Adult genre of books. I feel like a lot of the stories that are "popular" now are all quite similar. A lot of the teen and young adult books I enjoyed as a teen and even now are all ones that, I feel, make you think deeply about things and introduce you to issues that are real, issues that we may personally experience or we see others experiencing.

   Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is about an anti-social, awkward freshman girl who is trying to both hide and cope with trauma she had experienced the summer before high school. You don't find out what had exactly happened to her until you're half-way through the book, although there are hints leading up to the reveal. I think this book is great and that it can really help the reader understand the importance of empathizing with others, giving them a chance to tell their story, then being there for them. 

   The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is a classic. Once you read it, it's not hard to understand why. This book is hilarious and pleasantly depressing. I'm not sure how something depressing can be pleasant at the same time, but it is. It's difficult to explain, but I think that most college students who read this will be able to relate to the main character and will understand what I mean by "delightfully depressing." My favorite thing about J.D. Salinger's writing is the dialog he creates. His dialog is always so realistic and interesting. It's not just cut and dry talking, there are actions going on while the characters are talking and the scenes just come to life as you're reading. It's very enjoyable.

   Animal Farm by George Orwell is one of my absolute favorites. This fable is meant to be a satirical "retelling" of the Russian Revolution and the Soviet movement. Each character is symbolic of either a historical individual or a group of people. I love the point of the story, and I love that you're meant to do research and think deeply about what you're reading. I feel like that's the intent of reading, it's a mentally stimulating exercise. 

   The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is wonderful. Many people are quite familiar with this book, so there's no need for me to give a summary other than it's a cancer book that's not about cancer. The character development is great, and the issues the characters have to deal with are very real and very emotional. I love John Green's way of writing; despite the fact that he's writing for young adults, he doesn't dumb things down. This is a really quick read, I was able to finish it in a day and a half.

For Young Adults/Adults...

   Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is absolutely hilarious. This is another satirical novel, set during the World War II era on a fictional island off of Italy. It deals with political issues, as well as taking a humorous approach to the negative side of military duty. Basically, none of the characters in the story are thrilled to be fighting in a war, but the main character in particular is angry about it and is looking for a way to get out. The reason I enjoyed this book so much was because of the character development and the humor. It's been quite a few years since I last read it, so I may just reread it so the story is fresher in my mind. (There is a bit of adult content and humor so I don't really recommend this for teens.) 

   The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux is a cult classic. I feel like a lot of people I talk to prefer the play or movie than the book, but I REALLY prefer the book. As with many book to movie situations, so much detail was cut from the play/movie, and the characters in the play/movie don't have the rich back story that they do in the book. I strongly feel like this story is one in which you need to know and understand the details of to appreciate the characters fully. Any explanation I give will not do the story justice, so I won't attempt to. But the characters, the action, and the full, detailed story are amazing and captivating. When I first read this book, I couldn't put it down because I had to know what was going to happen next. That is my favorite feeling. 

   Lastly, but definitely not least, is the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I love these books and I highly recommend them. They are clever, they are engaging, and thoroughly entertaining. The characters and the dialog are fantastic, not flat or boring. One thing I really detest with reading is when you can guess what the ending is before you reach it. I feel like a great story will keep you guessing and wondering the whole way through. These stories do that perfectly; you can't figure out the end  of the cases before you get to it, so you will get sucked in and want to read more and more. Literally everything about these stories are great. Some of the best written literature ever. 

   This turned out to be a much lengthier post than initially planned, but I hope that if you read all the way through you enjoyed it. If you have any good book recommendations for me, I'd love to hear them! 
Love, Little Mouse

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