Top 10 Tuesday: Advice to New Book Bloggers

you can do it!

So you want to be a book blogger, huh? Today’s Top 10 Tuesday from Broke and the Bookish is a great one for those who are budding book bloggers and also just a reminder for those who have been at it for a few months or a few years. Magan and I have been working on this puppy since November and it’s been such an amazing experience. We’ve gotten to read amazing books, write a lot, meet and chat with some amazing bookish people, and as friends, get a whole lot closer. Hopefully our 10 give you a little insight into our daily reminders to ourselves and also what we think makes our blog work. Good luck to all!

1. Be yourself. Um hello. You are awesome and don’t you forget it.

2. Don’t get discouraged. I know. Easier said then done, right? It’s easy to get worked up when you see other blogs getting more comments or ARCs and mentions on Twitter. But really, you will get there too. Keep your head up and just keep on trucking. Your focus needs to be on good, solid content. If you write it, they will come. (ha ha)

3. Comment on other reading blogs! This is a huge one. Think about how happy you are when your blog gets a comment. Your heart skips a little beat when you realize someone took the time to write a response to something YOU wrote. That’s pretty amazing. Return the flavor. Don’t be afraid to disagree or tell someone you like what they are saying. It might seem like a little thing because it takes a moment but really… it’s huge! (Plus this is a great way to get your blog out there!)

4. Don’t feel like you only have to read ARCs, new releases or what’s popular. It gets a little boring to keep reading reviews of the same books over and over again. Everyone is so different and their blogs (and TBR lists) should reflect that. There’s your own book collection and taking out piles of books from the library. Take a chance and read something new!

5. Social media is about being social. Whether Facebook or Twitter is your social media of choice, don’t forget the most important thing about them: being social. While it might be hard to reply to every mention and comment, it’s important to acknowledge people who take the time to contact you and also engage in conversations via social media. It’s a great way to make friends, let people know about your blog, and also get to know you a bit more!

6. Don’t assume that just because you’ve gotten an ARC or eBook from NetGalley that you’re required to love the book. Share your honest opinion.

7. Put your own spin on your blog and combine who you are with the books you love. It’s okay to put yourself out there to really distinguish who you are. Do you love music (see how NovelSounds incorporates that passion)? Are you a cat person (look at how VeganYANerds photographs each book with one of their pets)? The possibilities are endless.

8. If there are things you’re doing that a) you don’t enjoy or b) take the fun out of blogging, reprioritize or quit doing them. I, M, have learned that my least favorite part of writing a review is adding all the information (book cover, publication date, publisher, linking things, etc.) to a review. While this is info E and I want to share on the blog, I’ve found that if I do it after I’ve written my review, it doesn’t feel like it’s taken me as long to do.

9. If you need to take a break, do it. In the end, a blog is a blog, and life is life. Everyone gets burnt out sometimes, and it’s easy for blogging to feel like it’s taking over your life and all your time. Really, don’t let it. No one is going to stop reading your blog because you took a break or needed to stop reading for awhile. There is life outside the blogging world. And you must go out there and live it.

10. Support each other. We can’t forget that this is a community bonded by their love of books and reading. It’s not about competition but appreciating others for their opinions and preferences. We will never forgot how Jamie from Broke and the Bookish was so supportive of our blog from Day 1. Whether it’s a comment, a tweet, linking up reviews, whatever… it’s so important to show the love for the others who work just as hard as you do and for other bloggers to recognize potential in newer bloggers and most importantly, help each other out when we can.

We can’t wait to see what advice you guys have. Since we’re still newbies, too, there are some tips we’re sure to pick up from you!

Top Ten Books That Were Totally Deceiving

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish! Today we have compiled a list of 5 books each that have tricked us somehow. Was it because of faulty cover art? Was the summary in the back completely different than the actual contents of the book? Or did you expect a book to be one thing and it turned into something else all together? So, as you can see or will come to see, the word deceiving isn’t necessarily always a bad thing…

ESTELLE:

1. The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

As I’m sure you noticed from my review, I absolutely loved this book. Loved loved. But I was so surprised by how deep this story actually went. (The title suggests something entirely different.) There are also so many sensitive themes explored, as well as this undeniable affection for writing. So deceiving in a good freaking way. This book blew me away.

