Monday, May 25, 2009

Lists of Books

The other day the estimable Bee posted a wonderful book list. It made me think I wanted to write a list too. This should have been fun, instead it consumed a greater part of my walking-the-dog-time when I didn't have a pencil handy. I was glad  Bee's bookshelf was messy; I think the shelves of those greedy for books often are. I have omitted most books she mentions.

Herewith a short selection of books that popped into my mind
 highbrow and lowbrow all tumbled together.

Historical Stuff

Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Austerlitz by W.G Sebald

Good Read Women Writers

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Frost in May by Antonia White
Once in a House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth
The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning
This Book Will Save Your Life by A.M.Homes

Famous Books I have Not Managed to Read
(either tried and gave up or didn't get to yet....)

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Moby Dick by Herman Mellville
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
Ulysses by James Joyce
Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Trashy Books that Were Wonderful

Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz
The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
Sorrell and Son by Warwick Deeping
The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

People Who Know How to Write Short Stories

M.R. James
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Katherine Mansfield

Books to Make You Laugh

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Wheedon Grossmith
Naked by David Sedaris
Stephen Leacock
Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
One Pair of Feet by Monica Dickens

Books I Loved as a Child

The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
Half Magic by Edward Eagar
The Black Riders by Violet Needham
Five Children and It by E.Nesbit
The Bell Family by Noel Streatfield

This is quite long enough for a blog post.
Please write and tell me what you would have added.....


  1. Your list is fun, Elizabeth,and I have to ask you something,"Why did you include books you gave up on?--famous or not?

    I think that highlights the books even more...or you as a reader. It's an eye catching inclusion...Zen...was a big deal when I was (no-still am) in college; Moby Dick...well my husband loves it...but mostly guys identify with that final battle...with fish or not...Faulkner...hum...maybe but who wants a downer?

    It's funny how we select books...sometimes it's whim, sometimes a recommendation, but for me now...I only buy books I will immediately read...that way the pleasure is always that...and a backup of guilt and duty reading is avoided...such freedom. Ialso sit in Borders and read stacks of chapters, pages, and that way I know I will read what I buy...and then I don't buy too much.

    I love travel journals.

    Your sky is beautiful!!! <3

  2. All time favourite - The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galeano

    I also like books that capture a child's imagination - Dancelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, Davita's Harp by Chaim Potok and Atonement by Ian McEwan.

    Is the middle photo one of urban life's empty cyces?

  3. What a great list ... now I am not about to do this but I might post a photo of my books shelves ..

  4. Wonderful list, Elizabeth!! I so enjoy seeing the books other people love. I would have added My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. And Mrs. Dalloway!

  5. I must say, I still have a sofy spot for A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, In the Country of Last Things and Down and Out in London and Paris.

  6. What good taste in books everyone has.
    Yes, and yes, to all these choices , though I don't know
    Eduardo Galeano. Must research him.

    Claud: How did I forget Staggering Genius?
    An amazing read.

  7. Love your list. There are a few books on there that I'd like to read.

  8. ah..Ulysses..i know, i could never finish it either!

    (but..i don't despair)

  9. Enjoyed this Elizabeth. My mother's favourite author was Warwick Deeping - haven't heard of him for years - shall now try and find something written by him.
    I have to tell you that Moby Dick is one of my all time favourites!
    I thought I ight find "I captured the Castle" in there somewhere.

  10. Fantastic list! And my, how organized you are. One I would add is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I'll never forget that book.

  11. Great list and some I am not familiar with so will have to do a little research. I am a romantic and have the old Louvre edition with all of Dumas...every one is a step back in time.

  12. I LOVE your lists! I would have added The Good Earth and My Antonia. I live to read.

  13. What about inspirational books, Like Mountains beyond Mountains? Dr.Paul Farmer's work in Haiti to cure TB, a true story.

  14. Hello Elizabeth, that's a lot of books..I used to read avidly but not anymore, hardly have time - yeah, I know - lousy excuse. I have been reading lots of motivating books though I must say most are read halfway or in between. That's what happens when one reads in the takes forever to finish a book. hugs........M

  15. Waded through Moby Dick. What an ordeal! Could not make it through Zen and MM OR Ulysses. Loved Dandylion Wine and I am still wondering about Mrs. Dalloway---Virginia Woolfe was twisted. Thanks for the list. So many books---

  16. have you ever read the secret garden? that is one of my favorites.

  17. what an excellent list e, especially as summer approaches... i'm a downer...I love faulkner--i'm a sucker for books set in the deep south and a slow and steady cadence (and big words i need to look up...oh yeah, and depressing subject matter).
    i might add 1776 or john adams to the historical books.
    one of my favorites is the meadow by jim galvin (under the poet-y reads)...also midnight's children by salman rushdie (for your magical realism section?) and bruce chatwin (under essays).

