Favorite Books: Literary Fiction

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I remember learning to read in Miss Young’s kindergarten class at School 15 in Elizabeth, NJ. Miss Young taught kindergarten when my grandfather went to School 15 – my grandfather. Miss Young was old. Ever since those little yellow readers about Sis the Snake, I have loved to read. I still remember my first trip to a library. In my memory, it is a dark fall night and the children section glows as if by candlelight. I remember when we moved to the suburbs and lived in a house where I could walk to the library. Walk to the library? Absolute bliss. Blindfolded, I could probably still find the biography section and where the Encyclopedia Brown books were shelved. Later, I went on to earn two degrees in English which both required a lot of time in libraries. And now, there is a whole new set of sweet memories in bringing my children to the library.

So in celebration of National Library Week, I am declaring April “Book Month” here at Sure as the World. Each week, I will be posting a list of my favorite books. I will try to limit myself to a dozen or so titles, however, I’m not making any promises. The lists are not hierarchical, nor are they definitive. And even though nothing makes me break out in a cold sweat faster than the question “What’s your favorite book?”- I’m diving in and reminding myself to be brave in all things. I hope you’ll join me.

  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon

  • The Sparrow and Children of God, Mary Doria Russell

  • Broken for You and Sing Them Home, Stephanie Kallos

  • Animal Dreams and The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

  • The Red Tent, Anita Diamant

  • The History of Love, Nicole Krauss

  • The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

  • The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón

  • Five Quarters of the Orange, Joanne Harris

  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  • Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith

  • Salt, Isabel Zubar

  • Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

  • Jazz, Toni Morrison

And now you. What are your favorite literary fiction titles? Do tell.

17 thoughts on “Favorite Books: Literary Fiction

  1. i am so thrilled that the books listed could easily be my favorites as well. To the list, i would add the following:
    Louise Erdrich, :=”The Round House”
    Robertson DAvies, , “The Cunning Man”
    Mikhail Bulgakov, “The Master and Margarita”
    Larry McMurty, “Lonesome Dove”
    Cormac McCarthy, “Sutree”
    Denise Giardina, “Saints and Villians”
    Yea books!

  2. I am sorry to say that I have only read one of the books on your list, “The Secret Life of Bees,” which I loved. I can’t wait to dig in to some of your other recommendations. I recently posted a bit about our library excursions, which include some of my new favorites such as “Chains” by Laurie Halse Anderson. (Most of what I’ve read for several years are children’t books & novels… I am trying to make more time for my own reading!) A few other of my own favorites include “Little Bee,” by Chris Cleave and “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck.
    http://c219academy.blogspot.com/2014/04/books-more-is-more-volume-two.html
    http://c219academy.blogspot.com/2014/03/books-one-case-in-which-more-really-is.html

    • Can’t wait to check those out – your posts and the titles. My mom read Little Bee and loved it. I can picture the cover, but for the life of me, I can’t remember if I read it.

      It’s funny, ALL of my titles are from my previous life (before homeschooling!). I think the most recent read in this list was maybe 2008 (!). Yes, children’s books, poetry and mystery novels are all I read now. (And there you have a preview of the next three lists lol.)
      Best,
      Sheila

  3. Well, I can’t figure out how to listen to 7 audiobooks at once, so I think I will need to stick with regular old books:) Love Poisonwood Bible, Love Beloved but haven’t read Jazz, so I want to check that out, and The Secret Life of Bees is in my current in progress stack of 7:) I would like to also recommend The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf, and True Grit by Charles Portis (a good one for those headed west:)

  4. I share several on your list (five quarters of the orange is one I read forever ago and LOVED, as I do pretty much anything by Joanne Harris) and although as you say it is hard to name favorites, here are a few others:
    Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran
    The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington
    anything by PD James(These are great as audiobooks, I get them from the library)
    Peace Like a River by Lief Enger
    March by Geraldine Brooks
    Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
    I have been wanting to read The Snow Child and Orphan Train so those are next on my list:)
    I do have an audible account, but it seems a bit pricey for me(maybe because I listen to so many audio books) so I supplement with ones from the library, which you can also download.

    • I have not read any on your list – but they are being added to my queue. I signed up for audible yesterday because I saw Julia Glass had a new novel (How could I have left her out??!!) I saw The Snow Child and Orphan Train as bestsellers, but didn’t know anything about them. I am hoping to maybe listen to one title myself and then the next month choose one title for school. We do rent a lot of audios from the library, but I have not figured out how to download them. Maybe something to get to the bottom of.
      xo
      S

        • I loved Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, but haven’t read any others by her. Her title People of the Book has always intrigued me, but I have not read it.

          (Year of Wonders would be great to read in preparation for teaching medieval history – for the teachers not the students. Well maybe high school.)

          This is really fun and I thought of it because Vincent asked me what we talked about all weekend. Ummmm . . . . what to say, especially to a 12 year old lol. I came up with “Books” because it was true and was such a thread linking us all – both to ourselves and each other.

          Special, special times.

  5. I have read seven of the books on your list and I enjoyed each of them. I will have to check out the others. I am actually currently reading The Orphan Train and I just can’t get into it, but I mostly blame that on the fact that I just moved and have had lots of other things on my mind! I’m a huge John Irving fan, so most of the books by him I would recommend :]

  6. Of your list, I’ve read only Secret Life of Bees, Poisonwood Bible, and Five Quarters of an Orange.

    Loved Bees and Orange. In fact, Secret Life of Bees was that answer to the sweaty question of “Favorite Book.” However, it was edged out once again my standing favorite of Pillars of the Earth. And I think I’m due to read A Pillar of Iron again. In short, seems that I have a soft spot for historical fiction books with the word “pillar” in the title.

    I have forced myself only to skim everyone’s offerings because I have only the most bare moments this morning.

    A literary month is something that requires more than a stolen packet of moments on a busy morning.

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