10 Books You Should Read

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You’ve already read about my love for books. I’m usually reading three at a time. Currently, I’m reading:

They are always very different but I can’t seem to stick with only one. There are so many I want to get my mind on that I get overly excited to start them. Usually, it’s no problem. I read quickly and can switch easily from subject to subject.

I figured it was time for a good old top 10 list of a few of my favorites. This is not a comprehensive list. I’m quite sure I’m forgetting several favorites, which is driving me insane because books sometimes feel like children to me — how could I possibly a favorite?

Some of these are — obvious, girly, simple even. But they are near and dear to my heart and if you haven’t read them, I’d urge to go out and buy them all today :) Like I said, this is not in order and by no means does it include all of my favorites. Stay tuned for installment #2 at a later date!

Ten Favorite Reads

1. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
After reading “Prep” and enjoying it, I figured I’d check out Sittenfeld’s other selections (she has three total and I loved them all). American Wife is my favorite and I’ve read it twice. It’s supposed to be loosely based on the life of Laura Bush — and that part is interesting — but it’s not what makes the book. Sittenfeld is one of those authors who can just climb into your mind make you think she’s read your diary. She knows her readers and her characters feel and do things that make you say, “Hey, I thought I was the only one!” Do yourself a favor and buy this book. 

2. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The classic Oprah’s Book Club selection. Yes, I was a sucker for Oprah’s Book Club back in the day. Read most of them, in fact. I read She’s Come Undone three times. It’s hard to believe a man could have written this book but you forget about that when you’re reading. The life of Dolores is one of sadness, abuse, bad decisions and circumstances. But it’s also about finding out who you are beneath the facade and triumphing in your own despite all the crap. Well- written in a way that makes you forget you’re just reading a book. Wally Lamb is superb. I’ve read his other two books as well. 

3. Appetites by Caroline Knapp
Caroline Knapp only got out three books before she died of lung cancer in her early 40s. It’s a real shame because her kind of writing is hard to find. In fact, I’ve never found it elsewhere. Appetites is kind of about Knapp’s eating disorder but it’s more so about women in general and confusion surrounding our desires and appetites for life overall. Physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally — she covers it all. When I read this book, I found a place I belonged. In a different way, this book showed me I wasn’t alone in my inadequacies, fears and misunderstandings about my body, my mind, my food, my failures. I have also read Knapp’s second book, “Drinking: A Love Story” which is about her struggle with alcoholism but also an amazing book just about getting through life. I have read “Appetites” three times and asked my Mom to read it to try and understand me. There are pages and paragraphs in this book that describe me better than I could ever describe myself. This book is me, was me, in so many ways. If you are a woman, you owe it to yourself to read it. 

4. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
I initially read this as I was trying to work my way through the “classics.” To be honest, I’m usually not gung ho about the classics (just recently read Anna Karenina & Jane Eyre and well, won’t be reading again…). But this — this was different. The writing is wild and fantastic, the characters so out of the ordinary you can’t help but be enveloped by them. Then, of course, there’s the famous quote (lots of amazing quotes in the book), which I have printed on a magnet posted on my fridge:

 “the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

5. Lit by Mary Karr
I can’t believe it took me until last year to read Mary Karr. She’s most known for her memoir, “The Liars Club” but I read that second and enjoyed “Lit” more for some reason. Karr is a master at the memoir (she’s written three!) and her writing draws you in. It’s the beautiful kind of writing that articulates emotions and circumstances in such prolific ways that you are mesmerized. She’s a writer’s writer — one that those of us who take a crack at the hobby ourselves can appreciate. She’s the writer I want to be! It’s a treat to indulge yourself in Mary Karr’s words. And you come away have met a real, true, imperfect soul that you can actually relate to. 

6. The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
Didn’t have high hopes for this one when I started it but by the time I ended it, it had become a favorite. I’ve not read it twice and enjoyed it equally both times. Perhaps I appreciated this book because the author was a journalist and writing this memoir was something he’d been trying to do for years. It’s painstakingly put together — each chapter and character built to perfection. As we grow with J.R. from child hood to teenager to young adulthood, we see the world changing through his eyes. Wisdom, wonder, heartbreak are all felt deeply. And, hope for him, you root for him. Despite reading the book the came of the whole story, he writes in a way that makes you wonder if the book will ever actually happen. After reading it, I had a real appreciate for the classic, old timey bars of America, the characters that inhabit them, and the way strangers become family. A great read.

7. Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
Oh chick-lit. You didn’t think I would leave this out, did you? While Jennifer Weiner isn’t known for hearty intellectual reads, she is known for what she does best: light novels for females and this is my favorite. I was skeptical of Weiner, just because sometimes chick lit is so sickeningly syrupy that I can’t even get through it. But that’s not the case here — she nearly always strikes just the right balance.  I’ve read “Good in Bed” three times and will probably do so again eventually. I’m seeing trends here in this list, loving books that are about writers and such is the case. In this book, Cannie is a journalist and she’s lovable precisely because she’s imperfect! While some of  the book seems improbable (like her becoming best friends with a celebrity as famous as Cameron Diaz), you don’t care because you are just relishing in the fun, flirty, confidence of Cannie’s roller coaster life. You are rooting for her and rooting for all women while reading it. Grab it for a plane ride or a beach trip, you’ll love it!


8. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
I read this oh so long ago and have literally read it 4-5 times total. It’s more like young adult fiction (though it is actually one of Blume’s “adult” novels) but I don’t care. The magic of best friends, summer love, teenage nostalgia, beaches at midnight, the possibility of island summers with nothing but boys and wine and dreams…oh I love it.  This is like a dessert read for me and it always takes me back to being 17 again — a time when I lived for the memories I was making, when crushes were painful, heartache was often and rebellion was at its peak. Reading this book brings back a rush of memories and takes you to a place of escape. I think I read it just after high school so that’s probably a big part of it. I will always count it as one of my favorites.


9.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
I couldn’t NOT include a Barbara Kingsolver book because she’s absolutely amazing. I’ve read every single one of her novels and one of her book’s of essays. I couldn’t really pick a favorite (though my least favorite is definitely “The Lacuna”) and I considered putting “Prodigal Summer” as number 9. But, I had to go with Poisonwood just because it’s so big and meaningful and beautiful. It’s been years since I read it but it takes place in the Congo — where I’m going this summer — so I’m due for a repeat read. It follows one missionary family through decades of turmoil in the troubled African country. I’m not sure this is one that everyone would like but hearty readers and lovers of Africa will fall in love.

10. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Are you rolling your eyes? I’m sorry, this is one of my favorite books! Yes, everyone has read it and it was been “overdone” but it doesn’t lessen the like for me! This journey would be a dream to me and at least once a week, I think about eating the pizza that Liz ate in Italy. Remember when she writes about eating at the best pizza place in Naples, which has the best pizza in Italy, which has the best pizza of any country — meaning she was eating literally the best pizza in the entire world? Gluttonous dreams, my friends. While I didn’t enjoy the “India” part of the journey as much, I’d still give a lot to experience it. And Bali? Oh Lord, please give me Bali in real life. While some of Liz’s experiences are little too new agey or whatever for me, I enjoy her writing style and personality. I enjoyed living the journey through her because well, I’ll probably never have a chance to just take a year off work and travel the world for personal fulfillment. If you haven’t read it — read it!

YOUR TURN! I really want to know — what are your favorite books? I’ve already read The Hunger Games and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo so scratch those :) I’m always look for new suggestions and I love memoirs! Novels, non-fiction, memoirs…leave your suggestions in the comments! Can’t wait to see!

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