Top Ten Books I Might Not Have Read…

Today’s Top Ten List over at The Broke and the Bookish is the best books recommended to you that you might not have read otherwise.

Most of the time I don’t remember how I came to read a book.  Usually it’s a review read in the paper, the New York Times annual “best of” list, or one of those “people who read this also read” suggestions on Amazon.  Years ago (pre-Internet) when I worked in a bookstore I just read the books that people always came in looking for.  A good example is Confederacy of Dunces.  So many people came in looking for that book that I almost knew before they gave me a title or a name what they wanted.

For this post, I’ve listed books I loved where I could remember when or how they were recommended.  I’ve ordered them by when I first read them, beginning with the most recent.

Middlemarch by George Eliot and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: Both have been recommended numerous times by other book bloggers.  About a year ago we had to post our Top Ten All-Time Favorites, and those two showed up on so many lists I felt I needed to read them.  I’m glad I did.

Sabriel (The Abhorsen Trilogy) by Garth Nix: This book was recommended to me by a co-worker who just joined my office last summer.  We were talking about some of our favorite YA/fantasy books and she raved about this one.  I recommended Scott Westerfeld and she ran right out and bought Uglies, so I wanted to return the favor.  I’d never heard of this trilogy before and loved it.

Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton:  This one was recommended by my husband.  He’s a fan of Wil Wheaton’s blog, and when I started blogging he thought I’d get a lot out of reading about Wheaton’s experiences as a blogger.  Wheaton is fun for a lot of reasons – he’s a semi-failed child actor (he won’t thank me for that) who disdained his experience on Star Trek but then realized how much he loved the show.  Now he’s a successful writer who blogs, acts (check out The Guild), and presents at lots of Comic Cons.  He’s also a total geek who loves his wife and two stepsons.  Very cool.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury: My husband and his whole family are huge Ray Bradbury fans, and I’d never read anything by Bradbury.  I borrowed Martian Chronicles one year during Christmas vacation and absolutely adored it.  I’ve since read Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Thanks mother-in-law!

Skipped Parts by Tim Sandlin: A co-worker recommended this book when I first moved to DC, which was for my first real, full-time job.  This co-worker was a real mentor to me, and we had a lot of fun talking about Sandlin’s books over margaritas.  Sandlin’s books are weird and hilarious, though none was as good as the first.  This is one where you should definitely ignore all movie versions!

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver: Today everyone’s heard of Barbara Kingsolver.  But twenty years ago I was in college and she was one of Tucson, Arizona’s favorite local writers.  Unfortunately I missed the boat on seeing her while I was there — at the time I didn’t want to read the authors I was “supposed to” read.  Arizona writers didn’t seem so interesting at the time.  Then I left college AND Arizona and read The Bean Trees and it was like going home.  Highly recommend this book and Animal  Dreams.

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry: Similar story as above.  I actually met McMurtry a number of times because he was a regular at the bookstore where I worked.  Still, the Western thing didn’t do much for me at the time, and he could be, well, a little on the cranky side, which didn’t inspire me to read his books.  Who recommended Lonesome Dove?  Everyone, including the Pulitzer Prize.  It just took me moving away from Arizona to decide to read it.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt: I loved this book and read it over and over again.  But I remember a friend of mine in college knew the author in some way and that’s why I read it.  I even had a pre-release copy.

The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy: My grand finale.  This one was recommended by my high school AP English teacher (appropriately, it’s “thank a teacher” day so thank you, Dr. Sargent).  I’ll admit I didn’t love a lot of the work we read in his class, like Joyce, Conrad, Dostoevsky.  But for an independent class project, he suggested The Return of the Native, and I’m eternally grateful.

  5 comments for “Top Ten Books I Might Not Have Read…

  1. May 3, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    I recently read Fahrenheit 451 and it was an awesome book. I have not gotten around to the others, yet.

  2. May 4, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Middlemarch is a good one. I’m not sure why I read it actually, but it wasn’t for school, and I was glad I did.

    Check out my list here

  3. May 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    That’s so fun that your husband was able to recommend a few books to you that you ended up enjoying!

  4. May 7, 2011 at 12:48 am

    I had no idea about the Wil Wheaton book. I love The Guild (and Big Bang Theory), and I think he’s fantastic in both. Definitely have to check that one out.

    You’ve also got me interested in Ray Bradbury whom I’ve never read, and I’m not really sure why not.

  5. May 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Did not know about Wil Wheaton’s book – must check it out. Big fan. Want to read Rob Lowe’s book as well…

    Think most recommendations I’ve received have been from fellow bloggers or my mum – not gotten many other recommendations. I’ve only read two books from your list, so I should add those on……

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