Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Suggestions

I just finished this book:

Super good.
And now I need another. 
I love historical fiction and I
love a good memoir...but one where the author has overcome tremendous odds.
(NOT politicians, NOT celebrities/entertainers.)
Just ordinary people.

Like these:


Any suggestions?

84 comments :

  1. Two of my very favorite memoirs are The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan and Expecting Adam by Martha Beck. I don't know that they fit into historical fiction at all though. They are both stories of mothers (overcoming big real life challenges), and I can tell you are a great one of those. Thanks for sharing your life in this space.

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  2. Loved The Colour of Water and Glass Castles. Have you read her other one, Half Broke Horses? And I remember reading A Tree Grow in Brooklyn over the course of a long weekend at the cottage when I was 15. Thanks for the other suggestions, now all I need is that Kindle for Christmas.

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  3. Eat Pray Love or The Gift of an Ordinary Day. Neither are historical but both are great.

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  4. The Middle Place is on my to read list ... I'm on goodreads.com which is wonderful - you can hook up with friends ands see what each other is reading and give reviews. It's free, you might want to check it out! The link is on my blog.

    I love books that make you think and of course sometimes I just want to read a book and be done with that story. I real A RELIABLE WIFE recently which was quite interesting. My bookclub read THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE MOON last month and this month we'll do HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY - that was weird but good but weird! lol I'm reading OLIVE KITTERDGE by Elizabeth Strout right now. Good luck - lots of wonderful reads out there.

    Tanya :)

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  5. Love the new header.

    I loved The Glass Castle. I also read Half Broke Horses that comes after it and enjoyed it.

    My most recent read was The Help - LOVED it.

    Now I'm trying to read The Lacuna b/c I love Barbara Kingsolver's historical fiction but gosh, it's hard to get through. It's not drawing me in.

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  6. 1. Just finished Intelligence: A Novel of the CIA by Susan Hasler. Engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking (though, like lots of fast-paced books, the character development wasn't quite up to snuff).

    2. Water For Elephants.

    3. Life of Pi.

    4. Have you read Mary Karr's memoirs? There are three, and they're very well-written...

    Tanya, I LOVED Olive Kitteridge!!!

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  7. Mao's Last Dancer is fantastic and is all about tremendous odds being overcome!! This book came highly recommended and did not disappoint!!

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  8. Have you read The Help by Kathryn Stockett?
    You will find good friends in the characters :)

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  9. I just read The Help. Loved,loved it. I am excited about reading some of your suggestions. I hope our small,itty bitty library has them.

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  10. I also liked A Reliable Wife and The Girl Who Chased the Moon. The latter was written by Sarah Addison Allen--all three of her books are wonderful, southern, magical. None are memoirs. Neither is The Forgotten Garden which I just finished, by Kate Morton and very good, kind of an epic spanning three generations of women, with a mystery to solve. I like magic and mysteries, but not "whodunnits".

    Galway Bay is one of my favorites too. Have you read Cold Mountain, or even Gone With the Wind, lately? So good. GWTW is a so much better written book than the movie would portray.

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  11. Ken Follett' Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. they are really big but they are some of the best books I have ever read. Also, anything by Siri Mitchell. A Constant Heart is my favorite. Love's Pursuit is really good too.

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  12. I forgot to add - See You In a Hundred years is a great read. It's about a family ( from New York) that decides to buy a farm house in the south and live like they did 100 years ago - no electricity,running water,car,etc. Very interesting and makes you think.

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  13. Reading Lolita in Tehran and Three Cups of Tea are both some of my favorites. The people in these books are some of the most amazing people in courage and determination.

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  14. Cutting for Stone is another vivid story of a "family" from Ethiopia.

    Devil in the White City - both you and your hubby will enjoy this tale at the 1893 World Fair

    Remarkable Creatures - young women scientists trying to compete in a
    field dominate by men

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  15. "Lift" and "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan

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  16. List of the best I've read in the last 1.5 years:

    The Kelly Corrigan ones listed above and...
    "A Thousand Splendid Suns"
    "The Kite Runner"
    "Sarah's Key"
    "Still Alice"
    "The Help"
    "The Forgotten Garden"
    "The House at Riverton"
    "Still Missing"

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  17. I have loved these books;

    The Help
    Life Is So Good
    The Same Kind of Different as Me
    The Year My Son and I Were Born

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  18. My favorite historical novel (to date) would have to be Outlander. LOVE that book. The first 2-3 chapters are slow, but then you get sucked in.

