Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

Happy Tuesday! Today I am participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Most weeks I have a really hard time thinking of ten things to include in my Top Ten list. That was not the case this week! When I saw this topic I was really excited because I knew it was one I could easily finish. I like the idea of going back in my reading reserve to the time before I was a blogger because I’ve only been a blogger for about a year but I’ve been reading for about the past 20 years. So without further ado and in no particular order..

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger:

1. The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman

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I read this book soon after it was published while working my first internship for a major corporation. I remember how amazed I was that I was observing the things he described in his book (specifically the phenomenon known as in-shoring) as a 20 year old eating lunch at her desk in Kansas. The information in this book is probably somewhat dated now so it might be hard for a reader in 2013 to comprehend why I loved this book so much, but when it was published in 2005 it was pretty exciting (at least for me).

2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

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Say what you will about Anna (as a character) but I still think this book is both epic and beautifully written. I remember feeling a real sense of accomplishment when I finished this one.

3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

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I had never heard of Hosseini or The Kite Runner when I picked up this book at the library on a whim. I had no idea what to expect, and this beautiful and sad novel completely blew me away. I have since read The Kite Runner, and while I did absolutely love it it just didn’t have the same effect for me as this one did. There is something almost magical about picking up a book on a whim that is hard to recreate once you have set expectations.

4. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

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I absolutely loved this beautiful and unique novel. I had never really read much (or maybe even heard of) about Stockholm Syndrome before I read this novel, but I found Patchett’s exploration of it fascinating.

5. Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House Books

I loved these books SO MUCH growing up. Santa Claus brought me these books for Christmas as a little girl, and I credit them with sparking my love of reading. I’ve read all of them more times than I can count, and many of them are now held together with scotch tape. It only takes one look at my Little House collection to see that they have been well loved.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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This was the first Jane Austen book I ever read and still probably my favorite. I’ve read this book so many times, and I find something new to love about it every time!

7. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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I loved this book from the first sentence. I think Wharton does a great job of creating very human characters, and exploring the fine line between personal freedom and societal expectations.

8. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

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I thought this was a fantastic book about the power of literature to comfort you and change you. It moved me more than any other book I read that year.

9. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

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What can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said? I loved these books when I first read them, I love them still.

10. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

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I loved this unique story when I first read it, but I have been really surprised by how much it has stuck with me.

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What are the favorite books you read before becoming a blogger?

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Top Ten Favorite Romances

Happy Tuesday! Today I am participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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The theme for today is “Top Ten Favorite Romances,” but I could only think of 9. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t think of one more that was a “favorite.” So I went with 9…

Top Ten Nine Favorite Romances:

1. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This will probably make almost everyone’s list today, but it’s still one of my favorite romances of all time!

2. Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

O.k. you might have your feelings about Scarlett, and yes I know they don’t end up together in the end…but it’s still a pretty epic romance and one of my favorites.

3. Newland Archer and Ellen Olenska from Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Yes, another romance where they don’t end up together in end! But again, one of my favorites!

4. Anna and Étienne from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

It was obvious what the result was going to be from the beginning of the novel, but I still really enjoyed seeing it all play out.

5. Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I love this book, and how their relationship survives and thrives despite all obstacles.

6. Henry and Clare from The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I loved this book and this unusual romance! The ending is a little bit sad, but I still think it’s a great romance.

7. All of the the Bridgerton romances from the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn

I don’t read a lot of “historical romance” books anymore (I like to think that was just a phrase in my teen years) but I will still admit to loving this series. The Bridgerton family was made up of 8 siblings and their widowed mother, and there was a book (and a romance) for every sibling. If I had to pick a favorite romance out of the 8, it would probably be Francesca and Michael from When He was Wicked.

8. Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I was never one of those people who wanted Harry and Hermione to end up together. It was clear to me from the beginning of the series that Hermione and Ron were meant to be. And how can you not love the Harry and Ginny pairing? I’m of the firm belief that J.K. Rowling finished the series right.

