“It was my candle to St. Jude”

Announcement: I ♥ librarians. Why? Because librarians love information, know how to find it, know how to use it, and know how to help other people find and use it; and because librarians love, care for, and offer us BOOKS. And school librarians, in particular, share their awesomeness with young people without condescension. Thanks so much to the New Jersey Association of School Librarians for inviting me to their fall conference this past weekend. You guys are inspiring.

Housekeeping: I got a great suggestion the other day from an audiobooker who wished she could see the maps of the kingdoms while listening. Please see my new link to the left, Maps of My Book World, which shows both the maps so far, both drawn by Jeffery C. Mathison. Click on the maps to make them bigger.

In other news, in case anyone’s wondering, Spike is still beating Beethoven in the highly scientific Spike Versus Beethoven: You Decide! poll — but Beethoven is holding his own! I’m proud. I thought old Ludwig Van was gonna get creamed.

Moving on. After my 96-book post the other day, a few people asked for some recommendations. Well, I’m always mentioning the books I’m reading, so do go back through posts and see what you find; and stay tuned, because if I trip over any gems, I’ll be sure to mention them here. You could also search my blog for the tag “books” (either type “books” in the search box at the top or simply click on the tag “books” in this particular post). Also, I’m finally putting together a list of middle grade recommendations to go with the YA recommendations I posted some time ago. That should post before too long.

In the meantime, all the recent dance talk got me wanting to recommend one of my all-time favorite books: A Candle for St. Jude, by Rumer Godden. Her writing style is distinct — you might not like it — but I find it gorgeous and mind-opening, so much so that I’ve gone on to read China Court and In This House of Brede, the latter of which is a 650-page novel about nuns in an abbey, which I’ll admit isn’t for everyone, but I found it fascinating. Anyway. A Candle for St. Jude takes place in a dance school and is about art and power and talent and attraction, being young, being old, and growing into your own. In case this is relevant to you, there are no nuns and it’s not bizarrely long :o). It’s out of print; try your library; I’ve also bought a couple of used copies through Amazon.

While I’m at it, here are some other absolute favorites from my shelves. I’m terrible at writing reviews, so check out Amazon if you want more specific information. These were published for a range of markets: adult, young adult, middle grade. I don’t have a lot of patience for the distinctions. (I would not make a very effective librarian!!) They’re all really good works of art.

  • Contact, by Carl Sagan. The SF movie with Jody Foster was based on this book. This never happens, but I loved both the book and the movie, despite significant differences.
  • The Tricksters, by Margaret Mahy. Have you read this yet? My blog is named after it, and I’m going to keep blabbing about it until you do. Magical realism.
  • The Catch Trap, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. An unconventional circus tale about love and relationships. I read the whole book, finished the last page, turned back to the beginning and read the whole thing again.
  • Heat and Other Stories, by Joyce Carol Oates. If you’ve never read any Joyce Carol Oates, give this a try. Small Avalanches is another of my favorite story collections of hers. BTW, I say this as a person who is not a short story fan.
  • Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. Then re-read Jane Eyre, then read Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart. They make a great trio! (Intertextuality!)
  • The Mouse and His Child, by Russell Hoban. You might think you don’t want to read a book about wind-up mouse toys. You would be wrong.
  • My Heartbeat, by Garret Freymann-Weyr, who has three names, none of which I can spell without looking. A book about love, sex, friendship, and family that takes place in upper-middle-class Manhattan.
  • A Piece of Justice, by Jill Paton Walsh. A short, well-designed, and, in my opinion, LOVELY English mystery novel.

There, see? I didn’t say a word about Lord Peter Wimsey, Kristin Lavransdatter, the essays of E.B. White, The Satanic Verses, or Ramona Quimby. (Age 8.)

(Also all favorites. ^_^)

What are some favorites from your shelves?