2016 has been a great reading year.
While in high school and college, I consumed so many books and never kept track. Between school reading and personal reading, I always had my nose in a book.
Once I had kids, my reading greatly decreased. Of course, my kids weren’t entirely to blame. I spent some of my free time learning photography, exercising, working on a master’s degree, and loving on my babies.
This year, I used my goodreads account to track the books I read. Some of the books were read in print, others were read online using Scribd, and others were listened to as I drove to work.
In total, I’ve read 51 books and I still have a few weeks left. Maybe I’ll get to 55.
Here are some of my favorites. These include professional development books and books that I read just for fun.
1). The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. This book affirmed my own views on reading instruction. I teach in a climate consumed by test prep. Sometimes I have felt like I even needed to keep our silent reading time a secret because it was seen as “a waste of instructional minutes.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend.
2). Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown. I listened to this book while driving to and from work and kept pausing it and recording notes in the Evernote app (of course, I used the talk to text feature…safety first). There is just so much good information about how we learn. I was able to take information from this book and teach new strategies to my students. I wish I would have read this during college. I know I would have been more successful on the more difficult finals.
3). The Art of Coaching by Elena Aguilar. This is a must-read for anyone engaged in any type of academic or instructional coaching. When I started as an instructional coach, I received virtually zero training. coaching, or resources. This book gave me many of the tools I needed. She includes real stories, anecdotes, and strategies. I’ve referred to this book many times. I was also fortunate to be able to attend her workshop, The Art of Coaching, in Oakland.
4). When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. This memoir took my breath away. I listened as I drove to work and couldn’t help but cry as I thought about what it must have felt like for Paul to know he was dying. His last words are poignant, moving, and have stuck with me long after finishing. Be prepared to be inspired, but heart-broken at the very same time.
5). Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt. How, as an English teacher, had I never read McCourt’s books? I started reading Angela’s Ashes after a student brought a used copy to donate to our class library. I was immediately drawn in by the poverty and struggles that he endured. He tells his story in a way that highlights just how horrible his situation really is, but still finds moments to make his readers laugh. I followed this book with his other two memoirs, ‘Tis and Teacher Man.
6). In the Best Interest of Students: Staying True to What Works in the ELA Classroom by Kelly Gallagher. I’m a big fan of Kelly Gallagher. This book is so timely to many of the frustrations we might be feeling with the current emphasis on test prep. Gallagher reminds us to stay true to our mission and provides steps, stories, and student examples. I really appreciate his style of writing. I also read Readicide and Write Like This. I definitely recommend those as well.
7). The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Again! I can’t believe that I have spent thirty years of my life without having read this book. I’ve since recommended it to many of my students and they’ve all loved it. I just couldn’t help but underline all of the nuggets of wisdom. I also use it to teach the journey story archetype. Love this book!
8). Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts–and Life by Kate Roberts. I was super fortunate to attend a Reader’s Workshop at the Teachers College in New York over the summer. Imagine my excitement when I found out that Kate Roberts was my small group leader. I love this book for so many reasons. Her book breaks down the exact steps to take to teach close reading (informational texts) to students who may initially be hesitant to dive into an informational text. This book is so easy to read. I took notes throughout the entire book.
9). We Were Here by Matt de la Pena. I also met this author in New York last summer. My students, boys and girls, had been speaking highly of this book, so I knew I needed to add it to my read list. It definitely did not disappoint. This is one of those books that you need to have in your class library if you teach high school. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger kids as it has some language and other adult themes. Throughout the story, the main character must deal with the reality of his past, the possibilities of his future, and make decisions that take him to the last place he thinks he wants to be. Many great life lessons are woven throughout.
10). Fates and Furies: A Novel by Lauren Groff. I called this book my guilty pleasure. I love stories about writers, but I had heard mixed reviews. I started this book with a bit of hesitation, but found the storyline addicting, intriguing, and different than anything I had ever read. Halfway through, the book shifts to a new perspective. It was at the moment that I knew the book was a five-star book. There are so many things revealed through the new perspective that just really blew my mind. Definitely check this book out if you’re looking for a bit of a guilty read.
So those are my favorite books of the year, but I read so many other great books, like The Selection Series and Smarter, Faster, Better, as well as October Mourning and Brooklyn.
If you’re a book lover, follow me over at Goodreads. I love to see what others are reading as well. It gives me inspiration.
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