Tag Archives: top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesdays: Think!

11 Sep

After some consideration and a mild freak out about my new insane schedule, I’ve decided that this will be my last Top Ten Tuesday post for a while. It’s a bummer, as my top ten nonfiction books post really got my blog going (It’s still my most searched post. Most people viewing this blog are looking at that one post!), but it’s time consuming to put together these lists, and I don’t have too much time to consume right now.

Who knows? If the weekly topic moves me, I may bring back this feature! So, never say never!

But, for now, I  leave you with a few books that will make you think, as that was the theme this week.

1. Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy by Jostein Gaarder

I am not a philosopher in any way, shape or form. I find it all baffling. Reading Sophie’s World forces you to stretch your mind in many different ways as young Sophie learns all about the different important philosophers. Almost a textbook, this one will stick with you.

2. Anything by William Faulkner

I read As I Lay Dying my first term as an undergraduate English student, and it made me doubt my abilities. So confusing! I finished off my last term before graduating reading The Sound and the Fury. Sure, it still twist and has a whole bunch of different viewpoints with very particular voices, but I actually got it! Apparently, I learned something at college.

3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas is a collection of stories that take place in such disparate as a 18th century sailing vessel, 1970’s California and a post-apocalyptic wilderness, and yet they all connect. Plus, Mitchell arranged them like those Russian doll toys — they nest within each other. It messes with your brain a bit, but in a good way!

4. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

What would you do if your kid was a psychopath? How did he get to be this way? What is a mother’s love? Is it intrinsic? I still can’t get these questions out of my head after reading it a couple months ago. It lingers.

5. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

What is real? Who is being haunted? Who is writing all these footnotes? Whose story, really, is this? Part art piece, part novel, part online cult, House of Leaves is nearly indescribable.

6. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

One of my friends, after reading this, couldn’t stop defining people by their “lightness” or their “heaviness”. We put a lot of thought into trying to figure out if we were heavy or light. I consider myself heavy, in case you were wondering.

7. Happenstance: Two Novels in One About a Marriage in Transition by Carol Shields

One marriage, two entirely different narratives. I remember this blowing my mind a bit, and making me realize at 20 that I would never truly know my future spouse. Commence freak out.


Top Ten Tuesday: My Autumn To-Be-Read List!

4 Sep

This Top Ten Tuesday on Broke and Bookish, the challenge is to list ten of the books on your to-be-read list this autumn. Even in the first week of school, I’ve realized that I’m going to be doing more academic reading than fun reading. Boo. So, the books I’ve chosen for this week will be light-ish and fun to balance the 150 pg “articles” about preserving audio/museum audiences/information in the wild.

1. Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson

Who knew that the author of they horrifyingly creepy short story “The Lottery” had a lighter side? This is supposed to be a charming memoir about her family living in Vermont in the 1950’s. Sounds good to me!

2. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

It’s tough for a famous food critic — you have to keep a low profile if you want to see what a restaurant is really like. I’m excited to read about Reichl’s struggles with this, as well as all the food she gets to eat!

3. Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading

These essays about a ton of the books I read growing up will hopefully inspire me to re-read some of those great books!

4. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

How have I had this on my bookshelf for so long? I love Erik Larson! World War II is fascinating! Read it now!

5. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Another book I’ve had on my shelf for a long time…years, in this case. The cover is just so darn autumn-y, plus it takes place at a fancy boarding school. Seems like the perfect fall read to me!

6. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

A haunted house novel, especially one by an author as talented as Sarah Waters, will be perfect for Halloween!

7. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

A young American girl goes off to Europe in the 1950’s and has a sexy, hilarious time. So down.

8. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

A graphic novel about an eccentric family sounds like perfect study break material.

9. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

This memoir is supposed to be hilarrrrrious. And, it’s never ever in stock at the library, which must mean it’s good!

10. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s new book? Well, duh.

What’s on your list this fall?

Oh, you bad.

28 Aug

Dog-eared book ? -  Buch mit Eselsohren ?

