Tuesday, April 3, 2007

My Five Star Books

Although I've always been a voracious reader, I've only been keeping a written record of what I read since 2002. From time to time I go back over my book journal and reminisce about what I've read. A few years ago I started rating my books on a scale of 1-5. Most of the books I've read have between a 3-4 point rating. Anything less than that, I've probably stopped reading. The real joy is the books that have greater than 4 points. There are quite a few with 4.5 but very few 5 point, or as I'll call them here, 5 star books.

What makes a 5 star book for me? I like a book that makes me FEEL something - I've noticed more and more that I describe a book to someone else more by how it made me feel reading it and my emotions surrounding it, than the actual storyline.

Some of these books might not be on this list if I read them now, or if I hadn't read them at a particular time in my life. Some of them have made me cry, some have made me laugh. Some have helped me to learn something or question something I thought I knew. All of these books have touched my soul. All of them have moved me. All of them have stayed with me in the front of my memory. All of them are the reason I am a reader; those of us who are readers are always, I believe, on the search for that next perfect book, the one that reminds us why we read in the first place.

Many of these books will be familiar to you. Some will not be. I urge you to seek them out.

This list feels so intimate to me, because books people love seem to offer a view into their soul. What if you hated all these books that I list? Does that mean we're too different to ever get along?

In no particular order:

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffeneger
Tilt - Elizabeth Burns
The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
A High and Hidden Place - Michele Claire Lucas
The Bright Forever - Lee Martin
Anya - Susan Fromberg Schaeffer
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks
Wives and Daughters - Elizabeth Gaskell
Snow Flower and The Secret Fan - Lisa See
The Mercy of Thin Air - Ronlyn Domingue
Up From Orchard Street - Eleanor Widner

America's Women - Gail Collins
The Sisters; The Saga of The Mitford Family - Mary Lovell
My Life in France - Julia Child
Lilla's Feast - Frances Osborne
Random Family - Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Inside the Victorian Home - Judith Flanders
The Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan
There Are No Children Here - Alex Kotlowitz

What are your five star books? I'd love to know.


Elaine said...

Tara - I tell you now there is no chance of NOT getting on with someone who has Jane Eyre and Pride adn Prejudice on their list! Elaine

Matt said...

Looks like I've made some good choices on my TBR list as I have not a few of your five star books on it. I think one of the things that keeps me reading is the hope that the next book I read will become one of my favorites.

I've been interested in Middlesex but hesitant to add it to my list, I'm not one for graphic or gratuitous sex (bit of a prude, I guess) and I was afraid it might include that. Am I right or wrong?

Tara said...

Matt - I did read Middlesex a few years ago, it is primarily a huge sweeping family saga. It is such a unique book, what I'm about to say sounds worse that it actually was - there is some incest. As far as sexual situations, what I remember most was a section in the middle of the book dealing with our main character, a hermaphrodite, experiencing his/her first sexual feelings, a bit of 'coming of age' situation with another young person. It's written very emotionally, very intimately and is of course a big turning point for the character. I wouldn't consider it gratuitous. Not sure if that makes you more or less likely to read the book , but it really is wonderful.