    Another book I read recently that I loved was Water for Elephants. SO so good.

    My ultimate favorite book, which I would completely recommend, would be East of Eden.

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  19. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - excellent. Also loved THe Help and Remarkable Creatures was another good one

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  20. I'm partial to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It was my favorite book as a child, and I've read it many times since. I even blogged about it: http://pricelessones.blogspot.com/2008/10/tre.html

    I might also recommend Red China Blues. It's written by a Chinese Canadian student who goes abroad to China during Mao's regime and faces her disillusionment up to and through the Tienanmen Square massacre.

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  21. I think that you would really like The Road From Coorain, Black Boy (PS)and Unafraid of the Dark- -all biographies

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  22. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of my favorite childhood novels. A couple of books, classics, that gave me similar feelings when I read them were Little Women and the Little House on the Prairie books, that doing without, making do, and giving to others in spite of personal difficulties. Those two are based on real people, too.

    If you don't care if it's pure fiction, I liked The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Island of the Blue Dolphins. Those are all childrens' books, though. Did you know that there's a sequel to Tree called Joy in the Morning? I don't know if it's as good as Tree was.

    If you haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird, that's an adult semi-biographical read that has a similar feel. I've recently re-read it and enjoyed it again. I think almost all of these require someone to have had a little adversity in their life to really understand the difficulties of the characters.

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  23. I loved the color of water.my favorite historical fiction is by sharon kay penman. It is heavy and you feel like you have actually learned something. I also fall in love with her characters every time. My very favorite of hers is here be dragons, about welsh and english conflicts during the time of king richard and king john. thanks for the recommendations!

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  24. I loved the The Help and I have heard from another person that Her Fearful Symmetry is good too. Another one mentioned to me was The Red Tent. And I am currently reading The Mighty Queens of Freeville.

    Thanks for posting some of your suggestions. I will be looking into those.

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  25. You've gotten great suggestions so far. There are a few that have already been mentioned that I really enjoyed. The Help, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and East of Eden are all great books.

    I'd also recommend The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It's an easy read but I loved it enough to read it twice. Black Like Me is good. It was written in the 50's by a Southern white man who darkened his skin and traveled the south as a black man to see what discrimination he would face. Rick Bragg's books are good.

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  26. My favorite historical fiction books have been: These Is My Words by Nancy Turner, The Help, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

    My favorite true stories that were very inspiring: Left to Tell by Ilibagiza, The Long Walk by Rawicz, and The Hiding Place by Corie ten Boom.

    Thanks for your suggestions, too! I don't know if you know about goodreads.com, but it's a great website to keep track of books you've read, are currently reading, and would like to read. There are reviews as well. I'm so glad for all the comments on this post, too, since I love the same kind of books. I've already found some good suggestions. Thanks!

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  27. I would also recommend The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.

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  28. Another vote for Left to Tell and The Hiding Place. They'll stick with you, for sure!

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  29. I just read the book Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. It is a story about the lives of two Chinese sisters.

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  30. I also enjoyed The Help and The Hiding Place. The Devil in the White City was a little creepy to me. I just read Funny in Farsi for book club and I loved it. It was a very quick read and all the ladies seemed to enjoy it.

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  31. I love glimpses into other religions.
    Two favorites are:
    Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A memoir of going home by Rhonda Janzen

    Saffron Days in LA: Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America by Piyananda

    Another really fun read is:
    A Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs. Funny and informative

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  32. You remind me of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love. I am sure you've heard that before. Just your looks, not who you are... she was a noncommittal mess and you clearly are not :) I love that book nonetheless.

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  33. My favorites this year are

    Shanghai Girls
    Snow Flower and The Secret Fan (Great)
    The Help
    Little Bee

    Good luck.