9. Eve Duncan and Joe Quinn from the Eve Duncan series by Iris Johansen

I’ve read this series for over 10 years now, and while my enthusiasm for it has waned I have always been a fan of this couple. They were friends for 10 years before becoming romantically involved, and I think this added credulity to their romance as it endured the bumps Johansen threw in the road.

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What are your favorite literary romances?

Top Ten Best Bookish Memories

Happy Tuesday friends! Once again I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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The theme for today is “Top Ten Best Bookish Memories.” This was a really fun one because I got to take a few nice trips down memory lane. I wasn’t able to come up with 10 memories, but I think the ones I could come up with do a nice job of describing my life in reading.

Top Ten Best Bookish Memories:

1. Reading the Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a child

I got the entire box set from Santa one year for Christmas, and then they sat on my bookshelves for a year or two. I wasn’t very interested in reading then. I remember I tried reading Little House in the Big Woods several times, but lost interest after a chapter or two. Then, one day I picked it up again and was hooked. I went on to read the entire series within a few weeks, and I read and re-read them many, many times throughout my childhood. I never stopped reading after that, and I credit the Little House books with sparking my love of reading.

2. Getting and reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in less than 48 hours on a long road trip through Texas

I was on a family vacation when J.K. Rowling’s 5th installment of the series came out and I really wanted a copy. I hadn’t thought ahead and pre-ordered or anything like that, and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway since we were on vacation. We were in San Antonio the day the book was released, and we stopped at a nearby mall to find a bookstore. After walking around for a bit, we found a Walden Books (the fact that it was a Walden Books really dates this story because they went out of business a few years ago)  and I bought my copy. We left for Houston that day, and I read in the car all the way there. I really only remember stopping for meals and other fun activities, but before we left Houston I had read the entire book…and at 870 pages that’s a pretty good achievement considering I was on vacation!

3. Reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on hot days during my summer job

By the time the 6th installment of the Harry Potter series had come out, I was home from college for the summer and working a job as a cashier for a city pool. It was a pretty easy job except for the occasional difficult customer and the extreme heat of a Kansas summer (there was no air conditioning). I had a lot of extra time on my hands, and generally just did homework for the two summer classes I was taking. When the 6th book came out, I was prepared and had pre-ordered it. Like book 5, I also read this one in less than 48 hours. Despite the short length of time it took me to actually read the book, I still remember how reading it was a wonderful escape from those hot summer days. Those were the few days that summer when I didn’t notice that it was 100 degrees outside!

4. Logging my 100th book on my book spreadsheet

Pre-Goodreads days, I had an excel spreadsheet where I kept track of the books I had read and how long it took me to read them. I started the spreadsheet on June 26, 2006 and set out to see how long it would take me to read 100 books. Naively, I thought it would only take me 6 months to a year to reach this goal, but boy was I wrong! By the time a year had passed I had only logged 60 books on my list, and it wasn’t until late 2009 that I finally got to 100 books.  I remember it was a great feeling to finally reach that milestone. Although I am active on Goodreads, I still use my spreadsheet. As of today, I have finished 218 books.

5. Reading all of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Everyone in my life knows I read a lot. People would often ask me about books–if I had read them, if I liked them. Often they’d pull out the famous classic literature books that everyone has heard of, but few have ever read. This one came up A LOT. So, I decided to bite the bullet and just go for it. During the summer of 2011, I had a broken and foot and consequently spent a lot of time inside lying down…what better time to start reading one of the longest novels ever written? I started reading it on July 3rd and didn’t finish it until October 28. Yikes. Reading that book was like running a marathon–you had to keep at it every day. It felt like such an accomplishment to finally finish it. Looking back, I’m really glad I did it…but I’m not anxious to do it again any time soon.

