Thursday, 24 April 2008

13 Books on my Shelf

Thirteen Books I Have On My Shelf

Writers read. If you want to be a good writer, you have to read. That's all there is to it. Bearing that in mind, here is a sampling of what you'll find on my bookshelves, should you happen to come by my house, sometime. Sure! You're invited, just let me know in advance, eh? ;)


The Entire Harry Potter series - the Scholastic (US) print. I have a few first editions in there, too. I've read and re-read the whole series a few times, now. In fact, I read the last two of the series in less than nine hours, each. I don't just read books, I EAT them.

The same goes for this series, of course. I've read and re-read every book in the saga, and I enjoy them more and more every single time. I honestly believe that "The Gunslinger" contains the single most perfect opening line, ever: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." Shivers! Ecstasy!

This is one of the first books I became obsessed with, when I was going into sixth grade. I was about 10-going-on-eleven when I found the book version of one of my favorite films. I had to beg my mom to get it for me (she didn't believe I'd finish a book this big!), but she did, and I read it roughly twenty times over the summer. I re-read this at least once a year, and I'm endlessly amazed by the depths of this tale. It's deceptively bucolic, after all - talking bunny rabbits? But in the end, nothing is as it seems. A stunner, and perhaps my favorite book of all time.

This is the most recent release by John Irving, I believe - and I have most of his works on the shelf as well. He's criticized for his recurring themes (absent parents, Amsterdam, "molestation" and others), but I feel that it simply takes me deeper into the universe he's created for the reader. Besides, so many of his books leave me in tears - of the best kind - for not wanting the story to end!


My husband encouraged me to read this one, and I loved it. Stefano Benni is one of Italy's foremost writing talents, and this tale of a young girl's family being destroyed by blatant consumerism is a startlingly profound tale, wrapped in delightful wordplay. If you've never read his work before, do give him a try (a few of his stories have been translated in English).


You've likely seen the movie - but did you read the book? It's much, much better, trust me! There's a depth to the characters (even Will!) that you just can't get from the film, and if you can make it past the scene of Marcus on the doorstep in the rain (that goes for the film, too) without getting misty, well... I just don't know you.

I loved all the books. I even liked the film. Why? Because I understand that Douglas Adams never meant for one medium to accurately reflect the others. And with insanity raging at the levels it does in these stories, do you really think a direct rendering is possible? We miss ya, Douglas... We need your irreverence now.


Oh, yeah... Adriana Trigiani's Big Stone Gap series. I've read 'em all - and loved 'em! - and not just because she's writing about the area where I lived for three memorable years (yes, it's a real place, y'all!). For best results, read 'em all in order: Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and Home to Big Stone Gap. These books were the reason my mother was sold on my Italian hubby in the early days of our relationship. Read 'em and see if you can see why.

Technically, this one isn't "on" my shelf - it's what I'm reading at the moment, and it's a chilling tale, so far. Roth is simply amazing. There's no other way to describe his work.

I'm Not Scared (Io Non Ho Paura), by Niccolo Ammaniti. This was made into a film, as well, directed by the incredible Gabriele Salvatores - and you've never seen anything quite like it. Inspired by a true story, this is the chilling tale of a small Italian town corrupted by greed in the midst of the hottest summer on record, and of one young boy caught unaware in the crossfire.

Forget "Under the Tuscan Sun" - this should be the classic ex-pat tale of love and self-discovery you read this year. DeBlasi's "blueberry-eyed stranger" spotted her during a journey to Venice, and when she returned, he followed his heart to pursue a romance with her. Who could blame her for being swept away? A fun read, with a realistic take on life in Italy for an American - especially one who has taken a big chance on a new love.

The History of Love - Nicole Krauss. This is one of the most haunting and perplexing novels I have read in recent years. It is also one of the most heartbreaking. I weep copiously each time I get to the final pages. It feels cathartic. Sheer beauty on the page.


Not a fan of Russian literature? Give this surreal treat a try and see if you don't change your mind. Entertaining, wry, daring and caustic, this is one book you must read before you die. It takes a devilish concept and spins a fantastic story that you won't soon forget. My hubby and I give this book as a gift to everyone - and they have always thanked us profusely.

That's it for the list... All that's left is to scroll down...

En garde!
(members of the 2006 French Junior Fencing Team)

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geek-betty said...

I agree about writers needing to read!
great book selection.

Adelle said...

Your reading tastes are very different from mine. Great list. Nice eye candy *wink
Happy T13!

Debora said...

Everyone should read! #11 looks very interesting to me - added it to my list of wants. And the picture at the bottom? Oh la la! :)

Bethanne said...


Otherwise, Love that cover on Stephen King's book. Love the Big stone gap book/s.

Paige Tyler said...

Yup, we have all the HP's too! Love the fencing pic!


My TT is at

Heather said...

zNot only is reading important, but reading across different genres, as you obviously do. The only books on our shelves in common is Douglas Adams. Loved that series!

Chloe Devlin said...

Very eclectic list of books.

And I luv the eye candy. :)


Shelley Munro said...

I have all the HP books, too. I think it's really important for a writer to read. I've learned so much from reading other people's books.

Love the fencing picture. Do all the French sports teams raise money this way? Or do they like showing off? Just askin' ;)

Dana Belfry said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! (so much better then the movie)

Gina Ardito said...

What a fabulous and varied list. And the books are good, too. LOL!

Robin L. Rotham said...

Woo -- I've actually read one on someone else's list! I also loved the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy way back when it first came out (I think I was in high school then). They made it into a movie?!

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Sorry. I always have such great comments planned and then I scroll down and.....

Debbie Mumford said...

Yay for a complete set of Harry Potter novels! (I have them all on CD, too)

Nicholas said...

I've read everything by Stephen King but I'm afraid I find the Dark Tower series quite unreadable. Hooray for The Hitchhiker's Guide! I've read all the books, seen the TV series and heard all the radio shows (which came first). Sorry to say, the movie was a travesty! I read the Roth book last year and enjoyed it lots!