I just blah-blah-blahed through an anniversary post and it probably looked like I forgot to mention the MN Reads readers (how’s that for awkward?). . . not true!
Of course we love (and I speak for everyone who participates here) all the people who take time out of their lives to read MN Reads. And to show that love we’ve put together two (get it for the second anniversary) kick-ass prize packages featuring two of our favorite novels and two of our favorite short story collections by Minnesota authors.
To win one of the two prize packages, just leave a comment on this post telling us about the best book you’ve read so far this year. Winners will be chosen by random draw on August 18th.
Here’s what you can win:
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
Right now this book is perched atop my list of favorite novels of 2010. From my review: “What I like so much is that the plot unwinds slowly on the strength of Sebastian's voice and you're eventually enveloped in the story to the point where you feel real fear and sadness when it comes to the precarious health of some of these characters. There were times while reading the book that I was actually afraid.”
But I’m not alone, Christa loved it too: “This isn't the most eloquent thing I've ever said about a book, but holy schmoly The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni is just so freakin' cool.”
The Tale of the Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb
This is one of Christa’s favorites: “Webb has crazy chops as a storyteller, and plays this one exactly right. Often, at the end of a chapter, I'd close the book, chuckle and think “nicely played.” The ghosts in the story are introduced in a subtle way, more like they are actual characters – albeit spooky characters – than something Dan Akroyd needs to Hoover. The relationship between Hallie and Will is adorable. And every time I stopped to say something like “Hey, wait a tick, how old does that make Iris?” Hallie had exactly the same thought. And there are scenes that are so, so, visual that it is like someone is reading the book to you while you lay there with your eyes closed.”
The Dance Boots by Linda LeGarde Grover
If MN Reads had a star rating Ben would have given this Flannery O’Connor Award-winning short story collection five stars (I know this because that’s what he gave it on Good Reads): The Dance Boots weaves around this family's history and illustrates the connection across generations. Grover neither sentimentalizes nor victimizes indigenous people but rather shows them as the complex humans they are. I love Grover's use of Ojibwe words throughout the book, as well as the way the individual stories do not follow a linear timeline. Both of these qualities challenge the reader to remain engaged with the story. However, Grover's powerful descriptive writing is the book's greatest asset.
If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home by John Jodzio
This collection is inventive and fabulous. In January I wrote: “Here, each story is wholly unique and that makes it exciting to read because you never know what you're going to get when you turn the page. And, then there's “Gravity.” Yes, I wanted to say it again. Really, this story is worth the price of the book alone. Trust me. It'll be like when you bought an entire album based on how much you enjoyed the song on the radio and were delightfully surprised by how good the rest of it was.”
Plus, thanks to the kind and generous folks at Replacement Press on lucky winner of our book give away will get a kickass t-shirt featuring the illustration on the cover of John’s book.
Finally, we’ll be giving away six sets (because we like the number six) of our new MN Reads buttons! Enter to win by leaving a comment and telling us about your favorite book so far this year.
This is difficult, so I’m just going to spout four titles because I’m indecisive:
“If You’ve Lived Here You’d Already Be Home” by John Jodzio is phenomenal. There are images from this collection that are ingrained in my head. This is reading that sticks for a long time; I can’t say that all the time.
“The Song Is You” by Arthur Phillips is also on my shortlist.
“Summer Blonde” by Adrian Tomine is my first foray into the graphic/literary genre. I can’t wait to read more graphic novels and stories. I don’t know what I’ve been waiting around for. I devoured it.
And though I haven’t finished it, I’m really in love with “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman. The magic is cool, but the characters are dealing with real world issues of 20-somethings is even cooler. When you pair that with the fantastic, it’s quite stunning.
Two favorites, both YA: “RICH AND MAD” by William Nicholson (read an ARC). And “THE GHOSTS OF ASHBURY HIGH” by Jaclyn Moriarty. Both so good. Both so recommended–even (especially?) for grownups.
I’m pimping HARMONIC FEEDBACK, young adult novel and debut from Tara Kelly. Here’s the review I put on Amazon: Harmonic Feedback is a masterpiece of realistic young adult fiction. It is a classic coming-off-age for Drea, instantly one of my favorite voices in YA. I found her appealing and relateable immediately; she carried me through this book, not letting me put it down for more than a few minutes at a time. I’m a very slow reader, but tore through this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough, particularly to fans of edgy and realistic fiction. Tara Kelly is a debut author in YA to watch.
