Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy…But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread


It’s a rewind week for Top Ten Tuesday and I thought this would be a good topic after my discussion on Sunday’s post. I’m trying not to do this anymore. I want to read books as soon as I buy them or just put them on a wish list. But here are the books that have been lingering a little bit too long.

1. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss – I bought this immediately after reading The Name of the Wind, which I really enjoyed. To be fair, I’m trying to savor this series. I don’t want to have to wait too long for the third book, which has no confirmed release date.

2. The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss – I think Ana’s review of this one was the one that made me purchase this one and I’m not exactly sure why I haven’t read it yet. Other than the fact that it seems too beautiful and delicate to carry with me on the subway.

3. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente  – Truthfully, I’ve started this book a dozen times and every time I try to read it just comes across as so precious. I know that all of you have read it and loved it – could you please convince me?

4. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson – This has such an interesting premise and got such great buzz. I bought it after reading the dedicated Maximum Shelf from Shelf Awareness about it. No reason I haven’t read it yet, other than it’s a hardcover and the subway ride is long.

5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – So I actually bought this one for Michael, but I knew that after he read it, I wanted to too. Still sitting on my shelf.

6. The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker – I tried to give myself a nudge to read this one back in January but it didn’t happen. I know Sara was even thinking about reading it with me. Did you finish this one, Sara?

7 & 8. The Art of Losing and Dear Darkness by Kevin Young – I bought this anthology and poetry collection by Kevin Young right after reading The Best American Poetry of 2011, which was also edited by Kevin Young. I’ve been awful about reading poetry this year, so I really just need to get my act together and read these two.

0. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell – So, as you know, I needed to own this so bad that I bought it twice!

10. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Siobhan Dowd – I keep meaning to read this one, but I know how sad it is and that’s been putting me off. I’m sure I’ll need a sad book one of these days, but not right now.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Family and friends! I am making it so easy for you.

Last year, I gave my family a wish list that contained a bunch of books and some DVDs and a few miscellaneous small things. They ask for this list every year and I finally got around to doing it. I received Ted Kooser’s Poetry Home Repair Manual. Because Ted Kooser is the best and I (foolishly) sold this book back to my college bookstore back in the days when I could count the money in my bank account on two hands.

I know when it comes to people who read as much as I do, I’m worried about getting them books as gifts. Hello, we are book hoarders. You probably have every book I want to give you squirreled away in your book prepper bunker. Forget food, you just want to make sure that you have every book you might ever want to read available to do so when the world ends. Why do I know this about you? Because I do the same thing. I have book bunkers all up and down the east coast. Just. in. case.

Anyway, here’s the very helpful list of the top ten books that I would love to receive from any of those who might be giving me gifts this year. I promise I don’t have a copy stored away somewhere. (I don’t think.)

1) Building Stories by Chris Ware – The first ever graphic novel/comic that I read was Chris Ware’s brilliant Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth. (Which, actually, I also sold back to my college bookstore. Curse you, past-Lu, for your desire for a bit of cash.) I’ve been eagerly awaiting this publication and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

2) Best American Poetry 2012, guest editor Mark Doty, series editor David Lehman – I’m not sure any poetry collection can beat the Best American Poetry 2011 collection, edited by Kevin Young, but I read this collection pretty much every year.

3) The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman - I love the Smitten Kitchen blog and I’m so excited to jump into her cookbook.

4) Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver – Barbara Kingsolver has written some of my favorite books, but bad reviews have kept me from reading some of her most recent novels. Everything I’ve read about Flight Behavior has been praise, though!

5) Game of Thrones box set by George RR Martin – Too many Tumblr gif sets have convinced me that I need to finally read this book series and then watch the show. It looks like something I will love.

6) Geek Chic Crochet by Nicki Trench - I have been burned by many a crochet book. There’s usually only one or two pretty patterns and I’ve never actually completed any of them. I’m not sure what about these patterns make them geeky, or chic, other than all the models seem to be wearing thick framed glasses. But I’ve seen sweater patterns from these books that look pretty! And it’s hard to find a pretty crochet sweater pattern.

7) Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford – I’ve had a recent love affair with the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay and I don’t know much about her. This is also on the list of all the books that Rory Gilmore read.

8) Just One Day by Gayle Forman – I read and loved Gayle Foreman’s books If I Stay and Where She Went and I gave them to my sister. I wouldn’t mind if someone gave a copy of her newest to me!

9) The City’s Son by Tom Pollock – I met Tom Pollock at BEA and he convinced me that his book was worth reading. So… I’d like to read it.

