This posting lists 6 FICTION  titles + 4 PROFESSIONAL TEXTS. Though not all books were published in 2024, they have been recent publications that I have delved into. If truth be told, I didn’t love all of these fictional titles. That’s OK!


FOURTEEN DAYS  by Magaret Atwood and Douglas Preston (editors) (2024)

This is a rather unique collaborative novel. Atwood and Douglas invited 36 authors from the Authors Guild Foundation to each create a short story to support the charitable work of the Foundation. The diverse authors, several who are familiar to me (e.g., Margaret Atwood, R.L. Stein, Tommy Orange, Mary Pope Osborne,Scott Turow  have written stories about a group of New Yorkers left  behind during the Covid-19 pandemic. The stories, in this collaborative  novel  remained unbylined. A list is provided at the end of the book. As stated in the introduction, “the storyetelling act invokes magical  powers to heal spiritual and phsical sickness to ctransorm the profane into the sacred… stories are what make us human (viii). There will be many books written about the pandemic (e.g., The Vulnerables by Sigred Nunez) and this book brings togther a group of residents in a rundown Lower Manhattan building who gather on the rooftop over fourteen days, early in the early lockdown days of the pandemic, to keep each other company, each telling a story more or less  drawn from their past experiences. Stories vary in theme: love stories, fantasy stories, gruesome stories, funny and sad stories. As with any colledtion of stories some are more engaging than others. I wish that the editors had suggested that the stories be of fairly equal length. Some take up a few pages of narration. Some are rather long and these seemed to be less appealing for me. Kudos to Douglas Preston who was committed to provide narration that connec the cast of characters and link the narrative over a fourteen day time period. Fourteen Days is an intriguing collaborative venture that illuminates the circumstances and feelings and worries of the surviving the pandemic. 


Laurie Moore is a beloved short story writer (I only read her anthology Birds of America.) The New York Times review claimed that this, her fourth novel,  ‘braids a historical ghost story with zombie romance.” Finn is a put-on-leave high school history teacher who visits his dying brother, Max, wh’s in hospice care.  When Finn gets a text, that Lily, his ex-girlfriend,  a depressed therapeutic clown is in trouble,  he drops everything, leaves his brother’s bedsi  and drives to Illinois only to lear  that Lily has died by suicide. Finn immediately goes to the green cemetry in which Lily is buried and – as is the stuff of fiction Lily’s appears. Finn then takes the decaying corpse into his car and sets off to drive to Tennessee where they will donate Lily’s body to forensic science. The more Lily’s body falls apart (“Beneath her skin there was the wiggling look of maggots in meat. Levity versus gravity was not a fair fight.” (p.121), the vaguer her appearance in Finn’s life (even after he proposes to her). Enough said – except for  letters written by a  19th century innkeeper named  to her  long-dead sister that we read between chapters where she shares concerns about a suspicious guest who has taken a room at the end. Perhaps you like to read stories about zombie corpses wearing clown shoes. (I would have preferred if Moore stuck to the relationship between Max and Finn, but that’s another story.  I would gladly have given up halfway through this weird, droll, philosophical, rather obscure and yes,  imaginative, book but I figured I could plow on since it was only 193 pages. I did not enjoy this book. I Am Homeless If This is Nor My   was the National Book Critics Award for Fiction Award (2024). Go figure!


SHY by Max Porter (2023)

I’ve come across high praise for the work of British writer, Max Porter (The Death of Francis Bacon; Grief is a Thing with Feathers) and chose to read his most recent release, Shy as my introduction to his work.. I wouldn’t really recommend this novella (122 Pages) to many people. It’s stream of consciousness,  poetry/fiction style is for those who like a rather abstract style.  Inventive to be sure. I bought this book because I read that a) it was going to be made into a movie (called Steve) starring Cillian (Oppenheimer)  Murphy that I look forward to seeing someday and b)  I am often intrigued with stories that get into the heads of adolescents. To be sure, Shy is a inside-the-head of a very disturbed character. Shy is trouble and his volatile behaviour has caused a lot of trouble. (He’s sprayed, snorted, smoked, sworn, stolen, punched, run, jumped, crash6yued an Escort, smashed up a shop, trashed a house, broken a nose, stabbed his stepdad’s finger.” (p. 6) .This trippy narrative takes readers into  few wandering nighttime hours when Shy escapes from the Last Chance boarding school. A lost soul, 16 year old Shy, worries about how he has treated his teachers, his parents and himself and his journey is haunted by dreams, filled with despair and guilt. Porter writes with inventive artistry, but this dark tale didn’t very much satisfy my reading tastes.  Oh well. I won’t be digging into Max Porter’s previous publications..


