Saturday, June 15, 2013


I previously blogged that I was struggling to narrow my favorite novels to a top ten list. I'm still working on the list, and instead of narrowing, it grows. So many to decide?

So here are five more picks for you to read or reread this summer, whether you're camping in the mountains or sunbathing by the pool. Just don't forget to reapply the sunscreen or bug repellent because you're certain to lose track of time.

ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy
This was required reading for a humanities class I took in college, but it was no chore. I read on breaks and lunch hours at work, I read sitting at the Laundromat, I read well into the night when I should have been sleeping. It's a tragedy, but what a rich story. The setting and characters come to life, rounding out a sad tale of a woman's descent into mental illness and obsession, driven by guilt. I haven't seen the newest film adaptation, but I can't imagine it being as complete as Tolstoy's book.

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Required reading in high school, this book threw me into the lost generation. I read everything I could get by Fitzgerald. I devoured the biographies of both him and his wife Zelda (the quintessential flapper). I adored the film Midnight in Paris, in which Owen Wilson time-travels back to the Jazz Age and meets the Fitzgeralds. The best book, alas, was the first I read. Gatsby is a quick read, and not a word is wasted. The reader sees the excesses of 1925 society and the sad and extravagant efforts by the title character to reclaim the woman he loves. Again, no film can do this book justice, although Hollywood tries.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
A classic and timeless tale of redemption, which I've already written about in an earlier post at Christmas. Last time I checked, this was a free Kindle download.

THE FLY ON THE WALL by Tony Hillerman
I've enjoyed all of Hillerman's books, but this one is a favorite. I rented it on audio for a business trip and became so engrossed I missed my exit! I was nearly late for a meeting because I had to turn around and backtrack. It's the story of a reporter who is like a fly on the wall--unnoticed but hearing and seeing all. Unfortunately he knows too much. This is an intrigue that begins with a murder in the Capitol. It's a bit of a departure for Hillerman because there's no Joe Leaphorn or Jim Chee in this book.

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
I didn't expect to love this book. I'm a Southern white woman who lived through the Civil Rights period, but this setting was outside my experience. My family was blue-collar, and we barely made ends meet. There was no money for help. None of my friends could afford servants. Except for skin color, I identified more with the help than with the wealthy employers. Yet I did love this book. Its themes are universal, and Stockett captures the humanity that makes us good and pure of heart regardless of skin color. There is only one race--the human race. Everyone should read this book. (Hollywood did a very good job putting this one on screen, too.)

There you have ten of my favorite reads. But there are so many more! Runners up include Jack Dawes by Ken Follett, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and Harvest by Tess Gerritsen. And many more.

Your turn. What books have captivated you? Changed you or profoundly affected you? Leave a comment.

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