Sunday, October 17, 2010

Six On Sunday - Fiction

I get a little jittery when pressed to name my six favorite anythings. I don't like being tied down to my answers, because what if I'm wrong? What if I think these are my six favorites, but in reality, I'm forgetting the very best of all?

So, these are most certainly not my six favorite books, but they are six that are burned into my brains. They are fantastic enough that I own my own copy of most. It comforts me to know that they're up on my shelf, tucked in like permanent overnight company. They are so good that I have read some of them more than once, and being a girl wired for surprises, well, that's just not like me.

http://www.internationalbookseller.com/Bollettino_Novita/marzo09/eng%20the%20help.jpg

Law, this book changed my life. I am only a little embarrassed to say that I caught myself thinking in Aibie's dialect. It couldn't be helped. I was in up to my eyeballs. This book moved me every which way but wrong. Throughout the book, I would say to Cory, "This is why I could never write a novel." It is sublimely well-written and pieced together in a way that I cannot comprehend putting down on paper. It makes my noggin hurt a little just to think about it.

This is a much-hyped book that just so happens to meet expectations. Do yourself a favor. Read the book.

http://images.indiebound.com/891/287/9780452287891.jpg

I read this several years ago, but it goes down in history as a classic. I remember cranking up the electric blanket in my old house and whiling the whole evening away. I think I may have even kissed the cover of this book, which I am known to do when the situation warrants it. (Cory thinks it's funny, but I just think it's pure instinct.) I fell hard for the way this story was written. It was entirely captivating and read almost like a song. It mattered to me. I rued the day that I turned the last page.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/510F9V411WL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

It's true, I'm a bit of an Elizabeth Berg fiend. But hey - there are worse things. I have read every novel she has written with one exception, and I'll leave that up to you to figure out. My girl Sarah introduced me to Berg back in the day, when I manned the rental car desk at the airport. I'll be darned if I didn't read a book a day under the fluorescent glare and baggage claim buzz.

I have relished every book but one (not mentioning any names) but this one is a stand-out. It is written from the perspective of 13-year old Katie Nash and let me tell you - it takes me right back to the blushing awkwardness and achy melodrama. It tells the tale so well of teetering along that wobbly stretch between child and adult. It's spot-on and wicked funny and heart-breakingly poignant.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516141H7V0L._SL500_.jpg

First of all - beautiful cover, no? I have always and will forever continue to judge a book by its cover and this one was both haunting and beautiful. Although it has been several years, I remember this not being a light, breezy read. It required more effort than some, but paid off in spades.

http://newbiecritics.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/the-secret-life-of-bees.jpg

A good book, in my mind, is more about the characters than the plot-line. I fell into this story and didn't surface until I had devoured it all. The honeybee imagery was a sweet note lilting about throughout this touching book. You will smell the sugar from the very first paragraph. Your heart will be bruised and mended and wrapped up like a warm biscuit. You're allowed to watch the movie, which I also loved, but read this first.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_7fa1J7VzSuc/R8hKuTuQtvI/AAAAAAAAAFw/6KJda30MwE0/s320/Opposite%2Bof%2BLove.jpg
Julie Buxbaum made me cry. She made me laugh and laugh and laugh, but in the end, I was on my couch, in the quiet of the night, boo-hooing to the crickets.

I loved this book so much, I emailed the author.

I am 31 and an avid reader of fiction. I finished your book, The Opposite of Love, over a week ago and am now accruing late fees at the library just so that I don't have to return it quite yet. I have never felt compelled to contact an author before, so this is a first for me. I loved your book. I have been raving about it. I sent my best friend on a mad dash to "Go, find the book! Hurry!"

It seems to me that well-written, engaging books about women like me (at least in some capacity) are hard to come by. I am turned off by chick lit - the kind that makes me feel as though it was churned out in a factory where they dump in several attractive, semi-witty characters and a few plot twists, scramble them up, and print a different combination out every few months. Your book was a breath of fresh air. It was compelling, interesting, funny, intelligent, well-written and in the end, made me cry fairly hard, which is always a sign of goodness, in my view.
She returned my email and sent me an autographed name-plate, which made me love her even more.

