Thursday, April 5, 2012

My good friends: books.

I love books. Love love love. I would rather read than do almost anything else. Recently I spent a lovely Sunday reorganizing my library and it got me thinking about all the books I've loved.

Mid-reorg. It was nice to spend the day among piles of books...and saxophones. I guess.

Here are some of my favorites. Some classics, some shelf candy, some in between...I don't discriminate amongst fiction. I do discriminate against non-fiction. I don't read it. I'm already fretting about the ones I've left off...I feel like they're children I left out on the cold streets or something. Hopefully some of you will name some I've forgotten so I can sigh with relief and bring them into my fold.

 What books are on your must read list?

Beach Music by Pat Conroy - I think I first read this when I was 17? We were away for my one of my brother's soccer tournaments and were staying in a hotel. I sat in the bathroom for hours to finish this after everyone else went to sleep. I've read it many times since and recommended it to everyone I know. I think the story is interesting and I think the writing has a wonderful cadence. It's also the main reason I love the song Save the Last Dance for Me. "A beach was a fine place to come to grips with all the cycles of the universe." You know it, Pat Conroy.

Outer Banks by Anne Rivers Siddons - Another novel of the south, also containing many great quotes.

A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving -This is the only Irving book I like, and I cannot sing its praises loudly enough.

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey - I am still really pissed at Oprah for chastising him about this not being 100% truth. No one is 100% truth 100% of the time. He was an alcoholic drug addict - show me one of them with perfect recall for a memoir. So he embellished a bit and filled in blanks. His book was well written and it mattered to people. Sit down and shut up, Oprah.

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg- I have wanted to live in a Museum ever since.

The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak

Trinity by Leon Uris - For a very long time, I was sure Conor Larkin was the only groom for me. And he lived in the pages of this epic novel of Ireland.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - This is the only Dickens I like. I remember reading it for the first time in Mr. Epting's class in ninth grade, and bawling my eyes out in class.

Are you there, God? It's Me, Margaret and Forever by Judy Blume - I am a fan of all things Blume. She shaped my childhood and adolescence, but these two novels in particular reallhad a great impact on me. I think Forever was the first time I read about a character's heartbreak and actually felt it in my own chest.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn - Even though it boasts a cast of carnies and stars an albino dwarf, this is a favorite. Given my fear of the small and the carnival, you know it's a great book if I loved it.

Ordinary People by Judith Guest - One of my favorite quotes ever comes from this book: "Don't think so much, just be."

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - Oh, March family.

Whit by Iain Banks

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - "I tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped, for liberty I utterd a prayer..." Jane, one of my favorite heroines.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Sue Grafton's alphabet series - Kinsey Milhone kicks butt. And eats weird sandwiches.

Janet Evanovich's Plum series - Grandma Mazur and Lula crack me up.

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding - v. good

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." One of the most famous literary lines?

Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt - I must've read this 20 times as an adolescent. And a few times as an adult...and I think it's time to read it again.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac - I had a brief yet intense beat period. "What difference does it make after all?-anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven, for what's heaven? What's earth? All in the mind."

A Separate Peace by John Knowles - Phineas, you are larger than life. Still.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison - "You wanna fly, you gotta give up the shit that weighs you down."

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - originally I posted Gone with the Wine, which doesn't exist as far as I know, but I think I want to claim that title. Consider it copywritten, interwebs.

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates - Disturbing subject matter woven brilliantly into a thick novel.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Chosen by Chaim Potok - "Merely to live, merely to exist - what sense is there to it? A fly also lives."

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - I was blown away by this book. I loved the witty repartee between the characters. I loved the larger than life Augustus Waters. I loved the strong yet vulnerable Hazel Grace. I loved their love story, and I love that that is what stood out in a book with heavy themes like kids with cancer, intense loss and pain, and dying young.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - So deeply upsetting, so well written and gripping.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - One of the most engrossing books I've ever read.

Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells - A true tale of friendship through the years, and of loving your friends for who they are...warts and all. I have loved the name Vivi ever since.

