Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Loved but Never Blogged About

Over at The Broke and the Bookish (isn't that a great title for a blog?) there's this weekly feature called Top Ten Tuesday.  Every week I tell myself that I'm going to start participating in this, and every week I don't.  But, seeing that I am stuck for a blog topic today and because I love today's topic, what better day to join in the fun?

This week's topic? Give a shout-out to all those books you loved but never reviewed, either because you read them before you started blogging or because you didn't get a chance to review when you read it.

OK, so in perusing my Goodreads list (Finally got around to joining! Come be my friend!) here are 10 books I loved but have never (really) blogged about, in no particular order:

1. Making Peace with Autism: One Family's Story of Struggle, Discovery and Unexpected Gifts, by Susan Senator (Trumpeter, 2005)

After Boo's diagnosis in 2004, I read quite a few autism-related books.  Susan Senator's memoir was the first one I read that was written from the perspective of a parent and how this affects the entire family. (It was also, through Susan's website, how I became acquainted with some of the most incredible people blogging about autism and special needs.) Finally, someone understood what our world was like ("We were becoming a crack little family, full of strategy and purpose, yet no matter what we did, or how well prepared for each new event, we still could not prevent or predict the little spasms of sadness that would seize us from time to time.").  Finally, another parent gave us hope. (“Because of this strange and terrible gift, we cannot be typical, we cannot be normal.  But this is certain: we are OK.  And we stand together, sometimes against the autism, sometimes against the world.  But always together as a family.”)

2. First Comes Love, by Marion Winik (Vintage, 1997)

Oh my God, I loved this memoir.  I think I read it in a day or two, if that. (This was back in 2007, a full year before I started blogging.) Marion Winik fell in love with the man who would become her husband, despite the fact that she was straight and he was gay. Nonetheless, they got married and had two sons.  As the summary says, their "impossible love turned out to be true enough ... to weather drug addiction, sexual betrayal, and the AIDS that would kill Tony at the age of 37, twelve years after they met."  Clearly, this one isn't for everyone, but it is well worth the read. 

3. Curtains: Adventures of an Undertaker-in-Training, by Tom Jokinen (Da Capo Press, 2010)

Well, look at that ... I actually do have a review halfway written of this one, so maybe it will get published here one day. But in case it doesn't, this is one hell of a drop-dead hilarious book. I have this kind of fascination with all things death-related, and Tom Jokinen seems to share my interest in this regard.  He signs up as an apprentice with a funeral home, and his memoir shines a light on the death industry. Sounds morbid, I know ... you might just die laughing. 

4.  Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen (Penguin, 2001)

I love David Allen.  LOVE. HIM.  And when I am able to stay on the bandwagon and really do his GTD system, I am at my best, productively-speaking.  I've read many, many, many time-management/organization/get-your-shit-together-already types of books, and no system or approach works for me the way this does. I've been known to re-read this several times.

5. Not Even Wrong: Adventures in Autism, by Paul Collins (Bloomsbury USA, 2004)

Another autism memoir. (You're sensing a trend here with the memoirs, huh?  So am I.)  While Collins writes poignantly about his son Morgan's diagnosis, he also takes a historical approach, putting autism in a different context.  From the summary: "Examining forgotten geniuses and obscure medical archives, Collins's travels take him from an English churchyard to the Seattle labs of Microsoft, and from a Wisconsin prison cell block to the streets of Vienna. It is a story that reaches from a lonely clearing in the Black Forest into the London palace of King George I, from Defoe and Swift to the discovery of evolution; from the modern dawn of the computer revolution to, in the end, the author's own household."

6. The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano (Viking, 2010)

I read this earlier this year and proclaimed that it would be appearing on my Best Books Read in 2011 list.  Alas, I never wrote up a real review - and now that months have gone by, I probably never will.  But I absolutely loved this, and it is very much well worth the read. From Goodreads: "A prime number can only be divided by itself or by one-it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, both "primes," are misfits who seem destined to be alone. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit. But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface."

7. Birds of America: Stories by Lorrie Moore (Picador, 1999)

Lorrie Moore is just the epitome of perfection as a short story writer.  Truly, nobody writes like she does in this format.  I may not have liked her most recent novel, A Gate at the Stairs, (in fact, I really didn't like it much at all) but her short stories are another matter altogether.  They're exquisite.  "People Like That Are the Only People Here" is probably the best short story I've ever read.  Ever.

8. What Do You Think? The 100 Best Columns of Darrell Sifford (Philadelphia Newspapers, 1994)

Darrell Sifford was a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer for many years, up until his untimely death in 1992.  (He drowned on a much-anticipated, month-long vacation to Belize.)  He was a master wordsmith and could say more in one newspaper column than most writers can say in a novel.  His topics were varied, but his focus was often on relationships and his perspective one that I haven't seen since.  It's hard to explain how you can miss someone you've never met, but Darrell would have found the perfect words.

9. Dangerous Neighbors, by Beth Kephart (Egmont, 2010)

I'm a little embarrassed that I haven't written up a proper review of this one yet, as I consider Beth a friend and Dangerous Neighbors a wonderful novel.  I read this in one day, sitting on the beach, and felt transported back in time to 1876 in Philadelphia, the year of the Centennial. Kephart, in her usual gorgeous style, brings the architecture and the history of her beloved city (and mine) to life.  There's a love story in this one. At its heart, Dangerous Neighbors is more of a love story to Philadelphia than any of Kephart's novels that I've read to date.  

10. I Was Amelia Earhart, by Jane Mendelsohn (Vintage, 1996) 

After finishing Dangerous Neighbors on vacation, I moved onto I Was Amelia Earhart which I also read in one day.  (I only had one day to read this, as I borrowed this from the small town library where we were staying.) This is the fictionalized story of Amelia Earhart, as told by Amelia Earhart (and imagined by Mendelsohn) about what really happened after her plane disappeared.  I never expected to love this as much as I did, and it is one that I kept scribbling quotes from nonstop.  Someday I'll post them, but for now, know that this is an absolute treasure.

How about you?  Do you share my love for any of these?  Are any of them new to you?

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Beth Kephart said...

Thank you! And I am honored, too, because there are many on this list that I love (I am a huge Jane Mendelsohn fan). So many, many thanks, Melissa. Yes, a love story. That is really the truth.

LBC said...

Birds of America and the Solitude of Prime Numbers are on my list. Curtains looks fun as well.

Come check out my list this week at The Scarlet Letter.

Team IQTELL said...

We love David Allen's Getting Things Done.

We loved it so much that we developed in our application a way to integrate his entire GTD workflow into our tasks and productivity application.

Anonymous said...

The only one I've read is I Was Amelia Earhart and it remains a favorite to this day. I think I need a reread.
I enjoyed reading about your other choices, most of them new to me. I think I need to find Getting things Done.