Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top Ten Books You Loved But Never Wrote a Review For

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!  

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.


  1. i loved beverly cleary growing up. so awesome you mentioned her book. i haven't read most of the books but they sound awesome. great list!

    check out my top ten list this week.


  2. I read the bell jar just before my 17th birthday. I must have had thick skin though because even though it was a little dull i seemed unaffected by it and actually thought it made me feel better. i allways go back to this book when i feel down. I think it's because i need to know that there was someone out there that feels like i do sometimes.

  3. Oh, I loved Memoirs of a Geisha and The Bell Jar. The latter is just so dark and depressing, probably the worst thing to read when you're 16.
    Nice Top Ten! :)

  4. I read The Bell Jar at 19 and I already had had problems with depression by then, so the book really spoke to me. I also love I, Claudius (my BA is Joint English and Classics); it's a fantastic story.

  5. I loved Memoirs of a Geisha, too! And I would definitely want to read The Bell Jar. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Some wonderful books here! I'm not sure I agree that The Bell Jar isn't best read during the teen years. I read it at fifteen - the dark tones made it instantly readable and the book has stayed with me ever since.

  7. I love your list this week! I've loved most of the books you mentioned - though I don't know if someone can LOVE The Bell Jar. But Robert Graves! And Ender's Game! And Beverly Cleary!

    My list is over here this week!

  8. Memoirs of a Geisha... I loved that one! Great Pick! : )

  9. I have Memoirs of a Geisha sitting on my TBR shelf at home. I have heard mixed things about it.

    Beth ^_^
    Check mine out at -

  10. You've read some wonderful classic books. Thanks for giving them a shout-out for other readers to discover!

  11. I love The Secret History and The Bell Jar, although I am pretty sure I have never reviewed either of them!

  12. Wouldn't it be great if we had time to write about all the books we read? Here's a tease from my current read.

  13. As always, I adore your list. I have always wanted to read Lonesome Dove but other demands of the job shove it off to the side. I just read Bell Jar this year for the first time and was captivated by her prose. What a tragic loss to the world when Platt left us.

    My Head is Full of Books

  14. I want to read Memoirs of a Geisha. I loved the movie and I've heard the book is so much better as is usually the case. ;)

  15. Great and diverse list! Like that you included Beverly Cleary- all of her books are such children's classics and still read with such enthusiasm today. Thanks for stopping by much blog and commenting.

  16. A very good list. I've been meaning to read Ender's Game for ages!

  17. I haven't read any of these books (but i am planning to read a few of them).

  18. Thanks for reminding me about the very existence of I, Claudius! It's a book I keep on intending to read but forgetting about...must write that down somewhere.

    Happy reading!

  19. Great, great list, Deb. I enjoyed reading it. WATERSHIP DOWN is one of my all time favorite books so glad to see you menion it.

    I also read and loved BIRD BY BIRD.

    I'm adding a couple of your titles to my TBR list. :)

  20. I love Beverly Clearly's books. I completely agree with you on "The Bell Jar" but wow, Plath could really write. Her poems are also striking. "Ender's Game" is a great albeit a bit disturbing read. I can't imagine 6 yr olds as soldiers.

  21. I definitely agree with you when it comes to Bird by Bird. I love that book! I hope you're having a great summer.

  22. The Secret History is one title I keep meaning to read...and I keep reading such great things about it! Like that you included Beverly Cleary- kids are still so enthusiastic about her books- great to see!

  23. Fascinating and unique list Deb, as always. I assign an article on drafting by Anne Lamott every semester in my writing classes. She is a breath of fresh air (to be super cliche). I've had Secret History on my list for years.

    Come check out my list for the week at The Scarlet Letter.

  24. I really want to read Lonesome Dove. It's one of my Mom's favorites. :)

  25. I always wanted to read Watership Down but I've never got around to it.


  26. Great choices! Ender's Game could have made my list as well--wonderful book.

    Here are the books that did make my list: http://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2011/08/top-ten-tuesday-beloved-but-never.html

  27. Watership Down is one I've wanted to read for a few years now, I just haven't gotten around to picking up a copy.

  28. I'm with you, westerns are sooo not my thing, but I loved, loved Lonesome Dove! You've got me curious about Working, too. I'd sure like to find more joy in my work, even the most trivial parts.

  29. Ender's Game is one of my top 10 bookes ever. I think it was the one that made me want to start writing novels! Great list! :)

    KC Neal - 10-Second YA Book Reviews; Author of Pyxis: The Discovery

  30. I always love reading your Top Ten posts. They're always so well thought out, with an intriguing mix of books. Confession- I have never read The Bell Jar or Memoirs of a Geisha! SHHHH! I really must get to The Bell Jar sometime. I haven't read Watership Down either. I just checked -it was published in 1972, it's one of our 1001 books, so I think next year will be the perfect time to schedule it- maybe you will get time to reread it! I've never read Beverly Cleary either (so many gaps!), maybe 2012 will be the year to read her too. It's just that every time I read a great book by a writer I want to read more of them, there really are too many great books to read aren't there? How will I ever get them read in this life time? I read The Secret History when it came out, and remember just Loving It. I don't remember all that much of it, and would be interested in trying to read it again sometime.


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