This week’s Broke and Bookish Top Ten Tuesdays theme is bad book habits! And yeah, as much as I hate to admit it, I have a few…

  • I’m rough on books. The one that lives in my purse always gets beat to pieces. I dog ear. I fold pages. I break spines. As far as I’m concerned, books aren’t meant to be coddled; they’re meant to be used. Hard.
  • I read the first and last Twilight books, but not the two in-between. They’re as bad as you’ve heard, but I needed to see it for myself.
  • Every time I go to the library, I take out WAY too many books. I just can’t help it! They’re free, so I just add and add to my stack. Last time I was a the library, I took out eight books, even though class was starting in a few days. Oh, and then I renew like a mofo. Sorry everyone else who wants these books.
  • I have borrowed books…and then not given them back for months, years, and sometimes ever. In my defense on the last one, the person I borrowed the book from was a friend of a friend, and then my friend dropped the relationship. So I didn’t know how to get a hold of her again! Yeah, I know…I feel bad.
  • I’ve never read anything by James Joyce all the way through, except for a couple of his short stories. I’ve only read two novels by Charles Dickens. I’ve read nothing by Henry James. For an English major from a pretty traditional program, I have a lot of gaps in my reading.
  • I ALWAYS need to know how many pages are left in a book I’m reading. I have no idea why. It doesn’t matter if I love the book or hate it. I just need to keep a tally running in my head.
  • I hate leaving a book half read, so I’ll finish almost all the books I start, but I’ll hardly remember what happens in it. My reading comprehension becomes very half-assed.
  • I LOVE cookbooks, but I never ever cook anything from them.
  • I pretend I know a lot more about poetry than I actually do. I quote the same three poems over and over. “Dare I eat a peach?”
  • I end up sleeping with books in my bed many nights. I’m just too sleepy to put them on the nightstand. It’s, like, a foot away. Gah.

Forgive me, and don’t judge me too harshly. I know you have bad book habits of your own!

Top Ten Tuesdays: Ten Favorite Books Since I’ve Started my Blog

21 Aug

The theme of Top Ten Tuesdays at Broke and Bookish this week is “Top Ten Favorite Books You’ve Read During The Lifespan Of Your Blog”. My blog hasn’t been around for all that long, but over the past five months I’ve read some pretty awesome stuff! Click on any of the books below for a link to my review. So, in no particular order:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Butter by Erin Jade Lange

The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Top Ten Tuesdays: Isn’t it Romaaaaaantic?

14 Aug

I have missed the past couple of Broke and Bookish Top Ten Tuesdays, as I was too busy moving/stressing/unpacking/procrastinating unpacking to actually write a post. So here we are…me trying to return on a week that is all about which book romances would work in the real world, when I hardly ever read romances. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to ten, but heck, I’ll try!

  • Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennet from Pride and Prejudice

So, yes, Lizzie and Darcy are the focus of Pride and Prejudice, but I think that Jane and Mr. Bingley would be the marriage that would last. As Mr. Bennet says, “I have not a doubt of your doing very well together. Your tempers are by no means unlike. You are each of you so complying, that nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; and so generous, that you will always exceed your income.” They both are sweet, they both are agreeable, they both are satisfied.

  •  Jo and Mr. Bhaer from Little Women

Just like everyone else who read this book as a youngster, I couldn’t believe it when Jo turns down Laurie’s proposal. WHY? Laurie’s dreamy! (especially when he’s played by Christian Bale in the movie version).

You like books, Christian Bale Laurie? OMG ME TOOOO!

As a grown-up though, I get it. Laurie is a bit too much. As much fun as it may seem to have a bit of a crazy, take no responsibility 18 year old boyfriend, having that as a 35 year old husband would suck. So, Jo ends up with boring old Professor Bhaer. Yes, he’s not a firebrand, but I think they would have a good, lasting, solid relationship and end up with a million kids, as you see in all the sequels to Little Women.

  •  Mr. and Mrs. Weasley from the Harry Potter Series

If you can live in a run down burrow with 7 crazy redheaded kids and not enough money, and you still love fighting off death eaters together, you’re in it for the long haul. I basically want to be the Weasley family when I grow up…with maybe a few less children.

  • Emma and Mr. Knightley from Emma

Emma and Mr. Knightley are probably my favorite Austen couple. She’s feisty, smart, good-hearted but a bit oblivious, while he is funny, laid-back, and witty. He can bring her back to earth (or at least, try to) after her crazy flights of fancy. They seem to have so much fun together. I would love to go to a dinner party hosted by these two!