2. Other Words for Love by Lorriane Zago Rosenthal

I don’t know about you but when I’m perusing the bookstore, I read the backs of books to help me decide if I’m interested in. OWFL made me question those who wrote the back summaries because this one was extremely off. The description focuses on first love and the horrendous pain that comes with heartbreak. But the book was much more about the main character for me and dealing with pressure from her mom, crappy treatment from her sister, and finding her place. I think the love story, though significant, wasn’t the true focal point of this book. (My review.)

3. Various Positions by Martha Schabas

I don’t want to give that much away since I have my review coming up on Friday (finally!). I knew this book contained certain intense and uncomfortable moments, including some super weirdish sexual moments. I was most surprised by the feminine themes, as well as assuming a certain situation went one way because of incinuations on the back of the book. (They didn’t go the way I thought.) I know. Totally vague right? No, it’s not a book just about ballerinas but instead, the darker parts of this profession and self-discovery in dark and difficult ways. (And so worth reading.) (Goodreads)

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Judging by the title (and terrible cover), I never would have picked up this book if it wasn’t for a friend’s recommendation. Because, c’mon, what is a 27-year old doing reading a book about french kissing? I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my judgmental self or I never would have become so enraptured with contemporary YA. I still think this book deserves a better cover and title, but whoa it is so much more than a book about a girl getting kissed for the first time. It’s smart, it’s LOL funny, and it makes my stomach flip. Thank the YA lords for this book. (Goodreads)

5. Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

I have this terrible habit of buying a billion books on my Nook and just letting it sit there. At some point, in all my blog reading, I stumbled across this title and a raving review. When I opened it on my Nook though, it was about 700 pages. HOW WAS I EVER GOING TO FIND TIME TO FINISH THIS? I even told myself if I reached a certain page number and wasn’t into it, I would just give up. (I hate giving up.) But my god. Even though my Nook pages were drastically wrong, I would have read 700 pages. It was such an engrossing story about family and beginning college and relationships. (My review.)

MAGAN:

1. Crossed by Allie Condie

This may be an odd choice, and I’m fully aware of that. I suppose I felt most tricked by how captivated I was with Matched. I love, love, loved that book. Couldn’t have raved about it more than I did, and therefore pre-ordered Crossed to be delivered on the release date. I felt so let down. The whole mood had changed and things were so slow. I missed the action-packed, sit-on-the-edge-of-my-seat feeling that captivated me in Matched. I’m still holding out for book three, but my heart broke a little when it wasn’t what I expected. (My review.)

2. The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

I gave a lot of reasons for why I felt so deceived by The Disenchantments in my review. The cover implies a fun, light-hearted book. I didn’t find it to be that way. It also screamed female protagonist. That it was not. I felt pretty tricked because I fully expected to love every.single.thing about it, and it just kind of fell flat for me. (My review.)

3. The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

Estelle and I did a joint book report on this book. The impression I received from the summary on the flap of the book was that this would include quite a bit of a sweet romance. NO. Negative. False statement. That was such a minimal part of the book; I loved the bits that did exist, but I’m a girl who loves some romance and I felt betrayed.

4. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

The title of the book screams I NEED A BOX OF TISSUES WHILE READING THIS. But, don’t be fooled. The book is clever, witty, laugh-out-loud funny, and ridiculously original. (My review.)

5. Populazzi by Elise Allen

I saw this cover and thought it would be a lighter read that I’d breeze through. I did fly through the pages, but that’s mostly because I LOVED the humor and greater messages included in the book. Allen wrote the story so well, and everything felt so authentic. I didn’t want it to end. (My review.)

So, do you have a list of books that were deceiving? Let us know what’s on your list!

