Book Recommendations from a Simmons Weekend

And now, a listy post!

In no particular order… YA fiction, except where specified…

Books that have been added to my TBR pile thanks to the Simmons Summer Institute this past weekend (in most cases, after hearing the author speak):

  • Lessons from a Dead Girl, by Jo Knowles, a sister alum of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages, am halfway through, and am loving it.
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi. A bit embarrassed never to have read this one.
  • A Hole in My Life, by Jack Gantos (memoir).
  • Chasing Vermeer, by Blue Balliett (middle grade art heist mystery), with illustrations by Brett Helquist.
  • Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork.
  • Beowulf, a graphic novel by Gareth Hinds, who also has a graphic novel version of The Odyssey coming out that I’m psyched about.
  • Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, Schools, and Other Scary Things, by Lenore Look, pictures by LeUyen Pham (middle grade).
  • Black Stars in a White Night Sky, by JonArno Lawson, pictures by Sherwin Tjia (poetry).
  • Darkness over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews and A Fence Away from Freedom: Japanese Americans and World War II, by Ellen Levine (both nonfiction).
  • Mistik Lake, by Martha Brooks.
  • Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes.
  • A Wreath for Emmett Till, by Marilyn Nelson (poetry).

These authors have plenty of other books that are also a good bet — I’m just listing the titles that stood out the most for me.

Books from the Institute that I already knew and loved even before hearing their authors speak:

  • Feed, by M.T. Anderson.
  • Me, All Alone, at the End of the World, by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (one of my all-time favorite picture books).
  • The Octavian Nothing books, by M.T. Anderson. (Are you sensing a theme?)
  • Nothing but the Truth, by Avi.

Books not relating to the speakers, but that trustworthy Institute attendees recommended highly:

  • Heart of a Shepherd, by Rosanne Parry.
  • Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, by Tanya Lee Stone and Margaret A. Weitekamp (nonfiction).
  • Young Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle, by Ruth Ashby and Suzanne Duranceau (biography, I think?).
  • Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, by Brian Floca (nonfiction picture book).

Super books I’ve read lately that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Institute:

  • In This House of Brede, by Rumer Godden (adult fiction).
  • When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead (middle grade).
  • Finnikin of the Rock, a fantasy by Melina Marchetta, out already in Australia/UK, coming soon to Canada/USA.

Too listy, I know — but wanted to get the many titles out there for people to take and run with.

In other news, Graceling is a finalist for the inaugural Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award (an ALAN/NCTE award) along with After Tupac and D Foster (Jacqueline Woodson); The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman); Me, The Missing, and the Dead (Jenny Valentine); and My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park (Steve Kluger). More info about this new award is here. Thank you to the generous Award Committee!

My favorite object of the day is the muffin I’m about to eat, and since I’m practically typing this post from a prostrate position on the floor, I won’t be taking a picture of it. I am BEAT. The speech went well — thanks to everyone for your encouragement. It was a fabulous conference… and one of these days I’m going to post more about my Simmons experience.

Feel free to leave your own book recs in the comments!