The Gift of Reading

December. The library was decorated. The books were everywhere. But I wanted to do something special…something that had not been done before at our little school’s library.

I’ve seen libraries all over the country, in schools, and in public community spaces, participating in book wrapping events. While cleaning out the storage room, I finally decided to go through the two boxes labeled giveaway, prizes, and donations.

I spent my day online organizing the books by our school’s reading levels, using torn up pieces of sticky notes. Then I typed up a brief description of each book into a word document that we could tape to the front of each book.

Over the next week, and with the help of a few coworkers, we began to gift wrap each and every book. We had over forty books to wrap and giveaway, which meant I had just enough books for one student in every class at our school!!!

I grabbed our binder full of class lists to pick our random winners. Google has this nifty random number generator button. I took the number of students in each class, and then randomly generated a number. If the number was four, the fourth student from the top of the list became our winner!

I wrote down each winner’s name and their teacher on the back of a ticket. Then I sent out the list of winners to our entire school. Slowly but surely they began trickling, one by one, into the library.

Some students were very confused, apprehensive, and had no idea why they were sent down to the library. I assured them they weren’t in trouble, and that they were the winner for their class! They would get to pick one book to take home and keep over the holiday break.

So many kiddos were shocked, or tried to give me back the books at the end of the day. You could see it on their faces, some of these kids had never won anything in their whole lives.

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Me: You’re our book winner!

This project could not have worked without the help of my coworkers, and without the forethought of the librarians before me who had collected these books. I am so grateful that I could give back to some lucky students in this way. The look on their faces when they realized what was happening, was priceless.

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I hope this is a tradition we can keep alive for many years to come. I’m already thinking of ways to get new books for the kids for next year.

20 Books I Want to Read in 2020

With the new year quickly approaching, it’s time to make some new reading goals. I’ve had a plethora of books on my desk, shelves, and sitting in my holds list at the library, that are oh so patiently waiting to be picked up and read. Here are just 20 of those books that I’m hoping I can get to in the new year.

Fair warning: these descriptions are based on my poor, and probably inaccurate, memory of what the books may or may not be about. Unless I draw a complete blank and resort to Goodreads, as usual.

Spinning Silver
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

From what I can remember, the premise of this book was sold to me as a gender-bent, Rumpelstiltskin retelling. I’ve heard this is a must read for fantasy lovers, and I knew I’d be picking up a Naomi Novik book soon…it was just a matter of deciding which one I’d read first.

Truthwitch (The Witchlands, #1)
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

I picked up this book from BookOutlet A G E S ago. I pulled it out and put in on my desk in 2019 with the hopes that seeing it every day would entice me to read it. Welp. Still haven’t, but fully plan to come 2020. This one is about kick-butt magic wielders. Fighting with swords AND magic? Hello, sign me up.

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

If you’re reading this blog do you even need a description of this one? I’m realizing, hoping, some of my coworkers or friends might have found their way here. If so…hi and welcome! Okay this one is gritty, and about faeries. Some novels easily lose the animalistic nature of a fae beings, but this one, apparently, does not. Think O.G. Cinderella, where the step sister cuts off her toes and shoves her bleeding stump of a foot into the glass slipper. Grit. Tea.

The Priory of the Orange Tree
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Uh. This one has dragons. And I’m here for it. I can’t remember if the dragons are anthropomorphic? Or if they’re against the human race, or working in tandem with them? But they’re there. And I believe they’re at war.

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahi

A pristine, beautiful, paperback edition of this book was donated to the library I previously worked at. You best believe I snatched her right up! I’ve heard mixed reviews about this series. Clearly, as the cover depicts, we have a strong female main character, and I believe this takes place in a desert setting. I think they’re trying to covertly take over a corrupt kingdom? But I mean…aren’t they all?

The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1)
The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

Finally! A fresh, new book on vampires. Or at least that’s what we all thought until the reviews started to come in. I’ve heard that this is less in your face vampire, and more observe their characteristics to figure it out. It’s more about a crime spree in New Orleans in like the 1800s? And our main character is sent here to try and solve it while protecting the vampires who are being framed.

The Library Book
The Library Book by Susan Orlean

I believe this one is a non fiction! Or at least a retelling of real life events. There was a fire in a library, and this book sort of deals with the events leading up to the fire, and how it effects everyone after. I think the overarching theme is that libraries are precious, and the people who work in them are precious, and I really want to read about my people.

