Great Books!
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The Count of Monte CristoAlexandre DumasFictionRead this a looong time ago but still think it's one of the most exciting adventure stories I've ever read
Bel CantoAnn PatchettFictionShe's a master story teller. Beautiful book.
State of WonderAnn PatchettFictionHow I loved this book! Science, drugs, indigenous people, the rainforest, relationships and more in one tremendous story.
Leaving Lucy PearAnna SolomonFictionLoved this book by my dear friend, Anna. Brilliant bit of historical fiction with wonderful characters and a great plot.
Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First YearAnne LamottNon-fictionThis helped me get through the first few months of my colicky older son's life - I laughed and cried
Plan B: Further Thoughts on FaithAnne LamottNon-fictionReally enjoyed this (and I am completely non-religious)
Bird by BirdAnne LamottNon-fictionLove all her books
All the Light We Cannot SeeAnthony DoerrFictionAbsolutely beautiful book. Haunting.
The God of Small ThingsArundhati RoyFiction
A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega DifferenceAyelet WaldmanNon-fiction (psychology/memoir)A rather intriguing read about her experience using tiny doses of LSD to improve her perspective on life and her mood. Lots of interesting facts also about the war on drugs, the criminal justice system and the history of psychedelics.
Bad MotherAyelet WaldmanNon-fictionRead this after my first son arrived - super helpful! An essential read for any new mothers, especially in the Bay Area.
The Bean TreesBarbara KingsolverFictionThis was one of my mainstays as a teenager and I still love it.
Animal DreamsBarbara KingsolverFictionDitto what I wrote for the Bean Trees though I actually like this one even more.
Animal, Vegetable, MiracleBarbara KingsolverNon-fictionLoved this book about her family's experience growing/raising all their own food and more.
The Poisonwood BibleBarbara KingsolverFictionIncredible story - long and wonderful - about a family of missionaries who move to Africa and how they fall apart.
A Tree Grows in BrooklynBetty SmithFictionTHE book I read over and over as a girl. Still ranks among my top ten.
Ravencliffe - the Blythedale SeriesCarol GoodmanFiction (possibly YA)I really enjoyed this whole series - fantasy.
Little Fires EverywhereCeleste NgFictionLoved this book!
WildCheryl StrayedNon-fictionNo doubt you know all about it. If you haven't read it yet, you should!
AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi AdichieFictionWhat a book!!! She's a fantastically gifted writer.
EligibleCurtis SittenfeldFictionA modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice that I adored. I like all Curtis Sittenfeld's books - An American Wife (story inspired by Laura Bush) and Prep were great, too.
The Brothers KDavid James DuncanFictionThis is a great book. Even for people like me who hate baseball.
The Story of Edgar SawtelleDavid WroblewskiFictionRight up there with All the Light We Cannot See and Middlesex as one of the best books I've ever read.
A Discovery of WitchesDeborah HarknessFictionFirst of a trilogy about witches and vampires that happens to be quite erudite and well-written. This first one is great and the others are not quite as great but you'll still have to read them to find out what happens.
The Outlander SeriesDiana GabaldonFictionI LOVED this series. Really well-written, suspenseful, enjoyable series. Don't be dissuaded by the time traveling...
The Witch of Blackbird PondElizabeth George SpeareFiction (YA)Another of my favorite books as a young adult. Set in colonial New England.
Eat, Pray, LoveElizabeth GilbertNon-fiction (memoir)Don't think about Julia Roberts in the film version or all the hype and commercialization of this book - I thought it was really a wonderful book.
The Signature of All ThingsElizabeth GilbertFiction I put this up there with All the Light We Cannot See and Edgar Sawtelle as one of the best books I've read.
Broken OpenElizabeth LesserNon-fiction (memoir/spirituality)An excellent book by my mom-in-law (no, I am NOT biased, a lot of people love it) about the power of hard times to help us grow.
MarrowElizabeth LesserNon-fiction (memoir)A moving book by my wonderful mom-in-law about the journey she went on with her beloved sister, my aunt Maggie, when she got cancer.
A Little PrincessFrances Hodgson BurnettFiction (YA)One of the books I read over and over again as a girl.
The Secret GardenFrances Hodgson BurnettFiction (YA)Loved this one and read it over and over as a kid.
