Wednesday, June 06, 2012

My Top Five Fave Books... EVER!

I've been hesitant to write a post about books for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I'm kind of a book snob.  I find that the more I read, the less impressed I am by most literature.  The majority of books that the general population loves I find to be mediocre at best.  I have been afraid that if I posted about books I'd seem all hoitey-toitey and immediately drive my readers away, never to return to that book brat who thinks she knows everything just because she's taught English for a couple of years.

The second reason I've been hesitant is because... well... most people think books are boring.  I guess I've been surrounded by seventeen year olds for too long, but I keep thinking that everyone in the world besides me hates reading.  I guess I've just been afraid that the second I brought up books on the blog you'd all roll your eyes at me, secretly think I'm totally boring, and put your heads down on your desks.

But I'm afraid no more!  I've read a lot of books, dang it, so why don't I share that knowledge of books with the world?!?!?  And so, without further ado, here they are... my top five favorite books of all time!


5.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

How I sell it to my students:  The book's about a girl, Francie, growing up in New York, but she's dirt poor and she has all these crazy experiences.  She's madly in love with her dad, but he dies.  Then she has her first real love, and her first real heartbreak.  Also, she's got this crazy, scandalous aunt who gets married every year and calls all of her husbands "John" even though that's never their name.

Why I really love it:  This is the first book I remember really loving as young girl.  Any little girl can relate to Francie's story, no matter where or when they live.  Francie's emotions are so real- her heartbreak, her struggles, her passion. The book comes to life with details and has enough eccentric characters to keep you interested.



4.  The Help

How I sell it to my students:  The narrator is hilarious and full of sass and wit.  She's a white woman in the South who believes that the black maids, "the help",  aren't treated right.  So she tries to help them out, bu she's got all these really bratty friends who treat the help like crap.  Highlights include a bunch of toilets being left on a front lawn and someone eating a cake with poo in it.  Yes.  It really happens.  Also, the narrator falls for a totally hot guy, and who doesn't love a little romance?!?  Plus, they made a movie out of this.  DID SOMEONE SAY MOVIE?!?!

Why I really love it:  The pace of the book is fantastic, and even though it's 400+ pages, it never feels slow.  Skeeter is a perfect protagonist, courageous and lovable and just a little bit crazy.  Plus, it gives a look of life in the south that we don't see very much, and it's a great way to understand a lot of our nation's racial history. There are very few books that I literally lose sleep over- but this was one.  I stayed up until 4:30 am finishing it on a hot summer night and when I finally finished it I laid in bed, wide eyed, and replaying my favorite scenes over and over.



3.  Catcher in the Rye

How I sell it to my students:  First off, this book has TONS of cussing!  This kid has got a major attitude problem and he pretty much hates his life and every adult in the world.   He thinks everyone is a moron or a phoney. He gets kicked out of school, but he doesn't dare tell his parents, so he just hangs out in New York for a couple of days until Christmas break.  Although he acts like a major jerk, you can tell he's actually a real softie.  Oh and there's crazy stuff like prostitutes in the book.  Oh, and he cusses.  And cusses.  Cusses up a storm.  Oh, and did I mention there's a prostitute?!?

Why I really love it:  Holden Caulfield is one of the most "real" characters I have ever read about.  The first time I read the book I remember feeling so clearly that it was a real life, miserable, seventeen year old writing about his life.  And it is.  The book is clearly "immoral" (There's a famous story in my family where my grandpa marched down to the high school and complained that his daughter, my mom, should never have to read such filth ), but I believe that something can still be quality literature and still be worth reading even if it doesn't seem to be teaching good morals.  Holden really is a good kid, as evidenced by his constant worrying over his little sister and his references to his dead brother.  Above all, he's just a confused kid trying to figure out life and his place in it, and isn't that what we're all trying to do?



2.  To Kill a Mockingbird

How I sell it to my students:  It starts a little slow, but if you're patient with it you get to see this crazy court scene where a black guy is accused of raping a really poor white woman.  He totally didn't do it and everybody knows it but the town is so racist that they send him to jail anyway.  Then there's this crazy shut in, Boo Radley, who lives down the street and never comes out and the whole town gossips about why he's in the house.  Then there's this insane twist at the end- this book seriously has one of the best and most redeeming endings of any books I've ever read where someone tries to kill someone but someone else rescues someone else.  (Plus, the author herself is somewhat psycho.  She only wrote this one book, got way famous for it, and is now a total recluse and never comes out in public, much like Boo.)

