Thanks to a previous Freshly Pressed blog, The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shhhh, I have been introduced to another great group of readers/reviewers/bloggers/book worms like myself over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, they all participate in a meme called Top Ten Tuesday, and many of their bloggers create top ten lists based on a new topic. The Top Ten Tuesday for November 30, 2011 is “The Top Ten Books On My TBR List For Winter.” So, without further ado, here is a list of the ten books I plan to read over the holidays and into the new year. They aren’t listed in any particular order or ranking system because, well, I never know what kind of mood I’m going to be in. Sometimes, I love a good piece of literary fiction, but teen fiction and non-fiction make it onto my shelves as well. History, graphic novels, politics, science, apologetics, philosophy….the list goes on and on! I can’t stick to one genre, style, or medium. Hence, a book club that fits my style is harder to find than a perfect pair of women’s jeans.
1. Fire by Kristen Cashore—While I impatiently wait for the first Hunger Games film to be released in theaters, I’ve been glutting myself on teen fiction in the same vein. I enjoyed Graceling, the first book in this series very much. Like most of the books in its genre, it features a strong female protagonist and a studly male love interest. However, unlike you’re run of the mill dystopian book, this one is more fantasy based. (Think Game of Thrones meets 1984.) Apparently, aside from one essential character from the first book, this one has an entirely new cast. I’m eager to see why she chose to do that.
2. Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs—This one has been on my radar since it came out and will likely be one of the books I don’t purchase on my Kindle as it is a blend of text and photography, both of which are essential. It involves mystery, fantasy, tragedy, orphans with special abilities, and a remote island, and visual/narrative storytelling. What’s not to like!?
3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor—This one was one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2011 as well as a starred review on many websites. Karou, a seventeen-year-old art student, runs errands for her father that include things like gathering teeth for some kind of spell casting. Needless to say, there’s a high fantasy quotient. However, rather than simply being a fantastical love story, there’s some depth to this one. Apparently, the writing is very lush, literary, and dense, which means that I’ll love it all the more!
4. A Devil to Play: One Man’s Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra’s Most Difficult Instrument by Jasper Rees—I have had this one on my shelf for months. As a French horn player, I know all too well just how dangerous and difficult the instrument can be, but I also know how beautiful it is and how it makes the effort worth it when you do it well. This one is a combination of musical elements and biography in this because the author sent himself on his quest due to a mid-life crisis. I think musicians and non-musicians will find something to like in this one.
5. Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer—This is a non-fiction read about one man’s study of the science and art of memory. The back matter sums it up well, “On average, people squander forty days annually compensating for things they’ve forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people….Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we too often forget: In every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.” Scops, griots, and troubadours–all of them remembered entire epics and recited them orally, thereby protecting their culture in verse. Where has that art gone? I hope this book teaches me the answer to that question.
6. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain—This one is a mix of history, biography, and literary fiction that tells the story of Hadley and Ernest Hemingway and their doomed love story. As his first wife, she was muse, support system, critic, drinking partner, and everything else he needed, which I’m sure took a toll on her. How can you love someone with such a gift and the ego it takes to use it well? How can you love without losing yourself? I’m prepared to have my assumptions about one of my favorite authors turned upside down and to learn the real story behind the day-to-day lives of the members of the Lost Generation.
7. The Angel Makers by Jessica Gregson—This one doesn’t come out until January 2012, but I’m thinking I’ll love it. Based on a true story, this book tells the tale of women in a remote Hungarian village after their husbands go off to war. No longer beaten or worked to death to provide for their spouses, the women experience freedom and love for the first time. When their men return, one of the women begins using her medical knowledge to “remove” the people responsible for their anguish. Should be an interesting read!
8. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck—As a former English teacher, I’m embarrassed to tell people the books I haven’t read because they look at me like I have a superfluous eye in my forehead. Moby Dick, The Plague, War and Peace….I’ve read none of them. Don’t get me wrong, when I look at a “100 Greatest Literary Works List,” I’m well ahead of your average reading bear, but there are just a few that never happened to cross my path. My kid cousin is reading this one for AP Literature this year, and I’m interested enough to try reading his copy over Christmas break.
9. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis—I adore his fiction, and the short work he wrote after the death of his wife (A Grief Observed) made me want to weep. There’s something about Lewis that’s both academic/philosophical and open/human that it’s hard not to want to read more by him. This work focuses on the concept of suffering and why God allows it into the world. It is a tough question to answer when witnessing to non-believers, and I hope it can help me in that area.
10. 11/22/63 by Stephen King—I’ve been reading Stephen King since I was eight or nine years old. When I was younger, my favorite work was The Eyes of the Dragon, but I soon learned to love works like The Stand and It. His magnum opus, The Dark Tower Series, is one of my favorites! This one sounds like an odd mix of fact and fiction, but I love the idea of a magic portal in a diner enough to give it a shot. (Ugh, did I just make a pun concerning the JFK assassination?!)