A Man Called OveFredrik BackmamFictionTook me a little while to get into this but then I was hooked. And moved.
100 Years of SolitudeGabriel Garcia MarquezFictionThese were books I loved in highschool.
Love in the Time of CholeraGabriel Garcia MarquezFictionMagical realism to the max!
Caleb's CrossingGeraldine BrooksFictionI love historical fiction and am also fascinated with books set in Colonial times in the NE US so...
MarchGeraldine BrooksFictionThe story of the dad in Little Women
Year of WondersGeraldine BrooksFictionNovel about the plague - quite good.
The Dance of IntimacyHarriet LernerNon-fiction (psychology)This set of books is incredibly eye-opening! I could feel the new grooves forming in my brain as I read...
The Dance of AngerHarriet LernerNon-fiction (psychology)Ditto.
SiddharthaHermann HesseFictionAnother formative book I read in my teens that I'd probably get a lot more out of now :)
AtonementIan McKewenFictionMade me sad but I loved it.
Daughter of FortuneIsabel AllendeFictionI always enjoy her books - this was one of my favorites
The Lord of the Rings TrilogyJ.R. TolkienFictionClassics for a reason!
American PicturesJacob HoldtNon-fictionThis was a really formative book for me and taught me a lot about human nature and America and race and class. Fascinating. I ended up writing my senior thesis (for my pysc-soc joint major) about it.
All Creatures Great and Small (whole series)James HerriotNon-fiction (memoir/animals)Dr. James Herriot must surely have been England's best country vet. And also one hell of a brilliant comedic writer. His love for his life and his patients shines through on every page. I can't recommend this whole series highly enough.
Pride and PrejudiceJane AustenFictionI read it over and over again. Like comfort food.
The Glass CastleJeanette WallsNon-fiction (memoir)Incredible, devastating memoir
Half-Broke HorsesJeanette WallsNon-fiction (memoir)Another incredible, devastating memoir
MiddlesexJeffrey EugenidesFictionOne of my all-time favorite books - an incredible story and beautifully written.
Manhattan BeachJennifer EganFictionRead this recently and got completely sucked in and now want to read everything she's written.
The NamesakeJhumpa LahiriFiction
LongbournJo BakerFictionStory of some of the servants in the Bennet household from Pride & Prejudice. As a Pride and Prejudice fan, I have read many spin-offs (most of them are not anything to write home about) but this one was beautifully written and stands on its own solidly without the Austen conceit.
The Year of Magical ThinkingJoan DidionNon-fiction (memoir)A beautiful, fascinating, completely heartbreaking book - non-fiction.
The Fault in Our StarsJohn GreenFictionTouching and very real.
Turtles All the Way DownJohn GreenFictionLove his ability to write wonderful female characters and that his heroine struggles with mental illness.
The Cider House RulesJohn IrvingFictionAlso managed to love the movie after reading the book which is rare.
A Prayer for Owen MeanyJohn IrvingFictionI just loved the characters and the sense of time and place so much.
Catch-22Joseph HellerFictionRead this in my teens - it was very formative.
Are You There God? It's Me, MargaretJudy BlumeFiction (YA)Another of the books I read over and over again in my early teens.
Starry Sally J. Friedman As HerselfJudy BlumeFiction (YA)And another one of the books I read repeatedly when I was maybe 11 or 12.
DeenieJudy BlumeFiction (YA)Another book I read a number of times in my tweens.
Bridge to TerabithiaKatherine PatersonFiction (YA)another book I read and re-read as a kid. Kind of heavy but a wonderful read.
The HelpKathryn StockettFictionGripping story
Touched With FireKay JamisonNon-fiction (memoir/psychology)Eye-opening memoir/psychology book by a doctor who also happens to suffer from bipolar disorder.
One Flew Over the Cuckoos NestKen KeseyFictionwow! Read this as a teenager, still think about it sometimes.
Anne of Green Gables SeriesL.M. MontgomeryFiction (YA)These were a mainstay of my early teen years and I still re-read them as the comfort food of life, along with Pride and Prejudice.
Lonesome DoveLarry McMurtryFictionDidn't read this until I was in my mid-30's and then devoured it and the sequel. Incredible book.
Little House on the Prairie SeriesLaura Ingalls WilderFiction (YA)I read these as an adult for the first time and loved them. Then I read them to my older son who also loved them (I think he was 6 or 7 at the time)
The Diviners SeriesLibba BrayFiction (YA)A great fantasy series which I think is probably technically young adult.
