Ten Books

I’m sharing a meme with you on my blog today, which is only acceptable since the title of this blog is What I’m Reading, and this meme is a list of books I’ve read. Honestly, I wanted to list more books I’d read recently, but I realized the books that were really important to me were the ones I first read when I was a kid. Enjoy!

Rules: list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t over think it. Don’t try to cherry pick your books so it looks like you only read classics, etc. 

1. Baby-Sitters Little Sister: Karen’s School Picture, by Ann M. Martin – This is the first book I remember being excited about. It was an end of the school year gift from my second grade teacher, Mrs. Hunt, and I remember reading it on the bus home, reading it in the bathroom, reading it ALL DAY until I was done. Clearly, this set a precedent.

2. A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter – After reading the above mentioned book, I became obsessed with Baby Sitter’s Club books, and then Sweet Valley books. I didn’t read much else, until my mom helped me pick this one out at the library. Elnora has a hard time fitting in with the fancy town kids because of her unusual clothes & mannerisms, so she escapes into the natural world of the swamp, collecting and selling moths.

3. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett – I bought this book out of a Scholastic Book catalog, and I was immediately entranced. I’ve read this book so many times, it opens by itself. I loved Sara Crewe, Becky, The Large Family, and all of the other wonderful characters that populate this novel.

4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – This was my absolute favorite book for most of my life. Of course I wanted to be Jo March, and I actually liked Prof. Bhaer. I also thought Laurie & Amy’s scenes at the end of the novel were perfectly romantic. Don’t hate.

5. Anne of Green Gables [the series, especially the first 3 books] by Lucy Maud Montgomery – My friend Laura got me into these! Anne’s imagination, her humor, her loyalty, her crazy mishaps, “carrots!” GILBERT BLYTHE…I still want to visit Prince Edward Island.

6. The Last Silk Dress by Ann Rinaldi – I checked this book out from the middle school library many times. Susan Chilmark is a teenager in Richmond during the Civil War, her family is a hot mess (her father is dead, her mother is crazy, and her brother is a blockade runner/manager of a brothel), and through it all she is trying to figure out what patriotism and loyalty mean.

7. The Tillerman Saga [Homecoming, Dicey’s Song & A Solitary Blue] by Cynthia Voigt – Dicey Tillerman is my hero. She’s poor, she’s young, but she’s strong and she saves her family. Doug Burton, the protagonist in A Solitary Blue, doesn’t really wake up until Dicey comes into his life. These characters are woven together so beautifully; they’re so flawed and so real.

8. Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher – Lots of romance & drama in this novel, set in England during World War II. After reading this, I wanted to move to Cornwall, eat pasties, and have a daughter named Loveday. It’s overly sentimental and maybe even not that well written, but I loved this book anyway.

9. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – I am haunted by this novel. A love story with a healthy dose of magical realism, it draws you in with this amazing sense of place and time. As many times as I’ve read it, Henry & Clare still make me cry.

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – Every time I read this book, it affects me differently. Long before the movie came out, I actually downloaded Charlie’s mix tape and listened to it when I re-read the book. For such a short novel, it really packs an emotional punch.

Honorable mentions: The Harry Potter series, The Secret Garden, The Ornament Tree, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Diary of Anne Frank, Circle of Pearls, Memoirs of a Geisha, Angela’s Ashes, White Oleander, Lucky, Room, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Age of Miracles

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Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed

Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed

“While Mr. [Vincent] Zandri celebrates Amazon as the best thing to happen to storytellers since the invention of movable type, many other writers are denouncing what they see as its bullying tendencies and an inclination toward monopoly.

From household names to deeply obscure scribblers, authors are inflamed this summer, perhaps more deeply divided than at any point in nearly a half-century. Back then, it was the question of being a hawk or dove on Vietnam. Now it is not a war but an Internet retailer and its unparalleled grip on the cultural machinery that is provoking fierce controversy.

At first, those in the publishing business considered Amazon a cute toy (you could see a book’s exact sales ranking!) and a useful counterweight to Barnes & Noble and Borders, chains willing to throw their weight around. Now Borders is dead, Barnes & Noble is weak and Amazon owns the publishing platform of the digital era.”

Excellent breakdown of the Amazon controversy. Why should you care? Because Stephen Colbert said so. Seriously, though – Amazon is a giant, and we should know who we’re buying cheap e-books from. (Not to mention every other household item; I’ll admit to buying bulk toilet paper, toothpaste & shaving cream, too.)

Interested in learning more? Fresh Air did a great interview with Brad Stone, author of The Everything Store, entitled One-Stop Shop: Jeff Bezos Wants You To Buy ‘Everything’ On Amazon. 

The Goldfinch; or, why I haven’t been updating

Status

I really would love to read some articles and share them with you, but I am currently completely engrossed in 771 pages of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I’m only about 150 pages in and it’s due back to the library in two days. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to paying a fine (it’s new and other people have it on hold, so I can’t renew) but I want to limit that as much as I can ;). It’s a brilliant read, so to be honest it’s not exactly a big sacrifice on my part. More updates in a few days.

ETA: Totally worth the read, but the ending was a disappointment. I wanted to give it 5 stars, but I have to give it 4 1/2.

Picture Books for Grownups: A Conversation With the Author of Are You My Boyfriend?

Picture Books for Grownups: A Conversation With the Author of Are You My Boyfriend?

“One thing that sets this apart from other parodies is that it’s funny, yes, but it’s also meant to do for adult women what kid’s books do for children: provide comfort, reassurance, and the moral of the story message. And empathy, too. Everybody knows these guys. It’s not a male-bashing book, it’s a female empowerment book, but we’ve all dated these guys and dealt with these common themes of unavailability and people who can’t give us what we need. What’s the best way to handle that?”

The Hairpin does wonderful interviews, and this one is no exception. I love, love, love the idea of this book, and I think a lot of women will really connect with the story. Plus, who doesn’t like picture books?