The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu
This amazing young adult novel tells the story of M.T., a smart, talented 17-year-old girl with a very bright future—except for one small snag: she was brought to the United States illegally when she was a baby. Told with an authentic voice and mirroring many of the author’s personal experiences, The Secret Side of Empty offers a brief glimpse at an issue that affects many young people today. This book is great for fans of realistic fiction and young adult literature.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowel
From the best-selling author of Eleanor & Park comes this smart, witty story filled with realistic and hard-to-let-go characters. Struggling to find herself after her twin sister (and best friend) decides she wants to break away and room with someone else, Cath must navigate the confusing and unexpected world of college on her own. Through the course of one year, Cath is forced to face many real-world issues while fighting to lose herself in the online world of Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) fan fiction. Interspersed with original fan fiction segments and chapters from the made-up Simon Snow series, Fangirl is a unique young adult novel that speaks to the “fangirl” (or boy) in all of us.
Kennedy has compiled a wonderful collection of stories, poetry, prose, lyrics, and letters about Christmas by a diverse group of authors, from Run–D.M.C. to Henry Louis Gates Jr. and from e e cummings to Garrison Keillor. To quote the author, “The liturgy and literature of Christmas teaches us that Christmas encompasses the miraculous and the tragic, the profound and the ridiculous, and always represents the connection to something larger than ourselves.” Traditional carols are included, as are contemporary holiday songs by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff. This is a wonderful read.
Recommended by Michael Blake.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World by Lisa Randall
The author of this book is a Harvard physicist who tells the story of the extraordinary Large Hadron Collider as an argument for the value and beauty of science.
Recommended by Paige Roberts.
The St. Nicholas Anthology edited by Henry Steele Commager
This book is a collection of stories from the well-loved children’s magazine of the same name. Published from 1873 to 1939, the stories contain the simple values of an earlier time. Read them for fun and see how many you’ve heard.
Recommended by Michael Blake.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
This graphic memoir by the famously self-deprecating New Yorker cartoonist is about the last few years of her parents’ lives in a decidedly nonhip Brooklyn apartment and in an assisted living facility also known as “THE PLACE.” Chast’s gift is her hilarious and down-to-earth take on some of life’s most unexplainable, pretentious, and mundane problems.
Recommended by Stephanie Aude.