Monday, January 21, 2013

Top Ten Books I've Read

In no particular order, here are my top ten books that I think everyone should read.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares

  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
  • The Second Summer of the Sisterhood
  • Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
  • Sisterhood Everlasting
If you are a young girl or young woman and you haven’t read this amazing series yet, go to the library and checkout book one now.  The series follows four best friends, Tibby, Lena, Bridget and Carmen, from high school to adulthood.  In book one, for the first time, the girls were all going to be apart during the summer.  Tibby, the filmmaker, stays at home to work at the local Walman’s.  Lena travels to Greece to visit family.  Bridget goes off to a soccer camp in Mexico, and Carmen visits her father in North Carolina.  Before departing, Carmen finds a pair of pants at a thrift store.  On the night before the four girls will be separated, she brings the pants with her.  Each of the girls tries on the pants and discovers it fits each of them perfectly, even though they are all different sizes.  They decided to send the pants to each other over the course of the summer and set up ten rules for wearing the pants.

As the summer progresses, each girl discovers something about themselves.  The pants link all of them since they can’t be together.  It’s ultimately a coming of age story and I think every woman should read the series.  Think of it as Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Callie Khouri for younger women.  

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

  • Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
I have read the entire series twice.  This series is especially close to my heart because I was ten years old when the first book came out and at 22 years old, I am still a huge fan of the series.  My favorite part of the series is how the books parallel topics ranging from world history to Greek mythology.  I’m not going to write a synopsis for this series because it is such a popular series.  However, if you haven’t read the series yet, do it!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin

This is such a beautiful love story about two people who come from different socio-economic backgrounds and seem like completely different people.  The Bennet’s are a family of seven.  Mrs. Bennet is a busybody whose main goal is to marry off each of her five daughters.  In those times, women couldn’t inherit, so it is important to Mrs. Bennet that they each daughter marry well.  Mr. Bennet is a loving man who isn’t as pushy as his wife.  Then there are the five Bennet girls.  Jane, the oldest, is a sweet, beautiful woman who never sees the bad in anybody.  Next is Elizabeth, who is a strong, smart woman.  Mary, the third daughter, is a piano player as well as a spinster in the making.  Finally, there are the two youngest Bennet’s, Kitty and Lydia.  The youngest Bennet daughters are silly, boy crazy girls as well as best friends.

Jane falls in love with Mr. Bingley, a rich bachelor who loves her back.  The Bennets also meet Mr. Bingley’s friend, Mr. Darcy, who has even more money than Mr. Bingley.  He is a reserved man and comes off as prideful and superior.  Elizabeth Bennet immediately dislikes him. 

This story is about how two seemingly different people can actually be alike and perfect for each other.  I can’t give this book justice, so you will just have to go out and read the book yourself. (Sense and Sensibility is also a phenomenal book by Jane Austin).   

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I am not even going to try and summarize this book because not only is it a long book, it jumps around between multiple characters. Therefore, I am just going to give you the Wikipedia summary:

"The Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel by Ken Follett published in 1989 about the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England.  It is set in the middle of the 12th century, primarily during the Anarchy, between the time of the sinking of the White Ship and the murder of Thomas Becket.  The book traces the development of Gothic architecture out of the preceding Romanesque architecture, and the fortunes of the Kingsbridge priory and village against the backdrop of historical events of the time."

I experienced many different emotions when I read this book: anger, excitement, sadness, hope, happiness, and more.  If you enjoy historical fiction as much as I do, read this book.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

This book is set in biblical times and features the family of Jacob son of Issac.  However, the story is told from the perspective of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter.  The red tent is where woman go during their menstrual cycle.  The woman of Jacob’s family bond in this tent and the book is ultimately about womanpower in a time where women didn’t have a vote. 

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This is a classic book everyone should read.  It has been a long time since I have read the book and I would love to read it again.  Because I haven’t read it in about almost 7 years, I am providing you with the Amazon summary:

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield.

Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

There are many voices in this novel: children's voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden's voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.”

The Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini

  • Eragon
  • Eldest
  • Brisinger
  • Inheritance
First off, let me start by saying that Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon when he was only 15 years old!  Second, the book is a phenomenal fantasy series for young adults.  I actually haven’t read Inheritance yet and I have to reread the series before reading the last book. 

Again, here is the Amazon summary of the series:

“The Inheritance cycle is the unforgettable, worldwide bestselling saga of one boy, one dragon, and a world of adventure. When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he and his dragon, Saphira, are thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands…”

The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind

  • Wizard’s First Rule
  • Stone of Tears
  • Blood of the Fold
  • Temple of the Winds
  • Soul of the Fire
  • Faith of the Fallen
  • The Pillars of Creation
  • Naked Empire
  • Chainfire
  • Phantom
  • Confessor
  • The Omen Machine
This is an adult fantasy series, so I do not recommend anyone under the age of 18 to read this series.  I read this series as each book came out and as such, cannot give you a good summary of the series.  Therefore, I will provide you with another Amazon review:“The series is set in a world divided into two major regions: the New World and the Old World. The New World consists of three lands with Westland in the west, D'Hara in the east and the Midlands in the center of the two. D'Hara is ruled by a magically gifted member of the Rahl family, while the welfare of the Midlands is decided by a council of representatives led by the Mother Confessor, who is also the leader of the Confessors. The Confessors are a group of women who each have a magical power to force a person to become entirely devoted to them, allowing them to fulfill their purpose – to find the truth. Westland, a land of no magic, is also ruled by a council of representatives. The Old World is not introduced until the second book in the series and its geographical features are described in less detail.

The main character is a young man named Richard Cypher, a Westland woods guide whose simple life is forever changed after he becomes the Seeker of Truth – a position similar to that of a Confessor, requiring him to uphold justice in the world. Over the course of the series, Richard learns about his heritage while seeking to stop the evil that others would unleash upon the world of the living. Because Richard refuses to sacrifice his values and lives his life as a free man, others begin to understand the nobility of man and what it means to be free. Each book is loosely themed around a Wizard's Rule, tenets by which all wizards should abide.”

The Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King
Everyone should read this classic fantasy series.  In a world of hobbits, elves, dwarves, men, orcs and other various magical creatures, an evil tyrant named Sauron terrorizes Middle Earth.  A young hobbit named Frodo Baggins comes into possession of an evil ring.  The ring was forged by Sauron and was created to hold sway over 19 other rings given to the race of elves, dwarves and men.  Frodo goes on a journey to thrust the ring into the fires of Mount Doom, the only way the ring can be destroyed.  He is accompanied by eight others: Samwise, Meriodoc, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf the Grey, Legolas, Boromir, and Gimli.  

Read this series!

Anything by Ellen Hopkins (below are the books I have read)

  • Crank
  • Burned
  • Impulse
  • Identical
  • Glass
  • Perfect
Each book above is written entirely in prose.  The books are for young adults and cover various issues some teenagers face, from drug abuse to suicide.  I love these books because they are unique.  There aren’t many novels out there written completely in prose.

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