Shy laughs. Ya like that do ya? Proper housy vocals, pure ragga fire. Smooth, scary, lairy. All meat no dairy. Haha. The best British invasion since the steam engine? The future is hear, ’95 no fear. (p. 45)


SMALL THINGS LIKE THESE by Claire Keegan (2021)

I recently finished (and loved) Claire Keegan’s recent publication entitled So Late in the Day (2023) and decided to re-read Small Things Like These to confirm to myself that she is a masterful Irish writer. In an Irish town, Bill Furlong, a coal and timber merchant is kept busy during the weeks leading up to Christmas. He dutifully makes his deliveries and strives to make ends meet to keep his dutiful wife, Eileen,  and  his five daughters  as comfortable as he can afford. It is a story of community. It is a story of the past memories rising up to haunt the hardworking man.  Filtered throughout the narrative, is the history of a small community controlled by the Church. In a note on the text, the author gives a short history of the Magdalen laundries where many girls and young women lost their babies. Some lost their lives. Brilliantly,  Small Things Like These encapsulates the history of Catholic institutions through the story of one young girl who was locked up in the coal room.  I read that  this story was going to be made into a movie  starring Cillian (Oppenheimer) and I’m sure I will re-read this novella (110 pages) once again.  Keegan’s writing is precise in the telling, description and straight=to the-heart capturing of emotions.  I now plan on reading other Keegan rather short but mighty titles (e.g. Antarctica, Walk The Blue Fields, Foster, The Forester’s Daughter). 


“… he found himlef asking was there any point in being alive without helping one another? Was it possible to carry on along through all the years, the decades, through an entire life, without once being brave enough to go against what ws there and yet call yourself a Christian, and face yourself in the mirror?” (p. 108)


WANDERING STARS by Tommy Orange (2024)

This title can be considered a prequel, a sequel, a companion to Cheyenne and Arapho author Tommy Orange’s mighty first novel, There There, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. It is not necessary to read the first book to dig into this sophomore publication. The book is divided into two parts: 1924 when the American government campaigned to eradicate the original inhabitants of the American land (i.e., “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” and 2018 when members of the Red Feather family lament society’s refusal to see Native American’s as existing in the present day.  The author conjures a world of ancestors and descentdents with a cast of warriors, drunks, outlaws, addicts and lets us into the world of  ‘all the Indina children who were ever Indian children never stopped being Indian children.”  I read this book at a languid pace. Fairly short chapters read like short stories: point of views vary from first to second to third person, without straightforward narrative. There are however, episodes in the lives of these characters  that paint an explosive, therapeutic existence of the Native American soul, particularly as seen through the yes the troubled teenager Orvil, who after a being accidently shot at a PowWow, relies on  drugs to get through each day. Tommy Orange is an outstanding author – at the top of the list of the best of contemporary Indigenous authors.  “Orange’s ability to highlight the contradictory forces taht coexist within friendship, familiar relationships, and the characters themselves, who content withholding private and public identities, makes “Wandering Stars” a towering achievement.” (New York Times, March 24, 2024)


THE WORLD AND ALL IT HOLDS by Alexsandar Hemon (2023)

Some friends highly recommended this title to me, knowing that I loved the book IN MEMORIAM by Alice Winn (about two WW I soldiers who fell in love). The World And All It Holds is an epic story, a sprawling narrative. The action starts in Sarajevo in 1914 and concludes in an epilogue Jerusalem, 2020. Rafael Pinto was Jewish and Osman Kariski was Muslim who met serving in the Austro-Hungarian Arm in World War I. Pinto and Osman “loved each other more than anyone had ever loved another person before, or would after, and were together for the rest of their lives even when they were apart, even after Osman died.” (p. 322), After escaping the trenches, they find themselves entangle with spies and Bolsheviks. Travels acrooss mountains and deserts all the way to Shanghai, Hemon presents a horrowing survival stor, ambitious story that is a tapestry of horrific, tender and hallucinatory events.  Most of all  it is a tale about tghe resilience of true love. this  The story is vast and expansive with some brilliant lyrical passages. I read , so much so that I read this at a rather slow pace. 



