Friday, June 19, 2009

Books You Can't Live Without: the top 100

From this 2007 UK survey.

 What can I say? I was in the mood for another book list. Books I've read are in red (har har) numbers are 37/100. A failing grade. Ah, well, there are enough books on this list that I've really liked that I wouldn't mind improving that grade. In my spare time, of course. hmmm. In fact, books that are already on my massive "To Be Read" list are in green, and the ones in black will just have to wait for another year.

1 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte
=8 Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
=8 His Dark Materials Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations Charles Dickens
11 Little Women Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the d'Urbervilles Thomas Hardy
13 Catch-22 Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare William Shakespeare
15 Rebecca Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler's Wife Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis
34 Emma Jane Austen
35 Persuasion Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin Louis de Bernières
39 Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh AA Milne
41 Animal Farm George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney John Irving
45 The Woman in White Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies William Golding
50 Atonement Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi Yann Martel
52 Dune Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck
62 Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist Charles Dickens
72 Dracula Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory Iain Banks
94 Watership Down Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
100 Les Misérables Victor Hugo

Thursday, June 4, 2009

For the Record: May 2009:

Just like I expected, a slow month of reading is followed by a faster month.  May had a nice mix of genres.

SnowSnow, by Orhan Pamuk. This was my book club book this month. It was translated from Turkish, and the author holds a Nobel Peace Prize in Literature. The writing was really wonderful. I felt like I was experiencing a rare treat in his writing style. It was dense and poetic. I wish I'd been more interested in the topic, however! If you are interested in the cultural and religious struggles in Turkey, or even just the culture, I would recommend this book. It explores the resurgence of political Islam in eastern Europe through the eyes of a poet returning to his country after being in political exile for many years. It is not a light, quick read, but it is worthwhile if you are up for an introspective, somewhat elusive, thoughtful read.

Pride and Prejudice (Everyman's Library)Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I wasn't planning on re-reading this book this year, but I picked it up on a sentimental whim and couldn't be persuaded to set it down again. It was much more enjoyable this time around, since this time around I am much more familiar with the storyline and the language. The ending is lovely, and probably the only thing lacking in BBC/A&E adaptation of the novel.

Skinny-Bones, by Barbara Park. Well. I read this book aloud to my kiddos as a break from all the history related books we'd been reading all year. I wanted to find something light hearted, and just downright funny. I pulled out my Read-Aloud Handbook (Jim Trelease) and browsed the suggestions. His description of Skinny-Bones sounded like just what I was looking for. Unfortunately, both my children and I were sorely dissappointed. We rarely even chuckled, for all the humor is not in the best of taste. The boy is boastful, deceitful, and disrespectful. The parents are shallow and catty. The boy's interaction with God consisted of bribes. The kids were baffled and somewhat disgusted. On a more positive note, Timothy wrote a great book report about it, and we had some great discussions. It makes me sad to see those bad qualities idealized, especially realizing that many people won't find anything wrong with it whatsoever...just look at the reviews on Amazon.

Sarah's Key, by Tatiana De Rosnay. This book was also a book club read, although on a different level than the one before. I'm not complaining--sometimes it's nice to break up the harder stuff with some easier stuff! This book was easy and quick to read, but very heavy in subject matter. It deals with the WWII holocaust, but as experienced in Paris, France. It was a side that I'd never heard before, and I'm glad to have learned of it. There were parts to the book that took place in the 1940s, and parts that took place in present day. I enjoyed the historical portions, and got very tired of the drama in the present day situations.

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. What an amazing book. I must have read this in highschool, but I really didn't remember it. I really loved it. It's going on my favorites list to be sure. The writing was smooth and easy to read, but very insightful and layered. The characters are all so real and vivid. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

Beauty, by Robin McKinley. This is a great little retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It really brings it to life, and fleshes out the story. My 8year-old daughter really wants me to read it to her, but the language is still a little difficult for her to follow.

By the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Our next installment in the Little House series, these have been fabulous to re-read.

A Flickering Light (Portraits of the Heart, Book 1)A Flickering Light, by Jane Kirkpatrick. This is the 3rd book I've received in Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. There is slated to be a sequel to this book, but I think that the novel stands alone. It is a Christian novel, but is without the preachiness and pretense that I often find in other Christian fiction books. Jane Kirkpatrick wrote this book based on her grandmother's life at the turn of the century. The main character (based on her grandmother) was a photographer's assistant, certainly not typical of the time. I enjoyed the book very much.

The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks, by Nancy McArthur. Now this book was funny. If you are looking for a funny book to read to your kids, pick this one--not the one previously mentioned. We had many rotflol moments. Good thing there are more in the series!

Miracles on Maple HillMiracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorenson. Yes, this is the second time I've read this book this year! I read it in February to make sure that I wanted to read it aloud for my kiddos. I did, and they all liked it. It made us all sentimental for a place called home.

Land of My Heart, by Tracie Peterson. This is 1 of 4 in a Christian fiction series that I borrowed from my mom. This is my first time reading Tracie Peterson, and I enjoyed it. There was a lot of tragedy, but ended with hope.

The Coming Storm, by Tracie Peterson. This is 2 of 4 in the above series. After this book I felt like some of the characters were a little too perfect. Good thing there's 2 more!

To Dream Anew, by Tracie Peterson. This is 3 of 4 in the above series (the 4th I didn't finish in May, so it will be reviewed in June). This book was better than the first 2, I felt. At least there was more action! Everything started to develop more. I like how Tracie Peterson goes about writing a series. Each book is it's own story, that all add up to something full and big, as opposed to just one story stretched out with a big "To Be Continued" sign.