Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Books I'm Glad Were Recommended To Me

A Top Ten meme from The Broke and The Bookish.

I'm always a little skeptical of book recommendations because -ehn- reading books for pleasure is one of those pursuits that I like to undertake for personal reasons, curiosity and spontaneity. If I'm in the mood for something heavy, then Bill Bryson or David Sedaris won't do. And if I'm in the mood for something light, then Dostoyevski won't do either. Books are one of those things in life where I figure it's okay to be selfish: I like what I like when I like it. So there.

On the other hand, though, there is something to be said for being nudged in a certain direction when you least expect it. I've had a few books thrust on me that turned out to be winners, steering me towards -or back into- a style of writing or genre that I had previously ignored.

Here, off the top of my head, are a few of them:

1. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon - simply put, I loved it. An acquaintance in a writing course I took some years ago gave me her copy and said, You Must Read This. Yeah, okay, whatever. The title alone gives me a rash. The What . . . and The Who . . . in The When? Oh please. But it didn't take more than a few pages for me to realize that this would be one of my all time favorites.

2. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - a friend had been hounding me for years to read this, but, ehn, well, I just don't do romances, see. And she's all, What? It's not a romance! Read it and be amazed. So I did and I was.

3. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - it was assigned reading for a book group, but -ugh- a family drama? Um, no thanks. Well, by the time I was finished I was a Kingsolver fan. It was so much more than 'just a family drama'; it was an adventure of place and time and relationships and words. Great story.

4. The Lion by Joseph Kessel - it's the story of a girl -also named Patricia, just saying- who grows up on her family's African game reserve and befriends a lion. I read this when I was thirteen and absolutely loved it. And the only reason I ever even noticed this book was because one of the cool high school girls was reading it. So I went to the library and checked it out too -heh- how cool was I now?

5. Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen - when this first came out, I was heavy into a memoir phase and was absolutely not in the mood for fiction, especially 1920s circus fiction? *shakes head* it just wasn't my thing. But I read it and liked it enough to renew my interest in fiction again. Lovely!

6. Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden - this was handed to me as a Must Read, but the description sounded kind of sketchy. How and where is the connection between the Natives of James Bay and the New York fashion industry? It was a bit of a stretch, I thought. But, wow, was this ever a fabulous and well written story. I loved it.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - oh, where to begin with this one? I don't even remember what grade I was in when this was assigned, 7th? 8th? 9th? Something like that. Anyway, I grumbled because  I was sure it would be boring. But, wow! It was fantastic, and has gone on to become one of my all time favorite books.

Previous Top Tens:
~Favorite Places To Read
~Books That Should Be Made Into Movies
~Bookish Pet Peeves

30 comments:

Ashley said...

The Curious Incident!! Oh! It's such a great book! It warms my heart to see that on your list!

I also loved The Poisonwood Bible. Kingsolver is definitely a talented writer.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Almost every book I've ever loved came to me via a book recommendation. Often recommended books sit for years in my TBR. Like you, I'm not always in the mood for a certain type of book right now.

Here's my gratitude list: Top Ten Books I'm Happy Were Recommended to Me. I hope you will stop by!

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

I didn't think I would like Water for Elephants either, but it was great! Great list :)

Megan said...

I definitely needed a little outside prodding to give The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time a shot, too. You're so right about the title, though, it just screams "this is the kind of book you will not like!" but I did, thanks to those recommendations. =)

Trish said...

ashley - I've been afraid to read Haddon's other book(s?) for fear of jinxing my love for Curious Incident. But Kingsolver? I'd like to read everything she ever wrote.

deb - funny how that happens, isn't it? It's good to have reader friends who help us push our boundaries.

alexis - yes, once I got going, I couldn't put it down.

megan - I'm always a little suspicious of wordy titles, but this one makes sense as soon as the reader gets to know Christopher.

Christina / Book Addict said...

I love TKAM! I named my dog after Scout. I also have been meaning to read Water for Elephants. Hopefully I can read it before I see the movie. Thanks for visiting my list!

Red said...

I'm impressed you liked To Kill a Mockingbird so young. I read it in 9th grade or something around there and was very meh on it. A friend convinced me to read it again a few years ago and I fell in love!

Trish said...

christina - that's funny about naming your dog scout. She was my favorite character and that's just the kind of thing I would have done too.

red - it's a good one to reread because I think its message is always relevant. It's also just a great story.

Loni said...

I totally forgot about To Kill A Mockingbird! A co-worker at an old job recommended it to me, brought in his copy to make sure I read. I loved it. Great list.