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2012 Releases I’m Anxious to Read

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic is ten books we’re anxious to read this spring. You might see a trend in my books below (just by glancing at the covers).

I’m anxious for warmer weather, though not Texas heat-wave hot, and some sweet love stories. I have a few unexpected titles thrown in, Divergent, Timepiece and Crazy, but those are because a) I love me some Veronica Roth and Myra McEntire and b) I’ll need something to break up the love stories so that they don’t all blur together and I can fall in love with the dreamy boys in each book.

Summer doesn’t technically begin until June 20th, so I listed books that range from March through mid-June. (And YES, I cheated by including Where it Began because spring doesn’t begin until March 20th. Ha! Oh, well!)

 

Where it Began
by Ann Redisch Stampler
Release Date: March 6, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

The Story of Us
by Deb Caletti
Release Date: April 24, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

 

 


The Selection
by Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

Insurgent
by Veronica Roth
Release Date: May 1, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

 

 

 

Second Chance Summer
by Morgan Matson
Release Date: May 8, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

The Summer My Life Began
by Shannon Greenland
Release Date: May 10, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

 

 


Unbreak My Heart

by Melissa Walker
Release Date: May 22, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

Crazy
by Amy Reed
Release Date: June 12, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

 

 


Timepiece

by Myra McEntire
Release Date: June 12, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

My Life Next Door
by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Release Date: June 14, 2012
[Goodreads | Amazon]

 

 

So, friends, tell us what you’re anxious to read! Are you hoping to catch up on older releases or are you anxious for some shiny, new books like I am? Leave us a comment with a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post and I’ll go check out your list!

Top Ten Books I Snagged at ALA!

Hi, friends! Magan here. It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted each week by the Broke and the Bookish. (Check out Jamie’s Top Ten Historical Fiction books here!) This week’s topic can be about anything we want. Since I just got back from ALA in Dallas yesterday, I wanted to share the top ten books that I am freaking out over the most right now. I’m also going to include a bit of a recap and photos of the books at the bottom, so consider this your warning: this might be a long post.

And also, I’m REALLY TIRED so if I don’t make sense, please excuse me. ALA was exhausting and all the projects my hubs and I did (see bottom of post) wore me out even more.

(Note: I took pictures of all the books tonight on my iPhone, so the quality is a little wonky, but I did want you to see the actual book, and not the picture downloaded from the Internets).

february 2012 young adult releases, ALA february release ARCThe Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg

Release Date: February 21, 2012
Publisher: Penguin
How/Why I Snagged It: Pure luck. I got it the first evening of ALA right before everyone was ushered out of the convention center at the closing time.
Add to Goodreads
| Pre-Order on Amazon

 

 

book cover for thumped by megan meccafferty, arc for thumpedThumped by Megan McCafferty

Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
How/Why I Snagged It: Estelle read Bumped and I knew she would want to read the sequel. I tried to keep my eyes peeled for books she might like to read, too!
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

 

 

cover of in honor by jessi kirby, book cove for jessi kirby's new may 2012 bookIn Honor by Jessi Kirby

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
How/Why I Snagged It: Jessi Kirby’s writing is just…beautiful. I loved Moonglass so this was one of the books I am most excited to have walked away with.
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

 

 


books similar to anna and the french kissFlirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

Release Date: June 12, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
How/Why I Snagged It: This book is being hyped as the next Anna and the French Kiss. Um, hello. If you follow me on Twitter, I can’t get enough of AatFK, so of course this sounded awesome and right up my alley.
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

 

 

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Release Date: March 13, 2012
Publisher: Candlewick
How/Why I Snagged It: I am a HUGE Melina fan. I haven’t read Finnikin of the Rock yet, but one of the sweetest ladies at Candlewick convinced me that I must read this series. She snuck me a copy because they hadn’t announced they had it yet.
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

 

 

the disenchantments ARC from ALA, books with covers with girls wearing glassesThe Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

Release Date: February 16, 2012
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
How/Why I Snagged It: Road trip. Older characters. Music. Beautiful cover. Enough said.
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