Godblind (Godblind, #1)
Godblind by Anna Stephens

This book. I found hidden in a discount store and honestly could not look away from the cover. It wasn’t widely reviewed when I picked it up originally, so I just had to go with my gut. It sounded like a really gory, intense fantasy, about the clash between Gods and men. Perhaps that’s too literal of an interpretation, maybe it’s more of a religious war. We’ll find out!

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1)
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Boy, oh boy. Does this list include some of the longest books ever. This author is renowned in the epic fantasy genre. I’ve started this book, and LOVED it. But I just couldn’t commit to only reading this massive, 1000+ page beast. The writing, the fight scenes, the brewing war, the political intrigue. I’m ready to tackle book one of this series in 2020.

The Portal (Tangled in Time, #1)
The Portal: Tangled in Time by Kathryn Lasky

This is a brand new middle grade series! It sounds precious and a little ominous? It begins with the death of our main characters mother, and then somehow she begins time traveling to London and enmeshes herself with the Princesses there. I’m excited to see where this falls on the scale of historical fiction or fantastical magical realism?

The Last Wish (The Witcher, #0.5)
The Last Wish: The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

Netflix and read the book first, am I right? So this is the prequel to the now incredibly popular (soon to be released) Netflix series, The Witcher. Our main character is INCREDIBLY HOT, I’d insert an image but I don’t want you to drool on your keyboards, and a magical assassin? He’s tasked with saving the new princess/queen who he somehow knows is being targeted. This book is a mash up of short stories following different characters, but all the plot points are relevant before beginning the first official novel according to my research.

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)
Scythe by Neal Shusterman

This is a young adult novel that deals heavily with death. I’m not super sure how, but I believe the characters are tasked with somehow evading death, or maybe they are death themselves? I honestly don’t want to know too much going in.

Between Shades of Gray
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

This is a historical fiction novel that I believe is set during WWII. All I know for sure is that I will cry when I read this, and that’s why I’ve been putting it off for so long. But I read just about one WWII novel every year, and this is my pick for 2020.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

This sounds like the sweetest adventure. This is an elementary/middle grade series about a girl and her dragon who go on traveling adventures together. The art on the cover and chapter headings is gorgeous. I don’t know why I keep pushing this aside.

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City, #1)
House of Earth and Blood: Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas

Screams into the air. For those of you who don’t know me yet, SJM wrote my second favorite series of all time, A Court of Thorns and Roses (the top place will always belong to Harry Potter). This new novel is an adult fantasy version of the same world SJM has transported us to in the past, with both ACOTAR and TOG. We have fae being fae, and getting up to no magical good. I think this will focus more heavily on the fae religions and more world building. My heart is pounding just writing this and looking at the cover. Let’s. Freaking. Go.

Space Boy Volume 1 (Space Boy, #1)
Space Boy Vol. 1 by Stephen McCranie

This is a graphic novel that looks beautiful, and I love a handful of Sci-Fi novels per year. This, I believe, is a Young Adult graphic novel about a girl who gets transported to Earth and doesn’t love it. Shrugs in understanding.

Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe
Miracle at the Higher Grounds Cafe by Max Lucado

This is a Christian Fiction novel. I don’t know if I made that genre up just now…but as the title indicates, it’s about a blessed little cafe. We learn about the lives of the patrons of the cafe, and the baristas. As with life they struggle through peaks and valleys, and it just sounds like the most lovely-uplifting read.

In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character
In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin

This is a non fiction Christian book. This book caught my eye one day at work while I was reshelving. I loved the layout of the chapters, and how the book seems to get it’s message across. As I was flipping through many of my favorite verses were used as examples or context, which makes me excited to dive in to this devotional.

Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1)
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

I have heard that this one is d a r k. I can’t remember anything else. And I’m okay with that. Certain books, I just go in as blind as possible. This is one of them.

An Enchantment of Ravens
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

THIS COVER ART, OKAY?! It’s so gorgeous, and then I read the description and was even more excited. This is a standalone novel about a faerie painter who falls in love with a faerie prince?! I’m sure something must go wrong at some point. Couldn’t tell you what though…

Well there you have it! Those are the 20 books I want to read in 2020. Did you guys see a pattern? Fae. Fantasy. Dragons. Magic. These are just some of my favorite things. There were so many more great books I thought of while making this list.

I’m sure my eye doctor is quaking at how many books I’m planning on devouring. You fail one part of the eye exam one time from over reading and they never let you forget it. That and the fact that my glasses now cost almost twice as much.

Anyways! What are you planning on reading in 2020? Are you going to try anything from my list?? Let me know in the comments below.