Dorothy A. said...

I recently finished Water for Elephants and I really enjoyed it.

The Curious Incident is on my TR list! I can't wait to get to it.

Karen said...

So many good books on your list. Curious Incident, Rebecca, The Poisonwood Bible and To Kill a Mockingbird are all fantastic. The others on your list I haven't read. Seen Water For Elephants mentioned quite a few times. Think I'm going to have to add it to my tr list.

I tend to go on whim too. Most of my favourite books/authors I have picked up myself. Lately though I have been listening to more and more recommendations and have found some great books (also some clunkers but that's the way it goes).

Lee said...

This is the type of list I'd really have to give a lot of thought about. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

Trish said...

loni - it's funny, but I often forget books from my youth for some reason. But they should really have a place of honor . . .

dorothy - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

karen - heh, yes, the clunkers. I probably wouldn't ever pick those up if it weren't for recommendations.

lee - putting together these lists reminds me why I fell in love with reading . . .

Sidne,the BCR said...

to kill a mocking bird, I liked. I've seen the water for elephants has made a few other bloggers list to. Now i want to read Rebecca, lol. Happy Reading to you. stop by and see my top 10

Two Bibliomaniacs said...

I also really enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Rebecca is also a great recommendation! One of these days I'll get around to Water for Elephants...

kathy@bookskidslike.com said...

Thanks for your comment on my Top Ten. I'll have to check into Water for Elephants...it sounds good!

Trish said...

sidne - rebecca makes it onto just about every book list I have here lol. It's a really surprisingly good psychological thriller.

two bibliomaniacs and kathy - yes, Water for Elephants is worth a closer look.

LibrarySnake said...

Oh, Rebecca, loved it!

here's mine:
http://carabosseslibrary.blogspot.com/2011/05/top-ten-tuesday.html

Birdie said...

Rebecca for the win!
Also, I am still trying to get around to Curious Incident.... *sigh* I'll get there one day.
Great list!

Tiny Library said...

There's some great titles on your list! I usually find recommendations work out well if the person who recommends them to me knows me quite well.

Brenna said...

I've had Rebecca on my TBR for awhile - every book blogger seems to love it. Next time I see it I'm going to buy it.

Jordyn said...

You've quite possibly convinced me to add The Poisonwood Bible to my list.

And as for the dog night-time book (gah! that title is too long!), this is one book that I bought from a used bookstore because I'd heard good things about it in passing. I really enjoyed it and later made my dad read it (I always give him things to read) and he enjoyed it as well. It's a surprisingly good book.

Also, I love your writing style here. I may have to follow the blog. :)

My List

booknympho said...

What a great list! I've got quite a few of these on the TBR but I hadn't heard of The Lion or Through Black Spruce. Want to look them up now! Thanks for stopping by my list! :)

Dani said...

I avoided The Poisonwood Bible for a long time because I for some reason thought it was Christian or heavily spiritual fiction. And then I read it and completely loved it! Kingsolver is great.

Everyone keeps recommending Rebecca to me, so I really must read it soon!

Trish said...

library snake and birdie - it's easy to see Rebecca as a classic! And, yeah, those bookshelf hangers-on . . . I've got a number of those too. I've had Swan Thieves on my TBR shelf for a couple of years and I just can't seem to get to it. Other books just keep getting in the way lol.

tiny library - yes, having the recommender know me does help, but every once in a while i go out on a limb and am sometimes pleasantly surprised.

brenna - oh you must! I don't think you'll be disappointed.

jordyn - hey thanks! Yes, titles can be a turnoff for me, same with a badly designed cover. Aren't used book stores great?!

booknympho - I haven't seen those on any other lists or blogs either. If you ever get to reading them, I'd love to know what you think.

Trish said...

dani - I think I remember thinking that about Poisonwood Bible too . . . but it so wasn't! Funny how we get these preconceived notions about a book.

LBC said...

I just bumped The Curious Incident... up to my to be read soon pile based on a recommendation.

Check out my list here

Tracy said...

I had to read 'To Kill A Mockingbird' for O level English - read it four times, could probably still write an essay on it, haven't been near it since! (But I ought to, it is a good story, beautifully-written)

And The Poisonwood Bible is one I want to read, after I read The Lacuna recently.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I've read ALL but 2 of these books and loved them all. Great picks.

Julia Writer said...

I read 'Water for Elephants' last year and loved it! Going to see the movie tomorrow, hope I'm not disappointed.