Today's Best Book Deals for Your Homeschool
(Prices are correct as of the time of writing, but y'all know sales move fast — check before you click the buy button! These are Amazon links — read more about how we use affiliate links to help support some of the costs of the HSL blog here.)
Interpreter of Maladies is $2.99. Suzanne said: “This slim but celebrated collection from Indian-American author Lahiri lived up to its reputation for me: I thoroughly enjoyed her melancholy but fascinating stories of culture clash,” and I’m always going to include at least one of Lahiri’s books on any immigration stories reading list.
Still on sale
Truly Devious is $1.99. From our summer 2018 reading list: “Ellingham Academy is one of the most competitive private schools in the country—and also the scene of one of the country’s most notorious unsolved mysteries. New student Stevie Bell is determined to put her true crime obsession to work on Elligham’s famous cold case, but the murderer may not be ancient history after all.” My caveat: This is the first in a series, so if you can’t stand cliffhangers, buy it cheap but wait to read it until the series wraps — this first book has a particularly frustrating cliffhanger ending.
The Lie Tree is $2.81. Even when I don’t especially like Hardinge’s work, I find it so interesting, and this book — about a 19th century English girl who gets caught up in the era’s intellectual battle between evolutionary theory and traditional faith when she sets out to solve the murder of her priest/amateur archaeologist father — is no exception. I had some nits to pick, particularly with the resolution, but this one’s totally worth reading.
Flowers for Algernon is $2.99 — and I still remember trying not to cry when we were reading it in my 8th grade lit class. (Pretty sure I wasn’t the only one.) Charlie undergoes an experimental brain surgery designed to increase human intelligence, and it works better than anyone could have expected. Charlie’s IQ leaps from 68 to 185, but being smarter doesn’t make Charlie’s life better. Keyes raises meaningful questions about emotion, intelligence, and science in this novel. (It’s one of our must-reads for middle school.)
Dread Nation is $1.99. Suzanne loved this alternate history novel: “What’s that you say? Ireland has written an alternate history zombie novel, where the dead rise during the Civil War, after the battle of Gettysburg? Where black people, ostensibly freed from slavery, are sent to zombie-fighting schools to protect the white folks from danger? WHY YES I WOULD LIKE TO READ THAT VERY MUCH PLEASE. And I’m happy to report that it does not disappoint. I found this book simultaneously upsetting and hopeful, both in its content and the way it resonates with the current political climate. Another great YA choice (I think this one is officially YA? I don’t understand how these decisions are made) and I’m very excited that it appears to be the start of a series — I WOULD LIKE THE NEXT ONE NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU.”
Murder on the Orient Express is $2.99. This is one of the classic locked-room mysteries from the golden age of British detective fiction: A man is dead in his compartment on a snow-stalled train, and all twelve of his fellow passengers are the suspects. Luckily, Hercule Poirot is there to sort things out. (Find more of our favorite Agatha Christies here.)
The Giver is $2.99. From our middle school reading list: “What cost does utopia have? How important is freedom? Tweens are ready to tackle those ambiguous questions right along with young Jonah in this deceptively simple novel.”
March: Book One is $3.99. Suzanne put the trilogy this book kicks off on her top nonfiction books read in 2017 list, saying, “It’s a must-read history of the civil rights movement, at a time when we desperately need to remember and learn from the accomplishments of earlier generations.”
How to Read Nature: Awaken Your Senses to the Outdoors You've Never Noticed is $2.99. If you, like me, grew up without a lot of hands-on nature study but really want to make nature study part of your homeschool life, this book makes a great beginner’s guide after you’ve bought all the identification guides but still don’t really know where to start.
The Talented Mr. Ripley is $2.99 — and if you’re looking for something thriller-ish to tide you over the break, this is ideal. Amazon.com’s review says: “One of the great crime novels of the 20th century, Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley is a blend of the narrative subtlety of Henry James and the self-reflexive irony of Vladimir Nabokov. Like the best modernist fiction, Ripley works on two levels. First, it is the story of a young man, Tom Ripley, whose nihilistic tendencies lead him on a deadly passage across Europe. On another level, the novel is a commentary on fictionmaking and techniques of narrative persuasion.” (They neglect to mention that it’s also a ripping good read.)
Travels with Charley in Search of America is $1.99. Steinbeck’s travelogue was one of road trip must-reads in the summer 2017 issue of HSL: “Steinbeck spent most of his career writing about the United States as both a setting and a metaphor for his characters’ experiences, so it seems fitting that in his late life, he set off on a three-month trip to revisit his United States and discover it again with his pet poodle Charley as co-pilot.”