 

 

Various Positions by Martha Schabas

Release Date: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
How/Why I Snagged It: I confess. I’ve always wanted to be a ballerina. Or at least I’ve always been obsessed with the world of dance. If I can dance in real life, why not read about it?
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

 

 

sequel to delirium by lauren oliver, pandemonium, dystopians and dystopias for young adultPandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Release Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
How/Why I Snagged It: Getting this book was … terrifying. HarperCollins did a big book dump all at once of tons of ARCs and this book was included. It was pure insanity (and not to be totally ridiculous, but the whole thing caused pure pandemonium for real).
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

 

The List by Siobahn Vivian

Release Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
How/Why I Snagged It: This book just sounds riveting. It’s been on my TBR list since October! I was thrilled when Scholastic had a surplus of them to giveaway.
Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

 

 

books by courtney summerFall for Anything and Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Release Date: Fall for Anything: December 21, 2012 and Some Girls Are: January 5, 2010
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
How/Why I Snagged It: I have already read both of these, but NOW I ALSO OWN PHYSICAL COPIES!
Fall for Anything: Add to Goodreads | Order on Amazon
Some Girls Are: Add to Goodreads | Order on Amazon

 

That wraps up the top ten books I snagged! Thank you so much to all the publishers for their generosity. I am beyond thrilled and so thankful for all the books I received.

What do you think, readers? If you also went to ALA, what was your favorite book to have received?

Here is a little project that went down on Monday at my house to make room for all of my new books. A HUGE thanks to my hubby, Dustyn, for all his help and patience. We’ve had the bookshelves for over a month; Sunday night I sprung the news that I wanted to put them together. He had taken the day off to spend with me since I was out of town all weekend. Here’s how we spent our day:

Assembled bookshelves. Bought paint (Brand: Behr, Color: Intellectual). Painted backs of bookshelves.

 Progress of painting backs of bookshelves. (BTW, shelves are from Ikea, the Billy bookshelf.)
And that’s me.
Literally waiting on paint to dry.

HALLELUJAH! THE FINISHED PRODUCT (sans books)!
This is in our guest bedroom, which I’m turning into a reading room / DIY craft project room.

And here’s the part many of you have been asking about. What did I receive from ALA (in its entirety)?
The books are organized by their release date month.
(Sorry I’m not linking every one of these to Goodreads / Amazon. There are just too many!)

ARCS RECEIVED FROM ALA - JANUARY RELEASES

ALA FEBRUARY 2012 YOUNG ADULT RELEASES - ARCS RECEIVED

ARCS RECEIVED FROM ALA - MARCH 2012 RELEASES

ARCS RECEIVED FROM ALA - APRIL 2O12 RELEASES

APRIL IS BY FAR THE MOST POPULAR MONTH FOR RELEASES!

ARCS RECEIVED FROM ALA - MAY 2012 YOUNG ADULT BOOK RELEASES

ARCS RECEIVED FROM ALA - JUNE 2012 YOUNG ADULT RELEASES

ARCS RECEIVED FROM ALA FOR JULY AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER 2012 YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

ARCS RECEIVED FROM ALA THAT ARE SIGNED OR ALREADY RELEASED

That wraps up the world’s longest Top Ten Tuesday post with a quick run down of the books I received. I will post a more in-depth review of ALA soon. I think this has gotten entirely too long for tonight…and I haven’t had a chance to read at all today, so I’m off to do just that!

Top Ten Tuesday: Merry Christmas, Happy Book-adays

This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is ten books to give as gifts. With Christmas just around the corner, this is perfect timing to scour all the lists over at The Broke and The Bookish because we’ll all be posting about the BEST of the best. We are both bringing you five favorite books that we want to gift because we thought this week’s topic was awesome!  Don’t forget to check out Jen and Jamie’s picks over at TBatB.