This book, more so than the others, is definitely rated PG-13. Don't say I didn't warn you.


So there you have it. My Six on Sunday. I may very well need to do a Part II as I remember more literary gems. (What am I missing, SJH?)

http://www.tantor.com/BookImage/1171_LittleBee_D.jpg

In the meantime, I'm reading this.

Stay tuned!

55 comments:

  1. Thank you sooo much for sharing these. I, too have read every novel by Elizabeth Berg. The Help is definitely on my fav list. The Secret Life of Bees I loved too and now I have three more books to look forward to!

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  2. Yay, I'm finally making/having time to read again and a couple of these sound pretty good. I'll be adding them to my Amazon wish list right now! Thanks for sharing :)

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  3. I am reading the Help right now, and absolutely loving it! I haven't read any of the others, but can't wait to check some of them out! I typically don't read much fiction, but have just started and am really liking what I have read so far!

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  4. Just finished The Help and it was amazing!! Definitely a book to cause one to reflect on our belief system and how we treat others who are different than us) Love this book !!

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  5. Law have mercy, I done wrote up a big nice comment and the internets ate it. I was sayin' Minnie that I done gone be eternally grateful for you tellin' me to read The Help. Mmmhmm....mercy me it was a good book. I just done got the book 'Never Change' up from the li-barry yesterday, and I'm worried now it be the book you done never read from Ms. Berg. Law, if it is, I'm gone read it to spite you.

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  6. i'm so glad you did this post! i too *loved* the help and secret life of bees...this summer i devoured guernsey literary and potato peel pie society and the maisie dobbs series...you MUST read them! i haven't had books that speak to my soul for a long time now but those books were *gems*...

    i'm always glad to talk adult fiction books...after reviewing all the young adult books for my job as a middle school librarian, i get vampired out... ;0)

    prairie hugs,
    kristin

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  7. I just read The Help. Thanks for recommending it. Now I have 5 more to look forward to.

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  8. Oooooo... Little Bee is good! We seem to have similar taste in novels - I've read and enjoyed many of the books listed.
    I have a suggestion for you. It's up for the Booker Prize this year and the author lives in my neighbourhood. I think it's brilliant. Emma Donoghue's "Room". So good.
    I love to read your blog. Poignant, funny, heart warming and written with a rare, unmistakeable voice. Perhaps you should consider a book of your own.

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  9. What a great list! I've read four of the six and seeing that you have such good taste, immediately added the two I hadn't read to my library list. I just finished "The Passion of Mary-Margaret" by Lisa Samson...talk about getting under your skin and making you think. It was great despite it's slow start. Hope you keep adding to the list!

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  10. Oh how I loved the Help! I also loved Secret Life of Bees. Have you ever read Jan Karon's Mitford series. I so love them and couldn't wait for the next one to come out to see what the characters were up to. I have so many favorites I can't list them. Most involve some quirky characters that I get caught up in and don't want the story to end.
    I just bought Little Bee for part of my sister's birthday gift and told her I want to borrow it! haha
    I am going to check out some of your other ones. I think you could hammer out a novel worthy of my money! I love your blogs and those adoption stories don't come soon enough!!

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  11. thank you!!!!! i love, love, love book lists from bloggers (and college 'acquaintances')! little bee....wow! that was a hard, hard story. powerful!

    i just put "love walked in" on reserve at our library...like right after i read what you had to say about it.

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  12. oh I am so excited about your book recommendations. I will trust your judgment since I LOVED The Help. I grew up in Mississippi and remember well in the early 70's the help that took care of my wealthier friends. The book and it's characters are true to from and my mom told me much of the details had a lot of the local upper crust stirred up. going to order on amazon now so I can hunker down for the cold winter ahead.
    Blessings,

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  13. OH YEAH YEAH YEAH!!! I am writing each one of these down. I trust you so much I will go out and buy each one in turn:) I love good fiction, that's still 'chick lit', that's well written. Hard to find. Bless you:)

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  14. I have been looking for something I'm excited to read, so thank you for this list! I've read a couple, but those I haven't read yet I just added to my Amazon list.