EuphoriaLily KingFictionLoosely inspired by the life of Margaret Mead and a totally gripping book.
ShrillLindy WestNon-fiction (memoir)As a woman, this was an important book to read. Lindy West is one seriously smart, funny person and she's done suffering fools.
A Summer To DieLois LowryFiction (YA)One of my favorite books as a teenager, I read it over and over. It's sad but great.
Captain Corelli's MandolinLouis de BernièresFictionSad but beautiful
The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No HorseLouise ErdrichFictionI LOVE all her books though I think this one may be my favorite. I recommend reading them all.
The Plague of DovesLouise ErdrichFictionAlso especially enjoyed this one by Louise Erdrich and read her whole series for kids (kind of like Little House on the Prairie from the point of view of the Indians) to my older son after reading Little House on the Prairie to him - we both loved them.
The Birchbark House seriesLouise ErdrichFiction (YA)Read these to my son when he was 6 or 7 as a counterpoint to the Little House on the Prairie series and think they are the bomb and provide a really important perspective.
Harriet the SpyLouise FitzhughFiction (YA)A weird but great book that I read a number of times as a kid
Gone With the WindMargaret MitchellFictionDidn't read this until my late 30's - no wonder it's a classic. What a great story!
The Mists of AvalonMarion Zimmer BradleyFictionI remember staying up until 4 AM to finish this. Couldn't put it down. Arthurian legends from the female perspective.
Winter's TaleMark HelprinFictionToo complicated and fantastical a tale to attempt to summarize but masterfully written.
The Liars ClubMary KarrNon-fiction (memoir)Amazing memoir
The InterestingsMeg WollitzerFictionReally absorbing story about a group of friends who meet at an arts summer camp in their teens and go from there.
The Female PersuasionMeg WollitzerFictionFascinating story. Kinda wonder if she's been to Omega!
Long Ago In FranceMFK FisherMemoir (food)If you enjoy food and like France, you've kinda got to read this one.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & ClayMichael ChabonFictionAn epic story - read it many years ago and remember it fondly
MoonglowMichael ChabonFiction (memoir)A remarkably beautifully written novel that is loosely based on his own family.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My CryMildred D. TaylorFiction (YA)Read this numerous times as a girl, about an African American girl named Cassie and her family in Mississippi.
The House at TynefordNatasha SolomonsFictionI love this book and am always amazed no one has heard of it. Beautifully written and a bit haunting.
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a HatOliver SacksNon-fiction (science/medicine)He was a great writer and these are just a fascinating glimpse into how the human brain works (or doesn't work)
News of the WorldPaulette JilesFictionTouching book about an older gentleman tasked with transporting a 10 year old girl who'd been captured by the Kiowa back to her relations in Texas (though she does not want to go back.)
When Things Fall ApartPema ChodronNon-Fiction (spirituality/religion)I read this at a time when things were indeed falling apart in my life and found it somewhat helpful.
A Tale for the Time BeingRuth OzekiFictionReading this right now and find it gripping and fascinating after taking a little while to get into it.
Tender At The BoneRuth ReichlMemoir I really enjoy all her books - she's a good writer and very honest about her upbringing and her struggles. And the food aspect is always great, too.
The Princess BrideS. MorgensternFictionMy highschool English teacher recommended this to me in 11th grade. I was skeptical that it could be as good as the movie (which I already loved) but it is even better.
Into the Wilderness SeriesSara DonatiFictionI really love this whole series although the first book is my favorite. I've read it many times. It's a sort of spin-off of the Last of the Mohicans and follows Hawkeye's adopted son's family through quite a lot of twists and turns and generations.
Island of the Blue DolphinsScott O'DellFiction (YA)Another book I absolutely adored as a young adult about a young Indian girl who gets left behind on her island off the coast of California and survives for decades.
Cold Comfort FarmStella GibbonsFictionA book I adore - it's a satirical novel making fun of all the pastoral novels that were being written in that period, I believe though I just found it charmingly funny and zany. And I also love the movie they made of it:
Mermaid ChairSue Monk KiddFictionI wish her books had better covers because she's a wonderful writer and the chicklit cheesiness of them rely belies their contents.