Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Several of last year’s top picks were mentioned as hits: The Help, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Olive Kitteridge, and the The Twilight Saga Collection. Other older fiction and favorites from previous years are:

After Many a Summer Dies the Swan by Aldous Huxley. One of you lists this as an all-time-favorite.

American Wife: A Novel (New York Times Notable Books) by Curtis Sittenfield. “Now waiting for Tipper's wife story.

The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel by Garth Stein. "The favorite book I have read in a very long time. After reading all the vampire books last summer this book just totally erased the Cullens (thankfully) from my mind. I fell in love with Enzo and think you will too! Just a wonderful, lovely story told from an unlikely narrator."

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith and other titles by Annie Lammot. “I am not as big of a fan of her fiction. Her non fiction is simply brilliant/life changing. Tender Mercies and Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith are must-reads.”

Cowboys Are My Weakness: Stories by Pam Houston. “Houston is a frequent contributor to O magazine. Ok, this is OLD, and this is not classic in any way but it is one of my FAVORite books! it's a collection of short stories written by a 20 something year old woman, about 20 something year old women who are doing their darndest to make their ways in the world... they are falling in love with the wrong men, trying out the wrong jobs, but always hanging on to their sisters and, thankfully, their own true grits. This book makes me reminiscent for my past-- and, even better-- thankful for my present. Short stories. chick focused. Easy breezy, clever read (but not dumb).”

Crossing to Safety (Modern Library Classics) by Wallace Stegner. “A charming, stroll through friendship, marriage and family. This book is like taking a bite off of a bitter sweet apple.” (Ed: One of my favorite books of all time).

Cry, The Beloved Country (Paperback) by Alan Paton. “I read and loved this before my South Africa trip. It is beautifully written and incredibly heartbreaking.” It was first published in 1948 apartheid South Africa.

A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich. “Keep this on there. We started reading it about one chapter per night."

The Lords of Discipline: A Novel by Pat Conroy. "I LOVED this book and read it so fast at the beach that I had to force myself to put it down to make it last longer. It's about the Citadel military life and insight into that world is fascinating. But there is also a lot of story and character about fathers and friendships and families."

Love Medicine: Newly Revised Edition (P.S.) by Louise Erdrich. “Beautifully written, enchanting stories that all intertwine into a messy, gripping, epic tale about one crazy and lovable family... An older book that my book club just read this year and really loved.”

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan “A wonderful, heart-warming memoir about Corrigan’s breast cancer treatment and her relationship with her incredible family." "It's a beautiful book, made me cry so hard."

People of the Book: A Novel by Geraldine Brooks. This is a great summer read that several of you have mentioned, this year and in previous years. It was a top pick a couple of years ago.

The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Y.K. Lee. “Part love story, part war story (yea, I know, been there, done that) but set in Hong Kong during Japanese occupation. Some different characters, even though I certainly didn’t like all of them, weave their lives and their loves through this amazing time.”

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. “Almost 30 years since I last read this book and it was well worth the re-read. The classic quotes alone, such as "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." (Ch. 1, Lord Henry, to Basil.), make this re-read fun.” (This book, and many others from pre-copyright days, are free on the Kindle, one of the many reasons I love the device. If you are ready to take the leap, click here: Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, U.S. Wireless)

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. A lot of you have read, or are asking about this book. It appeared on last year’s list. I read it in a day and understand why it's so popular but would suggest reading it with managed expectations. It's about a horrifying bit of French history. Sarah's story was incredibly poignant and evocative and sad. That said, it is not a very elegantly written book, and I had little sympathy for Julia (doormat!). It also ultimately devolved into a rather silly romance. With all that, I still think it's a good read.

The Suspect (Karl Alberg Mysteries, No. 1) by L.R. Wright. “Winner of an Edgar Award, this book was written in the 80’s but I just found it. It is a murder mystery set on the coast of British Columbia and the entire story revolves around three characters whose lives become entwined. What makes this murder mystery a bit different is you learn who the killer is on page one. It is a quietly written book – no gory details, violence or sexual assaults – which was a nice departure. The author carefully describes bits and pieces of each character which are all pieces to the puzzle and eventually answer the question of why there was a murder. I was hooked from page one … It’s a perfect beach book!”

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend. One of you said (succinctly), “Funny.” Satirical cult classic from 1982 – there is a whole series of them to enjoy.

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. "My favorite of all Fitzgerald novels because of the mix of light entertainment of a summer on the beach in France in the 1920s with beautiful people and parties and elegance along with the intense emotional fallout from a failing marriage and the pain of loss friendship and innocence. I've read this book countless times for 20 years and each time I love it just as much and see a new angle into the character's motivations."

Tepper Isn't Going Out: A Novel by Calvin Trillin. "Another short and witty novel about parking spaces in NYC."

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