Archive for the ‘Books’ category

Best books of 2016

December 20, 2016

Best books of 2016

I haven’t read as many books as I wanted to this year, but I want to share some of my favorites with you. Here are six of the best books that I’ve read in 2016. I hope that one of these books will inspire you to read, or intrigue you enough to visit a library or bookstore.

Best young adult time-travel adventure romance:
* “Passenger” by Alexandra Bracken – about finding out who you really are, choosing your future, refusing to conform to society’s expectations, power that corrupts, and opening yourself to possibilities.

Best rip your soul to shreds to save the world new adult fantasy:
* “Empire of Storms” by Sarah J. Maas – about power and responsibility, loyalty- self-sacrifice, creating a better world, and love making you into the best possible version of yourself.

Best thought-provoking, alternate worlds, yourself as hero and villain science fiction:
* “Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch – about our choices changing the future, family vs. career, alternative realities (“every thought we have, ever choice we could possibly make, branches into a new world”), the act of observation determining reality (“what a strange thing to consider imagining a world into being with nothing but words, intention, and desire”), and the idea that identities are fluid and multifaceted.

Best provocative, discussion-generating essay collection about Hawaii:
* “The Value of Hawai’i 2” (2014) edited by Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua – about “everything we value about Hawai‘i,” challenging us to think about: “How can more of us protect and enhance what is precious about Hawai‘i for coming generations?”

Best reaching for success by running like the Flintstones self-help nonfiction:
* “Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life” (2015) by Ron Clark – about sprinting to success, rewarding top performers, and motivating everyone to contribute more.

Best my life is a magnet for weird and funny humorous autobiography:
* “Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things” (2015) by Jenny Lawson – about choosing to be vehemently happy with depression and mental illness, taxidermied raccoons with big grins and jazz hands, and midnight cat rodeos.

Which books have made an impact on your life? Which books comfort you and inspire you?

Influential books of my childhood

August 9, 2016

Happy Book Lovers Day

Some books we read and enjoy in the moment. Some books we read over and over, like comfort food, because they tell us something we need to hear. And some books stick with us for the rest of our lives, even if we never read them again.

In honor of National Book Lovers Day, a day to celebrate readers everywhere, I decided to share 6 influential books from my childhood and youth – and what I learned from them.

* “The Little Princess” (1905) by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Separated from her beloved father, Sara Crewe went from privilege to poverty at an exclusive boarding school. Despite dealing with disagreeable students, bewildered friends, and distrustful animals, and often going hungry, she was always kind, optimistic, and open to wonder. She used her imagination to make her life and the lives of her friends better. It taught me that we cannot choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we react to adversity.

* “Dragonsong” (1976) and “Dragonsinger” (1977) by Anne McCaffrey. Menolly refused to give up music, despite her parents’ disapproval and a serious injury to her hand, and even left the comfort and safety of her home to keep playing music. It taught me that when you find something you are passionate about, you need to pursue your dream.

* “The Blue Sword” (1982) and “The Hero and the Crown” (1984) by Robin McKinley. Newcomer Angharad “Harry” Crewe and reluctant princess Aerin are both out-of-place and disregarded, but they become warriors who save their people. It taught me that you need inner strength and fortitude as well as physical strength to be a hero.

* “Pawn of Prophecy” (1984) by David Eddings. Garion is a scullery boy whose safe life on a farm is exchanged for a life on the road filled with danger, excitement, and magic. His practical, sheltered upbringing is challenged by events he doesn’t understand and can’t explain. Mister Wolf reveals, “When you get right down to it, nothing – or at least very little – is actually impossible.” It taught me that we don’t know everything we think we do, and almost anything is possible.

* “Dorsai!” (1959) by Gordon R. Dickson and “Dune” (1965) by Frank Herbert. Donal Graeme is a military genius who rises to prominence to face a ruthless interstellar businessman; and Paul Atreides is a psychic nobleman who rises to lead the Fremen of Arrakis against the Emperor. Both are the result of warrior cultures and breeding programs that created a kind of superman. Despite the limited female protagonists, these futuristic science fiction novels taught me that humans have the potential to evolve and become better. However, those gifted people at the forefront of change (enhanced, mutant, Inhuman) can inspire both wonder and fear.

* “Arrows of the Queen” (1987) by Mercedes Lackey. Talia grows up in a society where women are viewed as inferior and women’s choices are limited. Her life changes when is Chosen by a Companion of Valdemar to serve the kingdom. It taught me that honor, responsibility, and hard work are rewarded.

While coming up with this list, I realized that I’ve only read a few of these books as an adult. I’m almost positive that if I were to read these books today, I would focus on different things and take away different meanings than from when I was younger.

There are several books that I absolutely loved, but I never felt the urge to re-read them – like “A Wrinkle in Time” (1962) by Madeline L’Engle, “Over Sea, Under Stone” (1965) by Susan Cooper, and “The Black Cauldron” (1965) by Lloyd Alexander. Some of the books I remember from childhood are not the same when I read through with adult eyes – like “The Secret Garden” (1911) by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I think we take away the meanings and values that we need at the time, without worrying about the rest.

Which books influenced your childhood? Do you have “comfort books” that you turn to, or do you rarely read a book more than once?

Get fit with summer reading programs

May 24, 2016

This summer, don’t get left on the beach or in the sidelines. Challenge yourself to the sport of reading with two summer reading programs in Hawaii.

2016 Summer Reading Program

* Children, teens, and adults can get fit with books during the Hawaii State Public Libraries Summer Reading Program, which runs from June 5 through July 16, 2016. Registration begins on May 31. Everyone can read books, fill out a book list, and return to the library to pick up a prize. This year’s theme is all about fitness, and libraries are hosting various events to strengthen our bodies and minds – like the “Get Moving with Ronald McDonald show.

Your brain is like a muscle – exercise it! Reading books can warm-up your imagination, strengthen your memory, build your concentration, and give your problem-solving skills a workout.

Barnes & Noble Summer Reading

* Children in grades 1-6 can earn a free book in Barnes and Noble’s “Summer Reading Triathlon.” Between May 17 and September 6, 2016, kids need to read at least three books, fill out a Reading Journal, and choose a book from the book list. To encourage kids to think of reading as a sport, one that takes practice and commitment, the Summer Reading Triathlon asks readers about a book that made you read faster (sprint), the longest book you have read (marathon), the series in which you have read the most books (weight lifting), and a book that made you stretch your imagination (gymnastics). There’s a Barnes and Noble in Honolulu, Oahu and Lahaina, Maui.

Enter the knock-out round with a free printable activity kit that helps kids identify their favorite authors and illustrators, differentiate between fiction and nonfiction books, compare historical or fictional people who have faced challenges, and imagine a new sporting event.

You can even create your own reading triathlon.

  • Read biographies about a famous swimmer like Duke Kahanamoku; a leading cyclist like Lance Armstrong; and a prominent runner like Florence “Flo-Jo” Griffith Joyner.
  • Read adventures set in the ocean like Graham Salisbury’s “Calvin Coconut: Man Trip” or Jules Verne’s “Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”; road-trips like Van James’ “Ancient Sites of Oahu” or Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent”; and tales of travel like Austin Aslan’s “The Islands at the End of the World” or L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

I challenge all of you to keep your mind and eyes in shape! What will you read this summer?