16 in ’16: Reader of the Year Spotlight – Heather S.

by Lindsey

I had the opportunity to talk with Heather S., Reader of the Year in the library’s 16 in ’16 Reading Resolutions Challenge. She was our most prolific reader, completing nearly 500 books and fulfilling all 16 categories. I was curious what inspired her to participate in the challenge. Heather told me that she wasn’t able to leave the house much in 2016, so she spent much of her time reading. She really enjoyed the variety of categories, as they pushed her to expand her horizons. That is exactly what we hoped to achieve with our challenge! Heather says, “Suddenly, the library has gotten much bigger as I am reading more kinds of books.” Sentiments like this makes me so appreciative of libraries and library patrons. They make me proud to be a librarian! Now, without further delay, here are Heather’s favorite books in each reading category.

Read a Local Author: Fire and Ice by J.A. Jance

“As is usual with Jance, this book is both well-written and interesting. In this mystery, Jance skillfully captures the local cultures of both Seattle and Arizona. The vivid descriptions of the Arizona desert are especially beautiful.”

Read a Graphic Novel: The Docs: A Graphic Novel by the Naval Health Research Center

“This well-drawn book provides a realistic background for the interweaving of three separate members of the Medical Corps and their heroic service in Iraq during Desert Storm.” This title is available to view online for free.

Read a Whidbey ReadThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

“Brown offers an intimate description of the Seattle area and the ways in which the socio-economic influences of the time affected the lives of the young University of Washington athletes as they participated in the 1936 Olympics.”

Read a Prose Bowl Finalist: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

“There is a real stigma for those with mental illness that can lead to discrimination and ridicule. Although the seriousness of this topic should never be dismissed or minimized, Lawson is able to be a strong advocate and talk about her self-described disability in a hilarious and touching manner.”

Read before Seeing the Movie: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

“In writing about the illness and death of a teenager, it would be easy to create a maudlin and over-sentimental story. This book does not succumb to that weakness. Death and illness are discussed in a realistic yet touching way that helps the reader see that death is part of the reality of life.”

Read an Award Winner: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“The book is extremely well-written and there is strong character development. These two elements are enough to qualify the book as award-worthy. More importantly, this book portrays the realities of being gay in the Mexican-American culture.”

Read about History: Louise’s War by Sarah R. Shaber

“I am interested in the role of women in history and this book skillfully describes how the women working for the War Department in D.C. during World War II were an essential part of the war effort. Shaber presents a historically accurate description of one woman’s contribution while still writing an interesting, enjoyable account of everyday life for women in the 1940s.”

Read a Young Adult Book: Bruised by Sarah Skilton

“My favorite young adult sub-genre is realistic fiction. This book deals with trauma and how Post-traumatic Stress Disorder affects both the individual directly affected as well as those who are indirectly affected. The realistic clinical description of PTSD offers excellent insight into the reality of this disorder. The book is both entertaining and educational.”

Read a Retelling: Red Phoenix by Kylie Chan

“The first book in a series retells ancient Chinese mythology and religion in modern Hong Kong. Chan weaves an enchanting story of a modern woman and the earthly manifestation of a Chinese god. I am interested in the intermingling of ancient and modern cultures and this book offers a fascinating picture of how these two cultures might co-exist.”

Read a Staff Pick: A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life by James Bowen

“This book is both entertaining and insightful. It chronicles the true story of James Bowen and his life as a recovering heroin addict. Without being sentimental, Bowen talks about homelessness, unemployment, and mental illness. These difficult topics are counter-balanced by the humorous and touching account of the relationship between Bowen and his cat, Bob.”

Read a Translated Book: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, translated by Henning Koch

“The heart of this story is the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother. It offers a fascinating glimpse of Swedish life and culture. Bachman’s main accomplishment is his ability to tell the story from the perspective of a child while remaining interesting to adults.”

Read a Book by an Author Under 30: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

“Tells the story of a high school girl and her relationship with an abusive boyfriend. Dessen skillfully presents a believable portrayal of the subtle and insidious way in which the girl is drawn into this relationship. It is important for teens to learn to recognize signs of an abusive relationship and how to properly resolve it. Dessen writes about abuse without sounding pedantic or judgmental.”

Read a Banned or Challenged Book: One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones

“This book was challenged because it deals with the difficult concept of death and was considered to be unsuitable for adolescents. As with many such challenges, the motive was admirable but unrealistic. Adolescents actually benefit from reading realistic fiction because it allows them to confront and process hardship vicariously in a safe environment. This book tells the story of how a teenage girl deals with her mother’s death and the subsequent fallout in a way that teenagers can relate to.”

Read a Funny Book: Yes Please by Amy Poehler

“Sometimes it is necessary to just let go and laugh. This book is hilarious and I enjoyed having the opportunity to relax and not have to process deep ideas.”

Read a Collection of Short Stories: American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis

“Modern society no longer has a place for women to be limited to only traditional roles. This book explores the way contemporary women are juggling the demands of work and home. While some of the stories are tongue-in-cheek, the overall tone of the book calls for the reader to examine the role of women today.”

Read a Book Published in 2016: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

“This book is part of a series of urban fantasy about shape-shifters. Fantasy is sometime discounted from being a serious genre of legitimate literature. “Marked in Flesh” proves otherwise. The plot is believable and the characters are well developed. This book should appeal to both urban fantasy fans and readers who would not normally enjoy fantasy.”

Stretch Challenge – Reread a Favorite: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg

“I first read this book in high school and have subsequently read it numerous times. When I first read it, I just enjoyed the story. When I read it in graduate school, I learned about the treatments for mental illness in the 1940s and 50s. In my most recent reading, I was confronted with the anti-Semitism that was open and rampant in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Unfortunately, while anti-Semitism is no longer as obvious, bigotry continues to be present in our modern society.”

Stretch Challenge – Read a MemoirElle & Coach: Diabetes, the Fight for My Daughter’s Life, and the Dog Who Changed Everything: by Stefany Shaheen

“Shaheen provides insight into how Type 1 Diabetes has affected her family. Her daughter, Elle, was unable to manage her disease even with careful monitoring. Coach, a dog that was trained to detect a drop or increase in blood sugar levels, has helped Elle lead a more normal life without being held back by her diabetes. The book is well-written and clear and ably addresses the difficulties of managing a chronic and potentially life-threatening condition.”

I want to thank Heather for taking the time to share this great insight on her favorite books, which we have compiled into a list. Tune in soon for information about our next reading challenge!



One response to “16 in ’16: Reader of the Year Spotlight – Heather S.”

  1. Jan says:

    Thank you Heather for sharing your take on what appear to be some really interesting books. I’ve read a few of your faves and love what you have to say about them. Now I want to read some of these too. Blessings, dear reader.

Leave a reply (comments are moderated before posting)