Ten Books

Who doesn’t love a book meme?!

This one was floating around Facebook for a while, and it recently migrated over to the blogosphere where I found it at Bibliomama. What are ten books that have stayed with you? Here are my ten, in no particular order. It was hard enough to narrow down my choices to ten, so my brain would definitely freeze if I had to rank them too. I also had to Google some of the plotlines because I forget everything I read soon after I’ve finished. It makes talking about one of my favourite hobbies awkward at times.

It’s a good thing I embrace the awkward.

Away by Jane Urquhart

This book was a Christmas present from my Mom (hi Mom!) a long time ago and it led to my collecting many many volumes of Canadian writers on my bookshelves. The book takes place in Ireland starting in the 1840s, and then ends in Canada. The author wrote this about how the idea for the book came about:

Midway through a casual conversation in a pub in Ballycastle, while I waited for the ferry that would take me to the mysterious Rathlin Island just offshore, an old man told me that a person could be stolen by “those from the other world,” and that if this were to take place, a seemingly exact replica would be left in the stolen one’s place. Except, he explained, there would be something distant and different about the one left behind, something indefinable, but perceivable nonetheless, and that this person would then be said to be “away.”

This is a magical and poetic book.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

When you don’t know what to read, turn to Twitter. Bel Canto was recommended to me by @janatude and is a fictional account of the Lima Crisis where in 1996 the Japanese embassy was taken over. The book explores the relationships between the hostages and hostage-takers in the house over a few months. This book is simply amazing.

Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada

My favourite of all my book club books, and also based on a true story, it tells the story of Otto and Elise Hampel in Berlin during WWII who wrote anonymous postcards telling people to resist Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. They left these postcards all around for people to find. Small but very dangerous acts of resistance that had big consequences. Everyone I have recommended this book to has loved it. The writing is just so simply elegant.

The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence

The night that we were given this book as assigned reading in grade 11 English class, I stayed up until 3am reading it.  I was finished it before the next English class when we were given class time to read. I was completely shocked – SHOCKED – when my classmates complained about it being boring. I love love love this book and would probably call it my favourite of all time if pressed.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

I could have jointly listed Carol Shields’s other books Larry’s Party and Unless here too. I think what I love most about Carol Shields’s writing is that she turns the lives of ordinary characters into compelling stories that you can’t put down. Definitely one of my favourite authors.

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

I need to read this one again because I have forgotten so much of it. So, from Wikipedia: A Fine Balance is the second novel by Rohinton Mistry. Set in Mumbai between 1975 and 1984 during the turmoil of The Emergency, a period of expanded government power and crackdowns on civil liberties, the book concerns four characters from varied backgrounds…who come together and develop a bond.

The characters and story telling in this book are still with me, even if the plot has faded in my mind.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

I’ve read this book at least five times in my life, the first time being when I was ten. You read books on different levels at different ages, and so when I first read it, I could only see Anne’s perspective. The unfairness and the annoyances that were her life in hiding. The last time I read it was just a few years ago, and I deeply identified with what must have been the fears of Anne’s parents, about the uncertainties and hopelessness they must have felt and how they had to try to carry on no matter what. 

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

 I do seem to read a lot of tales of family tragedy. This one may just be the tragediest of them all.

Room by Emma Donoghue

I can’t possibly describe the plot for this one so from the author’s website (http://emmadonoghue.com/books/novels/room-the-novel.html  )

Room (London: Picador; Toronto: HarperCollins Canada; New York: Little Brown, 2010), my Man-Booker-shortlisted seventh novel, is the story of a five-year-old called Jack, who lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside. When he turns five, he starts to ask questions, and his mother reveals to him that there is a world beyond the walls. Told entirely in Jack’s voice, Room is no horror story or tearjerker, but a celebration of resilience and the love between parent and child.

I would have thought writing an entire novel from the point of view of a five-year-old would have been impossible to get right. This book nails it. The filter of innocence is of the horrors of the story is amazing.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I read this one in the third grade and it was the first book I remember not being able to put down. This would have been the book that flipped the switch to make me a lifelong reader.

This post was hard to write. It’s not easy to explain why you love a book or to describe what it’s about without resorting to blurb speak. I’d love to hear your list of books that stayed with you too.

photo (39)

About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Ten Books

  1. Eileen says:

    A wonderful list, Finola. I did not read Room or A Little Princess, but I read, and loved, all the others.

    You may remember I did a guest blog a couple of years ago about books. Mine were:

    All Quiet on the Western Front
    Every Man Dies Alone
    Fugitive Pieces
    No Great Mischief

    We have similar tastes in reading. Incidentally, Away was the first adult book I ever bought for you, and I bought it on the strength of the review in The Globe and Mail. The reviewer was overwhelmed by it. I had never heard of Jane Urquhart before that.

    You’ve really got me thinking of books now, Finola. There are about 50 floating around in my head!

  2. Lynn says:

    I’ve been meaning to blog this meme for a few weeks now, but as you say, it’s so hard to pick just 10! I love your list – many are my own favourites too, including The Stone Angel, which I adored and, just like you, was amazed to find so many in my high school English class just hated. That scene where her husband is letting the younger son lick honey off the knife still gives me shudders. Hopefully I’ll get around to making my own list soon!

  3. allison says:

    So glad you did this! I would not say I adored The Stone Angel and yet I can remember it easily even though I have the same trouble as you regarding plotlines. Fall on Your Knees and A Fine Balance could easily be on my list if they weren’t (I’ve forgotten already, obviously).

  4. I’ve never heard of Every Man Dies Alone. Now I need to get myself a copy of it! Thanks for sharing these books … I love hearing of great books that people loved!

  5. Sasha says:

    So much in common :). I hadn’t worked up the nerve to read Room though. Honestly, I was expecting a horror story and/or tear jerker, and didn’t think I’d be able to handle it. Will have to put it back on the list.

  6. Joy says:

    You post interesting articles here. Your blog deserves much more traffic.
    It can go viral if you give it initial boost, i know useful tool that can help
    you, just search in google: svetsern traffic tips

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s