I didn't start reviewing every book I read until 2002. I wish I had. Sadly, I have no record of my impressions of my Childhood Reading, the Science Fiction Years, or Nothing-But-Mysteries Days. Here are a few that stopped me in my reading tracks during those review-less years:
Studs Terkel's Working
It was the description of the waitress on the job that got me, the description she gave of how she loved to set the dishes on the table so quietly that she did not disturb the guests to her restaurant. I fell in love with this passage. This book became one of my first entry books into what has become a long personal study of happiness. The waitress mystified and intrigued me. How could a person with such a trivial job find such joy in her work? It was fascinating.
Robert Graves' I, Claudius
A man chosen to lead his country who was way in over his head. All around him was corruption and and self-interest and flagrant wickedness. Not so Claudius, the quiet voice of reason in an insane world. Despite being the one person who continued to do the right thing and despite being in a position of power, Claudius was not a ruler at heart and it was his inability to act that gives this novel its poignancy.
Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird
Keep this on the QT, but I've always dreamed of being a writer. Bird by Bird made writing seem so delightfully horrible that I've read this book over and over. It's peculiar that I've read this book on writing a half dozen times and yet I've never written a review of it.
Richard Adams' Watership Down
When I think of wonderful books that I've read only once and will probably never have time to read again, Watership Down comes to the top of my list. I became a rabbit in that world for the two weeks I spent reading this big book way back when it first came out. I still have days when I long to be a rabbit and go back to Watership Down.
Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
I should not have read this book when I was sixteen.
I'm not sure anyone should read this book when she is sixteen.
It was dark and despairing and bleak and reading it left me feeling dark and despairing and bleak.
Nevertheless, The Bell Jar was the truest picture of teen depression I've ever read.
If only someone could write a book that good that would help teens find their way out of depression.
Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha
My sister gave me this book, an Oprah recommendation, and I was off and running;
Oprah knew how to pick 'em.
Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game
Assigned reading for my sons in junior high. They raved about it so much (and, at that age, these boys weren't raving about much in the way of books) that I read it. A powerful story. A must-read.
Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove
What in the world made me pick up this western? A western, really?
But it is a book that hooked me after reading the first page. I fell in love with Gus and all the other odd characters in this story, set in Texas back in the days where the West was beginning to close its doors for business. Never read another Larry McMurtry or another western that hit me in the gut like this book.
Donna Tartt's The Secret History
How did I ever find this book, back in the day before I was able to find all the genuine book recommendations here in book blogger world? The Secret History is the story of a group of college kids who accidentally do something very, very wrong. A mystery of sorts. A brilliant story of the comradery that can quickly develop among young people and of the tragic consequences of following a charismatic, yet immoral leader.
Beverly Cleary's Henry Huggins
I read Beverly Cleary books a gazillion times when I was a little girl. I missed the Ramona series, but I loved all the books about Henry and Ribsy and his friends on Klickitat Street. This one I read aloud to every class I taught, fifth grade and second grade, even though I was cautioned by a school librarian that this book would be too hard for my second graders. Before I knew it, every kid in my class was checking out (and reading, I'll have you know, Mrs. P---) Beverly Cleary.
Now I need to see what you chose as
books you loved but have never reviewed!
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