Why I really love it:  Ah, where to start.  This book is pretty much the epitome of good literature to me.  The courtroom scene is awesome, of course, and no matter how many times I've read it (3 times in the last 3 years) I always cry in the last chapter.  The book teaches such a good lesson about people, and not judging, and letting people be more than you think they are.  There is such disappointment in the book, but also such joy and hope.  And the eight year old narrator, Scout, is absolutely hilarious.  I usually can't stand child narrators because I find them incredibly unbelievable, but Scout is so down to earth and so real to life you feel like she lives next door.  My favorite line "Pass the damn ham".  And of course, there's Atticus, the lawyer who fights for the black man.  Atticus is so humble, so unassuming, and tries so hard to teach his kids what's right.  He's one of my all time favorite book characters and I get all choked up everytime he gives his courtroom monologue.  One of the most quality books out there and if you haven't read it you are doing yourself a great disservice.




1.  The Great Gatsby

How I sell it to my students:  There's this psycho guy, Gatsby, who's been obsessed with this girl for years.  He dated her, but she wouldn't marry him because he didn't have any money.  Instead she married someone else and now Gatsby bought a house across the lake and just spies on her.  Well, he finally gets the nerve to talk to her again and they start this affair but it's ok because her husband is having an affair too.  Then all the shiz hits the fan when her husband finds out and he starts fighting with Gatsby in a hotel room, and then there's this big car accident and someone really important dies and then someone shoots someone and then someone else shoots themself and it's so dramatic and crazy!  Plus they all party and drink all night long and just live these super crazy lives and it's just so much drama, you're going to love it!  Oh, and there's a movie coming out at Christmas and Leonardo Dicaprio is going to play Gatsby oh la la! DID SOMEONE SAY MOVIE?

Why I really love it:  The Great Gatsby is one of the most brilliant plots ever.  Everything interweaves so perfectly and the timing is so crucial and just when you thought a character wasn't important they come in to show they are more important than you ever imagined.  The story in and of itself is crazy enough to make you absolutely love the book, and then on top of that Fitzgerald laces the whole scandalous story with eloquent, beautiful language.  Each sentence is like poetry and he uses words like languid, supercilious, and corpulent.  Every time I read the book I pick up something I didn't before because there are so many layers of beautiful text.  Call me crazy, but they don't make authors like Fitzgerald anymore.

Now, go enjoy one of these books, will you?

And please don't call me a book snob.

Oh, and do me a favor and tell me YOUR top five faves, will you?  I'm looking for some good reading this summer.

37 comments:

  1. Yay so glad you posted these!!
    I love finding new books too read, that people have liked!
    So not nerdy to love a good book ;)
    Amy xo

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  2. Um, you are NOT a book snob. I've actually read all of these except The Help (I saw the movie).

    The Great Gatsby is awesome and I am so smitten with F. Scott. I probably like This Side of Paradise a little better but Gatsby always rocks.

    Catcher in the Rye is also on my top ten list along with Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, The Fault In Our Stars, Fahrenheit 451, Rebecca, Water for Elephants,Enchantment, and This Side of Paradise.

    Books are the best thing ever. Ever. EVER.

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  3. I have read all of these except for A Tree Grows in Brookyln.

    I'm actually just finishing The Help! It was a little slow for me, but intriguing enough to finish and that's saying something-- if a book bores me I put it down and never remember to pick it up again. I LOVE Skeeter. I find so many connections to myself in her and I love all of the character. It shocks me that that this was the South in the 1960s-- 50 years ago!! It's a powerful story.

    I read Catcher in the Rye, Great Gatsby, and To Kill a Mockingbird in high school. I loved Catcher, was indifferent to Gatsby, and I ADORED Mockingbird.

    I would have to add The Giver to this list. I read it for the first time in sixth grade and I still read it yearly. Also Ender's Game. It's so interesting and intricate and something completely out of character for me to like.

    PS I'm a book snob too. It's not a story thing, it's a writing thing. Is it terrible to think that I'm a better writer than many, many published authors? Maybe, but I'm talking about dinky little paperbacks, not serious novels. I tend to read the same things over and over because I am so wary about reading something new.

    PS You are welcome for the novel. It's okay-- I once wrote a novel myself, so I've got practice. ;)

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  4. i love love love your explanations. i've said it a million times but you really are the greatest teacher ever! if i had kiddos i would definitely send them your way!

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  5. Whew....I wasn't gonna read cuz I thought for sure that I would look like a literature loser compared to you, reading my smut and medicore garbage, and liking it;) I feel pretty good about myself though, I have read, and love, 4 out of your 5 fav books! Yah, maybe there is hope for me yet!

