unRequired Reading Blog
If there was one thing that people across the country could agree on right now, it would be the ridiculously high cost of today’s college education. Most parents assume that student loans are a fact of life, and most students assume that student loan debt is a necessary and even positive thing. If you want to get a good job, it’s commonly thought that going to a good college (chosen in part by U.S. News and World Report rankings) and getting a good name on your diploma simply costs money and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Lennie, a 17-year-old bookworm and band geek, has always walked, safe and happy, in the shadow of her dynamic older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies suddenly, Lennie is left to cope with life in this intense debut novel The Sky is Everywhere, by Jandy Nelson.
A mountain of information has been written about Charles Darwin’s life, ideas and adventures, but this may be the first book about his romance with Emma Wedgwood. The dilemma? Emma was staunchly religious while Charles was bound to science and his revolutionary idea of the origin of species. Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith, by Deborah Heiligman, examines the true story of their courtship, marriage and family life as a backdrop to Darwin’s famous discoveries.
Faced with the question of whether or not to marry, Darwin, ever the scientist, compiled a list – a wife, he wrote, is “better than a dog” but then again he’d have “less money for books.” Eventually, Darwin did decide to marry Emma and the couple spent many happy years together.
Carmen Navarro works at the local Quikmart. She is bored with her job. Ryan Sweeney goes to the Valley Forge Military Academy, where there are no girls. In The Fortune of Carmen Navarro by Jen Bryant, their two worlds collide. One day Carmen is working at the checkout counter, and Ryan comes into the store on a one-day pass. He sees her jet-black hair and snake tattoo and falls for her immediately. Carmen sees Ryan as a cute boy with whom she'd like to spend some time. She invites him to come and listen to her band. That is the beginning of an intense relationship for Ryan.
Ryan Sweeney comes from a military family. His family decided for him that he would be going to Valley Forge Military Academy. He wants to please his family and has never questioned their authority. He has been a model student and a rule follower - that is, until he meets Carmen. He starts sneaking off campus to see her and lying to his classmates about where he is going. His grades start to slip. Ryan has never met anyone like Carmen, and he has fallen hopelessly in love with her.
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The Giver by Lois Lowry: Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives. (catalog summary)
If you like The Giver, you might also enjoy the companion books Lois Lowry has written:
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Lame and suddenly orphaned, Kira is mysteriously removed from her squalid village to live in the palatial Council Edifice, where she is expected to use her gifts as a weaver to do the bidding of the all-powerful Guardians. (catalog summary)
Messenger by Lois Lowry
In this novel that unites characters from "The Giver" and "Gathering Blue," Matty, a young member of a utopian community that values honesty, conceals an emerging healing power that he cannot explain or understand. (catalog summary)
Son by Lois Lowry
Unlike the other Birthmothers in her utopian community, teenaged Claire forms an attachment to her baby, feeling a great loss when he is taken to the Nurturing Center to be adopted by a family unit. (catalog summary)
If you like these books, you might also enjoy:
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Book One of the Shadow Children series)
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong. (catalog summary)
In Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare returns to the world she created in her series, The Mortal Instruments. Clockwork Angel, the first installment in the new Infernal Devices series, is set in London, several hundred years before the events in City of Bones. Tessa, an American, is called to London by her brother, only to find him missing and herself a captive, embroiled in a dark world of demons, warlocks, vampires and Nephilim, those descendants of angels who strive to protect the world from the forces of evil.
The London Clave that shelters Tessa is also home to three orphaned Nephilim, each apparently with secrets of their own. The attraction between Tessa and fiery Will takes center stage. But the quiet, mysterious Jem also falls for her, as Will pushes her away. Which handsome young man will get the girl in the end? Can a Team-Jem versus Team-Will fan split be far off?
Fourteen-year-old Zach Harriman lives in New York City with his mother and father. He has been living the life of a typical teen until his father is killed under mysterious circumstances. In Mike Lupica's book Hero, Zach decides that following the devastating loss of his father, he wants to get to the bottom of the story. He knows that his father was powerful and had the ear of the President of the United States. He knows that his father was very skilled in his job of "getting things done." Zach suspects that his father's death was no accident but a premeditated murder by an organization known as the "bads."
Sam LaCroix has got some serious issues. He’s a college dropout working a dead-end job in fast food. He has an elderly next-door neighbor who has more of a night life than he does. But at least none of Sam’s problems verge on the darker side of paranormal…until now.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride, is the story of one man’s journey from slacker to soul reaver. The only things Sam has going for himself are playing hockey with potatoes in the parking lot and betting when the rookie employee is finally going to crack under the pressure. This all changes when a renegade tater obliterates a car’s tail light.
Sam Wilson is 14 years old, lives in New York City, and is a computer genius. It is not unusual for Sam and his friends to hack into computer systems and fool around. In fact, computer gaming and use has reached a whole new level in Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner. In Sam's world, being addicted to computer gaming has moved from the basement to gaming lounges. There are individuals who spend their entire days hooked to gaming systems and do nothing else. This book begs the question ...is this a possible future?
Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly, spans both time and social status. In the present there is Andi, a musical prodigy who is about to get kicked out of her prestigious New York City school. She’s mad at her father for the divorce and at her mother for retreating into her own private shell. But mostly she’s in pain over the death of her younger brother, for which she blames herself.