Top 5 Audiobooks of 2020

As rough as 2020 was, being stuck in quarantine sure did make more time for reading! Without my commute to work, I listened to fewer audiobooks but was also able to get to more books in my physical TBR pile! Even with the reading slump I hit this summer (amidst pandemic wedding planning), I still managed to read an astounding (for me, anyway) 100 books, with many of my favorites being from the very beginning and very end of the year.

I have my top books divided up among physical books and audiobooks (since this greatly impacts the reading experience). I considered dividing the lists by genre or by target audience (adult, young adult, children’s), but decided to go by format instead since a great book can be written for any audience and from any genre. I also didn’t commit to a specific number of books to acknowledge for each category, I just identified my standout reads from the year and ranked them within that range.

Without further ado, here are my top audiobooks of 2020!

Top 8 Physical Books of 2020

As rough as 2020 was, being stuck in quarantine sure did make more time for reading! Without my commute to work, I listened to fewer audiobooks but was also able to get to more books in my physical TBR pile! Even with the reading slump I hit this summer (amidst pandemic wedding planning), I still managed to read an astounding (for me, anyway) 100 books, with many of my favorites being from the very beginning and very end of the year.

I have my top books divided up among physical books and audiobooks (since this greatly impacts the reading experience). I considered dividing the lists by genre or by target audience (adult, young adult, children’s), but decided to go by format instead since a great book can be written for any audience and from any genre. I also didn’t commit to a specific number of books to acknowledge for each category, I just identified my standout reads from the year and ranked them within that range.

Without further ado, here are my top physical books of 2020!

Cluster Review (December Wrap-Up): My Final Reads of 2020

Hello again! It’s been a while since I’ve written a review. Teaching in December is always a whirlwind (and teaching virtually is no exception). In order to get through these last few weeks of the year, I have been reading ravenously. It’s to the point that I’ve done little else in my free time. I decided to just embrace it and take a break from my blogging and reviewing, but now I’m back!

In this post, I will write very brief reviews of some of the stand-out books I managed to read in December. I finished my last two books of the year yesterday, which brings me to 100 total books read this year! I can’t believe it.

Many of the books I read this month were…

Book Review: “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Diana Wynne Jones

This was a children’s book I was really looking forward to reading. Earlier this year, I watched Hayao Miyazaki’s film adaption and enjoyed it! It wasn’t my favorite Miyazaki movie, but it was whimsical and fun and I’d heard the book was even better (as it usually is). I have to say, watching the movie and reading the book ended up being very similar experiences. If you loved the movie, you’ll love the book. If you were indifferent about it, the book might not quite be enough to change your opinion.

Spoiler-Free Review: “Howl’s Moving Castle” is a whimsical, joyful story with clever, funny, endearing characters.

Top 5 Saturday: Books with an Animal on the Cover

Welcome to my first Top 5 Saturday! This is a weekly challenge hosted by Devouring Books, and this week’s challenge is about books with an animal on the cover.

In order to make my list, I first made a different list of all the books I’ve read and liked that have animals on the cover. And then I narrowed it down to my top five based on how much I like the story as well as the cover. Here’s my list…

Book Review: “A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book” by Phil Bildner

Over the summer, I made it my goal to read every book of which I have a novel set in my classroom. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to use them this year (it’s looking like I won’t since I don’t currently teach students in-person), but I figured if I could read each one and document my thoughts on them then I would be better prepared to lead book clubs (sometimes called literature circles) when the opportunity arose. I managed to read through most of them early this summer, but I kept putting this one off. It seemed very sports-centric and I was initially put off by this. It didn’t seem like anything that would interest me, so I was a little apprehensive about starting it. However, I could not have been more wrong. This book ended up being one of my favorites of all of the novel sets I have in my classroom. It did feature sports, but in a way that tied in to all of the other storylines and themes and made it feel worthwhile. With a diverse cast of characters and so much heart, this is easily one of the best children’s books I’ve read this year.

Spoiler-Free Review: “A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Book” is a story about a fifth grade year full of changes, surprises, and growth…

Book Review: “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

Though the audiobook version of “Little Women” clocks in at a daunting 19 hours and 37 minutes, it didn’t feel long at all as I enjoyed living life through the March sisters’ eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed this classic novel, and am excited to finally be able watch the most recent movie adaptation! I wanted to wait to watch the movie until I had read the book, and I’m excited to see how they adapted such a classic (and long) novel. While there are certainly some themes and plot events that are a little outdated, I felt that overall it was largely ahead of its time and an important piece of work that paved the way for women in literature (both authors and the possibilities for female characters).

Spoiler-Free Review: “Little Women” is a classic novel about family, growing up, and friendship…

Beginning of the Year Read-Alouds

As a teacher, the first week of school is an exciting, insane, and busy time (especially when beginning the year virtually!). It’s a time for getting to know new students, building classroom community, practicing routines, and establishing expectations. One of my favorite ways to accomplish all of these things is through picture books…

Book Review: “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate

“The One and Only Ivan” is a book that’s been on my radar for quite a while, and I was so excited to finally get to read it! I’ve heard great things, but I tend to be apprehensive about books featuring talking animals. However, this book was filled with so much heart and wit, I couldn’t help but love it.

Spoiler-Free Review: Based on a true story, “The One and Only Ivan” is a story full of heart about a silverback gorilla named Ivan…

Cluster Review #3 (Historical Fiction Children’s Books, Multilingual)

Welcome to Cluster Review #3! Here’s why I ended up reading all of these historical fiction children’s books in quick succession: after Spring Break, I was planning on starting a historical fiction unit with my 6th grade Spanish literacy class. However, the week before Spring Break is when the quarantine began. I didn’t know whenContinue reading “Cluster Review #3 (Historical Fiction Children’s Books, Multilingual)”