Ten “Must” Books: Four New Favorites & Six Next Reads


As spring break nears, I am building my traveling book pile. When my husband and I travel we tend to pack more books than clothes (see above – my husband’s book stack in a hotel on a recent trip!)

Here is a list of ten books — four current favorites and six books I am packing for spring break:


  • The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham — a beautifully crafted collection of seven short stories. Last fall I saw Ann Patchett and Tom Hanks in conversation and they raved about The News from Spain.  Wickersham’s prose is exacting and elegant. The book is dazzling in its nuanced revelations about human frailty.
  • The Belles by Dhoinelle Clayton — a highly anticipated YA fantasy book. Clayton focuses on society’s obsession with outward appearance. She disguises her commentary in a fairytale-like fantasy. I was bowled over by her two-page author note at the end of the book.
  • Far from the Tree by Robin Benway — At first I did not want to read this National Book Award winner YA novel. Teen pregnancy and the search for a biological connection are at the heart of this tale. However, Benway crafts strong characters you will find yourself rooting for throughout the story. She also hones in on the meaning of family in a way that feels modern and fresh. Highly recommend.
  • Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy — this powerful biographical free verse novel is a quick read. Written by a niece, Yellow Star tells the story of one Jewish girl’s remarkable survival in the Lodz Ghetto in Poland. The opening say it all: “In 1945 the war ended. The Germans surrendered, and the ghetto was liberated. Out of over a quarter of a million people, about 800 walked out of the ghetto. Of those who survived, only twelve were children. I was one of the twelve.”


  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi – This book is number one on The New York Times teen bestseller list. My students were more impressed Kobe Bryant tweeted his love for the book. I saw the author a couple of weeks ago and she likens Children of Blood and Bone to Black Panther, with magic. Can’t wait to read it.
  • The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins – I find it useful to always have a volume of poetry at hand. Billy Collins’ recent collection is the perfect size for a large pocket or a small bag. I adore Billy Collins and smile just thinking about his gracious, insightful poems.
  • The Creativity Project edited by Colby Sharp – This new book gathers a stellar collection of shining lights in children’s literature. As Sharp notes, the idea for the book came about when a group of book creators made up writing prompts to spark the imagination. Therefore, every entry begins with a prompt by one prominent writer/illustrator and the prompt is followed by a story from another luminary. The Creativity Project is every writing teacher’s dream!
  • The Turner House by Angela Fournoy & Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff – A National Book Award finalist, The Turner House is described as an epic family saga set on Detroit’s East Side. On the other hand, Pulitzer-prize winner LeDuff digs deep into the actual roots of Detroit to figure out what destroyed his hometown. I am still going back and forth between these books. Both are supposed to be powerhouses – I will probably use the poet’s choice and pack them both!
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – If you have never heard spoken word poet Elizabeth Acevedo, stop reading and get on it! The Poet X is Acevedo’s debut novel and early reviews promise a virtuoso verse performance.


12 thoughts on “Ten “Must” Books: Four New Favorites & Six Next Reads

  1. Thanks for reading! Please pick one or two of the books that look most interesting, shoot me your address and I will send you copies. Nothing beats the feel of the pages of a good book in your hand. It looks like you are doing good work there in India.


    • Wow, thank you so much! That would be great…..I think the Creativity Project and The News from Spain would be top of my list …. this is my address
      Celia FIsher
      c/o Darshan Dahal
      House No LD021
      Lower Nongrim Hills, Gora Line Side,
      East Khasi Hills, Shillong, Meghalaya 793003

      I think you could get them delivered through Amazon India? If they need a phone no, it is +91 8730882554.
      Thanks again for the offer!


  2. Loved this post! So glad you mentioned Kobe’s love for Children of Blood and Bone. I’m going to download on audio for my son and give it the Kobe blessing: that will be all he needs! If Kobe likes it, it must be gold! I just ordered The Creativity Project this morning and am so excited to read it. And your post reminded me that I need to get my hands on The Poet X. Maybe I’ll order just one more book? It’s never wrong to order just one more, is it??

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Akilah says:

    I love that your students are more impressed by a Kobe endorsement than the NYT. Makes perfect sense for their age group (and, quite frankly, mine too sometimes).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t wait for spring break reading! My list will mirror yours a bit. I’m finishing Far from the Tree then on to The Children of Blood and Bone, The Creativity Project and Poet X. We will have to sit down over a coffee when we return to school in April and share our favorite passages. Thanks for inspiring students and teachers to read widely and for modeling a reader’s life, “packing more books than clothes.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like your hubby enjoys reading as much as you do from the looks of his hotel stack. I’m impressed with your list. I haven’t read any of these books yet. My TBR book pile just doubled. I’m intrigued by Yellow Star andI love books in verse.


  6. Leah McFarlane says:

    This is a list I am ready to follow–you are a true leader of readers Billy Collins is also a major favorite of mine, but I have to check out Elizabeth Acevedo. Her name keeps coming up!


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