BE WHO YOU NEEDED by Rachel Weinstock (Amazon, 2022)

The Caring Adult’s Guide to Helping Young People Transform their Emotional Well-Being, Self-Confidence and Happiness

Several years ago, Rachel Weinstock was a student of mine in the education program. I immediately recognized her to be creative, compassionate soul. She currectly works as a Transformational Coach & speaker for youth who are struggling with being bullied, self esteem and anxiety. I am very proud of the publication she has written which serves as an iinformative persusaive document to challenge and support those who interact with youth and may remember the challenges of growing up, needing to be recognized, to belong and to feel safe. Be Who You Needed offers practical tips and heartfelt stories for parents, educators and caring adults to engage and connect with young people.  The book is structured in 59 short chapters with such titles as ‘Perspective is Everything’, ‘Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Chair’, ‘Youre Braver Than You Thing’ and ‘Learning to Let Go’.  Rachel Weinstock is a person with a big heart and her heart is put into every page of this rich inspirational resource. In the afterward, the author writes: “My biggest wish is that this book plants seeds in people’s minds on how we interact with children to empower them to be their best sleves. I have always felt a deep calling to ake the biggest impact I can, and I hope this book is able to touch your heart.” Mission accomplished Rachel. Bravo!



Restoring Hope, Joy and Possibilities in Uncertain Times

(An Eye on Education Book / Routledge, 2024) / available through Pembroke Publishers in Canada. 

In the book’s opening, ‘A Letter to Readers’, the author’s lead sentence reads: “My goal, dear reader is to write to you like I’m talking to you, as a fellow traveler on life’s winding road, to share my journey with candor and humility.” I’m always eager to dig into a new Regie Routman publication, and when I read over the table of contents, I knew that this recent release would be a must-read. With chapter headings such as ‘Loving Our Students’, ‘Promoting Equitable Opportunities’ and ‘Becoming our Truest Selves’, I knew that the author would help us to think carefully about “developing, nurturing and sustaining caring relationships — in our teaching lives, our home lives, and in the happy intersection of both.” Particularly noteworthy is Chapter 5, ‘Developing Professional Knowledge’, which is essential reading for classroom teachers, consultants and administrators. A new Regie Routman publication is not only a cause to “nourish the heart, mind and spirit” but a cause for reflection and celebration. With The Heart Centered Teacher, she invites us to consider where we are and points toward the path for what we could be, what we should be, as educators.


MICRO MENTOR TEXTS by Penny Kittle (Scholastic, 2022)

Using Short Passages From Great Books to Teach Writer’s Craft

This book is designed to provide educators with a guide to help students focus their writing with clarity and power. This is accomplished by studying ‘micro mentor texts’  which highlights passages from  the deyze acclaimed books and use these passages to reflect and and analyze the choses authors make to craft those texts to engage readers and guide them into their own writing. I was lucky enough to sit in on a Penny Kittle’s presentation at the Reading For the Love of It Conference, 2024. Her expertise and humour was evident throughout. Most of all her work with adolescents to ignite their writing capabilities brings authenticity to the teaching of writer’s craft. Penny Kittle believes that ‘”all students will create independent reading and writing lives of joy, curiosity and hunger when given agency.” texts, and student examples that give evidence to the healthy writing community she establishes to inspire writers. This book offers a wealth of mentor A star you are, Penny! Thank you for your words, your wisdom and your work. 


POWERFUL THINKING by Adrienne Gear (Pembroke, 2024)

It is not by accident that the titles of Adrienne Gear’s professional are centred on the word ‘power’ (e.g. Reading Power, Writing Power, Powerful Poetry, Powerful Understanding) Each of Adrienne’s books is ‘powerful’. Her newest release, Powerful Thinking is designed to ‘Engage Readers, Building Knowledge and Nudging Learning in Elementary Classrooms.”  Gear is  passionate about helping teachers to stretch their thinking around reading comprehension, literacy instruction and content-area  learning. She is an authentic literacy mentor, drawing on her own teaching experiences and inspiring teachers through practical ways to inspire a ‘culture of thinking. The easy to follow lessons, the presentaton of anchor texts, the consideration for meaningful read-alouds in many subjects and wealth of theoretical insights serve as a powerful book to inspire powerful thinking about powerful teaching and learning.  Hooray to you, Adrienne for another fantastic professional resource.