These ten books are good. Really good. I know I couldn't put them down — I may even read them again.
Right now my mind is mush (yours would be too if you did what I did for a living) so the best I can say about these titles is that they're all character driven, and that's what I like in a book. They're each set at different times and places and each character has different wants and needs... but all are all powerful and strong with some definite sort of message.
Oh, and how good are these books? They're so good that they'll not only make you wish your flight was longer, they may even make you forget that you're cramped in a middle seat in coach. And I should know — I'm a flight attendant.
by Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt was the last of that literary Brat Pack of the '80s that included writers like Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz. Unlike their books, which tended to be about young adults in big cities who took a lot of drugs and had a lot of sex, The Secret History is set at a small college campus (probably based on Bennington), and features a lot of snow, atmosphere and obsession. It gives classics majors the kind of glamorous intrigue they hardly ever have in real life.
by J.D. Salinger
Meredith Nudo from Houston, Texas says:
Read "Catcher in the Rye" because Salinger gets you. He knows what it's like to want to save a world that may not necessarily appreciate what you have to offer. It's worth reading if you feel an earnest need to know you're not alone on this planet.
by Sarah Dunn
by Vladimir Nabokov
Laura Marello says:
All my life I've been surprised that people misjudged Lolita. How could you think the author wants you to sympathize with a character named Humbert Humbert? Lolita is about a sensitive subject — a man who marries a woman to get to her twelve year-old daughter, but it is literature, make no mistake. It's a disturbing, haunting, creepy and disgusting book. It's also a modern classic.
by Margaret Atwood
Anne Charnock says:
Atwood insists on categorizing The Handmaid's Tale as speculative fiction as opposed to science fiction since she feels no technological breakthroughs are needed to make this story a reality. This book is a landmark in feminist dystopian literature and tackles the issue of religious fascism. However, I felt The Handmaid's Tale required a greater suspension of disbelief than other dystopian stories in this list. Nevertheless, Atwood raises a spectre that sticks in the mind.
by Ann Patchett
Stephanie Dowrick says:
As a little girl my parents allowed my older sister and me to read everywhere — even during meals. Burying myself in a novel is perhaps the most consistent joy stretching through my entire life and my latest favorite is Ann Patchett’s astonishing and utterly engaging Bel Canto. It's a musical novel in every sense — not just because of its title or because several of its most compelling, unforgettable characters are musicians. It literally “plays” upon your inner ear, is full of surprises, has haunting “recitatives” and, when the end comes, you can only feel heartbreak that you cannot know more about every one of these people who have become so real to you that you can not only hear them, you can taste them. Isn’t it true that reading is a deeply, deeply sensual as well as intellectual and sometimes spiritual experience? This book utterly illuminates that.
by Barbara Kingsolver
Amanda Hamilton from Columbia, SC says:
I was hesitant to read this book for years, but once I did, the story captured me. The story of a family of missionaries in Africa was compelling, and the use of multiple narrators kept the plot moving and allowed for differentiation in the structure. It is both sad and uplifting, but ultimately well worth the time. I have since read all of Kingsolver's novels, but this is the one I return to most.
by Anchee Min
J McH says:
A story of the last empress of Imperial China. In its last years the bureaucracy in the Forbidden City where 'Orchid' had to live as a concubine was full of corruption and deceit. 'Orchid' has been vilified ever since as an evil, conniving woman who was largely responsible for the weakness of China against the European powers such as France, Germany and Britain. Anchee Min portrays 'Orchid' as a woman who is doing what she has to to survive (and make the most of) the situation she is in. So the book gives the reader greater insight into the woman herself, her motives and restricted vision, beyond the stereotype. Survival and politics... fascinating.
by Wally Lamb
David M. says:
Wally Lamb does an excellent job of combining well-written literature and awareness for mental illness. As a social worker who minored in English, Lamb integrates these two subjects well. The characters are so real and yet tragic. This tome (about 900 pages) will keep you hooked as you explore the lives of these characters, while raising awareness for schizophrenia.
by Ayn Rand
Miss Hannah says:
Throughout history there have been people who have, through pure genius and hard work, moved mankind beyond its limits. Like Atlas, who carried the world on his shoulders, most of these people lived (and died) unappreciated. But where would we be without them? What would we do if our indifference caused them to stop trying? What if our ingratitude caused them to leave us to our own devices? "Atlas Shrugged" will at different moments leave you feeling confused, disturbed, empowered, powerless, skeptical, and even, for a few pages, bored. But through it all, it will have you fascinated, challenging what you thought you knew about human nature, and maybe even re-examining your stand on many issues. Not a book I would recommend taking to a tropical beach, but a great read for the student of human nature, the soul searcher in every reader.
Recommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime. more...
About Heather Poole
Yep, that's me, the one standing in the aisle wearing flammable polyester... (Oh, and I have a personal blog too.)
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