M A G A N

I’ll kick things off today. I absolutely, without a doubt, love giving gifts.  I always want to go above and beyond what I should (ya know, budget wise) because I want to shower the people I love with things I think they’ll love. I told a friend of mine recently that books aren’t just a form of entertainment for me – they’re an escape.  I want them to make me emote and feel and take me on a journey. I want to completely get lost in the words and for the characters to feel like my best friends. The books I’m bringing you today are books I’ve read in 2011 that were some of my favorites.

If you’ve been following my tweets or reading the blog, you’ll see how much I gush about Stephanie Perkins and Suzanne Collins. Please note that without a smidgen of a doubt they are two of my favorite authors in the whole wide world. You should absolutely check into their books, but for today’s purposes, I’m trying to mix things up to share some books I haven’t previously raved about.

1.    Forgotten by Cat Patrick : A girl forgets the past and remembers the future. How does that even happen? It was an obscure concept to me, but MY GOSH Patrick’s writing was so incredibly beautiful. I adored this book. Mourned it when it was over.

I’d gift this to: someone who was a fan of Hourglass by Myra McEntire or Unforgettable by Loretta Ellsworth. Someone who likes to read things that are based on reality, but have a slight twist to them. (This isn’t a paranormal book.)

2.    Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: This was an incredible story of a girl finding her place in the world, defining her friendships, falling in love for the first time, and discovering the truth about her family’s history. I appreciated the writing so much and as all the stories were so cleverly intertwined, I felt myself slip into the pages and want to be friends with everyone.

I’d gift this to: one of my best friends and I’d include a personal note to let them know how thankful I am for him or her. I’d let the person know I’ll always have their back no matter what amount of drama arises.

3.    The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han: I know I cheated and that’s three books, but they’re a series! They go together like wine and cheese. These were the perfect beach reads for me this summer. Loved the sweet love stories and the family drama.

I’d gift this these to: My friends who love happy endings and love stories – the girls who love fairy tales (though this isn’t one) and reading about first love. These go to the girls who love love.  (Or greatly miss summer and yearn for the days of warmth and sand between their toes.)

4.    Small Town Sinners by Melissa C. Walker: This book is about a girl who is searching to understand Christianity on her own terms – not to just accept what her parents have taught her to believe. Though this wasn’t an easy read for me because there were some things that blew my mind, I do think it has a specific audience.

I’d gift this to: someone like my younger sister or brother who is going through the stage in life where they are questioning a lot and trying to find their own footing.

5.    Populazzi by Elisa Allen: you can read my full review here, but I think this book is an excellent demonstration of what it’s like to be a teenager in today’s society. Teenagers tend to feel a bit indestructible – Cara is no different as she tries to break into her new school’s social scene to climb the ladder to become the Supreme popular girl.

I’d gift this to: a girl in high school who yearns for popularity. My cousin went through a ton of bad things in her last year of high school, and I’d like to think that if she read something as well-written, funny, and relateable as this, she would have felt better about reaching the end of her senior year not being on top of the social ladder.

 E S T E L L E

Hi! Happy Tuesday everyone! I’m going to go about this list from a slighly different angle than Magan. Every year, for the past few years, I’ve made a point to gift my two best friends from college books. They are both science people, heavily involved in academia and don’t always have a chance to do fun reading during the semester. I’d like to think of it as my task to give them the best of the best to enjoy on their breaks. Unless they were playing a trick on me, they seemed to always love the selections and even traded with each other after they were done. Come to think of it, I did this book exchange with two other girls from college at one point and now my longtime buddy, Rachel, and I are about to do the same for the second year in a row. Sometimes I think a book is one of the most personal gifts you can give someone. While you may have a large pile of favorite books to choose from, you have to take in account the other person’s tastes and personality. It’s not easy. But I love a challenge. Here are some of my favorite books to gift others:

1.    God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie deBartolo: (Contemporary Adult Fiction) Beatrice, a cool jewelry designer living in Los Angeles, answers a personal ad on a whim. “Seeking a friend for the end of the world.” (Chris Cornell lyrics.) Instead of the freak she was expecting, it leads her to Jacob Grace, a passionate writer.

