Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Smattering of my All-Time Favorite Reads!!!

Here are 24 of my personal Highly-Recommended Books

Ranging from Fun & fluffy reads, Favorites I always return to, Suspenseful page turners, Fascinating, Powerful, Non-fiction psychology, etc.  But all of the books on this list are outstanding.

*All the little reviews underneath the photos are my own personal thoughts on each book!

So sexy, so soon by Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne: An excellent and important read about the issue of our children being forced into a sexualized childhood because of the messages and images our mass media produces on a regular basis.  Really fascinating and powerful, the statistics and personal stories that are shared.

A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett: One of my favorite books EVER.  An incredible, fast-paced, gripping read, and a towering tale to boot that spans over the course of many years, following one family through scandal, debauchery and treachery as they go to great lengths to keep a crime buried that was committed years before (the murder of a young classmate while in boarding school).  All set against the backdrop of the glitz and contrasting underbelly of London.  AWESOME.  I have read this one three times.

The Friendship Factor by Alan Mcginnis:  I really enjoy this book.  A non-fiction about the numerous ways in which to be a good friend :-) which I think surprisingly less of us then one might hope really know.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult: Incredibly powerful and moving story, told with the backdrop of WW2 throughout much of it.  One portion of the story is told through the gripping lens of a concentration camp prisoner and the other part is told through the lethal eyes of a SS Officer.  Whoa.  Some of the scenes in this book are still etched in my memory.  An amazing story.  Cannot recommend it enough.  

The Five People You Meet in Heaven & Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom:  Love both of these stories.  Both emotional and moving.  I highly recommend reading the synopsis for these stories on  Both will make you think twice about life in general.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: A deeply moving memoir about a young girl who grew up in extreme poverty with parents who were conflicting personas, both neglecting and yet, sometimes surprisingly wonderful.  I could not put this book down.  Its incredibly inspirational and haunting.

Needful Things by Stephen King: LOVE this story.  For the Horror fans out there, this is the ultimate.  Both scary and densely layered, the plot in this book thickens as the story goes on, gripping you tighter and tighter as you continue to read.  A fantastic tale.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett: This is an inspiring and emotional story about African American maids in the south during segregation and a young white woman who decides she wants to do something about the way these women are treated.  So she begins to write a book with the help of many maids about their experiences.  Shocking, sad and even at moments, funny, this book is tough to put down.

The entire Harry Potter series: To anyone who dismisses these books with the typical comment I have heard all too often, something along the lines of "I am not into magic books."  My god.  How can one dismiss THE best selling book series of all time so quickly??  And second, saying Harry Potter is about magic is barely scratching the surface of the true essence of these stories.  It is like saying "Traveling is nice."  So generic, vague and does not even begin to encompass the awesome-ness of the actual thing being described.  Harry Potter contains everything.  Yes magic, but also horror.  Heartbreak.  Suspense.  Excitement.  Romance.  Incredible characters.  A densely layered, deeply woven plot with so many different aspects.  If you haven't read these yet, you must.  The first three are slightly geared more towards the kiddies, but are must reads for the background information.  Book four kicks the stories up into high gear and way into adult territory.

Just Kids by Patti Smith:  Loved this book.  I knew nothing about Patti Smith before picking it up, nor have I ever really had an interest in her.  I picked it up simply for the amazing reviews it got.  The book did not disappoint.  It was written in a lyrical and beautiful way.  The story itself was moving, fascinating and inspiring.  A unique and unconventional love story.  I could not put it down actually.

The Definitive Book of Body Language by Barbara Pease: Exactly what it looks like.  A fun and super interesting read about body language and how to analyze it, with photos included and all.  After reading this, you will never look at people the same again ;-)

How to be an Adult in Relationships by David Richo: An excellent read and one I think all people should be required to read actually.  This book really opens one's eyes to what it means to truly love others, romantically or even in terms of friendship or loving one's child.  After reading this book, one realizes that so many of us do not know how to truly love.  So many of us try to control, judge, hold onto anger when people are not what we wish they were, etc.  Fairly normal human reactions, but none of which reflect real, mature love (but more of a childish, selfish love).  A great, eye-opening read.

Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson: A fun guide about relationships in general, whether single or in a relationship, I enjoyed this read a lot :-)

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman: A fascinating book about the science behind human emotions.

Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss:  This is a great book, especially to give one some potentially new perspective about dealing with emotional challenges in life.  I highly recommend this book to give oneself a more accepting and peaceful point of view, about dealing with life challenges in general, whether its relationships, friends, stressful job, etc.  Very inspiring.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold:  This is an awesome story.  About a young girl who is murdered and then watches from heaven as the life of her family members and close friends continue on earth below her.  Magical, beautiful and intriguing with some suspense thrown in.  My favorite scene: the one when she falls to earth.  It took my breath away.

Misery by Stephen King: Again for Horror fans, a GREAT psychological horror, whoa.  About a famous writer who crashes his car and is recued by a woman.  This woman initially brings him to her home to care for him.  She claims she is his #1 fan ;-) however upon discovering the ending to his most recent story (a book series he has published) is not to her liking, he soon finds himself captive in her home and writing for his life.  A total nail-biter!!!!

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond: One of the best cookbooks I have ever seen.  Filled with bright colored photos for every single recipe.  Which for me personally is a must in any cookbook.  The recipes are fun and delicious.

Zoo Story by Thomas French: Written by a Pulitzer Prize winner, this is the non-fiction account of two stories.  A zoo in Florida in which we are introduced to many of the animals and learn of their personal stories, told in such a way that it humanizes them and fascinates the reader, along with the general ethics of zoos being explored.  Incredibly well-written and interesting.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett: A thrilling adventure read!!!  Set in the Amazon rain forest, about a young woman who ventures there to track down her colleague and close friend.  Whoa.  There is a mind blowing scene with an anaconda I can still conjure up.  Really exciting story.  And I loved the ending.

The Rainmaker by John Grisham: This was recommended to me by one of my best friends, Jenna.  Initially I bulked at this book.  Set in a courtroom, a book about law, sounded incredibly boring and so not my type of story.  How wrong I was.  This story hooked me pretty quickly and sped ahead to a nail-biting finish.  About a young lawyer fresh out of school who receives what starts out as a small case but blows up into something monumental.  During the courtroom scenes, I was shocked to find myself riveted!!!

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden:  Synopsis from as I thought they said it best....

Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it. 

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.

PS. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern:  A beautiful and surprisingly un-cheesy love story about a young woman whose great love has recently passed away.  However she is shocked to find, he has left much behind for her.  He essentially left for her, a path toward her healing for after he is gone.  As she uncovers romantic notes and gifts he has left her (both tangible things and experiences), she finds herself...laughing again.  Coming back into herself once more.  And finding the strength within her to let go of the pain and try to move forward.  Deeply moving and powerful.  No comparison to the movie.  The book is WAY better.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi.  For Horror fans, cannot recommend this one enough.  A true-crime story about the famous Manson murders that took place in California during 1969.  The actress Shannon Tate was murdered, along with others.  The most gripping thing about all of this?  The man behind the killings, Charles Manson, never actually lifted a finger or killed anyone.  He was able to convince a number of young people to do the killings for him.  People who called themselves "the family."  And oh man, the stuff that goes on within "the family" is incredibly disturbing and gripping.  A truly creepy and chilling book.  I absolutely could not put it down.

I hope you enjoyed this list!!!  And maybe found a new great read for the fast-approaching summer ;-)

A favorite afternoon activity of mine (or break activity during the workday), raspberry cheesecake and a green tea.   YUM!  Along with the requisite book of course!!!

1 comment:

  1. Great list of books! I have read and LOVE Misery and Needful Things. Excellent stories by a master storyteller. Just Kids was one of the best books I've ever read. Am currently attempting to get into Ken Follett's A Dangerous Fortune.