My Biblio-Biography

As the “new kid on the blog”, I would just like to say I’m excited to contribute and highlight some of the great titles that are out there.   You can check out my bio here, but I thought I would make my first post as an official Books in Bloom blogger  a mashup; titles that correspond to some of my interests.  So, here is my biblio-biography, so to speak!

Confession:  I am an unabashed Word Nerd.  I am the guy that not only gets excited for the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals, but tunes in to the preliminary rounds with the same fervor.  I do the New York Times Sunday Crossword…in pen!  I try not to be too insufferable, but occasionally like to work words like “perspicacity” into conversation.  Below are a couple of titles that budding logophiliacs will enjoy.

The Puzzler’s Mansion by Eric Berlin. 9780399256974. 2012. Gr 4-7.

This is the third installment of The Puzzling World of Winston Breen series, which features cleverly-written mysteries with puzzles and brainteasers interspersed throughout the story.  In this installment, Winston, along with his friends, is invited to a famous pianist’s mansion for a weekend of puzzling.  However, there is a thief in their midst, and Winston has to use all of his puzzle-solving skills to solve the mystery.

Word Nerd  by Susin Nielsen. 9780887768750. 2008. Gr 5-8.

Ambrose is your stereotypical nerd.  He wears odd, mismatched clothes, is socially inept, and is a whiz at Scrabble. None of this endears him to the school bullies, but his character is very endearing in this book about understanding, second chances, and acceptance.  It is a word nerd’s paradise, with its beginning-of-chapter anagrams and Scrabble commentary.

I counterbalance my nerdiness with a healthy passion for sports.  I am a big fan of college athletics, and follow, down to the minutiae, the athletics of my alma mater, Iowa State University.  You may see future posts from me about various sports, but for the purposes of this post I will highlight a sport that is in full swing (pun intended)…baseball!  As Yogi Berra once so wisely said, “Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”  Here are some baseball titles I have recently enjoyed:

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick. 9780545320696. 2012. Gr 7-10.

This book’s baseball-themed title is somewhat misleading.  The book actually features equal parts baseball, photography, and aging.  Sonnenblick weaves these into a nice story about friendship and family, gracefully broaching subjects such as early love and Alzheimer’s disease.  Sonnenblick obviously did his research, as the storyline on photography is pitch-perfect.  I was impressed at how he describes photography techniques and sensitively, but lightly, handles some heavy topics.

Ballparking: Practical Math for Impractical Sports Questions by Aaron Santos. 9780762443451. 2012. Gr 10-Adult.

This great nonfiction title has a wonderful premise; it attempts to answer some interesting and burning sports questions with mathematics.  It covers all major sports, but some of the baseball questions are:

  • How hard would you have to hit a baseball to hit the Goodyear Blimp?
  • How many (Major League Baseball) games would a kid have to go to before catching a home run?
  • How much farther would a baseball travel in a space stadium than in an Earth stadium?

Questions are answered with a combination of math, physics, and logic, and while most of the math was above my head, I still enjoyed reading the conclusions to these funny and imaginative questions. This book is the perfect confluence of math and sports.

Finally, the interest that takes up the bulk of my time is family.  My two boys are always in the forefront of my mind, and I enjoy seeing what they are reading and recommending great new titles to them.  Connor likes to read challenging material and currently likes anything dystopic/post-apocalyptic.  Lucas has a great sense of humor and likes books that make him laugh.  They have each picked a recent favorite book for me to highlight here:

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. 9781442402324. 2010. Gr 8-12.

This is one of Connor’s all-time favorites.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies run rampant and 15-year olds need to choose a job or have their rations reduced by half, Benny Imura becomes a zombie killer.  Connor writes, “Rot and Ruin was totally awesome, no other way to explain it!  The best part is when Benny goes out with Tom for his first zombie job.  Benny thought the job to be boring, but he learned a lot by accepting the job. “Zoms” aren’t the meanest thing out there…people are.”

Stickman Odyssey by Christopher Ford. 9780399254260. 2011. Gr 6-9.

Lucas enjoys books with comic-style illustrations, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and My Life as a Book.  He also recently loved Mary Pope Osborn’s adaptation of The Odyssey.  So, a logical choice for him was Christopher Ford’s Stickman Odyssey, which tells a Greek mythological tale in graphic novel form.  It provided Lucas many laughs, and he has re-read it multiple times.

So, there you have it!  I’m thrilled at the opportunity to share great books with you, and I hope you enjoy reading about the titles I have selected.

Ryan H.