Tag Archives: A Song of Ice and Fire

Top Ten Books I Really Should Have Reviewed

I read these books shortly before I began my blog, but too much time had passed to do them justice. Now that I’ve compiled the list, though, I’d kind of like to re-read and review these titles, because they were just that good.

Note: Many of these books look like they’ve been drawn from a tenth-grade reading list. (Or lower.) Despite my youthful good looks, I am actually not in high school. I was just on a classics kick before I started blogging (and before I realized that there are living authors who write, too. And well.). But feel free to be impressed by how totally erudite I am.

10. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
I read somewhere on the internet that some people think this is a children’s story. (I guess Jack Black doesn’t help.) It is, in fact, a pretty brilliant satire that has transcended centuries.

9. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Oh, Okonkwo. How can you not love a man like this? “No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and his children (and especially his women) he was not really a man.” But for realz, Achebe is really freaking awesome. Which is why everyone else has probably already read him, and I’m just late to the party. As usual.

8. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
This was the first YA book I read as an adult, not counting Harry Potter, which I obviously don’t. I picked it up one summer vacation during college, and the story has stayed with me ever since. It’s the start of an awesome series, too.

7. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Have you always been secretly ashamed that you’ve never actually read Hemingway? Now’s your chance to make amends! The Old Man and the Sea is short, poetic, awesome, and won some big prize or the other. Read it.

6. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
This was given to me by a boy whom I very much admired at the time, so it’s hard to separate my feelings for him from my feelings for the book. (It’s also why I haven’t been able to re-read it.) But in my admittedly subjective opinion, this was a really interesting and thought-provoking book. Even if the boy wasn’t.

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I resisted reading Jane Eyre for a long time. I would have gotten away with it, too, because everyone assumed that I’d already read it, probably based on the fact that I was a girl and a reader. But after Susan Redington Bobby’s class on fairy tales, in which she made repeated references to “the madwoman in the attic,” I knew I’d have to cave. And it was actually quite good!

4. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
One of the literary gifts Jack has given me, in addition to George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, was Ender’s Game. I had dismissed it as the realm of ten-year-old boys, but boy, was I wrong. I loved this book. I’m not saying it’s why Jack and I are still together, but I’m not not saying that.

3. 1984 by George Orwell
My classics kick was fueled, in part, by a desire to understand literary references. And what book is referenced more than 1984? (Please tell me so I can read it.) In my humble opinion, this book was the second-best thing about the ‘80s.

2. Candide by Voltaire
I very clearly remember studying for a history exam in high school, and this was the flashcard entry I made:

“Voltaire: The 18th century French infidel.”

No lie. My history book was a bit… biased. Luckily for me, I read it anyway. Candide is thoughtful and hilarious—essential reading.

1. Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut
Look, you don’t need me to tell you that Kurt Vonnegut is a genius. But I can’t really describe this book any other way, which kind of explains why I didn’t review it. I can only quote one of the most powerful lines of literature: “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, bloggers create top ten lists about reading, writing, blogging, and more!

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Top Ten Surprise Endings

This week, I’m writing about the top ten book endings that left me with my mouth hanging open–because of a cliffhanger, because the ending was mindblowing, and so on.

Because of my reading preferences, I’m not often left hanging off cliffs; I prefer books that build and allow me to solve mysteries before we reach the conclusion. But there have been a few books that pleasantly surprise me with the ending.

These books were skillfully crafted and emotionally harrowing. They are the kind of books you immediately want to read again, and, in many cases, will instantly cause an addiction to that series or author.

I don’t want to give anything away or spoil it for you, so I won’t provide too much detail. Without further ado, here’s the list!

1. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
3. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
4. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
6. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
7. Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis
8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
9. The House of Sand of Fog by Andre Dubus III
10. The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, bloggers create top ten lists about reading, writing, blogging, and more!

Top Ten Favorites to Re-read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, bloggers create top ten lists about reading, writing, blogging, and more! This week, bloggers are writing about the top books they’d like to re-read.

I rarely re-read books. There are hundreds–thousands–of book out there that I want desperately to read, and my bookshelves are lined with dozens of tomes that taunt me when I walk by. (In a good way. I think.)

However, every once in a while I’ll add a book to the Re-read pile. Sometimes the book utterly captivates me from start to finish, and I can’t wait until sufficient time has passed for me to pick it up again for a new take. Other times, it is only in retrospect that I realize how much I’d like to revisit a certain book.

10. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
I first read The English Patient on a masochistic whim. After graduating from college, I kept in touch with one of my literature professors. Feeling the weight of educational duty lifting from my shoulders, I was lost and confused, and asked him what he had his students reading that summer. I’m glad I did. This is a moving and timeless tale.

9. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
A friend of mine loved it because it combined San Francisco, real estate, and Persian culture–his three passions. I can’t say I found any of those particularly interesting–except, perhaps, San Fran–but the book instantly drew me in and broke my heart. This is a great modern story that has many unexpected twists and turns; I couldn’t put it down.

8. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
I read this book, along with Hesse’s Demian, to impress a boy when I was in college. It didn’t work, but I became a lifelong Hesse fan. For that, I thank him.

7. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
For my nonfiction writing class, we watched a segment of the movie Capote. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of this fascinating and idiosyncratic man got me thinking about the man behind the story. I immediately ordered the movie and re-ordered the book, which I read a few years ago.

6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Even more fascinating to me than Truman Capote is his once-dearest friend, Harper Lee. I have very specific memories of reading this book one summer in college. A serious relationship was in its death throes and I resolved to pick up on an old habit: reading the classics I was never assigned in high school. Unfortunately, now when I think of To Kill a Mockingbird, I think of my ex. That needs to change!

5. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
This is a book that I’ve read–and recommended–so many times, it’s beginning to lose some of its savor. A real shame, since this is probably my favorite book ever. I’ve even considered getting a tattoo of the final line of dialogue.

4. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
I read The Poisonwood Bible several times in my early teens, hoping to soak up the magic of Kingsolver’s prose and to learn how to imitate, however crudely, her finely wrought characterization. Each time, I found some new gem. It’s due for another re-read now, and I’m curious to see what I think after more than a decade.

3. No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories by Miranda July
This is the finest collection of short stories I have ever read. July’s characters are eccentric but believable, wonderfully realized and endearingly fragile. One of the stories woke something very old and deep inside me that I never realized was there; that, to me, is the mark of unforgettable literature.

2. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Jack gave me a copy of Watchmen for the first Christmas that we were together. I read the whole thing in bed on New Year’s Day. In return, I bought him the fancy library edition, which has much bigger images with finer detail. (Unfortunately, it’s also very heavy, and impossible to tuck into my purse for my daily commute.)

I’m not saying it’s why I’ve stayed with him…

1. A Song of Ice and Fire (series) by George R.R. Martin
Because everyone knows that this is the series that made me fall for Jack. He introduced George to me when we first started dating, and many of our earliest conversations revolved around Jon and Dany and Tyrion. I was pleased with the first season of the HBO show, Game of Thrones, but it only served to pique my interest in the series once more! This time, I’d like to try it on audiobook.

It’s interesting to see how many of these books bring up memories of old and new relationships. I suppose that’s fitting, since re-reading each of these books feels like visiting an old friend.

What about you? What are your favorite books to re-read?

Wordless Wednesday: Dancing with Dragons

Jackson's been devouring George R.R. Martin's "A Dance with Dragons" since it was released last week.

Tinker wants to know what's so interesting in that book to take attention away from her.

Top Ten Authors I Would Love to Meet

This week, I’m highlighting the top ten authors (living or dead) I would love to meet. (The original list was “authors I would DIE to meet,” but that sounded a little extreme to me; I’m a book nerd, but I couldn’t think of a single author that I’d die to meet. Does this mean I need to quit reviewing?)

10. Neil Gaiman
I loved Gaiman’s Coraline and The Graveyard Book, and soon I’ll read American Gods as well. And just in time, too; rumor has it that, after the runaway success of “A Game of Thrones,” HBO will be making a series based on American Gods. Plus, I think he’d be really interesting to meet; my sister says he’s the best thing to happen to Minnesota, and she would know.

9. Emma Donoghue
OK, so this is kind of cheating; I’ve already met Emma Donoghue once. But I’d love to meet her again! (I’m compensating by putting her lower on the list than she deserves.) In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, Emma Donoghue is one of my favorite authors, and she is, in my humble opinion, one of the best female writers alive. Too-high praise? Read Room.

8. Miranda July
July’s collection of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, blew me away in 2009, and I think I’m ready for a reread. She is bitingly funny and insightful, and I’d love to see her perform sometime.

7. George R.R. Martin
Whenever I laugh out loud at Tyrion‘s antics, I always wonder: Is George Martin actually funny in person? Or is he one of those geeks who can only express himself on paper? I can’t decide which I’d like better.

6. Tina Fey
Speaking of laugh-out-loud humor, I just finished Tina Fey’s Bossypants on audiobook. I think it’s safe to say I have a new idol. Fey had clearly worked hard to get what she has, in a world notorious for being a boys club.