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  34. My brother-in-law just wrote a book called "Before My Heart Breaks". He is 37 and has lived with a severe congenital heart defect and received a transplant last September. It is an amazing story and his faith in God got him through. His name is Paul Cardall and is also a musician who composes and plays beautiful piano music

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  35. The Glass Castle is an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G book! My copy has been passed on to nearly everyone I know. Like you, I'm also looking for something good to read. Have you read 29 Gifts? That is one inspiring read!

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  36. Another recommendation for: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Great historical fiction about my own city (Seattle). I also loved Little Bee and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.
    I am making my list for next-reads from yours! : )

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  37. Two great memoirs I read recently:

    "How Starbucks Saved my Life" - EXCELLENT!
    "My Life From Scratch" - VERY GOOD, it's about a woman (happens to be Sandra Bullock's sister) who leaves her fast-paced, superficial life/career in LA and trades it in to start a quaint bakery in the NE. It includes great recipes!

    And have you read "The Happinesss Project" - Not a memoir, but VERY, VERY GOOD!

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  38. Oh - I forgot, "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" - EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT!

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  39. A very, very cute memoir is A Girl Named Zippy. So sweet. Loved it.

    Hated (yes, hated) A Reliable Wife. It's a bodice ripper (jock ripper?) for men. Very self indulgent.

    Also hated Her Fearful Symmetry. I found I couldn't warm up the characters. Although I LOVED Time Travelers Wife.

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  40. I'm getting so many great ideas....

    I second (and so on) the many great recommendations made already: East of Eden, Kelly Corrigan's books, Same Kind of Different as Me, Expecting Adam by Martha Beck.

    I also suggest: comeback by Claire Fontaine and Mia Fontaine, either memoir by Lee Woodruff, Road Map to Holland by Jennifer Groneberg, Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies.

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  41. I absolutely loved A Glass Castle, gobbled it up in a couple of days because I couldn't put it down. Half Broke Horses was an interesting read, but the voice not as good. My husband LOVED Time Traveler's Wife. ( I loved the movie;0) A great, gripping read is Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis.-It is a true story. Have you ever read Christy or Julie by Catherine Marshall? Great historical fiction. Excellent characters! Thanks for doing this, I now have a great list of books to look up!

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  42. I, too, loved, loved, loved, the Color of Water. Have you read Lucky? It is a memoir written by Alice Sebold, the author of the Lovely Bones. It reads like fiction. You will breeze through it.

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  43. Ooohhh, I am going to need to bookmark this post so that I can remember the titles in the post and comments. I loved The Color of Water- my brother read it as a HS assignment, and since I was his designated tutor, I read it too. Fabulous.

    The best books I have read in the last few years are Kiterunner, The Help, and also The Shack (read after my friend died, so I liked the author's description of Heaven).

    A memoir that will stay with me forever is Night.

    Thanks for getting this conversation started. Love it.

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  44. Lots of good books mentioned already. How about:

    A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry

    Such a lovely journey in India.

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  45. So glad I had a piece of paper handy to jot some titles done that other readers suggested! I will add my PRAISE for "The Help" and "These are My Words."

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  46. I'm on Goodreads too - great site! I'd recommend Mrs. Miniver and Listening Is An Act Of Love. Two recent reads I truly enjoyed.

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  47. The Help and Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society!!!

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  48. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck is a classic and a wonderful book, I'm currently reading The Winter of Our Discontent, by Steinbeck, also very good.

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  49. I think we have similar taste in books. I read "A Fortunate Life" on your recommendation and loved it!

    I second (third?) "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society." Loved it too.

    I also just read "Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard." I think her story might have similarities to the Glass Castle. It's a completely engrossing book, I had a hard time pulling myself away to do anything else.

    Also read and appreciated "Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe"

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  50. I'll have to read that one. Sounds good. The Glass Castle is one of my favorites. Wasn't it interesting? Shocking, really.
    Have you read "Night" by Elie Weisel? It is actually non-fiction. But it's short and extremely well written (he won the Nobel Peace Prize).
    Also "There Are No Children Here"--growing up in the projects of Chicago
    and "The Ditchdigger's Daughter"
    Both are non-fiction, but read easily and they're interesting.
    Fiction? These Is My Words is a fave historical fiction. Don't get me going on this one. I do have a degree in art history. So if you need any more, drop me a line!

