#MustReadin2017 Spring Update


I love making #MustRead lists, but I’ll be honest: that’s usually where it ends for me. If I manage to read three or four titles on the list, that’s a very successful reading experience for me. There’s something about putting a book on a list and deciding to read it that makes me lose interest in reading it. It starts to feel like an assignment, and I am allergic to all assigned reading–even the reading I assign to myself.

But this year, I discovered the key to #MustRead success: crowdsourcing! I didn’t consult my own shelves to create my #MustReadin2017 list: I consulted the other participants’ lists and selected one title from each list, keeping in mind the diversity reading goals that guide my reading life (diversity of voice and diversity of genre). The extra layer of community is making this reading challenge far more palatable to me, and I’ve surprised myself by completing FIVE books already and starting FIVE more.


The Inquisitor’s Tale had a couple of problematic points for me (mostly about the treatment of race and the occasional clunk of the sentence-level writing), but I loved how well it captured the spirit and feel of medieval literature. In Gidwitz’s hands, the complex structures and styles of medieval literature feel fresh, original, and capable of still speaking to us today. Thoroughly researched, cleverly told. Hatem Aly’s marginal sketches, which give the feel of an illuminated manuscript, elevate the whole project.


Anne Morrow Lindberg’s Gift from the Sea was the one title I just wasn’t sure about on my list. I thought it would be dated, boring, with little to say to a modern audience. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. This book is going to end up as one of my favorite reads for 2017–and I liked it so well, I plan to reread it before the end of the year. Lindbergh writes beautifully, but the real draw here is the wisdom and thoughtful exploration of women’s lives. She is especially good at exploring the challenges of motherhood and work and how we find meaning and develop our identity through both.


Nikki Grimes’s Garvey’s Choice is a verse novel that hasn’t stuck with me. I liked it at the time, but three months after reading it, I can remember almost nothing about it. I’m not sure if that’s the book or me. I often have this issue with verse novels. Maybe I read them too quickly?


The Rain in Portugal is another book that may well end up on my list of favorite reads of 2017. I loved nearly every poem in Billy Collins’s latest collection. My only complaint was that I wanted it to be about five times longer! I allowed myself the treat of just 2-3 poems a day to make the reading experience last longer, but it still wasn’t enough.


Matt Phelan’s Snow White is a gorgeous graphic novel that adapts the Snow White fairy tale to a 1920s New York setting that feels like a natural fit for a retelling. I think Phelan continues to get better with every book.







11 responses to “#MustReadin2017 Spring Update”

  1. Michele Avatar

    I love that you have such a varied list, and how you put your list together! At some point I want to get to Matt Phelan’s Snow White.

  2. lindabaie Avatar

    I’ve read all of these except for the new Billy Collins which I need to get, especially with your recommendation, Elisabeth. I’m happy you liked Gift From The Sea, a long favorite. And I liked Snow White very much, too. Adapted fairy tales done well were lots of fun for my middle grade students. Thanks for all!

  3. carriegelson Avatar

    Isn’t it interesting which books stick with us and which don’t? I wonder about the why of this as well. I am just starting Phelan’s Snow White.

  4. Amy Warntz Avatar

    What a neat way to create your list! I keep seeing SNOW WHITE pop up again and again. Even my students are reading it. I’m glad to hear you are having success with your reading. I hope you do get back to WOLF HOLLOW. It does start off a bit slow but the characters…oh my!

  5. aaroncleaveley Avatar

    Similar to Carrie’s comment, I have Snow White on my list and should get to it before the next update. I enjoy keeping lists, right now I have a list of contenders for my districts Lit Circles/Battle of the Books and I am not sure how well The Inquisitor’s Tale will work. I think it will, but other teachers are not sure how their students will access it. Also, the list of books I have is strong, but sometimes I go back after 3-5 months and find, as you did with Garvey’s Choice, that some books do not stand out. Thanks for your update, always interesting to read your opinions.

  6. hollymueller Avatar

    I included SNOW WHITE and THE INQUISITOR’S TALE on my list as well and read them already. I totally agree with your reviews! Interesting that you liked Lindbergh’s book so well. I may need to read that in the future!

  7. cweichel Avatar

    After reading your comments about Gift From The Sea, and then Linda’s further remarks, I went straight away to see if it is available at my library. I have just put a hold on the audiobook so I can listen to it while I am sewing. Thanks for this.
    I listened to The Inquisitor’s Tale, so I missed the illustrations, but the audio was really well done.

  8. Ramona Avatar

    Gift From the Sea is a personal favorite that I’ve read several times (and I usually don’t reread books). I just finished Garvey’s Choice and really liked it. I was surprised to discover that the entire book was written in the tanka form. I must not be very observant because I didn’t notice the form while I was reading. I started it on a bus ride and finished it quickly.

  9. Lisa Maucione (@DrLMaucione) Avatar

    That was a great way to make your reading list. Technology and social media definitely gives us many opportunities to learn what others are reading and loving. I have not yet gotten to The Inquisitor’s Tale, but feel I should with all the buzz I’ve heard about it.

  10. Akilah Avatar

    I crowdsourced my list and am interested in all my titles and still have only read two. I’m like you: any list feels like required reading to me. 😅 I am going to try to remember to read from my list this summer, though. I’m glad you’re enjoying your reading!

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