6. Staring my blog

I thought and talked about it for over a year, and then finally in April of 2012 I started the Ex libris blog. Finally, a chance to talk about books and meet other people who love to read as much as I do! When I began blogging I had grand plans for daily updates, and eagerly envisioned all the other cool bloggers I’d meet. While I’ve fallen short on the updating portion of my original vision, I have met many awesome and inspirational people. Blogging has been a great experience thus far, and I have no plans to stop anytime soon!

7. Having an author comment on my book blog

A few months into blogging, I actually had an author comment on my blog. I had mentioned his book in one of my Top Ten Lists (I hadn’t/haven’t reviewed it on here yet) and I guess that is how he came across my blog. He had some nice comments about my list and about my blog in general, and I remember how excited I was to have a real author comment on my little fledgling blog.

8. Having other book bloggers comment on  my blog

As I mentioned in number 6, the plans for this blog were in the works long before I actually began it. I had been an avid reader of book blogs for years, but I was a bit timid to become an active member of the community.  I started participating in this meme early in my blogging days, and I distinctly remember the first time one of my favorite book bloggers left a comment in response to one of my lists. I was so excited! For some reason, I remember that made me feel like a “real” book blogger…although I’d already been one for a few months.

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What are some of your favorite bookish memories?

Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Happy Tuesday and Happy Kansas Day! Today, I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday, which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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The theme for today is “Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever.” I’m not sure if these are really the “most frustrating characters ever”, but they are characters that bothered me for various reasons. In most of these cases I didn’t even dislike the character, but was frustrated by lack of character development. In other cases I think I was supposed to be bothered by the character. Regardless of the reasons, the top ten (that I could think of this morning) are shown below.

Top Ten Most Frustrating Characters Ever:

1. Fanny Price from Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Fanny is one of my least favorite Austen heroines. I didn’t dislike her, but I did find her lack of inaction frustrating. She’s polite, proper, and passive to a fault. As opposed to many of Austen’s other heriones (Emma, Elizabeth etc), Fanny lets things just happen to her and doesn’t take any action in response.

2. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

Don’t hate me, but this one had to make the list. Yes, yes I know Katniss is strong and a survivor. Yes I know she had to overcome many things, and succeeded despite all the odds. But she is also one of the most emotionally dead characters I have ever read. There were so many times I wanted to know what Katniss was thinking or feeling–other than the somewhat perfunctory emotions given to her. She’s a great character for sure, but I think she’d be a much stronger (and more complete) character if she were given more emotional intelligence.

3. Dexter Mayhew from One Day by David Nicholls

Generally I had a love/hate relationship with this novel–especially this character. You get the feeling early on that Dex could do great things if he wanted to but he doesn’t. It’s also clear that he is in love with Emma, is blind to it, and generally takes her and her friendship for granted. He does redeem himself by the end of the novel but boy is it painful getting to that resolution.

4. Amelia Sedley from Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

It’s not that I disliked Amelia, but she did frustrate me. Mostly because she doesn’t do ANYTHING. She lets people treat her badly and does little to change her situation.

5. Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

There are many times throughout this long and heavy book where you really want to like Raskolnikov–he gives his money to a destitute family and tries to help out other friends  in need. But then there is the fact that he committed a heinous crime and is trying to get away with it. I realize he is supposed to be a study in contradictions,  but for most of the book he frustrated me because he was constantly fighting his “better angels.” I got the sense he didn’t really want to do the awful things he does, but he does them anyway.

6. Javert from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Ah Javert. He is so devoted to his job that he is blinded to his own desires and  instincts. He was frustrating to me because it seemed as though he really wanted to let Jean Valjean off the hook several times throughout the book, but his sense of duty compels him to keep searching and persecuting.

7. Pretty much any character from Wuthering Heights from Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. But I just couldn’t. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters or make myself really care what happened to them. I was sort of having a rough semester when I read this book, so maybe I should give it (and the characters) another try.

8. Bella Swan from The Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer

I feel like little to no explanation is needed for this one.

