Posts Tagged With: novels

Best Books Ever, At Least for This Week

Someone asked me for a list of my favorite books. Or maybe it was, “If you were stranded on a desert island with only three books…” I don’t know. They demanded a quick answer and I had none.

Happy Children Playing Kids

(Photo credit:

May as well ask a mother to pick a favorite child.

Apparently, I’m just a fraud, masquerading as a literary aficionado.

And yet if someone knew nothing else about me they’d need to know that I. Love. Books.

When we pack up to move, the book boxes outnumber the kitchen boxes. Surely I have a shelf of favorites. Actually, I have categories of favorites. And not just genres. Books are favorite reads because of character development, or amazing descriptive writing, or a compelling storyline. Books are favorites because I recognized myself and my quirks in a particular character, or because the writing felt familiar and comfortable. Favorites find their way into my heart through no reasoning whatsoever. Some are such masterworks of genius I read them just to remind myself that such art and perfection exists.

My yearly goal is to read twenty-five books. (That’s two a month plus one for we math illiterates.) That’s been going on for upwards of thirty years. And some years I read much more than that. Being conservative, that’s 750 books I’ve read as an adult. As a kid and a teen I read like most people breath and I didn’t keep track of them. A book a day during the summer, perhaps? Given that impossible to estimate number, lets round it up to a thousand books I’ve read. Narrowing that down to ten favorites seems impossible.

Just as a sort of point of honor, I read all of these before they became movies, or musicals, or whatever else they’ve morphed into.

Yet, in the spirit of answering last night’s book club question, here is a list of a few of my favorite books, in no particular order. (If they have a star, it’d be in my “deserted island” backpack.)

  • To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee*
  • The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
  • Les Miserables – Victor Hugo*
  • The Book Thief  -Markus Zusak* (Surprising narrator)
  • Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper*
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife  – Audrey Niffenegger
  • Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
  • The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The best first lines of a novel ever!)
  • Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen*
  • Ender’s Game  – Orson Scott Card
  • Matilda – Roald Dahl*
  • The Whistling Season – Ivan Doig* (Stunning!)
  • The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (Yup Mr. Beck, your favorite author made the list, aren’t you a proud teacher!)
  • Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • A River Runs Through It – Norman McLean* (Better than a hike in the woods)
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens*
  • Banner in the Sky – James Ramsey Ullman
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  • Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks
  • The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Talk Before Sleep – Elizabeth Berg (Beautifully heartbreaking)
  • Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – Fannie Flagg (Towanda!)
library shelves

(Photo credit: jvoss)

I feel like I’ve left hundreds of my beloved children behind. I also realize after reviewing my list that it’s all fiction. I do read non-fiction, they just don’t fall into my favorites lists apparently.

Simply reading the synopsis of each book will entertain you, I’m certain of it. Pick one or two that you haven’t ever read then get back to me about what you thought. I’d love a dialogue like that.

I ramped up my reading goal this year to thirty-six books. That seems reasonable. Three great reads a month. Okay, maybe they won’t all be great. But the more I read, I figure, the more likely I’ll find some real gems to cherish. I’ve read eighteen so far, so given that it’s the beginning of July, I’m right on track.

If you have a favorite you think I need to read or you don’t see here, I’d love to know about it. Please leave a comment so I can enjoy  and share the treasures you’ve found among the world of reading.

I’m always looking for another favorite.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Confessions of An Unrepentant Addict

Hello…   “hello.”

My name is Kami…  hi, Kami.”

I.. am… a book snob…    “Amen sister, tell it.”

Shelf of Used Books

(Photo credit: TheDarkThing)

It’s true.  I’ve been inhaling books since before I could crawl, at least I’m pretty sure of it. Every memory in my life seems to have one thing in common.  There is a book involved somehow.

Here’s what clued me in to my “problem:”

My hairstylist, (yup, you Jill) asked me for a book recommendation.

Easy! I’m thinking.  Then she adds a few restrictions.

Nothing depressing

Nothing deep

Nothing I have to think about once I’m done

No mystery

No worry

No drama

Nothing difficult

Something light, entertaining,

Like a sitcom.

That puts a bit of a challenge on the request.

I left an hour later having given her nothing but some cash for the lovely hairstyle.

I had failed at giving a book recommendation! How could I live with myself?

The closest I came to her requirements was a Young Adult book called “Faith and the Electric Dogs.” But it had been a long time since I’d read it.  It was probably too much of something.

Oh, the shame!

Dang it! Why hadn’t I suggested “Hunger Games?”

I had resisted reading those when EVERYBODY was drooling all over themselves reading them.  I was not going follow along blindly like those hoards of crazed lunatics reading “Twilight Books,” no matter how much my most respected bibliophiles recommended it.

About two years after the rush ended I gave in and read the first one.  Then I was like a kid three days after Halloween who’d vowed to make the candy last until at least Christmas.  You got it; I devoured all three of those books. Barely ripped the wrappers off for the speed I was trying to take them in.

Afterwards I felt like a book glutton. I had binged on the literary equivalent of fries, burgers and shakes. It was time for crunchy veggies and clear filtered water and home-baked wheat bread. I needed some classics; Hardy or Tolstoy or Steinbeck or even Dostoevsky to set the world back on balance.

Here’s the thing

I worked for a writer as a typist. (Back in the day, yes, in the dark ages before personal computers were in every pocket and on every flat surface.) This writer was a professor at the university I attended, but wrote under a pen name so as not to put the job at risk.  How would writing put a professor’s job at risk? Well, the novel was a Harlequin or Silhouette romance novel.  I use the word novel very, very loosely.

After submission the manuscript came back to the professor with a rejection form-letter, which included the basic equations for creating a book for their company. The heroine must be x,y,z but not d,e,f. The hero must have a,b,c but not j,k,l. The plot must….the story can’t….the characters need to….  It was so exacting that we considered trying to write a computer program that would write the novels.  They probably do use a computer program now.  Why waste real man hours on that kind of formulaic book?

I probably just offended everyone in the known world. May as well keep going…

But before you all judge me harshly hear me out.  I’ve read westerns, in fact, I love me a good Louis L’amour or Zane Grey once in a while.  I’ve read Michener and liked it. A mystery occasionally is good for variety.  I dig into memoire from time to time. I peruse non-fiction with some regularity.  And, I count historical fiction as part of my ongoing educational pursuit. I even check out a NY Times bestseller from the library on occasion. I even imbibe in Science Fiction if it’s well done.

I don’t always confess to reading them on my Goodreads account though.

Would a chocolatier confess to eating Hershey’s when his palate has the Swiss and Dutch equivalents of nirvana to compare?  Would an affineur, a cheese expert, admit to imbibing in processed cheese on a burger? Would a vintner chug a box of ten-dollar wine and then brag about it?

Not likely, but it’s possible.

When the words of language masters have danced through your head, played on the fields of your mind and painted landscapes across your memory, nothing else fills the need anymore.  Once you’ve had the good stuff, the literary caviar, then flat characters and simple plots with predictable endings or gratuitous anything just doesn’t cut it anymore.

I need the straight lines, the pure stuff, the real talent.

Yes, I am a book snob. I admit it.

And I don’t care if I ever get over it.

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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