10) A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel with art by Hope Larsen – Yes, please! No explanation needed.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted at The Broke & The Bookish! Check out the list of upcoming themes to participate.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books Published in 2012 That I Want to Read

This was a freebie month, so I thought I’d do a little reminder for myself that there were a lot of books published in 2012 that I’d really like to read, maybe before the end of the year. I don’t read a ton of new releases, so I don’t want these to fall under my radar this year:

1. Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through the Hidden Connections of the English Language by Mark Forsyth – This one came out in paperback in 2012 (totally counts!) and I love books about language, so of course this one made the list.

2. Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway – There was a lot of praise for this one when it came out, but I never quite got around to reading it. The premise sounds so odd and interesting and indescribable. I like that.

3. The Cove by Ron Rash – This book sounds so good. Set in the Appalachian Mountains during WWI with mythical, larger than life characters. Plus the author is known for his poetic language, something I adore.

4. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – Of course I’m going to read this book, but I want to wait until all the noise has died down about it. I want to go in with a totally open mind.

5. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – A lot of bloggers I trust have read and loved this book. On the list it goes!

6. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony – I think Vasilly read this and reviewed it and intrigued me. I love stories with unconventional narrative styles and it sounds like this one has it.

7. Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga – This book is originally published in Euskadi, the Basque language, and while that doesn’t exactly make it necessary to read, it does really intrigue me. The dark humor and satire that the summary promises, though, really does make me want to read it right away.

8. Ghosting by Kirby Gann – I’m obsessed with this cover/title/premise combo. Hopefully the book can live up to it all.

9. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain – I bought this one a while back on a whim. The title and plot sound interesting and I want to compare it with the other Iraq War novel I read this year, The Yellow Birds. 

10. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt - One person to blame for this one making the list: Chris! He’s been reading it lately and saying how much he loved it.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. It’s a weekly meme of bookish lists, because who doesn’t love a list?! For more information about participating in Top Ten Tuesday, take a look at this list of future topics!

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Best Friends

Oh, Top Ten Tuesday, how I love you!  Because, who doesn’t love a list?  This week is to list our literary best friends, the people from the books we’ve read.

1. Mena from Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande – I have shouted my love of this book from the rooftops and I really wish I could be friends with Mena in real life.  She’s stands up for what she believes in, even if she doesn’t really feel like a hero, or even very brave.  Everyone in her small town, including her parents and her school, turn against her, but she stands by what she did.

2. Cat from Fat Cat by Robin Brande – But Mena isn’t the only wonderful girl that Brande has written about that I want to be friends with – there’s also Cat.  Cat, overweight and an over achiever, turns herself into a science experiment when she eats only what early hominids would eat.  She discovers herself along the way and might fall in love, too.  Weight is such a taboo topic in literature, heavy characters are either funny or tragic, or they lose a lot of weight and suddenly become happy or, the opposite, depressed.  If a character is overweight, it defines them.  Yes, Fat Cat focuses a lot on Cat’s weight, but that is never, ever what defines her.

3. Leelee from Say the Last Word by Jeannine Garsee – Leelee was such a good friend to Shawna, I wanted to be her friend too.

4. Gertrude from Runaways by Brian Vaughn – Gertrude is bad ass.  Seriously, there is no other word to describe her.  She and her friends, children of evil villains, vow to do good by their parents’ wrongs.  Gertrude’s powers involve being mentally connected with a velociraptor.  Like I said, bad ass.

5. Marcelo from Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork – Who wouldn’t want to be friends with Marcelo?

6. Miranda from When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead – I loved Miranda, flaws and all.  I would have loved to have a best friend just like her when I was her age.  I did a really awful job reviewing this book when I read it, so please just go out and read it.  But make sure you read A Wrinkle in Time first.

7. Skim from Skim by Mariko Tamaki – I really appreciate it when I find an overweight girl in a YA novel that I can relate to.  I was bullied for my size in elementary and middle school and Skim is under the same pressure.  I wish I’d had a friend like Skim.

8.  Enzo from The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – Does a dog count?  I think so.  I loved this book, everything about it, but especially Enzo.  What I wouldn’t give for a dog like Enzo!

9.  Ella from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – I read Ella Enchanted so often when I was younger, I felt like Ella was a friend of mine.  Full of spunk that she doesn’t even know she has, Ella is a perfect role model.  The movie version of this book is an atrocity (even though I love Anne Hathaway).