9. Ashley Wilkes from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

He served honorably in the Civil War. That’s about the best that I think can be said for Ashley. He had an awesome and devoted wife whom he could never really be unfaithful to but not really faithful to either. He also toyed with Scarlet’s affections–seriously man just tell her no! Although on the surface he appears to be the perfect southern gentleman, I think he is one of the weaker characters in the novel.

10. Carmen Lowell from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares

It’s not that I disliked Carmen, but she was by far my least favorite of the four friends. I just could never connect with her–even though I did a lot of theater growing up (which was her passion). She has a big heart and always wants the best for her friends, but I thought she was sort of self-absorbed. And really dense when it came to her personal life–especially men.

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What are some of the most frustrating characters to you?

Top Ten Books Bookish Goals for 2013

Happy Tuesday! It’s been quite awhile since I participated in this meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, but it’s still one of my favorites!

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The theme for today is “Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013.” Some of these goals were outlined in my 2013 Reading Challenges post, but there are some other bookish things I would like to accomplish that weren’t listed in that post. So without further ado…

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2013:

1. Read 52 books

I made great strides in my reading goals last year by reading 45 books, but I’d like to up that number this year.

2. Try to complete the 6 reading challenges I signed up for

I like to finish what I start. We’ll see if I can get all these done.

3. Read a classic/more serious book that is > 500 pages

After reading both Vanity Fair and War and Peace in 2011, I shied away from large, serious novels in 2012. I’m staring at a few on my shelves that I’d like to get to this year–namely Middlemarch (George Eliot), The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), or 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)

4. Get caught up on my reviews

Whew! I am massively behind on my book reviews! I have drafts for books going all the way back to mid 2012…I’d really like to finally get these posted!

5. Select and read a few books on a whim

I can get pretty caught up in trying to complete reading challenges. Whether it is the above mentioned 2013 reading challenges or the BBC list I’ve been working my way through for a few years, I don’t have too many of those “oh this looks interesting, I’m going to drop all my other reading plans and read this right now” moments. I get much joy out of these discoveries and diversions, and often my favorite books of the year come from these detours (i.e. This Life is In Your Hands from 2012).

6. Read More Nonfiction

Frequently I find I learn more and gain a better perspective about my life and the world around me by reading non-fiction (especially biographies and memoirs), yet I don’t read nearly as much non-fiction as I do fiction. So this year, in an effort to even out the playing field, I signed myself up for a non-fiction challenge.

7. Read/Finish/Consider Starting a Series

I don’t remember why now, but I got really annoyed at the plethora of series books in 2011. I think at the time I felt like the series books I was reading were an attempt by the author and the publisher to squeeze out maximum profits from a mediocre story. In 2012, the only series I read was The Hunger Games, and it was a disappointing and somewhat underwhelming experience (note: I DID like The Hunger Games series. I just didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. So please don’t hate me.). Needless to say, I have been a bit “meh” about starting or finishing a series since then. I know there are a lot of great series out there (and a few I want to finish up), so I’ll at least think about it tackling one this year. Maybe.

8. Read an e-book

This goal probably sounds silly to 99% of you out there, but I have to admit I’m a bit of an e-book hater. One of the great joys of the reading experience for me is physically being in contact with the book–touching the pages, looking at the cover etc. However, last year I started listening to audiobooks and LOVED it. Since I received an iPad for Christmas, I figure it’s high time I see what all the e-book fuss is about. Who knows…maybe I could be an e-book zealot by this time next year. I doubt it…but you never know.

9. Get caught up on books I want to read that have been/are being turned into movies

There is a whole list of books I own/want to read that have been or are being turned into movies. Included in this list: The Help, Water for Elephants, Cloud Atlas, and Life of Pi.

10. Get More Involved in the Book Blogging Community

One of the main reasons I started blogging was to meet and learn from other people who read a lot. I’m still in my first year of blogging, but I’d like to do better at reaching out to and interacting with the Book Blogging community.