I know this sounds like typical chick lit but it’s so far from that. I can’t tell you the amount of lines I highlighted or folded down in my original copy from 10 years ago. I found this look on a new writers table, and I have never looked back. In fact, I started my own GSH trend when I got a ton of people to read it in high school. This book is raw, dark, lovely, happy, idealistic, hopeful, sexy, and romantic. These characters are so realistic, and go on quite the journey together.

I’d gift this to: Someone who can appreciate a REAL love story. A music lover. A fan of really good writing. A person who loves to dream of going to other places, and doing other things.

2.    The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank: (Contemporary Adult Fiction) Coming-of-age story that follows Sophie from seventh grade to adulthood. Relationships, moves, the works.

I had the opportunity to listen to Melissa Bank read chapters from this book at my college. I remember how exciting it was because the book hadn’t been published yet, and when I finally read the whole thing cover-to-cover I was floored. I love books that span a good chuck of time in a characters book and Sophie is such a relatable character. In fact, I have to reread this very soon!

I’d gift this to: Probably any female in her 20s who again, appreciates good writing and likes a good mix of humor and drama.

3.    How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer: (Contemporary Adult Fiction) A collection of nine moving short stories.

I think this is a book that someone gifted to me, and now I’ve given it to at least 2 different people. I love a short story collection every now and then. You can stop and go as you please. Although if you pick this one up, I’m not sure you are going to want to take that much of a break in between each. Warning: these stories deal with some extremely tragic and depressing moments. But at the same time, the writing is so obsessively awesome… There are bright spots too, don’t get me wrong but some of the stories will leave you saying “whoa.”

I’d gift this to: A person who appreciates the craft of writing. (There are many different styles in this collection.) Someone who wants to get a lot out of a few pages and may not have the time for a few novel.

4. Autobiography of a Wardrobe by Elizabeth Kendall: (Memoir) A life story told through the eyes and ears of her closet.

I absolutely love books with a creative format, and this is one of them. Kendall takes us through her life through the clothes she wore, the clothes her mother wore, what she bought, what she coveted, and what was popular during the time periods of the book. I also love to hear about how writers get into writing, and there’s a lot of that here as well. I love the flow, and the cover is pretty. (Big plus!)

I’d gift this to: A lover of fashion or shopping. Fan of memoirs, and someone who would appreciate a story told in an refreshing format.

5.    North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley: (Contemporary YA) Terra is determined to leave her her small town for college as soon as she can. She can’t stand the way some people look at her because of the port-wine stain on her cheek. Her dad is controlling and unsupportive of her art and her mom gives into his every whim. During a secret mission with her mom during winter break, Terra gets in a car accident and meets Jacob and his family. He and his mom provide the push Terra and her mom need to embrace new experiences and come to some intriguing conclusions.

I can’t say enough amazing things about this book. I could not put it down. The characters were so real to me and the author expertly crafts some intense family dynamics plus there is a good amount of traveling in this book which I absolutely loved. You learn a little bit about a new place, and it really plays such a role in the turning point in the lives of many of these characters.

I’d gift this to: Any female in any age bracket. I think anyone can relate to Terra’s plight to some degree. She’s an awesome, strong character with a lot of ambition. Jacob is pretty handsome and wonderful himself. And I love the relationship between Terra and her mother even if it is difficult at times. A must read. Beautiful, poetic writing the whole way through.

…anyone else love our NSYNC Christmas album title? Only the best, classiest Christmas tunes EVER.

Top 10 Tuesday: Childhood Favorites

Estelle: A few years ago, I started a ritual with one of my best friends (I’ve known her since kindergarten and in March, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding!). For holidays, we buy each other books we used to read when we were in elementary school. At first it was easy. There were the old favorites to search for on Amazon, or in the bookstore. Then after a few years, it got pretty challenging. Mostly because we are getting old and can’t remember everything we read back then or because we’ve bought them already. But the good news is, we are still working at it!