5. Charles Dickens
I spent 14 months reading and writing about Dickens, and the rest of my life regretting/boasting about it. I deserve to be wooed by his infamous charm and charisma, damn it!

4. Cormac McCarthy
I wonder if Cormac McCarthy speaks with punctuation.

3. Jack Kerouac
I read On the Road when I was 21, and it changed me–more, perhaps, than any other work of literature. It impacted the way I saw life, the way I formed relationships, and the way I wrote. Though a little of the shine has worn off my infatuation with Kerouac (I mean, seriously, has anyone ever finished Desolation Angels?), he is still a man I would LOVE to meet.

2. William Shakespeare
This one should be obvious. I’m not even that much of a Shakespeare nerd, but I can’t imagine having a carte-blanche opportunity to meet any writer and not choosing ol’ Bill!

1. Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway is the author whom I admire the most. I would say he’s what I aspire to be, but that wouldn’t end well. (Too soon?) He has written some of my favorite books of all time, such as The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man and the Sea. It’s a good thing he had his obvious flaws, or I would be a drooling fangirl at the mere mention of his name.

What about you–who are your favorite authors?

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, bloggers create top ten lists about reading, writing, blogging, and more!

Top Ten Rebels in Literature

This week, I’m highlighting our top ten rebels in literature. This one was pretty tough for me, and I’m sure I’ll think of brilliant examples tomorrow. Please weigh in below!

10. Tom Sawyer
Tom is the original bad boy who is still able to charm his way into old ladies’ hearts. His ability to persuade everyone to play along with his cockamamie schemes makes him an unforgettable rebel.

9. Joe Abercrombie
Abercrombie has written one fantasy trilogy and two similar stand-alone novels. His books often feature stock fantasy characters, but they are anything but ordinary; Abercrombie turns stereotypes on their heads to great effect. His stories are entertaining, suspenseful, and very accessible, especially to fantasy newbs.

8. Cormac McCarthy
McCarthy’s signature writing style is rebellious in an anti-punctuation kind of way. I mean, really, who needs quotation marks? I’m told it’s really just a James Joyce thing, but I haven’t read enough Joyce to call him a rebel.

7. Jack Kerouac
Who suddenly packs up everything he owns in a dilapidated old car to drive cross-country with a few druggie friends in the 1940s? Dean Moriarty, of course. And Jack Kerouac, who records the whole adventure in one long scroll while on a bender.

6. Emma Donoghue
With bright red hair and a perky Irish accent, Emma Donoghue may not seem like much of a rebel. But her feminist retellings of fairy tales–both in her collection of interlaced short stories and sprinkled more subtly throughout her other novels–have breathed spunky new life into the genre.

5. Holden Caulfield
Holden Caulfield is the classic American teen rebel in literature. He smokes, he curses, he even wanders around after curfew in search of girls. (In fact, he should probably be higher on this list, but I’m a rebel too.) I wonder if J.D. Salinger knew that he was forming a mold for the entire genre of American Bildungsroman when he created Holden.

4. Rorschach
Superheroes are usually very different from other characters, but rarely have they been rebellious. Often they just stop at saving the day and garnering fame. Rorschach is a bit different. His world is as black and white as his shifting mask; he rejects the rules of society and refuses to compromise on any issue–which sometimes makes him seems like kind of a jerk. Watchmen is a fascinating and groundbreaking novel, and Alan Moore is really just a genius.

3. Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion is arguably the main character of famed fantasy author George R.R. Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire, recently made more popular by the HBO adaptation “Game of Thrones.” Tyrion is wily, smart, endearing, off-putting, and deeply human. His penchant for witty comments and a surprising self-sufficiency are overshadowed only by his love for wine and women, but a more nuanced literary character I have yet to find.

2. Lisbeth Salander
Lisbeth Salander is kickass. She’s a phenomenal heroine who could care less about societal conventions, which means she breaks literary conventions as well. She is intriguing and sharp, in both mind and speech; in creating Salander, Stieg Larsson single-handedly revolutionized female protagonists.

1. Jesus
He ran away from home at the age of 12 to tell the smartest rabbis he could find how wrong they are. He was known to go on a rampage at the sight of a temple-marketplace, he walked on water when everyone else rowed around like idiots, and he turned water into wine at all of his parties. I mean, this dude didn’t even bother to be born like anyone else! If only Jesus hadn’t listened to his dad about that whole crucifixion thing.

What about you–who are your favorite literary rebels?

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday, bloggers create top ten lists about reading, writing, blogging, and more!