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  6. love your list! Do you have any other books you would suggest for a 20 year old that needs something else to do other than work and watch so you think you can dance and the bachelorette all summer long?

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  7. Great list! Books are far from boring!

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  8. I'm so not a book snob. At all. I will read pretty much anything I can get my hands on. I've read all of those except "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (those it's been on my list forever!)

    I love all of your choices. All of them. To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favorite though.
    And I agree with one of the commenters above me. Ender's Game is SO good, but it was something I never thought I would fall in love with. I think I have read it more times than any other book. Crazy.

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  9. I appreciate your overview of The Great Gatsby because I could NEVER understand why people liked it. I totally don't remember any of that and I only read it six(?) years ago. I added your first two to my reading list :)

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  10. I read anything I can get my hands on, but I do tend to turn my nose up at books that enthrall the masses. (But I broke down and read The Hunger Games). I've read all the books on your list. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my all-time favorites. I need to reread The Great Gatsby & Catcher in the Rye... I didn't like them too much in high school. I love The Help, and I've read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn three or four times. Good list!

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  11. Dude, I love all of these (except I haven't read Catcher in the Rye yet). You are totally not a book snob. It's called good literature!

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  12. This is a great list! Gatsby is definitely at the top of my list. Isn't the picture at the end of the book with Daisy and Tom sitting at the dinner table eating chicken and drinking beer incredibly haunting? When I read/taught it this year, that scene really stood out to me.

    Book snobs unite! :)

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  13. I am a book snob and you can call me that all you like! I would really like to get your opinion on more books, because I completely agree with a ton of stuff you've said. I have never read the first book you mentioned...but I want to now!

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  14. Loving this!

    so right as i started to read this post, i was thinking to myself "oh great. she's going to mention all these really highbrow books and i'm going to feel stupid" but, thankfully, it turns out that i feel really smart now because i have read and loved 3/5 of your faves and am putting the other 2 on my summer reading list for sure...

    as soon as i get rid of this 50 shades junk. i can't get past chapter 7. it;s just THAT bad and frankly, it's taking up valuable space that would be better occupied by The Help.

    thanks for the reccomendations!!!

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  15. Great choices! I'm finally reading The Great Gatsby for the first time and so far I love it.

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  16. I read and loved your #4 and #5. I haven't read To Kill since I was in 9th grade and I'm sure I missed some assigned readings and didn't really "get it" so I should probably read it again. And the other two I should just read!

    Pride and Prejudice, I've read it like 20 times and I always end up talking in a British accent the rest of the day. But I like too much chick flick lit to make a legit top 5 list.

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  17. Hmmm . . . these seem like really good books and I've never read them!! The Help is certainly on my list to read soon. As for books that I think are awesome . . . Moydie and I are kind of obsessed with fantasy fiction (we're nerds) but we really like anything Brandon Sanderson writes (the Mistborn series especially) and there's this new author named Patrick Rothfuss who is writing a trilogy and we've read his first book "The Name of the Wind" and loved it, but now we're on the second "The Wise Man's Fear" and we doubly love it . . . Just some ideas. :)

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  18. Um, this is amazing. My favorite part is how you sell it to your students because, let's face it, who actually READS nowadays? ; ) Your faves are some of my faves, and I've got those typical ones like "Pride and Prejudice" and my favorite was always "Little Women", but I also love me some Jodi Picoult and Kate Morton, and I really want to read "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" by Mindy Kaling.

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  19. Your top 3 are my top 3. I guess that makes us book snobs together. Great picks!

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  20. Love this post Bon. I want to read the Great Gatsby now. I read it in high school but can't remember much. i just finished Cannery Row and loved it. I'm on a Steinbeck kick. You've read East of Eden, right? I'm reading it now for the second time and it is darker than I remember, but wow, a great story.

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  21. I've always wanted to read the catcher in the rye and to kill a mocking bird. I still have no time for now though. But they seem very interesting.

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  22. I've read all but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. But since you have such awesome taste in books, I may have to give it a try! I absolutely loved the other four books. I've been meaning to give Catcher in the Rye another read for a while now!

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  23. I must be a book snob, too, because I love 3 of your 5 books.

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  24. You're not a snob, you just know what you like, and what you are talking about! I'm no expert, and these may be super lame to you, but here are just a couple of books that have stuck with me and that I would recommend anyways.

