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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


Sonderbooks Special Edition 

Best of 2001

December 31, 2001

As each year ends, it’s fun to look over my list of all the books I’ve read this year and decide which were my favorites.  Many books that seemed excellent when I read them have paled over the passage of time.  Others stand out brightly in my mind.

I hope you’ll enjoy the following lists.  I divided the books into categories, then ranked them in each category by how much I enjoyed reading them.  It didn’t seem fair to combine the books I had reread with the ones I had read for the first time.  For one thing, I only reread books that I love, for another, they have the added affection of old friends.

Most of the books were already reviewed in an earlier Sonderbooks, though I read some before I started it, and included a few notes for some of them.  My preference for young adult fantasy is glaringly obvious!  This list may not look selective, but the books below represent only about a third of the books I read this year.  All of them are excellent and well worth reading.

For the books that I have reviewed, the link will go to my review.  For the books I haven't reviewed, the link will go to the record for that book.

If you wonder where to start reading from my lists of good books, these books are the best!

Young Adult and Children's Fantasy:

1.  Enchantress From the Stars, by Sylvia Louise Engdahl.
2.  Dark Lord of Derkholm, by Diana Wynne Jones.
3.  The Wind Singer, by William Nicholson.
4.  Owl in Love, by Patrice Kindl.
5.  Fire Bringer, by David Clements.
6.  Goose Chase, by Patrice Kindl.
7.  Year of the Griffin, by Diana Wynne Jones.
8.  The Two Princesses of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine.
9.  Well Wished, by Franny Billingsley.
10.  The Other Wind, by Ursula K. LeGuin.
11.  The High Deeds of Finn MacCool, by Rosemary Sutcliffe

Young Adult and Children's Fantasy Rereads:

1.  The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien.
2.  A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin.
3.  The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula K. LeGuin.
4.  The Farthest Shore, by Ursula K. LeGuin.
5.  A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle.
6.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling (Book 3)
7.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J. K. Rowling (Book 4)
8.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling (Book 1)
9.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J. K. Rowling (Book 2)

(By the way, ranking this set of books was extremely difficult, and I might totally change it if I did it over tomorrow.  All of them are among the best books I’ve ever read in my life.  I put the Harry Potter books last out of loyalty to my older friends!  When it comes to reading aloud, though, the Harry Potter books are unsurpassed.)

Other Young Adult and Children's Fiction:

1.  The Queen of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner.
2.  The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner.

(Note that The Thief comes before The Queen of Attolia, and they should definitely be read in order.  Some Christian parents might not like the presence of author-invented gods and goddesses.  However, I found they provided lots of room for discussions about such things as why the true God sometimes allows bad things to happen.  The Thief starts out a little slowly, especially when read out loud, but both books are incredibly good.  I decided that, despite the gods, these excellent books are more realistic, pseudo-historical books than fantasy.)

3.  Hope Was Here, by Joan Bauer.
4.  Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey, by Margaret Peterson Haddix.
5.  Squashed, by Joan Bauer.
6.  Rules of the Road, by Joan Bauer.
(The Joan Bauer books are unrelated stories, and may be read in any order.)
7.  The Breadwinner, by Deborah Ellis.
8.  Love that Dog, by Sharon Creech.

Other Young Adult and Children's Fiction Rereads:

1.  Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery.
2.  Rainbow Valley, by L. M. Montgomery (Book 6 in the Anne series).
3.  Anne of Avonlea, by L. M. Montgomery (Book 2 in the Anne series).
4.  Little Britches, by Ralph Moody.
5.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl.



1.  The Sand-Reckoner, by Gillian Bradshaw.
2.  Tales From Earthsea, by Ursula K. LeGuin.
3.  The Bonesetter’s Daughter, by Amy Tan.
4.  Two Women, by Marianne Frederikkson.
5.  The Wolf Hunt, by Gillian Bradshaw.
6.  Old Men at Midnight, by Chaim Potok.

Fiction Rereads:

1.  The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery.
2.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, by J. R. R. Tolkien.
3.  Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.
4.  Tehanu, by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Biographical Nonfiction:

1.  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig.
2.  The Oasis, by Petru Popescu.
3.  The Coalwood Way, by Homer Hickam.
4.  Soul Survivor, by Philip Yancey.
5.  The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, by Terry Ryan.

Biographical about Moving to Another Culture:

1.  Extra Virgin, by Annie Hawes.
2.  Driving Over Lemons:  An Optimist in Andalucia, by Chris Stewart.
3.  The Hills Is Lonely, by Lillian Beckwith.
4.  Without Reservations, by Alice Steinbach.
5.  Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik.

Fun Nonfiction:

1.  Peanuts:  The Art of Charles M. Schulz.
2.  You Might As Well Laugh, by Sandi Kahn Shelton. (Essays about parenting.)
3.  A Tour of the Calculus, by David Berlinski. 
(Okay, not everyone would put this in the “fun” category.  His exquisite use of language and outlandish examples kept me laughing out loud and reading quotes to my annoyed family.)

Serious Nonfiction:

1.  Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser.
2.  Suburban Nation, by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck.
3.  Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich.
4.  Horse Sense for People, by Monty Roberts.
5.  Connecting, by Sandy Sheehy.

Serious Nonfiction Reread:

If You Want To Write, by Brenda Ueland.

Best Travel Book:

For the Love of Ireland, edited by Susan Cahill. 
(Selections from Irish literature dealing with each section of Ireland.)


New Picture Books:

1.  The Book of Bad Ideas, by Laura Huliska-Beath.
2.  The Three Pigs, by David Wiesner.
3.  Eat Your Peas! by Kes Gray.
4.  Score One for the Sloths, by Helen Lester.
5.  The Three Golden Keys, by Peter Sis.
6.  The Book of Beasts, by E. Nesbit.
7.  Bunny Party, by Rosemary Wells.

Sonder is a German prefix meaning "special."

Copyright © 2002 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved. 

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