Top Ten Tuesday adapted from

Top Ten Books for People Who Like X

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from

Oooh, I haven’t participated in Top Ten Tuesday in a while, and even though it’s technically Thursday, this one looks like too much fun to pass up. This week’s theme is Top Ten Books for People Who like ______. I’ve been unpacking my books, and I’ve been thinking about the connections among my different reads. My husband made the remark today that we have a lot of good books, and we really shouldn’t need to go to the bookstore in a while given how many great books we have. He’s right.

  1. If you like the [amazon asin=0545162076&text=Harry Potter] books, you should try Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series: [amazon asin=0142001805&text=The Eyre Affair], [amazon asin=0142004030&text=Lost in a Good Book], [amazon asin=0143034359&text=The Well of Lost Plots], [amazon asin=014303541X&text=Something Rotten], [amazon asin=0143113569&text=Thursday Next: First Among Sequels], [amazon asin=0143120514&text=One of Our Thursdays is Missing], and joining the ranks in October, [amazon asin=067002502X&text=The Woman Who Died A Lot]. Jasper Fforde’s series is hilarious bookish fun, and even has a few references to the Harry Potter series.
  2. If you like Emily Brontë’s classic [amazon asin=0143105434&text=Wuthering Heights], you will enjoy Sharyn McCrumb’s historical fiction retelling of the infamous Tom Dooley case, [amazon asin=0312558171&text=The Ballad of Tom Dooley]. McCrumb herself has described the novel as Wuthering Heights in the Appalachians, and it’s true. The story’s characters greatly resemble their counterparts in Wuthering Heights in many ways. I loved it.
  3. If you liked [amazon asin=143918271X&text=A Moveable Feast] or [amazon asin=0743297334&text=The Sun Also Rises] by Ernest Hemingway, try Paula McLain’s excellent novel [amazon asin=0345521307&text=The Paris Wife] for Hadley’s side of the story. One of the best books I read last year. Highly recommended.
  4. If you liked [amazon asin=0143106155&text=Jane Eyre] by Charlotte Brontë, you will enjoy an updated retelling of the story, [amazon asin=0062064223&text=The Flight of Gemma Hardy] by Margot Livesey. I liked this book a lot more than I thought I would.
  5. If you liked Diana Gabaldon’s [amazon asin=0440423201&text=Outlander] series, try Jennifer Donnelly’s Tea Rose series, beginning with [amazon asin=0312378025&text=The Tea Rose]. [amazon asin=1401307469&text=The Winter Rose] and [amazon asin=1401307477&text=The Wild Rose] round out the series, but the first one is the best one.
  6. If you liked [amazon asin=161382310X&text=Moby Dick], or even if you only sort of liked it because it got bogged down in cetology, but you liked the good parts, you will love [amazon asin=0061767654&text=Ahab’s Wife]. Oh.My.Gosh. One of my favorite books ever. Sena Jeter Naslund’s novel introduces the amazing persona of Una, wife of Captain Ahab, from one line in which Ahab mentions her in Moby Dick, and she’s one of the most incredible fictional people you’ll ever meet. I love her. She is one of my fictional best friends.
  7. If you liked [amazon asin=0316038377&text=Twilight], but you wished you could read about grown-ups, and you wanted less purple prose and better writing, try Deborah Harkness’s [amazon asin=0143119680&text=A Discovery of Witches], the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. The second book, [amazon asin=0670023485&text=Shadow of Night], comes out in about a week. You will like Matthew much better than Edward. Trust me.
  8. If you liked [amazon asin=0143105426&text=Pride and Prejudice] and [amazon asin=0486295559&text=Persuasion] by Jane Austen, and you are a little unsure of all those Austen sequels, try out Syrie James’s fictionalized what-if? novel [amazon asin=0061341428&text=The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen] that wonders aloud whether or not Aunt Jane had a real romance that inspired her great books.
  9. If you liked Suzanne Collins’s thrilling [amazon asin=0545265355&text=Hunger Games series], you will enjoy Veronica Roth’s [amazon asin=0062024035&text=Divergent] and its sequel [amazon asin=0062024043&text=Insurgent]. Not sure when the next book in the trilogy comes out, but I can’t wait. Her books are amazing. They will remind you of The Hunger Games without feeling anything at all like a ripoff.
  10. If you liked [amazon asin=0486415864&text=Great Expectations] and [amazon asin=1612930999&text=The Turn of the Screw], you will love John Harwood’s [amazon asin=B000I5YUJE&text=The Ghost Writer]. The book makes several allusions to both novels, but it also contains four complete short stories within the text of the novel (written by the protagonist’s grandmother), and it’s set in a creepy house with a secret.

Bonus: If you like Victorian novels period, and you want to read a love letter to the Victorian novel, or if you like Daphne Du Maurier’s [amazon asin=0380730405&text=Rebecca], try Diane Setterfield’s [amazon asin=0743298039&text=The Thirteenth Tale].

Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments. Just because my husband says we have a load of good books doesn’t mean I’m not always looking for more.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Books That Should Be Required Reading for Teens

Top Ten TuesdayYou know, as a former literature teacher—which feels really weird to say and might make me sad if I weren’t positive I’ll come back to it one day—it was frequently my job to select books that teens were required to read. Actually, it’s tough because I feel quite strongly that certain books are taught to students who are not ready to appreciate them, but I was sort of required to teach them nonetheless. Some books I would have liked to have taught, but I never did because administration or parents would have thought them too young or not challenging enough for high school students. But consider this list my own personal dream list. Important note: teens do NOT need to read these books as part of a school curriculum (although it’s a possibility).

  1. [amazon_image id=”0061205699″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignright”]To Kill a Mockingbird (slipcased edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_link id=”0061205699″ target=”_blank” ]To Kill a Mockingbird[/amazon_link], Harper Lee’s classic novel about prejudice in the South is a quintessential favorite on most teachers’ and students’ lists. It’s a gorgeous book that everyone should read, and adolescence is the perfect time for a first read.
  2. [amazon_link id=”0743477111″ target=”_blank” ]Romeo and Juliet[/amazon_link] is not necessarily Shakespeare’s best or most important play, but years of experience teaching it to high school students tells me two things about it: 1) teenagers love it because it’s an obsessive love story about people their age; 2) references to it are everywhere, and there is something to be said for being able to participate in a shared culture.
  3. While I think classics like [amazon_link id=”1463570864″ target=”_blank” ]The Scarlet Letter[/amazon_link] are better appreciated some time during adulthood, [amazon_link id=”B003VYBQPK” target=”_blank” ]The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn[/amazon_link] is appropriate for teens, with a young, appealing protagonist and important lessons regarding prejudice and America’s history with slavery. I think everyone should read it.
  4. [amazon_image id=”0385732554″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignright”]The Giver[/amazon_image] [amazon_link id=”0385732554″ target=”_blank” ]The Giver[/amazon_link] by Lois Lowry is a perfect introduction to the body of dystopian literature that includes [amazon_link id=”0345342968″ target=”_blank” ]Fahrenheit 451[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”B001IC52I4″ target=”_blank” ]The Handmaid’s Tale[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0452284236″ target=”_blank” ]Nineteen Eighty-Four[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0060850523″ target=”_blank” ]Brave New World[/amazon_link], and so many others. Furthermore, it has a teen protagonist that students can relate to. It’s an excellent read (skip its sequels, though).
  5. [amazon_link id=”0140268863″ target=”_blank” ]The Odyssey[/amazon_link] by Homer is such a wonderful story that 1) introduces the concept of epic poetry and all its literary devices, such as the Invocation to the Muse and the epic simile; 2) introduces students to Greek mythology; and 3) is just a ripping good adventure story. I didn’t actually read it in high school, but I should have. I have always loved teaching it.
  6. I may be biased here, but I truly think teenagers should have experienced the entire [amazon_link id=”0545162076″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter series[/amazon_link] before they reach adulthood. It’s a wonderful series with great lessons about love, bravery, friendship—the things that really matter in life—as well as a great introduction to mythology and the hero’s journey (a tale shared across culture and across time).
  7. [amazon_image id=”0142414735″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignright”]Speak: 10th Anniversary Edition[/amazon_image]Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel [amazon_link id=”0142414735″ target=”_blank” ]Speak[/amazon_link] is starting to make its way into required reading lists. It’s an important book about an important issue that affects many teens. Melinda is a realistic, believable protagonist. Anderson’s novel [amazon_link id=”014241557X” target=”_blank” ]Wintergirls[/amazon_link] is another important read.
  8. S. E. Hinton’s novel [amazon_link id=”014038572X” target=”_blank” ]The Outsiders[/amazon_link] might be a little dated now, but my students all read it in middle school and report really liking it. Plus, they develop a real affection for Robert Frost in the bargain, so it can’t be bad. I can’t remember when I read the book, but I think I was in high school, and I read it on my own.
  9. [amazon_image id=”0743273567″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignright”]The Great Gatsby[/amazon_image] I think [amazon_link id=”0743273567″ target=”_blank” ]The Great Gatsby[/amazon_link] by F. Scott Fitzgerald is perfect for older teens, but I almost didn’t put it on this list, much as I love it. It is an excellent book with brilliant prose. I am not sure it’s the kind of book that will appeal to all teens, but I do think it’s something everyone should read. Adolescence seems like a good time.
  10. One of my favorite anecdotes about William Golding’s [amazon_link id=”0571200532″ target=”_blank” ]Lord of the Flies[/amazon_link] comes from a former student of Golding’s, who says sometimes the professor would assign an essay, and as the students wrote, Golding would also write. Later, the student realized what Golding was working on as his students wrote their essays was Lord of the Flies. It struck Golding’s student that Golding imagined those students, quiet and compliant, writing their essays, might be capable of the kind of brutality shown by these English schoolboys marooned on an island. I think they probably were, too. So aren’t we all. Which is why this book is essential. Plus I love Simon.

What books do you think teens should read?

Book Trailer: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Via Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.