10.  Meg and Charles Wallace from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – This is probably the book that shaped me as a reader more than any other.  I already feel like I know Meg and Charles Wallace better than I know some in real life friends, so I thought they would be a perfect ending to this  list.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books that Made You Cry

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday list is near and dear to my heart – books that make you cry!  Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I tend to let the waterworks flow when it comes to anything that is remotely sad.  That Kleenex commercial where everyone talks about their sadnesses?  Yup, made me cry.  That phone commercial where the couple falls in love and their son becomes president?  Might have shed a tear or two.  Every Lifetime movie ever made? Forget about it.  When it comes to books, I’m a little more discerning.  Only certain books have really made me cry buckets, but here they are.

Note: Yes, this means I have returned from Spain!  I will be posting all about it soon!  Once I get all my pictures in order.  Oh, friends I have some stories to tell you!


1. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman – This book didn’t just make me cry, it made me sob.  I sobbed unrelenting buckets of tears, all the while trying to remain very very quiet because everyone in the house was still sleeping.  If I Stay is about Mia, a girl who has a wonderful life with her wonderful family and boyfriend.  Except for when, on an afternoon drive, her mother, father and brother are killed in a car accident that leaves her in a coma, but still conscious of her surroundings.  Mia is left with a choice: should she stay, and live in this new world she doesn’t understand that doesn’t include her family, or should she join her family?  And I know that description sounds trite, but this book is full of absolutely wonderful moments that make the loss of Mia’s family unbearable.  My review of this book is clearly pitiful because I did not once mention how much it made me cry.

2. Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee – I read this book for Nerds Heart YA and it made it all the way to the final round!  Though it was runner-up and not the winner of the whole tournament, this book is one that everyone should read.  Shawna’s mom leaves her father for another woman and Shawna never forgives her.  In the first few chapters, Shawna’s mother dies and she is left with all sorts of questions about what happened between her mother and father, not to mention an entirely new family.  This book is touching and real  and often heartbreaking, but it’s a wonderful story.

3. Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee – This book is bound to make anyone cry, about a precocious young boy whose grandfather dies when they go on a walk together.  Anu tries to understand his grandfather’s death by becoming closer to the gods.  This book is seriously amazing and paired with the fact that I read it shortly after losing my own grandmother, I cried, a lot.

4. The Untelling by Tayari Jones – Jones’s lovely novel about a woman who is trying to have a baby is perfect.  I loved every single thing about it, including the connection I felt with Aria.  Her situation brought me to tears quite a few times.

5. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb – I have a lot of bones to pick with Mr. Lamb, but the first 100 or so pages of this book that described, through Lamb’s unique fictional lens, the tragedy of Columbine absolutely shattered me.  I didn’t stop crying and finished the rest of this 700-page doorstop in two days.

6. City of Thieves by David BanioffCity of Thieves is a comedy, so perhaps it’s a bit strange that it is appearing on this list, but it is exactly because of its humor that the ending of this book is so tragic and tear-worthy.

7. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters – I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about this book before.  I loved this book to pieces and I think it is the best thing that Sarah Waters has ever written (yes, it’s better than Fingersmith).  I don’t know that I thought that at the time I read it, but since then it has made it possibly into my top ten list.  This story is so sad, like most of Waters’s stories, so you’re going to go into it prepared, but it still made me cry.  I listened to it on audio, so that was awkward.  I guess I could always say I was crying because of the traffic.

8. Kitchen by Banana Yohsimoto – Go read this book.  Just do it.  It defies description and is just amazing.  Also might make you cry.

9. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patric Ness – I’m sure this one made a lot of lists.  This book is sad for many reasons, but there’s always that one reason that gets everyone in the end.  I’m currently reading Monsters of Men, the third book in the trilogy and I was just reminded about that thing that made everyone cry and I almost teared up again.

10. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien – This is another book that I have shouted from the rooftops that everyone should read, but nothing made me cry like hearing Tim O’Brien read aloud from this book and a book that he is currently working on.  There was not a dry eye in that entire tent during the 2009 National Book Festival.

For more Top Ten Tuesdays, check out The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite book quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is a new feature for me that I’ve always seen on English Major’s Junk Food, one of my favorite blogs.  It’s run by The Broke and the Bookish, a new-to-me blog I discovered during BBAW.   Finally this week I’ve decided to participate!

This week’s topic is Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes

1. That’s one good thing about this world… there are always sure to be more springs.” – Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery

Doesn’t that quote just sum up the entire series beautifully?  I love Anne.

