As a blogger, sometimes I think I get so focused on new releases. What's new and cool in 2014? What's coming out NOW even seems to be old news. One awesome thing about being at VCFA is that I am encouraged (and sometimes very pointedly directed) to awesome backlist titles that I may have missed in past years. Here's a list of books that I've finally, finally read in 2013. (Please don't yell at me too much for taking this long!)
Shine by Lauren Myracle
After sitting on my shelf for almost two years, I finally read Shine! It was a lot different from what I expected. This book really shows the darker side of poverty--not just how a lack of money forces you to live, but what it can do to people on an emotional and psychological level. Shine is not representative of all poor communities, but Myracle does tell one hard and heavy story here. I could see some really interesting parallels between it and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Okay, okay. I get what the hype is all about now! This book has one of the best prologues that I have ever read. It grabbed me instantly, and I love the Imperial Russian influences on the setting. The setting was the best part for me, but I was fascinated by the magic system as well. This is a great book, and I promise, I'll read the sequels. Soon. Maybe after grad school?
Story of a Girl and Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
My first Sara Zarr book was Once Was Lost, and I've read her every release since then, but I keep meaning to go back and read her first two books. Hooray for critical essays and annotated bibliographies, because I finally had a purpose to read Zarr's first two books. Tragically, I am all caught up now and even though 2013 saw TWO new releases for Zarr, I want more. Now.
Where Things Comes Back by John Corey Whaley
I am kicking myself for not reading this sooner. I get very upset when I think about my history with this book. I received an ARC back in 2011, and it was talked up to me multiple times. I took a look at the old cover, and I think I skimmed the summary, and somehow I decided that this was a middle grade book? (No, I don't know what I was thinking.) And, if you recall, I didn't read MG back in 2011. So, I gave the ARC to another blogger. STUPID ME. When I got to residency in July, my fabulous roommate Courtney Rogers was aghast to find that I had never read it. I like Courtney, so I found myself a copy and was delighted to find that I was wrong about this book. I loved it. Loved it with a sort of book passion that makes me order five copies for the bookstore and then sell every single one of them in a week. (Yeah, that happened.) But seriously. THIS BOOK. READ IT.
Feed by M.T. Anderson
I know, I know. But I finally read it! It wasn't what I expected. I expected to like this book. Instead, it made me very uncomfortable. Which was the point, I'm pretty sure. It's a sticky book. It will be hard to read, but it sticks to you until you've finished it, and then it sticks with you some more. Like all important books do. (Plus, it's brilliantly written. If you want to be a writer, read this book and look at how it works.)
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
I received this book last year and despite receiving a wonderful blurb from Melina Marchetta, it went on my "want-to-read-but-can't-right-now-so-maybe-someday-when-I'm-on-my-island-with-nothing-else-to-do" pile. And hooray for VCFA and making me pick up a lot of books on that pile! I liked this one a lot. It was heartfelt without being mushy and I just really felt for both of the characters. Plus, it's not just released in paperback here in the US!
What books have you read (or do you want to read) that you seemed to have missed when they first came out?