Like Carl, I haven’t paid much attention to book trailers. Well, to be more precise, Carl says that he “poo-poo[ed] the concept.” I didn’t poo-poo the concept, but I often forget about their existence altogether, and some of them are pretty good vehicles for generating interest in a book. Like the one above. I know after reading Carl’s glowing review of the book and viewing that trailer, I decided to read it.

Social media is great for sharing reading. I decided to read this book soon based on a blog post and YouTube video. I have my Goodreads account publish books I add to my to-read pile on my Facebook profile. My mother-in-law bought Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children after seeing my post on Facebook that I intended to read it.

R.I.P Challenge Book Pool

R.I.P. ChallengeI’ve narrowed my book pool for the R.I.P. Challenge down to the following books:

Dracula by Bram Stoker: the classic vampire novel.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: this would be a worthy follow-up for Dracula as its premise is that Dracula is *gasp* still alive.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman: I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time, and this challenge gives me a good excuse. A creepy, huge house, a little girl who feels ignored, and an alternate universe inside your house. Sounds great! I absolutely love Neil Gaiman, so it’s a shame I’ve not read it.

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill: the bookseller at Barnes and Noble said this was a great book, and Steve enjoyed it, too. I love Joe Hill’s blog and tweets, but I’ve not read any of his creative writing yet. This is a collection of short ghosty stories.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: I started this one some time ago, and I was enjoying it. This one is a dark horse contender for the challenge because it’s extremely long, and I would like to actually finish the challenge this time.

Grendel by John Gardner: the Beowulf story told from the viewpoint of the monster. This one has been on my to-read list for years.

Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott: I grabbed this one on impulse at Barnes and Noble a while back. The cover certainly looks creepy. Ghostwalk is a literary triller about Isaac Newton’s alchemical experiments and a string of murders. It’s only got three stars at Amazon, and I find the reviewers there are often generous. That kind of thing makes me nervous. Still will eventually give it a go since I own it.

A Dead Man in Deptford by Anthony Burgess: this one might be a long shot in terms of qualification (though Carl is very accepting as long as we think it fits the challenge). It’s about Christopher Marlowe’s espionage and murder.

I’m not sure which of the aforementioned books will ultimately make the challenge, but I am fairly set on Dracula and Coraline.

If you are participating in the challenge, I recommend the following books, all of which I’ve read. I don’t like to do re-reads for challenges, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of these books:

  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe: What if some of the witches in Salem really were guilty? This novel explores this question, along with creepy houses and strange goings on in modern-day Massachusetts. I couldn’t put it down, and my husband’s reading it now. Plus Katherine Howe is super nice, tweets regularly at @katherinebhowe, and even created a Facebook site for her main character, Connie Goodwin.
  • The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl: A string of murders based on punishments in Dante’s Inferno terrorizes 1860’s Boston as poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his circle are working on a translation of Dante’s work. The problem is, a translation isn’t currently accessible to Bostonians, so who could conduct murders that so accurately mimic Dante’s punishments? Could one of the circle be the killer?
  • The Ghost Writer by John Harwood: If you liked The Turn of the Screw (which would also be an excellent choice for this challenge), you’ll enjoy this creepy story of Gerard Freeman and his pen friend Alice Jessell, a creepy old ancestral house, and ghost stories written by a grandmother Gerard never knew.
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: A love letter to the Brontës and a great read. This book centers around reclusive writer Vida Winter, who wants protagonist Margaret Lea to interview her. Margaret learns that truth is stranger than fiction and much creepier.
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: This book examines what might happen when it takes a graveyard to raise a child. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and creepy murderers, oh my!
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: One of the original gaslight books, I think. Who do you trust? What exactly is happening in that creepy house? And who is the Woman in White? What does she know?
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: If you haven’t read this new take on the vampire legend, now is a good time. Don’t expect sparkling prose. If you’re a girl of the 1980’s, the high school experience will look very familiar.
  • The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry: Set in Salem, this novel draws on the witchy setting. Towner Whitney returns to Massachusetts when her beloved aunt dies, but she is haunted by ghosts from her past and messages she can read in the lace.

NPR’s 100 Best Beach Books Ever

NPR released the results of a poll conducted to determine the 100 best beach books.

Books on the list that I’ve already read:

  • The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling (1)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (2)
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (5)
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells (6)
  • The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (7)
  • The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver (10)
  • The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (14)
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (15)
  • Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (16)
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien (18)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (21)
  • The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver (22)
  • The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (28)
  • Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer (30)
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole (31)
  • Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier (36)
  • The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough (39)
  • Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice (43)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas (47)
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (55)
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (57)
  • Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (58)
  • The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway (71)
  • The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (74)
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë (76)
  • Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (77)

Books on the list that I want to read:

  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (3)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (8)
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg (9)
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (11)
  • Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (20)
  • The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith (23)
  • Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel (27)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (35)
  • Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett (41)
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (42)
  • Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier (44)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (56)
  • Dracula, by Bram Stoker (89)—I’m actually currently reading this one
  • Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger (92)

I’ve never read any Donna Tartt, but I’ve heard good things. Would you recommend the book on the list (93)—The Secret History—or something else by her?

Which books on the list have you read? Which ones do you want to?