Top Ten Books I Read Before Blogging

So, I kinda like reading people’s Top Ten Tuesday [a book blogging prompt hosted by The Broke and the Bookish] posts every once in a while, even though I’ve never participated myself. I don’t think I’ll make it a regular thing, but I noted a few that I thought were fun topics so every once in a while I might join in. We’ll see. I’ve only been blogging about books and writing seriously for a little bit over a year, so there are tons of books I could include here, but her are 10 mini-reviews of some of my favorites. These are books I recommend.

The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty 

center of everythingWhen I went to a writing workshop at a university last summer, one of the other writers told me that my chapter reminded him of Laura Moriarty’s books, which was the best and most unexpected compliment I’ve ever received about my own writing. This is the book that made me want to be a writer. It’s just about a girl growing up in a small town with a mother who had her when she was a teenager. Nothing revolutionary or profound, but it’s just so real and true and good it made my heart ache. What’s funny is that when I first read it, I didn’t realize it was by a local author. I’d picked it up at random at The Dusty Bookshelf, my local used bookstore. So now I see Laura Moriarty picking up her holds at the library or walking downtown at lunchtime or picking up her daughter at the arts center and it’s like what I imagine it’s like when other people run into Neil Gaiman at the airport.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

AMERICAN GODSNot that I don’t totally fangirl over Neil Gaiman. I might even like his cult of personality better than his writing, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. American Gods made sci-fi/fantasy fascinating and approachable for me. Neil Gaiman is an excellent storyteller, to be sure.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

prepUgh, I love Curtis Sittenfeld like I love Laura Moriarty. I’m reading her new book Sisterland: A Novel and am so stocked she’s doing something with a paranormal twist! I loved American Wife, but Prep will always have a special place in my heart for it’s prickly main character and perfectly terrible unhappy ending as far as the love story.

Translated Woman by Ruth Behar

translated woman

This is the book that made me think academics are rock stars (which is even nerdier than thinking fiction authors are rock stars). On the surface, it’s about a feminist anthropologist who meets a Mexican street peddler, but it taught me the power of story and how the author is never separate from the story, that the storyteller is a character, too. It’s the book that prompted me to go to grad school for Latin American studies.

Diary of a Genius by Salvador Dalí

diary of a geniusMister BS and I both enjoy biographies, and especially biographies of artists. This one is my favorite, for the sheer madness of it. Dalí is brilliant, to be sure, but also egotistical and bizarre and non-linear. This really isn’t a typical autobiography, because it really is just a series of diary entries, but it’s also clear that Dalí is writing for an audience and expects his words to be read by others some day.

The Complete Poems of Federico García Lorca edited by Christopher Maurer

collected poems

I am so in love with Federico Garcia Lorca it hurts. I’m on my second worn copy of this, I thumb through it so often. The beauty, longing, death…it’s everything I want in poetry. The Spanish-English edition is fun to read because it conveys the problem with translation and the limits of language to express. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger

franny and zooey

I love J. D. Salinger, but this one is my favorite. I read all of his works in high school, but this one sticks with me, even more than The Catcher in the Rye. This is the book that made me start to read The New Yorker, which I still do. I love that this is a duo of a novella and a short story rather than a straight novel.

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

hard love

This was one of the few YA titles I read during high school, and it inspired my love of zines (which I read and collected through college) and Ani Difranco (who I still listen to regularly, because she kicks ass). I’m afraid to reread it because it’s been over ten years and I might find it cliched now, but then, it was a book I needed to read.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

dead until dark

I did recently reread this entire series (okay, I’m only through number 7) in anticipation of the release of the final installment next month. And I did still love it, for what it was. It was my first foray into genre fiction and one of the first “for fun” books I read after grad school, and I was like “give me more.” I love Sookie and find a certain blond Viking vampire to be highly irritating in the best way.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

house of mirthEdith Wharton is my favorite author, and this is my favorite of her books. Nobody does tragic like Edith Wharton. And that ironic title? LOVE. Wharton’s characters are so carefully constructed and the plot is so intricately woven, I can’t help but be in awe of her work.

Have you read any of these? What are your favorite books that you read before you started blogging? 

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19 thoughts on “Top Ten Books I Read Before Blogging

  1. Really enjoyed Prep and I hadn’t heard that she’d written a paranormal book — very interesting!
    I’m also a huge Edith Wharton fan. I’ve read Age of Innocence, House of Mirth, Summer, Ethan Frome and Glimpses of the Moon. I want to try to read the Buccaneers next!

    Thanks so much for stopping by

  2. I loved The Catcher in the Rye when I first read it, though I’m not sure if I’d say the same thing now! I am strangely curious about Franny and Zooey now though. I’m glad to hear it’s a favourite of yours. I’ll have to check out some of the other titles as I haven’t come across many of them before. Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. I started Franny and Zooey + House of Mirth but I have yet to finish them! Diary of a Genius sounds fascinating. I also need to re-read American Gods one day as I’ve completely forgotten everything about it, ack.

  4. I read up until the sixth Sookie Stackhouse book (I think six is right) and then I just lost interest in the series. The first few — particularly Dead Until Dark — were really interesting. But I never liked Eric and I didn’t even really care that much about Sookie. I was totally team Sam/Sookie — even though that was never going to happen …
    I do love the House of Mirth. Great picks :)

    1. You are not the only one to tell me that you gave up on Sookie about the middle of the series. I get it. I think for me, I picked that book up at the right time and it got it hooks in me. And some people do think she’ll end up with Sam!

  5. I have such conflicted feelings on Prep. I really liked it a lot, but I was a bit mystified about how it #1, was considered adult and not YA and #2. how it was a NYT top-10 that year. I mean, WOW.

    I like reading about the other books. Have read only a few!

    1. Oh, I think PREP is definitely adult fiction and not YA. Even though it has a teenage protagonist, it’s got a very adult perspective. The character looks back on her high school experiences. It’s a very nostalgic tone, rather than “in the moment.” I was surprised it was so popular, too, because it seems like such a “me” book I can’t think others will get it. But I felt the same way about Eleanor & Park when I read it way before release last fall. I just thought, this is a book I adore but will only work for certain people, and then boom, bestseller. It’s sort of the magic behind reading, why do some stories just resonate? I love the mystery.

  6. I finally read American Gods this past February and it was amazing. I like Dead Until Dark too and I’m curious how Harris will finish up the series. I feel like the last couple of books weren’t as good as the first five-ish, but still entertaining enough. For what it’s worth, I think she’ll end up with Sam.

    1. I know lots of people have felt that way about the series, but I think they just get better. I know others would agree about Sookie and Sam, but I think Harris has put him firmly in the “friend” camp. As long as Sookie is happy and safe or at least a close approximation thereof, I’ll be happy with the ending :)

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