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  15. I see a couple of my favorites in there! I just picked up Love Walked In at a library book sale and I am so glad to finally own a copy. I tried to read her next book but I couldn't. Did you read it? And I have Little Bee in my stack of books to read.

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  16. Ooh--we clearly have similar taste in books, so now I HAVE to go get The Opposite of Love, the only one I don't yet have. Thanks for the great recommendation!

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  17. Ditto on "Love Walked In" and "The Help". I feel the urge to name something in my life "Skeeter". My sister has had my copy of LWI for about 2 years now and STILL has not read it. Have you read "Belong To Me" {the follow up}? Wonderful too. "Little Bee" is a strong book. Sticks with you. Thanks for sharing your favs!

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  18. Thanks for sharing your list. I have the first one in a pile of several to read... now to just get the time!

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  19. I am saving this list as I have already read 3 of them and loved each of them very much. I think the book I am reading now is going to be a keeper too. I'm looking forward to having more time to read very soon!

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  20. Must read your suggestions. I am always looking for good books to read. Might I suggest, "The Secret Daughter" and (not light reading) "Lullabies for Little Criminals"

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  21. I just added the books I didn't have to my "to read" list. Thanks for the recommendations. I tried to read Secret Life of Bees and just could not get into it. I didn't even finish it. :(

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  22. This was great! I love knowing what you are reading, and actually was going to ask the other night. I end my day with a good book and a cup of tea, I have been thinking about adding a book review on my blog. Love to see your picks, I have read one of them...so now I get to add to my book list! : )

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  23. Oooooh, yes, do a part 2! I've read half of your recommendations, and I wholeheartedly agree. I'm putting the others on my TBR list. Can't wait:)

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  24. Just discovered your blog and I love to read so thank you for your list. I am off to see what our local library has from it.
    I gave myself a challenge this year, reading 52 books in 52 weeks.
    http://createcorner.blogspot.com/

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  25. ah! new titles for my must-read list. (so much of what i've read lately has felt like a sad use of a perfectly innocuous tree, so i am grateful for this post.)

    ps have you tried 'mermaid chair' by sue monk kidd? it was difficult and most definitely pg-13, but i remember connecting to it more than to 'bees.' and weeping. oh, the weeping.

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  26. Secret Life of Bees is so fabulous. Have you ever read "The Center of Everything"? It's a good read too.

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  27. you may disagree, but i really do think you could write a book - a really good one. you have a unique talent for putting thoughts into words, and words onto paper (or keyboard i guess). keep on writing, don't stop :)

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  28. Thanks so much for sharing your list, I'm heading out to the library today and really needed some advice. Have a great day!

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  29. Well that's helpful. I've read a couple of them, but yay...something new to add to my list. I've been in dire need of something good to read.

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  30. I'm right in the middle of The Help and loving it! And I like that you kiss books from time to time, if the moment calls for it. :)
    Thanks for the recommendations!

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  31. First off, Jamie -- YES, Never Change is a great one! Both Shan and I LOVED it! Ok, lovey dos - I will email you a few that came to mind for your next six. Also, how much do I love that I have read 5 of your 6 and that 4 of your 6 hold the same beloved spot on my bookshelf. And YES, I know I need help in reading The Help. I really need to get back into reading!

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  32. I loved The Help and Secret Life of Bees. Awesome books. I can't wait to read the rest of these. Right now I'm finishing up The Heart is a Lonely Hunter...with a title like that, it just has to be read!