While I grew up with a mom who loved to read books (my dad is more of a newspaper guy), my time in elementary school really solidified by love of reading. I was writing my own stories and sharing them with the class (sometimes making them up off the top of my head: true story). My teachers were giving my friends and I books above our grade level to enjoy, and like the geek I am proud to be, I loved any time spent in the library. I truly hope you enjoy my following list because these titles are so near and dear to my heart. Be sure to check out the fabulous The Broke and the Bookish where Jamie & Julia have worked together to make a fantastic list of books as well!

1. The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin: This is a huge one. My parents bought be a boxed set of the first four for Christmas when I was in fourth grade and it was all over. I had many books to catch up on, and loved every minute of scouting them out in bookstores, and later used bookstores too. My favorite baby-sitter is Dawn but I always wanted to be as cool as Stacey and Claudia. (My mom eventually gave my HUGE collection away which is hilarious because she never gives anything away so last year, I started recollecting them. I’m still a few short.)

2. Wayside School series by Louis Sachar: I can’t even tell you how popular these were in my elementary school. It was near impossible to get them out of the school library. Why? They were hilarious and silly. That’s all there is to it. I wish I knew where my copies went. I need to rebuy them ASAP.

3. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech: If you have not read this book yet, shame on you. It was a favorite among my friends, and I just reread it last year and it continues to be relevant, emotional, and one of my all-time top books EVER. (And that’s saying a lot.) Salamanca Tree Hiddle is on a road trip with her grandparents to bring back her mom, and decides to entertain them with stories of all the new and bizarre people she has met in her new town. Her friend, Pheobe, is highly entertaining. (Warning: tissues. Lots.)

4. The Indian in the Cupboard series by Lynn Reid Banks: This is one of those books my third grade teacher suggested to me as a “challenge”.  And it was. It sort of seemed like a boy series to me plus the words were really tiny but I loved that copy she gave me to death. It’s kind of like pre-Toy Story expect the boy knows his toys can talk. This series is another on my list to reread. (And there’s a fifth I haven’t gotten to at all!)

5. The Alice Series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: This series is MASSIVE in size (I still haven’t read all of them) but it always makes me laugh. Alice is a quirky young girl living with her dad and her older brother who is quite the ladies’ man. She has two best friends, always worried about her breasts (or lack of), and wants her dad to fall in love with her English teacher, Miss Summers. She deals a lot with not having a mother, figuring out about sex, and finding her place. While the more recent ones aren’t my favorite, there are more gems in this collection than not.

6. Anastasia Krupnik series by Lois Lowry: I like to think of Anastasia as the earlier version of Alice. This series is set in the 70s so it’s sort of fun to hear the antics of her professor/poet dad and artist mom. Anastasia is a serious writer herself and has a lot of strong opinions and big dreams. I reread the first book of the series this past year, and Anastasia is still hysterical. I have to say I love her a little bit more than I love Alice. It’s all about the details.

7. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz: Maybe this was just a fad but our school had a serious obsession with this series. This was another one that you had to just buy from your book club because it was never available at the library. Perfect for sleepovers, and even when you were alone (if you were brave, of course). My addiction snowballed after I read this one… I had a crapload of ghost stories in my house after that.

8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: A classic. I’ll admit: I always loved that we watched the movie after reading this (the old school cartoon, not the new one… although that one is REALLY good if you haven’t seen it). Wilbur is adorable, and I just love Charlotte (and how she is a writer). Friendship, adventure, all you can want in a really great book.

9. Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard: An oldie but a goodie. I think we must have read this around first grade. We all thought it was hilarious because one of the kids in our class had the last name NELSON. So, of course, it was his mom that was missing. A fun book for kids (scratch that: EVERYONE) with a nice lesson.

10. Corduroy by Dan Freeman: I’m just traveling back in time with this one. But I loved Corduroy. He was the most adorable bear and I loved his adventures in the department store (perhaps we both have an affection for shopping?). I have great memories of reading this one in class, and I know when I do have a child someday, it will be on their bookshelf as well.