Genre: Children's/Young Adult
Lucky, a young girl from a small California town is afraid that her legal guardian, a woman from France named Brigitte, might leave her-- thus forcing Lucky to live in an orphanage in Los Angeles. While this sounds like it could be a horribly depressing read, the way it's told make it a lot of fun, and it does a wonderful job of updating a lot of major themes in traditional children's literature to contemporary times. Lucky thinks like a real child thinks, her thought patterns are a lot of what I remember from my own childhood, and that is something extremely rare and commendable in books written for childen. It's too bad Lucky's best friend Lincoln is an unbearable bore, but still a great, highly emotional read. I can't really fathom how some people got bent out of shape because of the use of the word "scrotum." Overall score: 9/10.
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
Genre: Children's/Young Adult Fantasy
No real need for a plot summary here. Re-read this book for my children's literature course (same reason I read books 7 and 10), and a couple things struck me on this go-through. I can't be the only person who thinks that some of the bits and pieces of the world Rowling sets up in the earliest books seem to change when convenience dictates, can I? Plus, though it is a hallmark of both fantasy and kiddie lit, it's always difficult to swallow the "inexperienced novice defeats tests intended to stop the most powerful" bit at the end. Still lovely, though. 8/10.
9. I'll Be Short - Robert B. Reich
Genre: Political Non-Fiction
A book on politics and political solutions from a former member of Bill Clinton's cabinet. Writing about the notion of the social contract, Reich basically lambasts the corporate entities of America for forgetting about their responsibility to the rest of us. This book was written while Reich was campaigning for the gubernatorial seat in Massachusetts, and it certainly reads that way. Sometimes Reich's solutions are frustratingly non-specific or blatantly pandering, but many of his ideas are worth considering (among them, weighted vouchers that would drive schools to compete for kids in low-income areas). At times, he comes across as self-important, such as in opening a chapter with his personal letter to Microsoft or using his wife's battle for tenure as the introduction to his discussion of feminism. Unfortunately, that kind of perception probably hurt his campaign. I still would have voted for the man, though, had I lived there and read this book at the time. 7/10.
10. Monster - Walter Dean Myers
Genre: Young Adult
Steve Harmon is on trial for his life, accused of murdering a shopkeeper during a hold-up in Harlem. Told mostly through a script Harmon is writing on his own experience, Monster illustrates the way the experience of the trial and prison environment change the character and the way he is perceived by his loved ones. This is a gripping read, and I appreciate the novel presentation. My main problem is that it is over too quickly, it was a very quick read despite the page count. I had a few issues with the characterization of the judge and attorneys, they didn't always quite ring true. I'd still suggest it's worth reading, and a good book for those of you who are also counting pages. 8/10.
Currently reading: Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes