Friday, September 15, 2006

Really good reading

Tommy is compiling a list of people's favorite books so that she can create a "must read" list for herself and others. Being a voracious reader, as well as a keeper of lists of what I've read, I turned to my trusty notebook and started to list my favorites.

Well, it became apparent that my list is pretty long. So, I'll post it here and Tommy -- and you -- can pick and choose if you're looking for something good to read.

When my sister and I were kids, we developed funny rules about the books we'd get from the library. (Why, I don't know, but we did.) We'd stack our books in the order we intended to read them as we rode home from the library, and we'd HAVE to read them in that order. No switching. (See? What difference could that have made?) Then, we kept journals in which we rated the books on a scale of 1 to 10. We both still do this. It's weird, but it's useful for looking back to see if I actually did read something before.

So, here's my list of what I've given ratings of 9 or 10 to within the last few years. (I'm including the link so you can go see what it's about... but try your local library for it first!)

Simply great fiction

Blue Diary - Alice Hoffman
Empire Falls - Richard Russo
The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
Perfect Match, Plain Truth, Keeping Faith, Vanishing Acts -- and anything else by Jodi Picoult
The Deptford Trilogy - Robertson Davies
The Dive from Clauson's Pier - Ann Packer
The Seduction of Water - Carol Goodman
The Sabbathday River - Jean Korelitz
The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
The Emporer of Ocean Park - Steven Carter
Midwives, The Law of Similars - Chris Bohjalian
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
gods in Alabama - Joshilyn Jackson
Three Junes - Julia Glass
Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God, Pocketful of Names - Joe Coomer

Fun chick lit

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Angels and anything else by Marian Keyes
Eat Cake - Jeanne Ray
Sleeping with Shubert - Bonnie Marson
The Wilder Sisters - Joann Mapson

Well-written relationship themes

Bread Alone by Judith Hendricks
Almost by Elizabeth Benedict
Never Change, True to Form, The Art of Mending, and anything else by Elizabeth Berg
I Wish I had a Red Dress and What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day - Pearl Cleage
High Water - Lynn Hightower
Sweetwater Creek, Islands, others by Anne Rivers Siddons

Absorbing British novels

Picking up the Pieces - Mary Sheepshanks
The End of an Error - Mameve Medwed
Caught in the Light and anything else by Robert Goddard

Legal/political thrillers

Open and Shut, Sudden Death - David Rosenfelt
The Incumbent - Brian McGrory
The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connolly


An American Killing, Love her Madly - Mary Ann Tirone Smith
Flashpoint - Lynn Hightower
Reliable Sources, Ecstacy, and others by Beth Saulnier
Falling Off Air - Catherine Sampson

Time Travel

Time and Again - Jack Finney


  1. Mmm...Believe it or not, the ONLY cross-over between your list and my recent reading is the Poisonwood Bible (brilliant!) and Jodi Picoult (OK but I wouldn't actually but it again when I can loan it from the library). Of course I've heard of Marion Keyes but haven't ever read any of her books. The balance draws a TOTAL blank! Now have you read Tim Winton(Oz) or Maurice Gee (NZ) or Peter Carey (NY) or...well you get the picture...

  2. I recognise several from my already read list, Empire Falls - Richard Russo, The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd, The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold, Three Junes - Julia Glass, Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver, Sweetwater Creek, Islands, others by Anne Rivers Siddons, Have you read Memory Keeper's Daughter? It's a great read, couldn't put it down!

  3. Arrgh- just what I don't need a book list to encourage me to add to my teetering piles! And as we have several liked books in common (E.g. Picoult, Jeanne Ray, Joshlyn Jackson, Michael Connoley,Judy Hendriks ...) I am going to have to trust your taste and try a few. I'll reciprocate lists on my blogs sometime soon when I'm not travelling and can scan my lists for ideas but until then - best book of the year: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I wasn't sure for the fisrt few pages but then.... wow!

  4. Wow, I haven't read many of these books, but the ones you listed that I have read.. not so fond of. I much prefer Prodigal Summer by Kingsolver; won't ever finish Poisonwood Bible. And I wasn't as enthralled with gods in alabama as others have been.

    Best book I've read this year: Take Big Bites by Linda Ellerbee.

  5. I've always thought that making a list of the books that I read would be interesting and fun to see my tastes change or just to see when and how much I read. But it seemed like too much work since I generally get so many books from the library at one time. I really like that you rate the books too. I think that would help me a lot especially with quilting and nonfiction books, since I usually borrow books from the library. If I knew which ones were the good ones, I could look at them again.

  6. Upon reviewing my bookshelves, I realise that I do have a copy of Elizabeth Berg's The Art of Mending. It was a gift from my mother-in-law who is a bibliophile but I think she thought the book was about quilting. You asked about Antipodean books that I would recommend. Three classics that come to mind share a common theme - they are all autobiographical and all evoke the era of the author's life:
    An Angel at My Table by Janet Frame (New Zealand)
    A Fortunate Life by AB Facey (Australia)
    The Road to Coorain by Jill Ker Conway (Australia)
    All are available through Amazon.