Lake Wobegon Summer 1956 by Garrison Keilor - There is a passage in this book about farts that made me laugh intensely for days.

Standing in the Rainbow by  Fannie Flagg - I am so fond of Neighbor Dorothy and Aunt Elner and the simpler times this book evokes.

Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve

The Little House books, The Boxcar Children series, The Christopher Pike Party trilogy, Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High books - old dears...

I saw this on pinterest and immediately loved it: Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are.

Hoping your next read is a great one,

p.s. when you do come across that next great book, please let me know so I can add it to my list.


  1. Wow - this may be a long comment... Poisonwood Bible, also one of my all time favorites. I let my mother's dying roommate in the hospital borrow it, then Mom died. Never got it back. Must replace it! A Separate Peace - almost makes me want to be back in high school! ANYTHING Leon Uris - my very favorite author, the one who taught me what they didn't yet mention in school in my day about WWII. I have read every one of his books. A Million Little Pieces... WHO CAN WRITE THAT WELL????? Who gives a shit if it's true or not??? Incredible writing - so he does another 4th step and moves on; he has shown that he has a gift. I read all his books too, but I believe Oprah broke his spirit because the others do not compare.
    The other books you mention I mostly agree with, BUT I think Anita Shreve has to rethink her endings... they are all variations of the same theme. And how many pieces of sea glass ARE there? Toni Morrison kinda irritates me. Ordinary People makes me think of Mary Tyler Moore who annoys me.
    I do enjoy non fiction - my favorite was Adolf Hitler by John Toland. I am currently reading "Buddha's Brain; ..." by Rick Hanson - loving it. I love anything with science based spirituality. "Mozart", a biography, by Marcia Davenport was great - I needed to know this man. "Stones from the River" by Ursula Hegi - very different, but outstanding. Most of my favs are very different. (I bore easily...)
    I could go on and on, but this is YOUR blog. One day I will explore this topic on my own. Thanks for the thoughts for the day!

  2. oh, and don't forget "The Tin Drum"... although the midget might be a problem for you!

  3. I read all of Frey's books and I absolutely agree, they didn't come close to AMLP...sometimes I think certain writers only have one purely brilliant showing, but I don't think that was the case here. I think it was more what you said - a broken spirit.

    My mom reads non-fiction pretty much exclusively, with a big focus on books about spirituality.

  4. I definitely have to agree with A Separate Peace. I first read it in high school and fell in love instantly. I'd also like to recommend anything by Jen Lancaster, namely Bitter is the New Black and Such a Pretty Fat. All of her books are great for a good laugh!


  5. I haven't read most of the books on your list so it's very possible we enjoy different ends of the spectrum but I will try anything that is recommended (until that source proves to have bad taste). I very highly recommend Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It's a book about a boy who falls in love with a story and ends up in a great story of his own. My second recommendation is Watership Down by Richard Adams. This is the best book ever written about rabbits and it's a great story, the characters are fantastic and as long as you don't mind taking the first few pages to get used to the rabbit lingo, you'll really enjoy the story. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

  6. Just brilliant! I wish I could read for a living and that reading was physical exercise!!! I am very into non-fiction now in my later years. But, loved Gone with the Wind (Wine LOL)and The Thorn Birds- even loved the TV movie. Would rather read a book than see the movie. Loved The Secret Life of Bees, but disturbed by how the black people were treated, could not read the Help for that reason. Used to love Patricia Cornwall, but cannot deal with the horrible things in her books- because sometimes that stuff REALLY happens. I need to read some of these on your list and wish you could be a college professor! I loved Nancy Drew growing up. The Great Gatsby in high school. The Bell Jar, An Unquiet Mind, help to understand mental illness.
    Reading and Books are just the BOMB! Love you always, Your Momma.

  7. I'm reading this list, nodding my head, and saying, "I could've written this!" I, too, have wanted to live in a museum since I read The Mixed-Up Files. {And I still re-read it, just for fun, even though I'm in my mid-twenties...} Great list!

    ~Candice from Lattes and Lists


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