2. We were lost then.  And talking about dark!  You think dark is just one color, but it ain’t.  There’re five or six kinds of black.  Some silky, some wooly.  Some just empty.  Some like fingers.  And it don’t stay still.  It move and changes from one kind of black to another.  Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green.  What kind of green?  Green like my bottles?  Green like a grasshopper?  Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to a storm.  Well, night black is the same way.  May as well be a rainbow.” - Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

I think this is gorgeous, and so true.

3. “And this is our life, exempt from public haunt,
finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything.” - As You Like It by William Shakespeare

As You Like It is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and I love this quote.

4. “Shredding and slicing, dividing and subdividing, the clocks of Harley Street nibbled at the June day, counselled submission, upheld authority and pointed out in chorus the supreme advantages of a sense of proportion, until the mound of time was so far diminished that a commercial clock, suspended above a shop on Oxford Street, announced, genially and fraternally, as if it were a pleasure to Messrs. Rigby and Lowndes to give the information graüs, that it was half-past one.” – Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I knew I had to pick a quote from Mrs. Dalloway because I’m pretty sure I tried to quote the whole book in my review.  This one is just wonderful.  I love what it does with the concept of time and clocks, but also the way it uses language.


Just when I begin to believe English is lucky,
full of choices like trumpet and ash, curlicue,
olive, armrest and hostile, I see that its vastness

is urban, lonely: too many people live in its center,
and the environs are losing population fast.
Few are interested in leaving the inner cities of language,

so each tongue shrinks, deletes its consummate
geographies, copse and dell, ravine and fen,
boonies, coulées, bailiwicks, and sloughs.But English is not the only shrinking province.

I watch two French boys on the train
from Turin to Nice burn a pair of earphones,

delighted as the plastic withers, whitens,
sends up its little wick of toxic smoke. Watch
and wow and fuck, all the words they need to test

the butane’s power to make plastic disappear.
Not sure if I can understand their chat, they test me too.
The one with his thumb on the flame looks at me

from under lavish lashes, merest shadow
of mustache riding his budded lips, Diable,
he asks me, how you say him in English?

and I marvel at how few syllables
anyone needs to make a world. – Leslie Adrienne Miller

Sorry, it might be a bit much to quote an entire poem, but this is one of my all-time favorite poems.  I think it’s perfect.

5. “I wanted to tell him that I knew how he felt, though I probably did not.  How can you know what another person is going through when your own life is so different from his?  People had done this to me often enough, telling they knew how I felt because they had suffered this or that loss, felt some sort of pain.  The words were in my mouth to tell Lawrence that I knew what it was not to be able to make the family you want to have, not because you are a bad person or because you haven’t tried hard enough, but because you just can’t.  I could predict his response, his words, polite enough, thanking me for my empathy, my generosity of spirit.  And I could imagine his thoughts, that no, I couldn’t possibly empathize.  Our situations were not the same at all.” – The Untelling by Tayari Jones.

I don’t know how many times I’ve thought this or felt this, on both sides.  I love the way that Jones put that into words.

6.” She supposed that houses, after all – like the lives that were lived in them – were mostly made of space.  It was the spaces, in fact, which counted, rather than the bricks.” – The Night Watch by Sarah Waters.

Maybe you’ve heard me talk about The Night Watch?  I loved it and this quote sums up why.

7. “Sometimes you never feel meaner than the moment you stop being mean.  It’s like how turning on a light makes you realize how dark the room had gotten.  And the way you usually act, the things you would have normally done, are like these ghosts that everyone can see but pretends not to.” When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me is a novel heavily influenced by A Wrinkle in Time, another favorite of mine.  Isn’t this quote lovely?

8. “I think: perhaps there’s a light inside people, perhaps a clarity; perhaps people aren’t made of darkness, perhaps certainties are a breeze inside people, and perhaps people are the certainties they possess.” The Implacable Order of Things by Jose Luis Piexoto

I really should have featured The Implacable Order of Things during BBAW.  I don’t know any other book blogger who has read it and it is amazing.  So beautiful and perfect, though fairly upsetting.

9.” Is it her, will she know
What I’ve seen & done,
How my boots leave little grave-stone
shapes in the wet dirt,” Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyakaa

I recently reminded you of my love for Yusef Komunyakaa and these four lines are an example of why.  He takes something that is so simple (the shape of a footprint) and turns it into something so much bigger than that.  I love it.

10. “Days I have held,
days I have lost,

days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.”

“Midsummer, Tobago” by Derek Walcott

Another quote from a poem to round out the list.  Never was there a more perfect description of life slipping away.

I’ve really enjoyed participating in Top Ten Tuesday!  It think I’ll be back next week!