Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top Thirteen Unreviewed Books

And I'm back!  It's been a while since I've participated in one of these, but a chance to babble on about some beloved books that I've never babbled about here before?  Yes, I think so.  That's right, I'm participating in this week's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is "Top Ten Books I Loved But Never Reviewed."  Oh, and what's nice about this list is that it proves that I don't actually hate everything I read, a fact which my blog would tend to belie.  The following are all books that I love but haven't read since starting this blog.  I've read nearly all of them multiple times and plan to read many of them again.

1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: The idea of something so horrifyingly other but not so far from reality (at least in how certain politicians and many others discuss women) captivated me through multiple rereadings.  I recommend this to anybody.  Even if you don't enjoy it, you will be thinking, and that's half the battle.
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell: I loved this story of a controlling government, the way that accepted texts control how we think, and the sheer loss of privacy and rights.  Again, is it so unlike our world today (hello regal eagle on the cover of everyAmerican childhood history textbook)?
3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley:  Okay, you caught me.  I love dystopias.  The sheer difference of Brave New World to my other dystopian choices is striking, especially since it also captures a very real aspect of today's world, even decades after it was written.  Ignorant, easily led people feeding on meaningless words of comfort - is that so strange?  Also, on a completely random note, Huxley has permanently affected my reading of the word pneumatic - anywhere I see it (i.e. Solaris, and that's about it), I can't help but think of Brave New World.  Kudos on taking full possession of a word, Mr. Huxley.
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky: I love, love, loved this book in high school.  I read it several times and even went so far as to purchase used copies of every single book that Charlie's English teacher assigns him outside of class (though I only read about three of them).  Charlie's loneliness and inability to fit in spoke to me in a very real way.  This is a must-read for any teen, especially those who don't quite belong.
5. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss: Clever rhymes, fantastical creatures, and an environmental cautionary tale for children?  I was sold the first time I read it (and I was at least fifteen years old at that point).
6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez:  I'm just going to quote my comment on Dead White Guys's recent review of this book: I read this before knowing about magical realism and whatnot, and it took me a while to wonder why there were all these ancient characters and bizarre things going on, and I didn't care because it was AMAZING. I use a bit of the novel in SAT tutoring (the bit where everybody gets really angry at the movies), and my students don't like it. So sad. This is on my reread list as well. Hopefully I will be equally not-disappointed.  (I won't be.)
7. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The only author to make this list twice!  This is a lovely story of love in all its twisted peculiarities, against the backdrop of a port city in the Caribbean threatened by a cholera outbreak.  I copied this quote from the novel into my (still mostly empty) journal sometime in 2008 and I still love it: "Delirious with joy, Florentino Ariza spent the rest of the afternoon eating roses and reading the note letter by letter, over and over again, and the more he read the more roses he ate, and by midnight he had read it so many times and had eaten so many roses that his mother had to hold his head as if he were a calf and force him to swallow of dose of castor oil" (68).  Love.
8. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: In my junior year, I needed to take a math class but had yet to take a placement test, so in the meantime I registered for an elective English class that I figured I would end up dropping.  However, I decided to read one of the books between semesters, since the class sounded great, and ended up loving it so much that I dropped creative writing instead.  In case you couldn't guess, that book was The God of Small Things, a novel of two twins and a pickle factory in an area of India influenced by Marxism.  Wonderful.
9. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri: A novel of an Indian family in America, in which a son is named for the past and fights against both it and his culture, before coming to accept both.  Lovely to read and, strangely, makes me hungry.
10. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant: This is a novelization of the Bible stories of Jacob and his descendants.  Wonderfully imagined and strangely informative.  A great choice whether you're religious or not.
11. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov: The devil goes to Moscow!  Though the political agenda flew right over my uninformed nineteen-year old head, the creepy, weird otherness of it had me at privyet.
12. The Hours by Michael Cunningham: (Last one, I promise.) I loved both the novel and the film, a story in three parts: Virginia Woolf on a day in summer as she writes Mrs. Dalloway and visits with her sister; a suburban housewife as she reads Mrs. Dalloway and acknowledges how unhappy her life makes her; and Clarissa Vaughn as she lives out a modernized version of Mrs. Dalloway.  Seamlessly intertwined and beautifully written, all three stories are equally captivating and never leave you wishing for another one.
13. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: I know I said I was done, but I couldn't mention an ode to Mrs. Dalloway and not put her on the list too, could I?  This is probably one of the first "classics" that I loved (or finished).  Unlike the rest of my senior year English class (who loved The Mayor of Casterbridge, the crazies), I lost myself in the not-quite-stream-of-consciousness writing and the bells of London (did you know a working title of The Hours was "The Bells"?).  Lovely.  If you don't like it or can't get through it, read it again.  I command you.

Okay, so I cheated and put thirteen instead of ten, but you'll forgive me, right?  Can I help it if my love for literature just won't contain itself?


  1. Do you think you'll end up writing reviews for any of these books? Or maybe not a review but a discussion post or something?

  2. Red- Probably not unless/until I reread them, unless they relate to something else I'm reviewing or saying. I generally like for a book to be fresh when I review it, though not necessarily when I gush!

  3. Neat list! I'm familiar with most of those, though The Red Tent is the only one I've actually read.

  4. I've read 1, 2, 3, and 5--all great books! Here are the ones that made my list: http://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2011/08/top-ten-tuesday-beloved-but-never.html