I loved Lydia Peelle’s “Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing.” It’s a great first collection of nature-themed short stories.
“Why Did I Ever,” by Mary Robison. Also loved “Tinkers” by Paul Harding, and right now I’m reading Zadie Smith’s “On Beauty.”
I’m having a great reading year, so this is a tough one. Hmm. For the Virginia Woolf read-along, I read To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway, both of which are old favorites that only get better with each reading. Loved Stewart O’Nan’s The Night Country. Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply knocked me out. David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp really opened my eyes to graphic novels. How can I choose just one??
Oooh…good to know! I’m reading that book right now!
I’d say that my favorite book that I read this year was The Hunger Games. I know it’s not a new book, but it’s wonderful. 🙂
Allison Bechdel’s “Fun Home” was unbelievable, and Chabon’s “Manhood for Amateurs” is pretty good.
Memories of Trees by Gayla Marty is my I couldn’t put down until I finished the book read. Since moving to Rush City a little over two years ago, I’ve enjoyed meeting the people who’ve made up the community. This book brings me back to the grandparents’ generation and explain why the town has so many good stories. The phrase “you’re not from around here”, is very much understood after reading this book.
After discovering a new bookstore in Copper Harbor, Michigan, and on the recommendation of the bookseller there, I enjoyed reading “A Cold Day in Paradise” by Steve Hamilton. The book is the first in the author’s Alex McKnight series and takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If you like John Sandford, I think you would like this book. I’m looking forward the second book in the series!
I’ve been reading the Melissa Marr “Wicked Lovely” series. Good stuff.
I have to agree with others. It is tough to narrow it down to one. One of my favorites are “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave. I also enjoyed “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein.
“Obsessive Genius” by Barbara Goldsmith. I’m really getting into biographies right now, for no apparent reason.
I read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. History and vampires what more could you ask for.
I’d have to go with Drowning Tucson by Aaron Michael Morales. Maybe The Passage, which was fun, but a little disappointing in the end. The Wonderfull Yeare by Nate Pritts was probably my favorite collection of poetry so far.
The Maze Runner!!! I had the most fun reading this one this summer. I am a Science Fiction lover anyway, but this one really sucked me in. Unfortunately, it is only the first in a series. I didn’t know that when I picked it up and now I have another series I have to wait for the next book all the time. I have three of those going right now…..arghhhhh
Gosh, it’s hard to pare it down to just one book.
Right now I’m savoring The Maytrees, by Annie Dillard, for the pure pleasure of her use of language. And of course I’ve loved the trilogy from Stieg Larsson for his strong women characters and portrayal of a different culture. And I always love the writing of Malcolm Gladwell; even though I’ve read many of the essays in “What the Dog Saw” in The New Yorker, I’m enjoying them again and getting new things out of them.
I finally got far enough from my mother’s death to read “The Lovely Bones”, and of course that blew me away. My biggest surprise, though was Marge Piercy’s “He, She and It”, which was addictive in the best possible way. What a great layering of story and metaphor and history. Loved it!
I reread A Swiftly Tilting Planet. The yellowed crackling pages of this book printed long ago reminded me of how much I enjoy the physicality of books (vs. ebooks). The story form is simple it follows a ruin the mother inlaw remembers in the first scene. I do not often reread books, but this was a wonderful trip into another reality and back in time to a book I first read as a child.
Hmm. Ok, I have to go by categories:
Fiction: My Name is Mary Sutter, by Robin Oliveira
Nonfiction: The Polysyllabic Spree, by Nick Hornby
YA: Countdown, by Deborah Wiles
Audio: To Kill a Mockinbird, by Harper Lee, read by Sissy Spacek
And I really can’t narrow it down beyond that!!
I just finished it this weekend (and admittedly may be on a post-reading high), but Tom McCarthy’s novel C stands head and shoulders above everything I’ve read this year.
I just requested an review copy of C. I cannot wait to read it.
Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, was dark, affecting, and laugh out loud funny.
I could go the route of the Millennium trilogy (which was good) but in the middle of Street Gang about Jim Henson and finding it very informative.
The Hunter by Julia Leigh has been my favorite book this year. Elegant and precise.
I still think about Remainder – how odd it made me feel. I’ve been waiting for his second book since I read the first one.
I thought Remainder was outstanding, and his non-fiction also holds me spellbound.
I just moved to MN from NC last week. I expect I’ll have a lot more reading time this winter than in years past.