    I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb. I read this loooong (almost 1000 pages) book when I was 14. I SHOULD NOT have been allowed to because it is definitely some heavy/adult material. I was a pretty mature teen though, so no damage done. Anyways, the main character is an identical twin to a brother who is schizophrenic. It's also about his life, which is crazy and involves a lot of twists. It's also about his (great?) grandfather's life, as the later part of the book is intermixed with the grandfather's memoir which describes his immigration to America and building his life here. This book was just so good. I'm not a literature expert, so I don't really know what to say other than that....oh, except that I recently downloaded it on my kindle so that I can read it again - 12 years later.

    The other is A State of Wonder by
    Ann Patchett. A pharmaceutical researcher has to travel deep into the rain forest to find two of her missing colleagues who are there researching a new fertility drug. It provides such rich imagery of the place, the people, and the main character's emotions. The moral ambiguity makes you feel like you are right there with the characters making the tough decisions.

    I hope you like 'em!

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  25. You have excellent taste in books, girl!

    To Kill a Mockingbird is definitely in my top 5. I'd also include "Weetzie Bat" by Francesca Lia Block, "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky, and "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation" by MT Anderson.

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  26. oh my word-- the last 4 are 4 of my top 5 :) plus the bible.

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  27. I'm a little nervous to share books to read, ya book snob. ;) hehe. You may have already read this, but East of Eden is terrific. I almost punched a wall because I was so angry at a character in this book. It has one of the best/worst villains too. I'm not sure how you feel about Jane Austen, but they are all fun, easy reads - I would read those over and over. Jane Eyre too. And I'm guessing you're not a huge fan of Stephanie Meyer, but I really liked her book The Host. Easy read, fun story line. Have fun reading this summer! :)

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  28. I am 16, and somewhat of a book snob myself, but I have read 3 of the 5, and loved them!

    I love old literature, and just about threw Twilight at the wall when I read it.
    You made my day, someone else understands why I love the books I do!

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  29. I've never read Catcher in the Rye or Great Gatsby, but I loved the other ones you mentioned. You have to remember that bloggers are most likely readers as well, so don't worry about sharing your love of reading with us! ;D

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  30. I absolutely loved "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini. It has the most controversial protagonist I have ever encountered. It's always on my independent study reading lists for my senior students. It's always a hit!

    Aside from that, I love the book related posts. I find your insights interesting. More importantly, it's a great procrastination when I should be marking the stack of essays to the right of my keyboard. Keep up the good work, Bon!

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  31. Just popping over here after reading your list of 5 hated books ... Moby Dick? My husband recently convinced me to watch the original movie with him ... sheeesh, that shiz is boring. Played with my iPad the whole time! But I did like Time Travellers Wife.

    As for this list of loved books .. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has always been at the top of my list too. As I type I have a brand new fresh copy of The Help by my Bedside .. Yes I'm a little late to the party but can't wait to crack it open. For me The Great Gatsby was one I could never finish. I should try it again. TKAM was the first 'adult' book I ever read.

    Right now I'm reading Water for Elephants. It's pretty good.

    Loulou

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  32. I could not agree with more on ALL of these books. Well done, sunshine. Well done.
    xoxo,
    Sierra
    Oh, Just Living the Dream

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  33. LOVE "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" one of my top faves too.

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  34. I taught English for 4 years, then had my daughter and am home with her for time being, but will return to the best job in the world in a few years :-) (your "nostalgia" post nearly made me cry).

    I too do not like most books that "everyone" love, for the same reasons you mentioned.

    This is an excellent list. I have taught Mockingbird and Gatsby. I actually can't even put words to how much I love Mockingbird (TKAM as we lovingly referred to it in my classroom). My students all guessed I would name my child Scout or Atticus…and I would have if my husband hadn't been such a party pooper ;-). I wrote on my blog once about how our decision to move to our small town was, in part, because it was a lot like Maycomb (http://kelseylynae.blogspot.com/2011/11/tired-old-town.html).
    I've read the book around 12 times, and I always cry when Rev. Sykes says, "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father is passing." Every time.

    Thanks for reading and teaching great books! Please post more of your favorites some time!

    (And I saw you say you wanted to read "In Cold Bold" again… yes! Great book. Eerie. Excellent- and Harper Lee helped Capote with it. I recently read "Columbine" by Cullen because it reminded me of the journalistic style of "In Cold Blood." )

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  35. ok. i knew i liked your blog form the fist sentence. lol. love you list!! i would add " where the red fern grows " ;)

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  36. Okay, I totally forgive you for Twilight now. Every single one of these books is a favourite with the exception of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", but that's because I haven't read it yet.

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  37. Oh-kaay, I need to up my game! I'm scouring the library for the ones listed here that I haven't read yet!

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