Top 10 Favorite Books

A top 10 list of favorite books: it’s a tricky little devil. I mean, what should the criteria actually be?

The options seem endless…

  • Books I’d be happiest to re-read
  • Books I’ve actually re-read and been glad about it
  • Books whose bindings have fallen apart due to repeated readings
  • Books that had the most impact on me
  • Books that represent who I’ve been at various phases of life
  • Books that represent who I am right now
  • Books that represent each of the genres and styles I love best
  • Books that spark the most joy
  • Books I’d want with me on a desert island
  • Books I keep recommending to others, over and over
  • Books that are my favorites of the past decade
  • Books that have been on my favorites list for more than a decade

You see my dilemma.

Depending on which of these sets of criteria I choose, the list is gonna shift. Some books will always be there because they’re my very top favorites (I’m looking at you, Young Men and Fire and Run), but others will appear or vanish, depending on the criteria.

So, after discussing this conundrum with the Dear Man and a good friend, I took their advice and went with:

  • Does it feel like a true representation of who I am?
  • Does it spark joy? (aka, Do I light up when I talk about these books?)

 

Based on those criteria, here’s my current list…

Young Men & Fire by Norman Maclean

Run by Ann Patchett

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

 

So now I’m wondering how you decide your favorites.

What criteria do you use? Which books always always ALWAYS make the list?

Narrative nonfiction for book bingo

Narrative nonfiction… the mere words create happiness.

This is my natural reading place, and I’ve delayed posting a list of five (only five!) narrative nonfiction books because paring down my list of favorites? Not so very easy.

If you ask me on a different day, you’re likely going to get a completely different list of books.

But these five are seriously solid choices for any nonfiction reader.

My fellow narrative nonfiction fanatics…
What titles would you put on your list of 5 sure-bet narrative nonfiction books?

(Can you tell I’m wanting to increase my TBR?)

Books by Black Authors for book bingo

Books by Black authors is our next book bingo category, and once again: way too many great suggestions come to mind.

But the goal with these posts is to suggest 5 books per category. So, after endless consideration, we’ve got a very short list of amazing titles. Today’s list features classics, contemporary fiction, and memoirs.

What book by a Black author do you plan to read for book bingo this year? And what books by Black authors are your all-time favorites to suggest to other readers?

Breezy books for book bingo

When we’re talking breezy books, I think: romance. And then I think: cheeky narratives. And then I think: fun-to-read cookbooks full of sunshine. Here we have some examples of each…

  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  • Frost on My Moustache by Tim Moore
  • The Wedding Dateby Jasmine Guillory 
  • Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
  • Indian-ish by Priya Krishna

So what’s your favorite type of breezy book? Any contrarians who want to offer up some grim titles for this category?

Quest books for Book Bingo

Hello! It’s time for our next installment of Book Bingo categories… Quest.

It’s one of those words that wants to be said with emphasis, isn’t it?

So here, we’re not just talking about a small “I want” — we’re going big.

We’re going fairytale-size quest, we’re going to the moon.

Here are 5 books of people on a serious quest…

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
  • Robbergirl by S.T. Gibson
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
  • Rocket Men by Robert Kurson

So what amazingly quest-filled book are you going to read for this category? And what are the favorite quest books you’ve read earlier?

We could all use a little more quest in our lives…

5 Anti-racist Books for Book Bingo

Hello, readers! As I mentioned last week, this new series of posts will offer 5 books for each Book Bingo category. 

“Anti-racist” is up next, and there are so many great books to choose from. 

Finally, I selected 3 nonfiction books: a moving memoir, a powerful sociological/self-improvement book, and an historical perspective; and 2 works of fiction: a heart-rending novel and a soul-stirring YA book.

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

As I mentioned, there are many, many remarkable anti-racist books. For more suggestions, check out these articles:

 

With so many books to choose from, what book about anti-racism are you going to read next?

5 Books from “1000 Books Before You Die” for Book Bingo

Introducing a new series of blog posts, all about Book Bingo! 

We’re going to be taking a look at this year’s book bingo card and suggesting 5 books for each category. 

And because I love orderliness in my list-making, we’re starting in the upper left corner and taking them in order from left to right… just like we’re reading.

…which means: 1000 Books Before You Die is our first category. 

