It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who has made him. ~Abraham Lincoln
Question #91380 posted on 06/09/2018 9:42 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What have been your favorite books you read in the past year? Or just your favorites of all time? Please just talk about books and how great they are :)

-Rita Booke

A:

Dear Rita ~

  • The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson. I suppose Oathbringer in particular, as it came out this year, but I did reread all three books (before, and again after it came out), and I love them all soooo much.
  • The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life by Robin Zasio. This was a HUGE game changer for me. I was already on a path to decluttering, but this gave me the tools to deal with it mentally. It helped me understand why I make some of the decisions I do, and helps me break the clutter cycle. It also gave me tools to deal with other things in my life, where the same principles apply. It's on my list for a re-listen soon. (The Audible narrator is easy to listen to, too. Bonus!)
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. I read this book as a child and remembered loving it. So when someone gave it to me in a stack of old books they were giving away, I devoured it. I still love it. But man, reading it as a mom is a very different experience than reading it as a kid.
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. It's like Percy Jackson, but with Indian mythology. I love other religions, so this was a fun, light read.
  • Emma by Jane Austen. Here's my Goodread's review of it: 
    I used to dislike Emma. She’s a well-intentioned girl who is too full of herself and causes all sorts of problems. She would frustrate me to no end.

    I read it this time for a book club, and was surprised to find that, while the problems frustrated me still, Emma did not. I found her relatable in ways. She really does have a good heart, and she really is trying to do the best for everyone she loves. But she is not vain. When Mr. Knightly chastises her, she respects him and takes his chastisement well. And when she is proven wrong, she is truly humbled and repentant of her actions. It doesn’t always mean she reassesses her other options, especially at first, but the further along the story goes, the more she matures, until by the end I truly like her. And I think I like her more for watching her journey.

    I find myself thinking of the characters often, even weeks later. Each character seems to be characterized by a single overarching attribute. It’s almost a study in various character traits. And I see myself in many of them. When I’m talking too much about nothing, I think of Miss Bates. When I am overly cautious, I think of Mr. Woodhouse. When I share information in social settings, I wonder if I’m too much like Mr. Weston. And when I am kind to everyone, and even love them, when they display potentially annoying traits, I think of Mr. Knightly.

    I definitely appreciated this book far more this read-through.
  • Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. It's an end-of-the-world, if we got hit by a massive nuclear holocaust. It was written during the Cold War, when that was a legit fear. It helps you see, through a fictional lens, things that would be necessary in emergency preparedness in such a scenario. (There's another, One Second After by William R. Forstchen, that deals with the same thing, but EMP. And has more violence.) It's fascinating to think about (also terrifying) and makes me feel guilty when I think about my food storage and other emergency prep.
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Light, but fun books. It's sci-fi meets fairy tales. I'm not usually a sci-fi girl, but I surprised myself by loving these.
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved this movie growing up. And then another movie came out that changed things. So reading this book was scary for me—which version was accurate to the book? Turns out, my version was. Phew! It is a heart-breaking and heart-warming book. I think every little girl (and little boy) should read it. It's a great example of how to stay strong and kind when everything around you falls apart. (And that means it's ok to be angry and cry sometimes.)
  • Real Friends by Shannon Hale. This is a graphic novel that we got for Dragon Baby. (She loves graphic novels.) I read it, and bawled my way through half of it. It is Shannon's real life memoirs from about kindergarten to 5th grade, and all of her friends along the way. The good, the bad, the ugly. I read it feeling like she addressed and validated my childhood insecurities. I've noticed that whenever Dragon Baby is going through a hard time with friends at school, she reads this book again. I think it validates her, too.

This doesn't cover all the books I've read since last Alumni Week, but I think it does cover my favorites.

~ Dragon Lady

A:

Rita Booke,

I finally started reading The Lord of the Rings series. I'm taking it slow but I've been wanting to read them since I was a kid. I'm somewhere in the middle of The Two Towers and I have loved it so so much. They're interesting because you really don't get any inner dialogue. Everything you know about the characters is what they say out loud to each other. It is entirely up to the reader to get to know the characters and to empathize with them. The emotions of it are much more subtle than the movie. It makes them more poignant if you ask me. 

An all time favorite is The Wind in the Willows. I rarely pick up a book twice, but I've read that one three times I think? It describes and evokes incredibly abstract emotions which I felt most strongly as a kid and early teenager. It amazes me that those emotions are not unique to me. 

I mentioned this in another answer. But what I really love about books is how well I get to know myself when I'm reading them. That's honestly what I do when I need to come to myself again. 

Babalugats

A:

Dear Rita,

I mentioned most of my favorites from the past year in this answer, but here are a few more:

  • Wool, Shift, and Dust by Hugh Howey – A post-apocalyptic world where humans survive a toxic external environment by living in huge underground silos. But what's really going on outside (and inside) the silo?
  • The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden – Let's mix traditional Russian mythology with Russian history and a stubborn young girl unwilling to submit to cultural expectations, shall we?

--Maven

A:

Dear Skeeter,

I sadly haven't read that many books in the last year, so I'll go with some of my favorites overall:

  • By Brandon Sanderson: All theMistborn books, The Rithmatist, and The Way of Kings (I haven't read much besides those yet)
  • By Orson Scott Card: Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind
  • By Garth Nix: Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen
  • By Brandon Mull: The Fablehaven books
  • By Rick Riordan: The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series
  • World War Z by Max Brooks
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Patton
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Wandering Realities by Steven Peck
  • And of course, Watership Down by Richard Adams

-El-ahrairah

A:

Dear Ms. Skeeter,

Well, I finally got into Brandon Sanderson, and I'll fight anyone who says they don't like Mistborn. But because I feel like enough people hype him up on the Board, I'll talk about some of my other favorite books I've read this past year.

  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It's definitely got some very, very weird parts, but it's a compelling story and has interesting characters that kept me engaged and guessing about what would happen next, and I like Gaiman's writing style a lot. Plus it made me irrationally excited to go to House on the Rock in Wisconsin.
  • The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. Imagine a post-apocalyptic world, but where the apocalypse was caused by zombie ant fungus mutating so it can infect humans. Then throw in some good interpersonal relationships developing in that nightmare world, and you've got a great book! (But even if you don't read the book, at least read the article about zombie ant fungus, because holy cow).
  • An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris. This is accurate yet engaging historical fiction about the Dreyfus Affair, an 1890s scandal in which the French government framed a man for treason simply because he was Jewish at the wrong time in history. It has interesting implications for our day, and is utterly fascinating.
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. If you don't know who Malala Yousafzai is, you definitely should! She stood up for women's and children's rights (especially the right to an education) in Taliban-controlled Pakistan, and was subsequently shot point-blank in the face by the Taliban, and this is her story.
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I finally finished it! And it's worth the hype, and the many hours it will take you to finish reading it. 
  • Making Money by Terry Pratchett. I will recommend Terry Pratchett to anyone who listens, and this is one of my personal favorites by him.

-Alta