Books I done read

8:10 PM

Recently on Facebook there was a post circulating asking people to share ten favorite books. The challenge instructed that you weren't to think too deeply about it, but just go with the books that first came to your mind. I skipped over it initially because for me to pick a few favorite books makes my head explode. 
Then my avid-reader friend, Kay, tagged me in a post asking for friends to make suggestions and I bit the bullet. I decided to list the first books I thought of even if they aren't necessarily the best books I've ever read or my favorites. It was interesting to see which books popped into my head. Some were favorites. Some were frustrating. Some were disturbing. I noticed that almost all of them are ones that I wanted to discuss with someone after I finished them.
These are listed in alphabetical order. I didn't list them according to the order that I liked them or even in the order I thought of them.

I loved this book! Years ago I started reading this book one Sunday morning and couldn't stop until I finished that night. Since reading it I have never heard Afghanistan mentioned on the news without thinking of the main character, Miriam.



Barbara Kingsolver has a way with dialects, descriptions, and storytelling that makes me stop reading and marvel at how she paints pictures with words. This book, set in Appalachia, explores a small rural town in Tennessee and the impact of global concerns. It was an interesting story and I related to her descriptions of rural life.

I could not stop reading this book even though it was a train wreck and the ending made me so furious I actually threw the book. The best description was from daughter, Allison, who said that if she had purchased it for her Kindle, she would have thought that the ending didn't download. I've heard the movie changed the ending. This is usually a sin to me, but in this case I'm happy to know it will at least be given an ending. (I'm still not sure if I want to see it or not.) Regardless, this was one of the books that came to mind when I was making my list and any book that evokes a strong feeling has to be worthy of a mention. 

This book was a Young Adult South Carolina Book Nominee for 2014. I read it thinking it would be something fluffy. I was wrong. It was wonderful and you will remember the main character, Carey, long after you finish the book. It does deal with serious topics so I do throw a caution out to parents that they may want to read it first if their child is in middle school. I think this book is more appropriate for mature teens.

I know it's a western, but I loved this book. Since they made a mini-series of it, I must not be the only one that felt it was a great story. I think it accurately portrays the brutal conditions in the old west rather than romanticizing them, and I cared about the characters. I was caught flat-out ugly crying when one of the horses died.

This book gets an resounding awesome from me. I had no idea about the history surrounding the Hawaiian island, Moloka'i or that it had been used to keep those with leprosy in isolation. (I found myself Googling to see if some of the facts/people were real. They were.) This book also had underlying themes that made me want to talk to someone else who had read it. I read it years ago and have never forgotten it. In my opinion, this book is the author's best work.

Jodi Picoult's books are usually hit and miss with me, but this book made my "memorable" list. She always takes a subject that most people have a strong opinion on and then gives a totally different view of the topic. This book tackled the tough subject of school shootings. Sadly, since this book was published the scenario has been repeated many more times.

After I read this book I knew why it was a suggested book club book. It tells the story of early onset Alzheimer's Disease narrated in first person by the victim. As she tells the story you watch the disease progress in her words, thoughts, and actions. I really felt like I was reading an auto-biography rather than a work of fiction.

I had never read one of Phillipa Gregory's historical novels until I picked this one up. To be honest I thought she wrote romance novels. What a great surprise to discover she's pretty accurate. My cousin, India, once called the fluffy ones the "girl-running-from-the-castle" books and that's what I thought this one was. (Sorry, historical romance readers, but I despise them.) This book features Henry VIII's little-heralded wife, Anne of Cleves. It set me off on a "googling" mission to see how much was fact and how much was fiction. Surprisingly she really nailed the facts and showed how smart this wife really was. (Spoiler Alert: She keeps her head.)

I recently reread this one since they were coming out with the movie. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it the second time around. I read it in 1994 to decide if I would include it in my Fifth Graders' recommendation list, but felt at the time the themes would be too mature for them. (Children were so much more innocent 20 years ago.) Regardless, it is an enjoyable dystopian novel though not as intense as The Hunger Games. I still haven't seen the movie. Guess now I will catch it on pay-per-view.

I loved this memoir. She tells the story of being raised in an extremely dysfunctional household and her circumstances should be horrifying. Instead, she talks about her parents compassionately and lovingly. What could have been a huge empty glass with a full-on pity party memoir is instead told from a full-glass perspective. It gives the reader an understanding that mental illness is a disease and not a personal choice.

I loved this book and although I felt the ending was sad, I also felt it was brilliant. The movie totally changed the ending and to this day that ticks me off. In addition to a great love story, there are loads of symbolism in this book.

For me this goes down as one of the best books ever. It is an epic saga that is guaranteed to make you never look at a cathedral the same way again. The saga continues in two other books (and they are excellent, too), but the characters in this book grabbed me and didn't let go. As a matter of fact, I ate something every 20 minutes while reading this book because the characters were starving. I'm not sure why I thought that would help them, but it does speak about how real they became to me. If they were hungry, then I was, too.

This is my favorite book by Barbara Kingsolver. It may be one of my favorite books of all-time. As I said before, she is an artist who happens to paint with words. This book covers three-decades in postcolonial Africa and brings a story of what happens to a Baptist preacher's family when a tribal culture and the fervent missionary collide. I read this years ago and the characters still stay with me.

I list this one because I couldn't put it down. It isn't a great literary work, but it is one that I simply could not stop until I finished it. Sadly, there will be no more from this author. She died just as the book was rising to the top of the charts. It was kind of like Gone Girl, but with closure at the end.

I adored this book! If you enjoyed The Help, then you will probably like this one, too. This author depicts the characters so well that they seem authentic whereas many books about old southern women seem like a caricature. It is set in North Carolina and the story is told in alternating voices. If you happen to be from the South, you will know someone who fits these characters. Warning: Margaret will stay with you long after you've finished the book.

This book horrified me, and yet I couldn't put it down. Every time I hear a news report of another school shooting or mass murder I wonder if they started out as a "Kevin". There was a movie made of this book, but I thought it was awful. Plus, if you haven't read the book first you probably won't understand some of the nuances. It opens questions about nature vs nurture. It also brings in how much a mother's instinct is right on the money. Read the book if you dare. Please skip the movie! 

If you've ever had me as a Fifth Grade teacher, then you have heard this book. I started out every new year reading this aloud. Every year I cried during one part of the book. Every. Single. Year. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read it. It is one of the best books ever written. Even better, read it to your children. If you don't have any children, then go pull one off the street and read it. Can you tell I love it? 

Note: My intention was to link the photos to its corresponding Amazon link. Unfortunately every time I linked the photo to a link it messed up my formatting. After spending two hours dinking with html codes just to get the words to show up on the side of the photo instead of under them I decided to leave the links out.

Extra Note: If you have any time, would you please let me know if any of these books stick in your memory, too?



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  1. Kristina Penney10/5/14, 3:27 PM

    You recommended Still Alice to me when I was working at the Ballentine Library with you, and it still sticks with me. Several other of your suggestions are some of my favorites, too, so now I have to read the others from this list. I put a recommended by Dee list on my computer!

  2. You are my first comment ever, Kristina! I can't wait to hear what you think of them.:)


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