Several people have asked me for recommendations of good books and movies, since those are two of my favorite things – and I own a zillion of both! (FYI – the library is a fabulous resource for both, too!) So here they are, purely based on my preferences. Books – these are the ones I keep and lend only to those I know I have a chance of getting them back from! If I have the chance, I’ll read them multiple times. Some classics, some pure chick lit, some simply entertaining. And it’s definitely not an all inclusive list – just what I could think of off the top of my mind (or saw on my bookshelf). I’ll keep adding to this as I think of others and as I continue to read. For the road trip I plan to load my ipod with audio books, in addition to all my music! May need a bigger ipod… (And movie list is coming soon.)
Modern fiction favs:
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Fabulous. Was really able to relate to this. Very real. Such a helpful book if you’re going through any major change in your life and unsure what to do or how to handle it. Hmmm, maybe I should read it again? Looking forward to the movie which stars Julia Roberts and is out soon. So that COULD make it to the movie list in the future… (Update: saw the movie. Liked it but didn’t LOVE it. Probably much better if you don’t read the book first!)
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon – Really excellent. Quick, easy, read. Very different from other books I’ve read. Told from the perspective of an autistic teenage boy who is investigating the death of a neighbourhood dog.
- The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – Gripping story about a little girl in Germany during World War II. And the narrator is Death.
- The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – Believe it or not, I haven’t seen the movie yet. Have you? Any good? Loved the book.
- Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – A bit difficult to follow and disturbing in some places, but a wonderful story. Liked the movie – thought they did a good job simplifying it.
- Love most by Maeve Binchy but especially Tara Road.
- Good in Bed (No, it’s really not at all what you may think) by Jennifer Weiner – another very real, likeable, easy to identify with leading character. I’ve liked all books by her, but this one is my fav. The continuation – Certain Girls – is on my reading list.
- David Baldacci writes great thrillers.
- Jodi Picoult – the queen of the gut-wrenching, ethics-questioning dramas. The first book I read by her – The Pact about teenage lovers with a suicide pact (one lives and one dies) – I did NOT want to read but had to for my book club and as soon as I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Be ready with the tissues!
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo – very quick read that really makes you think. One of those lessons disguised within a fable.
- Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – the book, NOT the movie (even though it stars Colin Firth, it just can’t come near comparing, as so much of the book takes place in the girl’s head). This is the fictional story behind the famous painting by Vermeer. Her other books are good too – some better than others.
- Cane River by Lalita Tademy – LOVED this book – can’t wait to read her second book, Red River, which is waiting patiently on my book shelf.
- The Drowning Girl by Margaret LeRoy – fascinating story about a girl who appears to be a difficult child, but may truly be a reincarnated girl who was drowned…
- American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld – Fictionalized account of Laura Bush’s life based on actual events. I have no interest in Laura Bush, but this is a great book (Just like W was a rather entertaining movie).
- Dan Brown books – No, none compare to Angels and Demons (the best) and The DaVinci Code, but all are entertaining thrillers
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett – read this for book club and loved it.
An intriguing real life story:
- Marching Powder by Rusty Young – Another book I had absolutely no desire to read but had to for book club. And again – I could not put it down! It’s about a British drug smuggler who ends up in a Bolivian prison. Really a must read. And the movie is in development.
If you have a lot of time (big books):
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – the first book that made me realise you can’t just see the movie (although I love both)! I learned a lot from Scarlett (that may explain a few things).
- The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – Epic novel that takes place in 12th century feudal England. Did not think I’d like it at all, but my uncle said I would love it and he was right! The story revolves around all different people related to the building of a gothic cathedral. Ken’s a great writer and has some great mystery/action/adventure novels, as well.
- Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon – The most addictive series (now 7 books, all between 600 – 1000 pages each) I’ve ever read. You identify with Claire, fall in love with Jamie and feel like you’re living it all with them. Basically Claire falls back in time from the 1940s to mid-1700s Scotland. Through the series it jumps back and forth in time and location (UK/America). So hard to put the books down and can’t wait for Diana to write more! (Will be a while though as it takes her 2-3 years to write one and the latest was just published.)
I can’t help it, I’m a girl:
- All Nicholas Sparks books – what can I say, I like love stories that really move you (although I am NOT a romantic). Another one where some of his movies make the list, too – but not all (see my first blog entry).
- Speaking of love stories/drama, all of that genre by James Patterson: Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, Sam’s Letters to Jennifer and Sunday at Tiffany’s.
- All Adriana Trigiani books – she writes such wonderful, vibrant characters. From the Big Stone Gap series to her latest books about Valentine, they are always filled with fun, family, fashion and food!
They may have been written for teens, but I love:
- The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. Swore not to read them, but then had to read the first for one of my book clubs and was instantly hooked. Don’t actually like Bella much (she’s a bit whiney, esp. in the third), but love the overall story. Love the movies too.
- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares. You can really relate to them and feel like they’re your friends. Like the movies, but wish they had made all four instead of condensing the latter books into one.
Don’t forget the classics:
- All books by Jane Austen. Especially love Pride and Prejudice and Emma.
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Best reads from college (the only books I kept):
- Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals – memoir about the battle to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School.
- Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley – much better than the movie.
- Power Plays (Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership and Management) by John O. Whitney and Tina Packer – You’ve got to admit you can learn a lot from him!
Waiting on my bookshelf to be read – will let you know if they’re any good! (Note: they won’t be read in this order. I have to be in the mood for a book, and book club books always come first. Unless, of course, I don’t like it and then I put it down. I don’t like wasting time with books that bore me. Too many books and not enough time!):
- The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (some – like this one, I believe – have different titles depending what part of the world it’s published in.)
- The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
- The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
- Red River by Lalita Tademy
- Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
- Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
- Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
- The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
- Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
- Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
- Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (yes, as you can see I have many books by some of my fav authors to read!)
- Strange Places, Questionable People by John Simpson
- Many, many non-fiction travel, genealogy and writing books!
So what about you? What books are the best? What MUST I read? Or do you hate any of my favorites? Which ones and why?