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  33. let's chat when you finish little bee. xoxo

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  34. since you have a few of my all time faves on your list i know that you will also love Little Bee.....it is in my top 10. enjoy

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  35. well I LOVE to read, I am now going to have to read, the opposite of love and the help. those sounded best to me.
    I am a HUGE Ted Dekker fan. I know some may be turned off by the themes of his books, but actually, they all have a hidden theme,
    God's love. Have you ever read his books?

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  36. Thanks so much for some new book ideas! BTW - Haven Kimmel's "A Girl Named Zippy" is one of my all time favorites. Hope you can check it out - it's a different kind of story than "The Solace..." Thanks for sharing. :-)

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  37. I've read most of these books and I loved them, so now I'll have to add the help and true to form on my list. I'm an avid reader, too, so if you ever want any book suggestions I have a nice long list of books I read this year on my sidebar of the blog. Most are definite winners with only a few losers! :)

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  38. Well ladies, it sounds like we have a bunch in common. Maybe we should start a blogosphere book club?!

    I really enjoyed The Forgotten Garden. It's a mystery about an orphan who years later finds her way home.

    And thanks for the recommendations, I found a few new ones to add to the library list. Cheers!

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  39. i love that you did this. what a good idea. i've read secret life of bees, but none of the others, so have ordered them through my library. big hugs. xo

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  40. I haven't read any of these...but I have been wanting to real The Help for forever!

    I just finished Little Bee. Breathtaking! That is all I can say. I had to remind myself to breathe.

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  41. Thanks for your top six. A few new titles to add to my Kindle for those gusty, blustery, wet and windy autumn days to come.

    Chris

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  42. no. way.

    the top 4 books are ones i would call my favorites too.

    the last 2 i haven't read. i usually go to amazon and type in one of the books i liked to find what "customers have also bought."

    thanks for these tips.

    i will have read them before december hits.

    thank you.

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  43. Thanks for new reading ideas! This is the season for reading...however, in most seasons I can be found with a book on my nightstand. I read The Help too, since both you and Coop Keeper recommended it. Loved it! How about top 6 fav. movies?

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  44. We obviously have the same taste in books. I've read several and LOVED them. So thanks for the suggestions. It gives me a few more to look forward to. Can't wait until you post another similar post so I can find even more great reads.
    BTW, I've never heard someone admit that they kiss their book. I had to show this post to my husband to prove I'm not the only one. =)

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  45. thank you thank you for sharing these....definitely ones I want to add to my list...I have read when love walked in...loved it!

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  46. I too LOVE Elizabeth Berg...will drive crazy trying to figure out which one you haven't read...the Oprah one?? I loved The Help, Love The Secret Life Of Bees, I have The Solace of Leaving Early waiting to be read and I also just started Little Bee. Do you read Anita Shreve at all?

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  47. Perfect timing! I have been aching for a few good books to read! Thanks for the suggestions!

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  48. I needed a good list of book recommendations right about now. Thanks!

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  49. I, too, would love to know which Elizabeth Berg book you dislike. Is it one I should avoid?

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  50. Honey, we could be sisters. Elizabeth Berg is my all-time favorite author. I haven't read all-but-one of her books, but I've read most. I even went to one of her signings once . . . does that count for anything?

    The Help is one of my all-time faves too. Secret Life of Bees. Amazing.

    And while we're on Bee-books, you HAVE to write something about Little Bee when you're finished. I'm on my second turn through that one and loving it just as much the second time. Gosh, what an amazing read.

    I love the way you write. :)

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  51. It appears I now have 6 more books to at to the "to be read" pile on my nightstand. Sadly, that pile is already 13 - sorry, 14 - books deep. I will catch up, I swear I will... some day. :)

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  52. Thanks SO much for the book recommendations. I just finished The Help and L-O-V-E-D it! I love stories centered around the dynamics of women being women. If you have the time, check out The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. It rolls with the women centered theme and adds a great hitorical relfection of the time period (way back in the Bible days, Old Testament style) as well. Happy Reading:)

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  53. You have posted a very interesting article. Keep it up!

    Good Books To Read.

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