Celebrating 20 Years of Sonderbooks: Favorites from 2010

As of this month, I’ve been writing Sonderbooks for 20 years!

To celebrate, I’m reminiscing about my favorite books over my last 20 years of reading. Today, let’s look at Sonderbooks Stand-outs 2010.

2010 was the year my job got cut from the library and I had to work in the Office for Children for six months before I got back to the library. At the same time, I finally filed for divorce and in November 2010, that divorce became final. So it was something of an awful year. But I did some good reading!

For Grown-ups

This Is Not the Story You Think It Is. . . A Season of Unlikely Happiness, by Laura Munson

This is the story of a marriage that fell apart — and came back together. I wonder sometimes if I had handled things as well as Laura Munson did, if my story might have been more like that — and then I remember that everybody’s story is different, and my husband was determined to go. But this story still charmed me.

Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness, and Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder

Tracy Kidder does stories of real people exceptionally well. Strength in What Remains tells the story of Deogratias, a survivor of genocide in Burundi, who went back and brought health care to Burundi, working through Paul Farmer’s agency, Partners in Health. Then Mountains Beyond Mountains tells about Paul Farmer and the founding of Partners in Health. A special note at this time is that Partners in Health has a special focus on healthcare in Haiti, and I can’t think of a better organization to donate to if you want to help Haiti after their recent earthquake.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor

A neuroscientist tells about her own stroke and what it taught her. Little did I know when I read this that I’d have my own stroke (though in a different part of the brain) the following year.

Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant, by Daniel Tammet

The story of a man with synesthesia, seeing distinct colors and shapes with different numbers and letters.

The Ten Things To Do When Your Life Falls Apart, by Daphne Rose Kingma

Let’s just say I’m glad I read this book the year that I lost my library job and my divorce was final.

Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Fairy tales that shine light on women’s lives. Another one I’m so glad I read during that tough year.

Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart, by Matthew Elliott

This is one of the best books I’ve ever studied with a small group. It talks about how much we can learn from our emotions, and showed the fallacy in the teaching I’d grown up with that you shouldn’t trust your feelings. It’s a Christian book and teaches that God gave us emotions to drive us to our best.

This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, by Marilyn Johnson

It was affirming to read this book and be proud to be a librarian — as we were being devalued and library jobs were being cut. This book is a lovely look at the vocation of librarianship.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This book covers new research about child development, covering many different topics. Many of the ideas are surprising, and have stuck with me all this time. Some fascinating things about the way humans grow up.

Coronets and Steel, by Sherwood Smith

A swashbuckling modern-day European adventure and romance — with a touch of the paranormal thrown in.

The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

I heard about this classic mystery somewhere and was not disappointed, about the solving of a historical mystery.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley

The first Flavia deLuce mystery about a precocious girl with a penchant for poisons and an unhealthy interest in death.

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave

This gut-wrenching story of refugees in the United Kingdom tore me apart — but I won’t ever forget it.

For Teens

A Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner

Another installment in the Queen’s Thief series. We find out what happened to Sophos and the country of Sounis. More developments and intrigue.

Ice and Enchanted Ivy, by Sarah Beth Durst

Both of these magical books involve a big, furry, wild creature. In Ice it’s the enchanted bear of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon,” retold in a modern setting. In Enchanted Ivy, there’s magic afoot at Princeton University, and a were-tiger is involved.

White Cat, by Holly Black

This is the book that starts the trilogy in a world where many people can curse others by touching them. Cursing is illegal, so everyone wears gloves. Cassel is part of a powerful crime family and learns about his own power and people who want to use it.

Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

The start of a fun contemporary romantic series about a girl who plays football on the boys’ team in Red Bend, Wisconsin.

The Cardturner, by Louis Sachar

A novel about a kid playing bridge! So good! It includes puzzles and intergenerational relationships and competition.

Suspect, by Kristin Wolden Nitz

My writing buddy got published again! This one’s a mystery for teens.

For Children

Clementine, by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee

This begins a series of illustrated chapter books about an irrepressible, unforgettable third grader. I love these books so much.

One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia

This begins a wonderful series as well. In this multiple-award-winning novel, three sisters go to visit their neglectful mother in California in the sixties and get involved with the Black Panthers distributing food and helping the neighborhood.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger

The start of yet another memorable series. This one is more light-hearted, about an origami yoda puppet that seems to give wise advice to kids at a middle school.

Katie Loves the Kittens, by John Himmelman

Here’s a wonderful picture book for kids with a new sibling, as Katie the dog tries to be gentle with the new kittens, but doesn’t know her own strength and size.

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