2012 Bestsellers and Other Book News

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1. In 2002, Nancy Farmer published her multi-award winning book, The House of the Scorpion. I didn’t think I would enjoy a sci-fi book about clones and drug lords, but happily – I was proved very wrong. I couldn’t put it down and have since recommended Farmer’s book to many middle school readers. In September of this year, Farmer will publish her sequel, The Lord of Opium. I’ve already ordered it.

2. This sentence from a Publishers Weekly article caught my eye: “Half of the top 20 bestselling books of 2012 in print were either 50 Shades titles or Hunger Games titles.” The article continued: “Only one book not written by E.L. James or Suzanne Collins – Jeff Kenney’s latest Wimpy Kid title – cracked the one-million copies sold mark.” (According to Nielson Book Scan).  Interesting. Maybe a bit depressing. I enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy, but don’t plan to read the 50 Shades books. There is so much to read and so little time. Enough said about that. I was interested to read in the same article that Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn sold over 700,000 copies. I can take responsibility for one of those sales!  As you know if you’ve read it, Gone Girl is totally consuming, somewhat disturbing, kind of funny, and full of clever observations. One of the best parts of reading Flynn’s novel is talking about it with friends. So much good material!

 3. If we were giving a prize to the cutest books in the Inly Library, Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Stephen Savage would make the top ten. Now, almost ten years after the publication of the polar bear’s nighttime adventures, a sequel has been published – Polar Bear Morning. Here’s a link to a short video about Stephen Savage’s artistic process:


4. We’re studying poetry in my middle school class, and next week we are going to read one of my very favorite poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. Here it is:

My Father and the Fig Tree
For other fruits, my father was indifferent.
He’d point at the cherry trees and say,
“See those? I wish they were figs.”
In the evening he sat by my beds
weaving folktales like vivid little scarves.
They always involved a figtree.
Even when it didn’t fit, he’d stick it in.
Once Joha was walking down the road
and he saw a fig tree.
Or, he tied his camel to a fig tree and went to sleep.
Or, later when they caught and arrested him,
his pockets were full of figs.

At age six I ate a dried fig and shrugged.
“That’s not what I’m talking about! he said,
“I’m talking about a fig straight from the earth—
gift of Allah!—on a branch so heavy
it touches the ground.
I’m talking about picking the largest, fattest, sweetest fig
in the world and putting it in my mouth.”
(Here he’d stop and close his eyes.)

Years passed, we lived in many houses,
none had figtrees.
We had lima beans, zucchini, parsley, beets.
“Plant one!” my mother said.
but my father never did.
He tended garden half-heartedly, forgot to water,
let the okra get too big.
“What a dreamer he is. Look how many
things he starts and doesn’t finish.”

The last time he moved, I got a phone call,
My father, in Arabic, chanting a song
I’d never heard. “What’s that?”
He took me out back to the new yard.
There, in the middle of Dallas, Texas,
a tree with the largest, fattest,
sweetest fig in the world.
“It’s a fig tree song!” he said,
plucking his fruits like ripe tokens,
emblems, assurance
of a world that was always his own

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