Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Booker Award

I received this award from my hubby, Jeff Whelan, who had received it from a fellow author. This award is passed around from author to author (or to other bloggers) so that they, too, can share their top five books. Of course, in his very eloquent way of writing, Jeff beautifully detailed why each book was so important to him and what he was able to take away with him. To try to emulate him would be fruitless, so I'll just have to do it the way I know goes!

For me, the merit of a book depends on how long it stays with me. For example, when I read a book, I give it all of my attention; however, a good book will suck me in and not let go--even if it has been years since I read it. Jeff had asked me to recall the books I read recently that I insisted he read at a future date. I remember telling him that, but I don't remember the books. So even though the books were good, it did not have any lasting impact on me. In essence, I have to look at how a book makes me think outside my comfort zone, forces me to view other realities, challenges my own ideals, and all around makes a difference in my life. I would also be remiss not to mention that I am a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing. I look for substance in the books that will stimulate deep and thoughtful discussions with my students.

That being said, I had a difficult time narrowing my choices down to just five (well actually, I took some liberties and made two sets of trilogies into just "2 books"--forgive me, I just couldn't pick one without the others.) So, after having slept on it, this is what I have come up with!

1. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. This book centers around a family, The Tucks, who accidently discovered a fountain of youth and the ramifications of never being able to die. Prior to reading this book, I pose the question to my students: "Who would like to be able to live forever?" The answer I receive more times than not is "yes". It is interesting to see that idea challenged as the read the book.

2.  The Giver by Lois Lowry. This book focuses on a Dystopian or possibly Utopian (you will have to be the judge) society where rules are of the utmost important and adhered to in order to maintain order in this community. Everything on the surface of this community looks perfect. This has been a tremendous book to share with my students. For example, a society without pain? That sounds fantastic, right? Hmmmm....makes one think a bit deeper about that...hopefully a reader will come away with a sense of the necessities of hardship and pain in order to promote healthy growth.

3. Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness: book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go, book 2: The Ask and the Answer, book 3: Monsters of Men. This is probably one of the most unusual series I've ever had the pleasure to read. Instantly, I was hooked. Patrick Ness has invented this Dystopian society where people can hear your every thought--at least the thoughts of the men. Women's thoughts, however, are never heard. The way Patrick Ness shows us the struggle of these men is beyond description. You are, without a doubt, pulled into these novels, and its grip far-reaching and long-lasting--I still remember them in such vivid detail.

4. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman: book 1: The Golden Compass, book 2:The Subtle Knife, book 3: The Amber Spyglass. The first book takes place in an alternate reality (maybe even a parallel universe to ours). People have daemons which are physical manifestation of their souls that are part of them. (Note to parents: I didn't understand the heart wrenching pain that people went through when their daemons were taken away from them until I became a parent and I had to leave my first born with a sitter while I went back to work.) Now, if you've seen the Golden Compass movie--I'm sorry--that was a horrible depiction of the book. They had such a wonderful opportunity to create a masterpiece, but failed miserably! So put all of your thoughts about the movie away, and enjoy the book.

5. And my all time favorite book, without a doubt is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In my opinion, there has never been a book that has explored society with such depth that I walked away from it feeling exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. The emotional, intellectual, and moral themes are so abundant in this book that scholars have spent years researching it. I have read it at least seven times, and I come away with something new EVERY time! What I really love about it is sharing this with my students. So many of them have come away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of life back in the 30s, that it has contributed greatly to their knowledge of the depression, oppression, racism, and humanity in general. This book has often been one that my students remember vividly in the passing years.

So there you have it! My five most favorite of all time. And now it's time to pass the torch. Here are the five people I have chosen to pass this award to:

1. Jen Vincent and Kellee Moye at Teach Mentor Texts
2. Roz and Patty at
3. Lindsey Mead at
4. Kathryn Markolf at
5. Susan Buchanan

 Please do not feel obligated to do this--only participate if you have time and inspiration to...this is just for fun! Enjoy!


Lindsey said...

This is such an honor and I will do my best to answer! But I also want to say that Tuck Everlasting and the His Dark Materials trilogy are among my very favorites, too! I just looked at The Giver the other day when at a bookstore with my daughter and thought it looked fascinating. Will pick it up. xo

Amy Whelan said...

The Giver is also a trilogy. Gathering Blue is #2 and Messenger is #3. The first two books are a bit independent from each other, and the third one ties them loosely together. Let me know if you do this. I will check it out!

Anonymous said...

Great post, honeybunch! You picked some real winners and I completely agree with you on the ones I've read (don't think I've read Tuck Everlasting and it's been a looooong time since I've read Mockingbird). By the way, this was a beautifully eloquent blog post, lady!

Roz and Patty Write said...

WOW. We see there are TWO eloquent writers in your family!! Excellent blog post, Amy. And thank you so much for bestowing on us the honor of your nomination. We really want to share our Top 5 (10??) but are immersed in our own latest book, trying to meet a self-imposed release date. Nevertheless, this is so something we would love to do. Is there a deadline?

Amy Whelan said...

Roz and Patty,
There is no deadline whatsoever. This is just for know? Just to see what literature our fellow bloggers and authors find fascinating. So take your time. And let me know when you post your 5 or 10. Enjoy!

Jen said...

Thanks for the award, Amy!!! Did you see Lois Lowry has another book that goes with the Giver? I think of them as companions, myself. The new one is Son, I haven't read it yet, just have seen it popping up here and there. I'm listening to the Inheritance Cycle right now. Have you heard of or read The Emerald Atlas? I really enjoyed that one, great fantasy book, in my opinion.

Amy Whelan said...

In fact, Jen, we just bought Son! My oldest and I are going to read it after we finish The Golden Compass. I've not heard of The Emerald Atlas. I'll check it out!

Amy Whelan said...

Update: There is a fourth and final book in the Giver series called "Son". It is interesting how the author now ties all of the books together to create a remarkable series. My son and I are almost finished with the book. It's hard to put down!