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  51. funny, i was going to suggest Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls before I read the whole post... a couple others, both memoirs, that I've enjoyed are Breaking Clean by Judy Blunt and Atomic Farmgirl by Teri Hein

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  52. Here are a couple of suggestions. I could hardly put either one of these books down.

    Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza (loved this book, her story, her faith)

    Escape by Carolyn Jessop (one woman's account of her escape from polygamy)

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  53. I'm a big historical fiction and memoir lover myself... I second the suggestions for "The Help" that book is FANTASTIC! Another idea is "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova. It's a bit of a mix between historical fiction/mystery/fantasy. A word of warning: when I picked up the book, I somehow missed the fact that it features vampires in it (the plot escapes me a bit now, but it has a bit to do with tracking the history of Dracula). I hate vampire stories in general, but this one I could not put down!

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  54. With all the suggestions you'll be reading for years!! :)

    Most of my suggestions are already listed: The Good Earth by Buck, The Help, Shanghai Girls, The Historian, and The Hiding Place.

    Happy Reading!

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  55. My favorite book ever..."The Secret Life of Bees" One of those books that when you finish it, you miss the characters in the book.

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  56. Thanks for this post,it has given me some great ideas.I love the book A fortunate life,I live in Australia and actually had to study it for year 10 english(many yrs ago) and as a 15 yr old loved it then too.

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  57. Wow! Looks like you've received a lot of good recommendations already. I love historical fiction too but I love biographies more. These are some of my favorites that meet your criteria of ordinary people overcoming extraordinary odds or circumstances.

    Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
    Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance by Jack and Rochelle Sutin

    The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom has already been mentioned.

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  58. Okay I'm jealous - you have time to read? LOL! I *don't* have time to read right now but looking for a good book on tape maybe I can swing that. BUT I love all the suggestions and maybe I will *make* time for one of these really interesting reads.

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  59. i highly recommend books by torey hayden. a former special education teacher and therapist who worked with children with special needs in the 70s and 80s, she wrote several books about the children she worked with and the obstacles (abuse, poverty, mental illness and learning disabilities) they faced. a good book to start with - "somebody else's kids".

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  60. The Help is a phenomenal book, I think you would love it.

    Water for Elephants is excellent

    P.S. Having read Eat Pray Love and your blog for more than a year, I don't think you would like it. My book club gave it a thumbs down.

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  61. Some older books but still on the top of my list!
    Mrs. Mike
    Education of Littletree
    Woman in White
    The Long Walk

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  62. Seeing that we like similar books, I'll recommend SPRING MOON by Bette Bao Lord. It's historical fiction based in China. 5 Generations from the 19th-20th centuries, family loyalty, crushing change in the country's whole structure...EXCELLENT read. Another favorite is ENGLISH PASSENGERS by Matthew Kneale. It's an early 1800-mid 1800 story about the English/Australian/Aboriginal people w/some absurd 'intellectuals' looking for the Garden of Eden in Tasmania. Lots of characters and different plot lines to give you tons of history. I'll just start you w/these 2 suggestions... Happy Reading!

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  63. A Girl Named Zippy. It was a Today Show recommendation and very entertaining. It's a true story about a quirky girl growing up in the late 60's and 70's in Indiana.

    I just finished The Glass Castle. So good.

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  64. I just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett and it was excellent!

    -FringeGirl

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  65. You must read "The Hiding Place" by Corie Ten Boom and "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. They're both true stories about overcoming great and horrible things. They will leave a mark.

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  66. Yes!! Life is So Good! http://www.amazon.com/Life-So-Good-Extraordinary-Journey/dp/0141001682/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1286352912&sr=8-1
    1st chapter is crushing - but incredible story. Here is the full title: Life Is So Good: One Man's Extraordinary Journey through the 20th Century and How he Learned to Read at Age 98

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  68. You might really like "Blackbird" by Jennifer Lauch. We skyped her for our book club, and she was great. She lived through a horrible childhood, and has really found herself. My favorite book of the year is "Freedom" by Jonahan Franzen. Reads like a biography and offers insights to mistakes in perception that we all make every day.

