Book Lists, Book Lists…

June 28, 2013 at 5:01 am (Reviews) (, , , , , )

And this particular one from Australia…

Apparently, every year Australia puts out a list of 101 best books of all time from information gathered from the people.  (Great article here that I refuse to plagiarize.)  I adore lists, especially book lists, so of course when I found this (via Kate Morton’s facebook page), I just couldn’t leave it alone.  I must peruse it, check things off of it, make notes, and comment on it – of course.  So blogosphere and bibliophiles: every ten books on the list there will be a break for my thoughts.

Dymocks 101 best books list

1. The Hunger Games trilogy  by  Suzanne Collins
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. The Harry Potter series by  J.K. Rowling
4. The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6. The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
7. Jane Eyre by  Charlotte Brontë
8. The Help by  Kathryn Stockett
9. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
10. The Lord of the Rings (Books 1-3) by  J.R.R. Tolkien

For starters, favorites and all time bests don’t necessarily mean the same thing.  The Hunger Games is brilliant, and I think it shall stand the test of time and always be amazing.  But best series ever? No.  Top hundred – absolutely – best ever? I think the public’s opinions will change in a few years when a new fad tops the charts.  I have yet to read The Help.  Clearly I am missing out on something truly amazing and shall add it to my TBR pile as soon as possible.  I hate fads, but I love a good book and I’ve yet to hear anything negative about The Help.  As for the Inheritance Cycle… I never finished it.  After I read Eragon, I could not erase the thought that it felt like Star Wars with dragons.  I love Star Wars, I love dragons, but I have not been in the mood for it and frankly, it just didn’t rock my world.  Everything else on the this portion of the list I have no qualms with and I will whole heartedly support.
11.The Bronze Horseman  by  Paullina Simons
12. The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
13. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
14. Cloudstreet  by  Tim Winton
15. The Bible
16. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
17. Jasper Jones  by Craig Silvey
18. Life of Pi  by  Yann Martel
19. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
20. Atonement by Ian McEwan

I have never heard of The Bronze Horeman, but I am familiar with the author.  Twilight saga? Best 101 books of all time? Not even close.  Clearly, some things are here out of sheer popularity and intense marketing propaganda. Wuthering Heights is a novel of sheer and utter brilliance.  Have not read Cloudstreet? Have any of you? Please comment.  The Bible! So glad it made it. I have yet to read George R.R. Martin – I know, I know, for shame.  Who is Craig Silvey? What is Jasper Jones? Sounds enticing.  Life of Pi, good… Kite Runner, I’ll accept.  Atonement makes my heart SING.
21. The Happiest Refugee by  Anh Do
22. Persuasion by  Jane Austen
23. The Pillars of the Earth by  Ken Follett
24. Red Dog by Louis de Bernières
25. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
26. The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
27. Breath by Tim Winton
28. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
29. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
30. Birdsong by  Sebastian Faulks

And now I am starting feel inadequate as a reader.  I have only read four out of these ten books! Persuasion is my all time favorite Austen.  The Power of One I thoroughly enjoyed.  1984 a forever stroke-of-genius classic. And Red Dog, I vaguely recall.  Pillars of the Earth, The Eyre Affair, and Birdsong are all waiting my attention on my book shelf, and I have not read, heard of, or purchased the others.  I work with bookstores, I used to work IN a bookstore.  This is regrettable, I feel out of touch.
31. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
32. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
33. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
34. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
35. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
36. The Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel
37. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
38. Remembering Babylon by  David Malouf
39. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
40. The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris

The Great Gatsby will always remain marvelous, every time I read it.  There’s even a post on this blog about that very fact.  Anna Karenina is utterly awful, I hate that woman, and Tolstoy the dear man made me miserable by writing her with his beautiful words.  Could not get into Earth’s Children, and no, I did not name my daughter after the lead character.  Sookie is amusing, but shouldn’t be on the list.  And the rest are loitering about in my library desperately seeking to be the next on my TBR  pile, but Wolf Hall is the most likely to make there this year or next.  Shhhh… don’t tell the others, I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings.
41. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
42. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
43. Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
44. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
45. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
46. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
47. The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien
48. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
49. The Forgotten Garden by  Kate Morton
50. The Broken Shore by Peter Temple

I haven’t read 41-46.  The Hobbit, of course, is marvelous.  The Catcher in the Rye is awful, but I won’t fight it anymore, I have given up.  It has become a classic, and so it shall be.  I shall grunt and be mildly bitter about it until I am 85 though.