Between the World and Me is $2.99. I don’t like to be evangelical about books and shout “everybody should read this!” but I make an exception for this slim tome, which I do think is a must-read in our modern world. And Suzanne agrees: “You’ve read this, right? If not, please do. I was surprised to find that it was such a slim, undersized book—I almost didn’t see it on the shelf. I am not a newcomer to the idea of white privilege (though I don’t claim to be very far down the path as the process of understanding and changing perspective and learning from others is always ongoing) but I was surprised (and embarrassed) by how challenging I found it at times. It was a wonderful, powerful read—go pick it up. I know I’ll be reading it again.”
Ungifted is $1.99. To be honest, I don’t love the trope that smart kids aren’t good at all the stuff outside the classroom — smart people I’ve known are as diverse as any other group — but if that doesn’t bother you, this is a fun and funny book about a middle school troublemaker who accidentally gets sent to a school for the gifted and talented, where he shakes up — well, pretty much everything.
Horton Halfpott : Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset is $2.99 — and if that title doesn’t make you smile, steer clear, because this middle grades tongue-in-cheek take on Dickens, Upstairs Downstairs, and Gothic lit totally lives up to its slightly ridiculous, utterly delightful name.
The Magicians is $1.99. For teenagers (I definitely wouldn’t hand this to younger readers) looking for something to read after growing up on Harry Potter and the Chronicles and Narnia, this dark, subversive take on wizards in the modern world is pretty much perfect.
Gregor the Overlander is $3.99. This fantasy epic takes place in a world deep beneath the city streets, where cockroaches, rats, and spiders have an uneasy truce with the Underlander humans. When Gregor accidentally plunges into the world, following his little sister, the Underlanders think he may be the hero of their ancient prophesy.
Seveneves is $2.99. This hard sci-fi story is a great follow-up for fans of The Martian. What would happen if the surface of the Earth suddenly became uninhabitable? In Stephenson’s world, scientists band together to create a tiny space colony of chosen survivors, a task that comes with constant technical challenges that need to be scienced if humanity is going to stand a chance of survival. (The first part is stronger than the second, but I always feel that way about Stephenson’s books.)
Atonement is $2.99 — and while the sadness at its heart makes it a hard read if you’re in a dark headspace yourself, I think, it’s a gorgeous novel about the perils and pleasures of writing and the lingering shadow of guilt that can’t be absolved. I’d put it on a World War II reading list since you already know that’s going to be sad but rewarding.
George is $3.99. “While George has no doubt she's a girl, her family relates to her as they always have: as a boy. George hopes that if she can secure the role of Charlotte in her class's upcoming production of Charlotte's Web, her mom will finally see her as a girl and be able to come to terms with the fact that George is transgender. With the help of her closest ally, Kelly, George attempts to get the rest of the world to accept her as she is,” says School Library Journal.
Corsets and Codpieces: A History of Outrageous Fashion, from Roman Times to the Modern Era is $1.99. If you’re studying European history with a fashion enthusiast, you’ll want to have this book, which is an often funny and always fascinating review of fashion from the middle ages to Christian Dior.
The Farwalker’s Quest is $3.99. Why isn’t this middle grades fantasy more popular? Set in a futuristic, post-technology world, the story sends friends Ariel and Zeke on a quest to find the source of an ancient telling-dart, which, of course, also becomes a quest to discover who they really are.
Strange Practice is $2.99. My daughter recommends this twist on traditional monster literature: Dr. Greta Helsing treats all kinds of undead ailments, from entropy in mummies to vocal strain in banshees. It’s an abnormally normal life — until a group of murderous monks start killing London’s living and dead inhabitants, and Greta may be the only one who can stop them.
Paper Girls (Vol. 1) is $2.99. Suzanne is such a fan of this graphic novel that it made her best of 2017 list: “For older YA readers (and fans of Stranger Things), Paper Girls is a fantastic time-traveling alien-invasion adventure set in the 80s.”
The Game of Silence is $1.99. Shelli loves this series about an Ojibwe girl navigating changes during U.S. westward migration: “The book opens with Omakayas standing on the shore of her home, an island in Lake Superior. In the far distance, she sees strange people approaching. Once they arrive, her family finds that these people are Anishinabeg people too. (We call them the Ojibwe or Chippewa people now.) They are haggard, hungry, and some of them have lost members of their family. Among them is a baby boy who has lost his parents, and now he becomes Omakayas’s new baby brother. These people are refugees who have been pushed out of their homes by the chimookomanag, or white people, and as the story unfolds, Omakayas’s family realizes that they, too, must leave their homes.”
Howl’s Moving Castle is $3.99. Sometimes a curse can be just what you needed, as Sophie discovers in this delightful fantasy about a hat maker's daughter who's cursed to premature old age by the Witch of the Waste. To break the curse, Sophie will need to team up with the mysterious wizard Howl, who happens to be stuck under a curse of his own — but first, she'll have to get to his castle, which has a habit of wandering around. I love this as a readaloud, on its own, or (of course) a companion piece to the equally wonderful (though often quite different) movie adaptation.