    Couldn't put Ann Lamott's bird by bird down (inspiring woman writers)
    and because i love to eat, Between Meals by A.J. Liebling...
    oh yes...and when i was about 8 i loved roll of thunder hear my cry and reads it twice in a row...i've never done that since.
    ok, that was invigorating...thank you for your list and for asking...
    now I'm going to reread Slaughter House Five after I finish whatever i've got on my bedside table right now (the ones i keep falling asleep to by page 5...)

  18. I just want to leave my mark and return when I've got a bit more thinking time. Sorry to have missed some posts - it's all this revision


    (Shelley was a wild one, wasn't he?)

  19. Oh wow! This is a great list! And I did read some of this stuff which makes me like it even more?

    Can I post a similar list on my blog?

  20. Polly and all: I would really get a kick out of reading everyone else's lists.
    Such fun sharing what delights one.
    Deb: Yes, Bruce Chatwin was on my almost made it list. Such a wonderful writer.
    My favorite inspiring book:
    IF YOU WANT TO WRITE by Brenda Uland Graywolf Press -- a sort of 1930's Ann Lamott.

  21. Right now I am reading the Balkan Trilogy, part 1. Before this one I read School for Love, again by Olivia Manning. Absorbing character and relationship building against the backdrop of German invasions and people on the run caught in the middle.
    Disappointed that Leenie found Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway is 'twisted'. What is meant by that I wonder?
    It is good to hear the criticisms as well as the recommends.

  22. I LOVE the sky pic with the fire escape and bit of building in it. And the bicycle. YES.

    Love your book list too. Hey you can skip Moby Dick. That book sucks. It does.

    I love Valley of the Dolls. It's so bad, it's good. I'm putting the film on my Netflix list right now.

  23. I'm very glad to see your list here, Elizabeth, as I trust your taste, having read your books and also spending some time with you.

    A book I just finished reading that I enjoyed very much is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society --


  24. How fun to find a list with enough books I've loved that I'm anticipating enjoyoing some of the others.

    Two series I loved as a child that haven't been mentioned are Eleanor Estes' stories of the Moffat family and the original (not modernized) Nancy Drews.

  25. Fantastic list.

    I love to read. I have bookcases stuffed with books.

    I have a variety of books...some chick lit, some more serious, some nonfiction...

  26. Elizabeth---

    how delightful!I will now be carrying a list of your books in my mind as potential new adventures. loved the categories--made me think of books I haven't thought of in years--thanks c

  27. What a wonderful list! I am not a great reader I'm ashamed to say but I did enjoy 'Shakespeare's Wife' recently. I'll retain your list for my book group. Yes, I belong to one, because I enjoy discussing what I've read.

  28. A Great List... there are quite a few that I haven't read ... but since I absolutely loved the ones I have read, I think I can safely assume I'll like the others as well. Am kind of building up a list of things I plan to do when I finally take a few months from work.

  29. Ha! I gave up on Moby Dick too and remember Princess Daisy from my teen years too.

    Your nudge has worked. I’m planning on posting a book list the week after my monthly book review club. I'll need the time to whittle down my lists. So many good books....

  30. Perhaps we should set ourselves the challenge of reading Moby Dick together? (As long as I can be on Nantucket while I'm reading it . . .)

    Book lists are endlessly fascinating to me. I enjoy seeing books I've loved there, and I grab a pencil to jot down new recommendations. You have quite a few that I haven't read.

    P.S. I have some elegant bookshelves, lined with hardbooks, but I'm afraid that most of mine are messily "greedy."

  31. Fun to read your lists....

    Loved the trashy section. I had quite a collection of trashy books for my flights to and from Italy.

  32. Oooh, a good booklist! I enjoy seeing what you recomment, even if there are some still to read. The only one I've read on your list is Five Children and It by E.Nesbit (it's sitting here on my right). I've been wanting to Pillars of the Earth but keep forgetting every time I go to the library. Elizabeth, you are inspiring me to write my own book list.

  33. I'm trying out using my Google Reader to see if I can keep up with the far too many blogs I follow (and continue to add to).

    I just happened to see this post and I HAVE to comment.

    Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying". Lord! What a tough book to read! All I remember is the line, "My mother is a fish." I don't think I ever did finish it, but I did finish "Moby Dick". It was brutal!

    I adored the Edward Eager books. I'd love to find them today and have a collection. "Half Magic" was sooo good, Elizabeth, wasn't it?


  34. Oh Elizabeth, I ate this with a spoon. NOT too long at all. Will be back to read more comments but must go to bed! Just finished a two day drive back from our really remote cabin in the Rockies....zzzz


I look forward to hearing from you!