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  69. I agree with so many people above! The Glass Castle was amazing as was Half-Broke Horses. Another book I would recommend is:

    **Wish You Well by David Baldacci

    It is one of my all-time favorites!!

    And I can't recommend Goodreads enough...it helps keep a great list of books going!

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  70. With a ten-week-old I'm not able to scan the suggestions so far, but here's a few I've enjoyed:

    Memoirs -
    My Life in France
    Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love
    anything by Ruth Reichl!

    Historical Fiction -
    The Last Days of Dogtown
    The Zookeeper's Daughter

    But if you can only read one? Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

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  71. Ahh, the Glass Castle, my very favorite! I hear there's a movie being made.

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  72. If Glass Castle and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are two of your favorites (along with mine!), then you will adore: Someone Knows my Name, a historical fiction about a young African girl abducted from her family, taken aboard a slave ship, and surviving in the Unites States all while grasping the term 'slave,' learning new languages, and catching babies.

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  73. Wow, I'm gonna have to come back here when I get the stack of books by the side of my bed read. I have to say that I love those books you mentioned...did anyone say "The Book Thief"?

    But my very favs. are "Cold Sassy Tree" and "The Good Earth"

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  74. Black Like Me was excellent, as was Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society!

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  75. The Book Thief and The Thirteenth Tale

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  76. You should try 'Nancy Wake' by Peter Fitzsimmons. It's another Australian story like A fortunate Life and an excellent read- an amazing woman.

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  77. I have read "Joy in the Morning" and loved it. Now I think I should read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn", I believe same author. Have gotten great suggestions from the comments...thanks!

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  78. I just thought of another fantastic memoir -- Cowboy and Wills by Monica Holloway.

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  79. I read The Color of Water back in the mid-90s. I read it with my boyfriend at the time who is African-American. I remember the time of our own little two-person book club very fondly!

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  80. "These is My Words". I was put off by the title, I don't know why, but it was wonderful! I finished it wanting to be a better wife and person. Another WONDERFUL book, maybe in my top 3 favorite books of all time is "Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner, he won the Pulitzer for it. It is long, but beautifully written. You will not be the same ever again if you read it

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  81. Hi. It took me hours and sleep and hitting the internet again to find this book I am about to recommend! Thank you to my iPad! I found it there! I went to the library this past summer with the kids and checked out the maximum! We don't have public libraries here where I live! I checked out ONE DROP by Bliss Broyard. It is a true story about the discovery of Bliss' father actually being black but passing all his life for white. I did not get to finish it and will be ordering it myself on my iPad soon. I hope you and some of your readers read it and enjoy this amazing story.

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  82. I, too, read and loved Glass Castle and Zippy, and though I haven't read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I LUV the old black and white movie! So...there...you must take my advice and read, "Kristin Lavransdatter" by Sigrid Undset (or anything she has written!)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigrid_Undset

    PLEASE look it up...the first 60 pages are a wee bit tedious (that historical fiction you love so well describing the layout of the homes in Norway in the 1100s or so (?), etc.), but she won the Nobel Prize for Lit. in 1928 for it. I was told by a retired college history prof. that, "anyone who is anybody has read this book...world historians, philosophers, theologians." I thought there was no way I could read it, but it is one of those you need to have your meals prepared ahead of time, b/c you will not be able to put it down!

    Lastly, the anesthesiologist walked in the recovery room to check on my mother after a surgery. He immediately exclaimed, "Kristin...who is reading it??? That book changed my life...It is the second greatest story I have ever read!"
    With all due respect to those in that profession, it is common knowledge that they are very well read. You know they knock people out and read, and every 2-3 minutes or so, they look up and check O2 levels and the other vitals and go back to reading.

    You'll not be disappointed!

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  83. Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe

    Funny, tender, sweet - from one mom to another, I enjoyed every word.

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  84. Love The Color of Water, and as for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, I've always felt Francie and I would have been great friends (if she'd been a real girl, and all).

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