For this category, the idea is to choose a book from James Mustich’s magnificent opus, 1000 Books to Read Before You Die. He’s generously created a website that lists the books, so you can check it out there. Or… check out his book from the library, or even buy a copy.   

When I heard Mustich interviewed on the Just the Right Book podcast, host Roxane Coady asked him to name just one book. He named two. (Let’s admit it: we’d all name more than one.)

His top 2: Middlemarch by George Eliot and The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban

 

Here’s my selection of 5 sure bets from his full list… 

 

There are oodles (995!) more to choose from, so let the games begin!

Once you decide, I’ll be curious to hear… Which book are you going to choose from 1000 Books to Read Before You Die?

Introducing Book Bingo 2021

Welcome to Book Bingo 2021!

It’s a new year, my friends, and it’s time for some new goals and new changes to move all of our lives in a good direction. We hope Book Bingo can help you structure your reading in a positive way.

The Theme

This year’s theme is nautical because some of our categories (Knotty, Survival, The Explorer, Breezy) made us think of the sea. Also because we like the ocean (just like the year we had a pizza theme just because we love the pizza).

The Team

Book Bingo happens each year because of the collaborative efforts of two of the world’s finest humans

  • My dear friend, who brings inspiration and humor and intelligence and fun to the whole process
  • The Dear Man, who brings the graphical brilliance and creativity and delight to our design every year. We give him a few phrases and he turns it into something beautiful.

How to Play

  • Read a book that fits the category. Each book can qualify for only one category.
  • Complete just one row or column, or go for blackout by reading a book in every category.
  • All books must be finished in 2021. Books started in 2020 but finished in 2021 count.
  • We’ve provided some definitions, but you can free-style it if you like—as long as you can make a case that the book fits the category. (This is one of my favorite sports)
  • All categories can be fiction or nonfiction (your choice), unless otherwise specified.

The Categories

To Sign Up

Couldn’t be easier… just leave a Comment on this post with your name. If you’re a blogger, also include your blog name & URL so we can follow along with you.

The Printables

Here’s the bingo card in pdf format:

Questions? Answers!

If you have any questions about any of the categories, ask your question in the Comments of this post, and I promise I’ll respond.

 

Now let’s start doing some reading, my friends!

It’s time for anti-racism

Being a non-racist is no longer enough, and it was never enough, and I see that clearly now. It’s time for anti-racism. It’s actually been time for a long time.

I am deeply saddened by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. I believe that Black Lives Matter. I stand with Black Americans in condemning violence and systemic racism toward Black people and all people of color. 

I recognize that merely stating these beliefs is not enough.

Here’s my commitment as a book blogger:

I will amplify the voices of Black authors and other authors of color.

I will look for more book bloggers of color to follow.

I acknowledge that I have much to learn about racism and anti-racism, and it’s my responsibility to do that learning. 

On my TBR:

Books specifically about anti-racism

  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Books by Black authors

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates  (it’s time to re-read this book)
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  • Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim

What books would you recommend?

What I’ve been reading: April 2020

Reading in the time of global pandemic… Things are not normal for any of us, my friends. And my reading life is way off-kilter (everything is off-kilter!) even though I’m finding that reaching for a book is a necessary tonic at the end of each very long day. 

So for me, reading is more essential than ever. And it’s also in fairly short supply. But it’s enough to replenish my energy and restore some equilibrium. It’s my daily re-set. 

In April, I finished only three books. I’m calling it good. And I’m so thankful for these three books, which truly carried a heavy load for me.

Means of Ascent by Robert A. Caro

3 words: in-depth, cinematic, dramatic

Give this book a whirl if you like… portraits of powerful people, the complex personality of LBJ, in-depth research and scene-building, gorgeous storytelling, thinking about the ends vs the means in politics

 

Passing by Nella Larsen

3 words: lyrical, powerful, interpersonal

Give this book a whirl if you like… Harlem Renaissance writers, #ownvoices, thinking about race, women’s friendships, stories about life choices

 

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb

3 words: intimate, engaging, compelling

Give this book a whirl if you like… great storytelling, worklife narratives, inside baseball, behind the scenes in therapy, unflinching self-scrutiny

 

So what’s going on in your reading life? Is your reading disrupted? Or are you reading differently these days? 

Stay safe and well, my bookish friends…