Lists

My Top 5 Best Beach Reads

With the 4th of July coming up, the official beginning of summer, and lovely weather here in Northern Illinois, I thought I would share my picks for best beach reads.

1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
This is an adorable book that covers some sadness with humor and grace. The story is told through letters and telegrams, which makes it easy to stop and then pick it back up. A young female author is living in post-WWII London when she is contacted by a gentleman living on Guernsey. He has received a book she once owned and was wondering about others like it. This correspondence grows into a friendship and reveals a tale of daring, friendship, and community spirit.

2. Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff by Christopher Moore
I will warn this is not for people who take Christianity literally or very seriously. This book is a hilarious reinterpretation of Christ’s childhood as recounted by his best friend Biff. It is riotously funny, especially if you have some background in New Testament theology. I won’t spoil any more of it, it’s too good to be ruined.

3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This is the inspiring, delightful tale of a young boy’s quest for a buried treasure. Along the way he meets an old shopkeeper, travels by caravan across the Sahara, and finds his life’s destiny. It’s short and an easy read but enthralling and warm hearted. Even if you aren’t planning a beach trip this summer, read this book. You won’t regret it.

4. Austenland by Shannon Hale
For all you Jane Austen lovers! A young woman who is obsessed with a certain Mr. Darcy finds herself on an all expenses paid vacation to England. She arrives at a resort which caters to Austen fans. She must dress and act like a young woman of Georgian England. At first she thinks this will be the best two weeks of her life, until all goes horribly awry. This book is charming and whimsical. And perfect for those with their own Darcy obsession.

5. A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
Miss Marple goes on holiday to the Caribbean. And as is the case with all Miss Marple stories, murder has followed her there. Armed with a life’s worth of experiences and a sharp eye, Miss Marple takes on the case and saves the day. What could be better than a little mystery and intrigue while spending a day in the sand and surf?

What are some of your favorite books to read at the beach? Leave suggestions in the comment!

Have a great weekend!
– K

P.S. I will not be able to get another The Klone and I recap up today. But I’ll try and do a double recap on Monday!

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My Ever Expanding To Be Read Book List

These are books that have either been personally recommended to me or that have called out to me through other people’s reviews.

  • “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares” by Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan
  • “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay
  • “The Talk-Funny Girl” by Roland Merullo
  • “Ella MInnow Pea” by Mark Dunn
  • “The Hour of the Star” by Clarice Lispector
  • “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
  • “Looking For Alaska” by John Green
  • “Leaving the Atocha Station” by Ben Lerner
  • “The Sherlockian” by Graham Moore
  • “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman
  • “Incendiary” by Chris Cleave
  • “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight” by Alexandra Fuller
  • “A Bend In The River” by V.S. Naipaul
  • “King Leopold’s Ghost” by Adam Mockschild
  • “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe
  • “Emma’s War” by Deborah Scroggins
  • “Taft 2012” by Jason Heller
  • “Tamar” by Mal Peet
  • “Lessons In French” by Laura Kinsale
  • “Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys
  • “The Somnambulist” by Jonathan Barnes
  • “Season of Light” by Katharine McMahon
  • “Snow Flower & The Secret Fan” by Lisa See

I keep a running list in the back of a leather-bound notebook I carry everywhere with me. So far, this seems like a good system. Whenever I run across a sale, a used bookstore, or a garage sale I can easily pick out books from my list to add to my library, ensuring that whenever the urge strikes me to read them it’s at arms reach.

What’s your system for keeping track of the books you want to read? Do you have any books I should add to my list?

Happy Reading!

-K

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BBC’s The Big Read- Top 200 Books

Found this linked by someone somewhere (sorry) and decided to take it on as a personal, lifelong challenge. Here are the Top 200 most loved books as voted on by the British Public. I’m going to show which ones I’ve read (strikethrough) and which I’ve started but not finished (italicized) and I’ll update it frequently. My goal will to be to read all of them before I die (whenever that should be) and whenever I’m looking for a new book, I’ll look here first. Whether that will ultimately work or not, remains to be seen.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (read Northern Lights and the beginning of The Subtle Knife)
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George’s Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O’Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte’s Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. LawrenceLife of Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews

So, I’ve got a ways to go. But many of these books are already on my radar and are books I’ve been wanting to read but haven’t gotten around to. And some of them I have no desire (other than completing this arbitrary list) to read.

Here goes nothing!

-K

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Best Mothers In Literature

Mother’s Day is this Sunday (reminder for all of you who haven’t gotten your mother’s anything yet). So, I’m listing my designation for 5 Best Literary Mothers.

1. Molly Weasley (Harry Potter)
Molly Weasley is the epitome of the great mom. She has a loving heart, open arms, and great cooking. She also opens her house and her heart to the orphaned Harry, which makes my heart melt. Plus, in Deathly Hallows, her infamous “Not my daughter, you bitch!” is so kick-ass it needs no further explanation.

 

 

2. Caroline Ingalls (Little House on the Prairie)
Another classic mother who bears little explanation. Apart from being a traditional maternal figure, she also managed a household in the middle of nowhere frontier. And I give her a lot of credit for that, it certainly couldn’t have been easy.

 

3. Juliet Ashton (Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society)
If you haven’t read this book yet, I suggest you do. It’s an adorable book about an amazing group of people dealing with a heart breaking situation. Juliet is not motherly in the traditional sense. But she becomes a maternal figure for a little orphaned girl. The interaction between Juliet and the little girl is what puts her on this list, its innocent and precious.

4. Sarah (Little Bee)
Another book you should pick up immediately if you haven’t read it yet. Sarah definitely has her imperfections and indiscretions but that is what makes her so realistic and human. The fact that she is willing to go to the ends of the earth (literally) for a young girl she barely knows, shows off her motherly affection.

5. Mrs. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice)
Okay, so Mrs. Bennet is not a very good mother in the strictest of terms. But she is certainly memorable. And, at least in my case, she reminds me all too much of my own mother sometimes. She obviously loves her daughters, she just has an odd way of showing it.

One final thought, as I was thinking up this list, I realized how many of my favorite books have indifferent or non-existent mothers. It seems that if if you want a complex character, you give them a dysfunctional relationship with their mother. Perhaps Freud had a profound effect not on psychology but on literature.

Who are some of your favorite Moms in Literature? Are you doing anything special for you mom this Sunday?

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