  • John Keats and Fanny Brawne from their Collected Letters

Yes, this one is cheating, as these two were a real life couple…but guh. Reading those love letter will break your heart over and over again. John Keats definitely knew what to say to rip a few petticoats. And I would like to think that they would’ve lasted if the darn consumption hadn’t cut Keats’ life so short. Maybe it was just young lust, but that wouldn’t make for such a lovely story, would it?

You have ravish’d me away by a Power I cannot resist: and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often “to reason against the reasons of my Love.”  I can do that no more – the pain would be too great – My Love is selfish – I cannot breathe without you.

Yours for ever
John Keats

  •  Clare and Henry from The Time Traveler’s Wife

I was so into this romance. I really was. Clare and Henry just seemed so real and so lovely. And the idea of meeting someone who has always loved you and will always love you is enchanting. Thanks for messing up my view on relationships, Audrey Niffenegger. Geez.

….And that’s it. I’m out. I really need to read more romances. Any suggestions?

Top Ten Tuesdays – Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books

24 Jul

Time for another Top Ten Tuesday from the folks at Broke and Bookish! This week the theme was to the most vivid worlds and settings in books you’ve read. Here are my choices!

  •  The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

So, let’s get the obvious one out of the way first, shall we? J.K. Rowling knows how to create a world, down to the teensiest detail. Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, the Burrow, the Sirius family home…and Hogwarts. Oh, Hogwarts. Who wouldn’t want to live there? The paintings are alive, the staircases move, there are hidden rooms and secret passageways! Divine!

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck 

Dust. Dust and sun and poverty. The Grapes of Wrath gets to you with all of these. When the Joads are living on the road, you feel like you’re with them. You are part of the chaos in the migrant worker camps. It’s almost too real.

And how can you doubt the amazingness of a book that contains such setting descriptions as this:

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”

  • The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The reason the Little House Series works as well as it does is Wilder’s attention to setting details. The emptiness of the American prairie, the terror of a prairie fire, the little conveniences of home — they all come through clearly in her writing, and they are what keep kids interested in this world.

  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Whether in an upscale, preppy university in the snowy, frigid winter or in a rambling, dilapidated country estate in the steamy summer, this novel really brings the reader in to a mysterious, sinister world. This is certainly a place I wouldn’t want to live in, but it really does stay with you.

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett


The moors! The creepy estate! The garden in spring! Oh, how I wished for my own secret, walled garden after reading this book as a child. I still want that!

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Maybe the settings of this book stick with me more than others, since we had  to go through them over and over again in high school as the teacher tried to knock the ideas of symbolism and the American dream and tragedy into our heads. Still, the glittering but sad world of jazz era riches and parties has always stuck with me.

  • American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis


The meticulously drawn setting is one of the reasons American Psycho is so incredibly disturbing. Ellis denotes 1980’s yuppie NYC in perfect detail, down to restaurant names and menus. It seems so real, which makes the torture scenes jump off the page even more. Terrifying, but effective.

  • Room by Emma Donoghue


And another disturbing book! Room’s setting is special, as a full half of the novel takes place in one room, as a woman and her child have been locked there. Through the child narrator’s eyes, you really get to see what it would be like to grow in up in such a restricted environment, without ever knowing what else lay beyond those walls. The room becomes all-encompassing. Tragically, the room is all there is.

  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell


For a historical fiction novel to have a vivid setting, the author needs to put in the work to get all the details right. And, geez, David Mitchell certainly did his homework. This novel takes place in 1799, in Nagasaki Harbor, where there is a walled city where foreigners are allowed to live and trade with the Japanese. While reading this book, you feel the crush, the bustle and, every so often, the peace of a Japanese garden.

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare


And to end with a dorky English major recommendation, let’s throw in a little bit of Shakespeare. Because Shakespeare was writing for the stage, in which there wouldn’t always be lots of set pieces, he really had to have his language do the work in setting the scene. The wild, summer-y, lustful world of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a perfect example of his skill in world making.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in:
And with the juice of this I’ll streak her eyes,
And make her full of hateful fantasies.


