In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


copyright date: 2005
primarily marketed for: adults

Extremely Loud andIncredibly Close is the grown-up book that made me fall in love with grown-up books again.  Or, at least made me open to reading them after years of sticking solely to young adult literature (aka Good Literature).   This book arrived on my doorstep as a surprise gift from a friend I’ve known since second grade, which made it that much sweeter.  

I can’t decide whether to be excited or disappointed that this book is being turned into a movie now.  Everyone needs to know this story- it is incredible!  I just can’t imagine the movie possibly doing the depth and layers and format of the story justice. 

One of my favorite qualities of the book is the way pages of images are smattered throughout the story. The images are jarring the way that they interrupt the story, and yet they are perfect in the way that they enhance the story—deepen my thinking as a reader.  How is the movie going to do that?

Another thing I like about this book is the way the protagonist, Oskar, is a nine-year-old boy, and yet he seems ageless.  Some of his thoughts and the inventions he comes up with are the best parts of the story.  This is going to have to be one good actor to make this convincing.  I am so attached to the Oskar I imagined as I read the book that I cannot imagine a child actor being able to pull off a believable Oskar.

The basic premise is that Oskar’s father has died in the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11th.  Oskar finds a key in an envelope marked “BLACK” and begins a search to uncover the key’s use as a means of feeling somehow connected to his father.  However, the basic premise is only the beginning.  There are so many layers to this story, it is nearly impossible to explain them all.  It is not just Oskar’s story that is told, and yet all of the stories woven into the book are part of Oskar’s story. 

This is a book meant for grown-ups, but I imagine you are ready to handle a story like this.  It is not one you can plan to read through quickly, though.  You are going to have to read slowly—you are going to want to read slowly—to fully absorb the beauty of this book.  If you have read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, you can take on this one for sure!


  1. I have been so curious about this book. Now, I will have to buy it!

  2. I've heard this is terrific and still haven't read it. Must do, I know. The movie previews do look good, FYI. Like other adult books, I imagine older students would love this.

  3. I've seen the movie previews and been thinking about reading it - the book is almost always better than the movie! I'm definitely going to pick it up. And I loved The Book Thief!

  4. The movie greatly intrigues me, especially because I've become curious about good kid acting roles. I've never read the book and am now in that weird place of trying to decide whether to experience the movie first or second. Hmmm.

  5. I definitely need a good adult book to remind me to like adult books again. This one sounds very interesting (though, the title made me think, for some reason, it was a non-fic book about an annoying radio personality :)

  6. This book is amazing. I refuse to see the movie!