When I Have Time

I'll read more, write more and make more sense


Oregon, USA
October 27
Medical Transcriptionist
Painter of furniture and canvas, typist for longwinded doctors. Mother and ex-wife.


APRIL 4, 2010 2:33PM

Top 10 B00ks

Rate: 6 Flag

1.  Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro.  I love her ambivalent, practical writing style, mostly about everyday people living lives of quiet desperation.  I am left pondering her stories days, weeks, months and years later. 

2.  Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishuguro.  This is a bleak novel about a future wherein clones are used to prolong the lives of "real" people.  It's heartbreakingly told from the point of view of a clone girl, raised in an orphanage and groomed to be a carer. 

3.  Decca, The Letters of Jessica Mitford.  This is a wonderful book.  She was an interesting woman with a fascinating life.  Right or wrong, Decca had tremendous courage.  I love to read other people's letters too.

4.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  I have read this about 3 times in my life.  It's great reading.  It's the story of Francine, growing up poor in Brooklyn with her mother, alcoholic father and brother.  Her struggles include going without, love versus shame for her father and his inability to care for his family because of his alcoholism, and the cruelty of life in the city before World War II.  The story will carry you away.

5.  Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov.  Great book, funny, outrageously contradictory.  A real page-turner nearly impossible to set aside.

6.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey.  Read this years ago and really liked it.  Story about a man faking mental illness to escape jail time.  The character studies included make for worthwhile reading.

7.  Atonement, Ian McEwan.  Page-turner, loved it.  Sad ending about compelling characters, and a devious hateful little girl turned author.

8.  Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood.  Bleak dystopian novel about the future that you could imagine happening.   Don't forget to take your bliss-plus pill.

9.  Carmine the Crow, Heidi Holter.  This is a children's book about a generous, helpful, but old and tired crow.  It's just a beautiful story.

10.  The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls.  I loved this book, just could not put it down.  This is a memoir by the gossip columnist, Jeanette Walls.  This is a must-read for people who think their parents did a horrible job.  In fact, she makes life for Francie Nolan of  TGIB sound idyllic.  Again, her father is an alcoholic, her mother just wants to paint, and their luck turns for the better, then the worse, then worst of all and doesn't improve until after she strikes out on her own.  Good book if you need more proof that your family doesn't always want what is best for its members.

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I love anything by Alice Munroe and V. Nabokov. I also enjoyed teaching A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to my eighth graders several times. Some of the others I will have to investigate. Thanks!
Never Let Me Go is one of my favorites too; so humane, I love Ishiguro.
The Glass Castle was great. She has a new book out now I haven't read.
I like your taste in books, latethink! My list was about books that shaped me rather than my favorites, which would have included different books, almost certainly Atonement.
Have any films been made of Alice Munro's novels? Her name seems very familiar, but I don't recognize any of her books.

Nice to see McEwan mentioned on several lists (including mine).

I have read some Atwood, whom I discovered when I was going through an Anita Brookner phase, to whom she has been compared. But I still prefer Brookner.

You didn't add a descriptor to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or The Glass Castle...?
I loved the glass castle...any book that makes my childhood seem normal is a great one...

but I don't like ian mcewan at all. I'm not sure why....
Susan, you taught a Tree Grows in Brooklyn to 8th graders? There are a lot of good lessons in there. Happy investigating, that's what is so great about these lists.

Marcela, interesting that you describe it as humane, it is! Thanks for stopping. Kisses back.

Yes Deborah, she does have a new one out and I do not even know the title. I will try and find it.

Lainey, I think these books, although they are favorites, did shape my thinking very directly. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was an influential book for me, but it didnt make the cut.

Monsieur, I am not aware of any movies being made of A. Munro's books, and I dont think they could do a good job of it in the USA, anyway. They're very low key books about washing dishes, fights with lovers, covert dealings with loners, that kind of thing. I'm not sure they would transfer so well to the screen. Thank you for introducing me to Brookner. I had never heard of her but am anxious to start reading her. You're right, I left out the descriptions. I'll go back in and put them in now. I was in a hurry as always.

Deloresflores, that's so true about the Glass Castle. in fact,I think I did a post a long time ago about how I wonder at Jeanette Walls' resilience after hearing her cultured voice on NPR, how she seems unscathed by her childhood. I'm sure that's not true, but you know.
Thanks all.