Top Ten Tuesdays — 10 Non-fiction Books for the Novel Lover

17 Jul

The Top Ten Tuesday theme this week at The Broke and the Bookish is “Top Ten Books For People Who Like X Book (Pick a book and pick 10 readalikes)”. I’m having a tough time finding a book that lends itself to the challenge, so I decided to broaden it a bit.

Top Ten Non-Fiction Books for Novel Lovers

Until I went to college, I considered non-fiction to be insanely dull. Why would you read about history or sociology or ugh science when there are so many fantastic novels just waiting to be devoured? I never imagined that non-fiction could hold a candle to fiction when it came to characters or drama.

How wrong I was. The first non-fiction book I fell into was The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (which I wrote about in this Top Ten Tuesday post). Twists! Intrigue! Murder most foul! And a world’s fair! I was hooked by Larson’s gift of really exploring the drama behind historical events.

So here, for other doubters, is a list of ten non-fiction books that even the staunchest, most stubborn of novel readers will love.

(A quick note: There are some other books that I would’ve 100% included, but I’ve already written about them for other Top Ten Tuesdays, and I didn’t want to have too many repeats. In this category, I would include Columbine by Dave Cullen, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan DidionNothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara DemickThe Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs, Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote, and I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson. Also, I decided to leave out straight up biographies or memoirs, although some of these choices do have elements of those genres. Those seem to belong to their own category completely.)

  • Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson

As I have mentioned at least 635 times by now, Erik Larson is a non-fiction god. This recounting of the horrifically devastating 1900 Galveston Hurricane focuses on Isaac Cline, the meteorologist for the US Weather Bureau, who finds himself completely outdone by the monster storm, which ended up killing 6,000 people. Science, disaster, pride…perfection.

  •  In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

If you’ve seen the movie Capote, you know the basics of this classic book. A horrific, random-seeming murder takes place in a small mid-western town, leaving the entire community, and Truman Capote, looking for answers. Capote spent a lot of time with the killers, interviewing them and really getting to know them. What came out of that experience is a gorgeous, poignant, and at times harrowing book. This is the top of true crime, in my opinion.

  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

Zeitoun decides to ride Hurricane Katrina out instead of fleeing with his family. His eyewitness report of the horrors and massive government policy errors that came after the storm are shocking. This book stands as an important reminder of one of the darkest moments in American policy decisions in the past fifty years.

  • Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

So, pretty much anything  by Jon Krakauer could be on this list. Into the Wild and Into Thin Air are both spectacular nonfiction works as well. I chose to highlight Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith mostly because I”m fascinated by religions, especially new ones like Mormonism. Besides just going over the basic tenets of the faith, Krakauer tells the very sad but fascinating story of a woman and her daughter murdered by religious extremists. Highly recommended.

  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

There are many parts of the general population that are often ignored in mainstream media, and those that live right at or below the poverty level are often included in that. Barbara Ehrenreich decided to see for herself what it would be like to try to live on minimum wage, and she discovered just how hard it is to scrape by.

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

One of the hit books of last year, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks investigates the ethics of the medical world. Henrietta Lacks was a young woman who died of cervical cancer in the early 1950’s. Cells from her tumor were found to be immortal, instead of dying after a few days. These cells were used to do all sorts of important biological and medical research, without her family knowing about it for years. Is this ethical or fair? Would her family have been treated differently if they were white or in a different socioeconomic bracket? What is the greater good?

  • The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn

Dodger baseball. Ah. Glorious. This classic sports book follows the Dodgers in their Brooklyn days, and then checks up with their star players to see what happened to them once they left the diamond. It’s eye-opening to see what happens to athlete heroes, once they become to old to play.

  • Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H.G. Bissinger

And another of my favorite sports: high school football. Before the tv show and movie, there was this fantastic recounting of one season of Odessa, Texas high school football, and what it means to the community. The pressure is intense, and the hopes are high. Brilliant and sad.

  • A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

I like to imagine that if I had lived in Paris in the 1920’s, I would’ve hung out with Hemingway and Fitzgerald all the time. We would’ve drank and danced and caroused. It would’ve been epic. Reading Hemingway’s recounting of that time period is the next best thing.

  • Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser

Want to read a million reasons why you shouldn’t be eating fast food? Here you go. Your waistline will thank you.