Stephen King, and Maya’s book list

When I originally subscribed to the magazine “Entertainment Weekly” it was primarily because Stephen King wrote a regular column for them titled “The Pop of King”.  (Clever)   I’ve never read any of King’s novels all the way through – they scare me too much, but I always loved his column.   (And I’ve read his memoir “On Writing” which is fabulous.)    He is no longer a full time contributor to the magazine, but this week, in EW’s annual summer kick off issue, he wrote  “My Summer Reading List”, and I have decided that this summer I am going to read all the books he recommends. There are 4 for each month from June-August.   (You may find me next month, hiding under my covers, flashlight and book in hand, if any of them are as scary as his tend to be.)

Books are a big deal in our house, and now that both of my kids are avid readers,  it is amazing how many books they go through.   In each of my quarterly reports, I list the books they have read.   I thought today I’d give you Maya’s list for the year (meaning ‘school’ year) to date.   Many of them are books I plan to read as well, once I get through King’s list, and I recommend them to anyone looking for a good quick read.

1)  The Lady Grace Mysteries:   Beginning with ‘A’ – Assassin and running through ‘L’ – Loot, this is a set of mysteries written by three different authors under the pseudonym of Grace Cavendish, a lady in waiting in the court of Queen Elizabeth I.   Maya whipped through about 4 of these books during the two weeks we spent in England last fall, finishing the rest of the series before the end of November.

2)  Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.  Really needs no description, does it?

3)  Small Steps by Louis Sachar:   Sequel to Sachar’s Holes which follows one of the inmates of “Armpit” the correctional facility gone wrong, as he tries to get his life back on track.

4)  The Mother Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick:  Maya read all 4 of these books in rapid succession (they are about a group of girls who belong to a book club together with their moms, in case that was unclear).   She thought that was the end of the series, and sent an email to the author telling her how much she had enjoyed reading the books.  It took almost 2 months, but Ms. Frederick emailed her back, thanking her for the message and telling her that the 5th book in the series will be published this coming Fall.   Pretty cool.

5)  The Doll People by Ann M. Martin et al:   A dollhouse mystery, wherein the inhabitants of the house are alive and try to solve the disappearance 45 years earlier of one of their family.   Maya picked up a used copy of this book at a small bookshop adjacent to the gift shop of the copper mine we visited while in Wales.

A little aside here:  one of the other reasons I love books is that they mark events and places in time.   Such as where we were when Maya read Doll People.   Books can provide a time line, just like world events do.

6)  The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick:   A post-apocalyptic story with the writing of a book as a central influence.   Not one of Maya’s favorites….

7)  The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd:   A boy disappears from the London Eye, and his cousin endeavors to solve the mystery and find him.  We also got this book, not surprisingly, while in London, but I just saw it last week at Barnes & Noble.

8)  Abby Carnelia’s One & Only Magical Power by David Pogue:  A young girl is sent to summer magic camp after discovering her own odd magical power.  Just ok, according to Maya.

9)  The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins:   I read the first two books in the series in about 3 days (I can too walk and read at the same time!), and then read them aloud to the kids, finishing just in time for the publication of book 3, which we then read together.   Amazing, amazing books.  We are following every step of the making of the Hunger Games movie which is to be released in March of next year.

10)  The Maze Runner by James Dashner:   Ok, in looking up the author’s name, I have just discovered that Book 2 of this trilogy has already been published!  I’ll be ordering it as soon as I finish this entry…     Maze Runner was another one that I read aloud to the kids – and we all loved it.

11)  Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell:  Jumping onto the Wimpy Kid bandwagon is Ms. Russell, but Maya enjoyed the book.  It’s a one hour read, if that.

12)  Flyte by Angie Sage:  This is Book 2 of the Septimus Heap series.  Maya read Magyk, which is Book 1, last summer and even though she didn’t think it was the greatest book ever, she borrowed the second from a friend.   All about wizards and castles and magic…  very popular in general.

13)  Hetty Feather by Jaqueline Wilson:   One of Maya’s favorite books of the year, purchased in England but not read until January.   Set in London in 1876, it follows a young girl, Hetty, who was left at a foundling hospital and is then fostered out to a family in the country, only to eventually be returned to the foundling hospital.

14)  The 39 Clues by Rick Riordan:   Mr. Riordan is everywhere these days, what with the 8 million books or so he has in print.  (That may be a slight exaggeration.)   Maya is not a fan of his Percy Jackson books or the Red Pyramid series (she read the first book in each of those), but she thought Clues was ok.  That said, she hasn’t made any move to get Book 2.

15)  The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse:  About a 4 year old girl rescued from a plane crash and subsequently raised by dolphins until ‘rescued’ again by the Coast Guard as an adolescent.   Caught in the net of humans, the girl longs to return to the sea.  (Maya just told me she didn’t care for this book.  In general, animal stories are not her thing.  Nor were they mine, as I recall.)

16) The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi:  A girl pirate!  I thought this book would be tons of fun, but Maya was pretty lukewarm about it.  (I still think it’s good.)

17)  The Seventh Level by Jody Feldman:  Invitation to a secret society or entrapment?  Middle schooler Travis Raines isn’t sure – a mystery in puzzles.

18)  Catherine called Birdy by Karen Cushman:  Newberry Winner set in 1290 England.  Birdy is the irreverent daughter of a minor English nobleman and the story is told through her diary.

19)  Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins:  Yes, she of Hunger Games fame.    The Gregor series was Collins’ first and is comprised of 5 books.  Maya plowed through all 5 in about a month (and I’ve read the first 4, taking a short break to read Game of Thrones, but I’ll be starting Gregor Book 5 in a couple of days.)    Gregor discovers a secret world, miles below his NYC home, filled with violet eyed humans and giant rats, cockroaches and bats.   Written to a slightly younger audience than the Hunger Games, but every bit as compelling.

20)  Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton:   A memoir by Bethany about her life both pre and post shark attack.  Maya and I both read it in the space of less than 48 hours.  Great read.  Amazing girl.

21)  Eleven by Lauren Myracle:  Light fiction which begins on main character Winnie’s eleventh birthday and ends on her twelfth, basically chronically a year in her life and all that happens.   Maya chose it specifically because she said she needed “just a regular story”  after the 5 books of the Gregor series.

22)  Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass:  I don’t know much about this one except that one of the main characters is a homeschooler, and it revolves around a total solar eclipse.   Maya’s review?  “It was pretty good.”

23)  Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin:  This is the book Maya is currently reading and she is raving about it.  It is told from the point of view of a 15 year old girl after her death (!).  She wakes up in Elsewhere, a place where people who have died age backwards and then when they reach infancy are sent back to earth and reborn.   According to Maya, the best book she’s read since we read The Hunger Games.   The highest praise, indeed.

So that’s it.  Taking into account the various book series, Maya has read 43 books since September.    She has the fortitude to finish even the books she doesn’t like,  which is more than I can say for myself at times.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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