The Forgotten Garden is a work of genius.  Morton’s best work, though all her work is wonderful.  (I love Kate Morton so much, the sentences regarding her work get their own lines.)

Never heard of The Broken Shore, but the title sounds lovely, and so does the name Peter Temple.
51. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
52. Marley and Me by John Grogan
53. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carré
54. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
55. A Simpler Time by Peter FitzSimons
56. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
57. A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute
58. Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
59. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
60. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

I have read exactly two of these books.  My goodness, that’s even worse than the last ‘shameful’ I gave myself.  I loathed Running with Scissors.  Hitchhikers shall always amuse me.
61. The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman
62. Dirt Music by Tim Winton
63. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
64. Room by Emma Donoghue
65. The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester
66. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
67. My Booky Wook by Russell Brand
68. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
69. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
70. The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

This Tim Winton fellow is frequent, and still unfamiliar to my ears.  Tried Kafka on the Shore, but will try again later.  I wasn’t in the mood. North and South IS on my TBR pile.  Ender’s Game was delightful, but I didn’t finish the series.  I ADORE Simon Winchester and must find this title, it is one I do not own, nor have read.
71. One Day by David Nicholls
72. Bereft by Chris Womersley
73. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
74. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
75. Magician by Raymond E. Feist
76. Salvation Creek by Susan Duncan
77. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
78. Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
79. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
80. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Finally! Dickens makes a proper appearance.  Why did he not arrive sooner? He should have been near the top.  Nicholas Nickelby is what I would have chosen.  The Alchemist is good, but a bit over rated.  And the rest have yet to grace my brain with their presence.
81. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
82. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
83. Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin
84. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
85. Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves by Matthew Reilly
86. Mawson by Peter FitzSimons
87. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
88. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
89. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
90. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

I have read Water for Elephants, good but not a top 101 book, and the Poisonwood Bible.  I protest Barbara Kingsolver being this low on the list.  Poisonwood Bible is easily a top 25 piece, for sure.
91. The Shifting Fog (aka The House at Riverton) by Kate Morton
92. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
93. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
94. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
95. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
96. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
97. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
98. Bossypants by Tina Fey
99. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
100. The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
101. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Again, I absolutely adore Kate Morton, she is marvelous. Geraldine Brooks is also quite grand, but I’ve yet to read this one.  Tuesdays with Morrie, enjoyable, but not a top 101.  The Lovely Bones was pretty wonderful, but though it is a 4 to 5 out of 5 star book, it doesn’t quite fit here to me.  Although I might have put Sebold’s memoir Lucky – if nonfiction were allowed – on the list.  I really do need to read a Sedaris, all his titles make me laugh.

And there you have it… I have completely dissected a wonderful list and probably made it entirely less interesting.  But, it does help me sort out a few titles that have been gathering dust for some time and give me an idea of what to tackle sooner rather than later.  Perhaps it may do the same for some of you.

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The Forgotten Garden, an Overlooked Book

September 3, 2011 at 3:31 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

Over and over again, I saw Kate Morton’s House at Riverton lurking on the general fiction shelves at Half Price Books.  I never picked it up, the cover just wasn’t right.  Book jackets are magical things.  Between the author, the publishig company, brilliant marketing people, and the perception of the onlookers – a book jacket tells all.  The House at Riverton just wasn’t telling me what I wanted to hear.  Then one day, my boss waves The Forgotten Garden in front of my face.   “This is amazing.”  It looked amazing.  The antique cream color, the ivy, the fairies, the magical nostalgia of a Frances Hodgson Burnett novel… I desired it immediately.  I was dumbstruck to realize it was the same author.

The Forgotten Garden is beautiful.  Twins, secrets, best friends, a family saga, England, Australian, painters, storytellers, an authoress, spooky deaths… It was the perfect mood follow up to The Thirteenth Tale.  It was an amazing read.  It took me too long to discover it due to the terrible marketing of the author’s previous book.  Thank God, the publisher’s finally gave Morton’s writing her book cover art due.

If you are wondering, I have broken protocol and abandoned my book cover instincts for the sake of reading Morton’s previous work – I bought The House at Riverton and its horrible cover.   I plan to read it around Christmas, a review to follow.  Her third book, Th Distant Hour is scheduled for me to read Spring 2012.

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