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What are your bookish goals for 2013?

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR list

Hello Everyone! Sorry I’ve been M.I.A. for the past week or so…I’ve been very very busy. Since today is Tuesday I thought I’d participate in the “Top Ten Tuesday” link-up hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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The theme for today is “Top Ten Books On My Fall  TBR List,” so today I’ll be sharing the books I plan to read this fall. I only read about half the books on my summer TBR list, so I hope I do a little bit better this fall!

Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR list:

1. The Alchemy of Air by Thomas Hager

This book was on my summer TBR list, and I just started it yesterday. I borrowed this copy from Beth over at Science and Cupcakes, and I’m excited to read it!

2. The Passage by Justin Cronin

This creepy thriller was massively hyped a few years ago, and I recently checked out the audiobook version from the library. It totals in at a whopping 29 parts (most audiobooks have 9-13 parts), so I’m not THAT optimistic that I will actually finish it before winter…but it will be fun trying!

3. Dracula by Bram Stoker

This classic is one of the 100 books from the BBC list that I’ve been working through,and I think would be perfect to read around Halloween!

4.. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

This book was also on my summer TBR list and probably several other lists too…I really really want to read it this fall!

5. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

This books has gotten largely positive reviews, and I recently checked out the audiobook from the library. I hope to get to it soon!

6. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This is another book from the BBC list and one I’ve wanted to read for a long time. There is nearly always a waiting list for it at the library, so I’ll have to get my dibs on it soon!

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I don’t read a lot of science fiction novels, but this one has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. I have the audiobook version, and I’m excited to start reading it!

8. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

This book was also on my summer TBR list, and I still stand by what I said then: “A non-fiction book that reads like fiction? Yes please.”

9. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

This massively hyped novel about Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley has been on my TBR list for a long time. Like many other books on this TBR list, I now have the audiobook version so it is likely it will actually get read soon!

10. Little Night by Luanne Rice

I’ve never read a Luanne Rice novel before, but this one received good reviews so I thought I’d give it a go this fall!

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What’s on your fall “to-read” list?

Top Ten Favorite Books I’ve Read During The Lifespan Of My Blog

Hey there! It’s Tuesday, and today I’m participating in the “Top Ten Tuesday” link-up hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Today’s list is the “Top Ten Favorite Books I’ve Read During the Lifespan of my Blog.” Since my blog is still new-ish (launched April 30, 2012!), this list will be somewhat skewed, but I thought it’d be fun to participate anyway! Happy Tuesday!

Top Ten Favorite Books I’ve Read During the Lifespan of My Blog (in no particular order):

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I loved reading this classic book! I was hooked from page one with the descriptions of 1920’s Long Island, to the cautionary tale of unrequited love, and the dangers of believing too strongly in the “American dream.”

2. This Life is in Your Hands by Melissa Coleman

I loved this memoir, and think it is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time. I posted my thoughts on it here.

3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I was not one of Steve Jobs’s disciples before I read this book (and still wouldn’t consider myself one), but I loved reading about his life and the history of Apple. It’s a 5/5 star read for sure!

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

There has been “much ado” about this book and Gillian Flynn for good reason! I really liked this book, and will read more Gillian Flynn in the future!

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey

I “read” the audiobook version of this book and it was AWESOME. Tina Fey narrates the book and it was really interesting and funny to hear her read the book. The chapter on her honeymoon was especially hilarious. I also really enjoyed re-listening to the Sarah Palin Saturday Night Live skits in their entirety. I definitely recommend this book, especially the audiobook version, if you can get your hands on it!

6. Night by Elie Wiesel

This was a very moving read, and one of the most important that I’ve read this year. I posted my thoughts on it here.

7. Thunderhead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

This was a really great thriller. It combines history, archeology, and good ole fashion suspense. I definitely recommend this one if you are looking for a good page turner.

8. The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

I love reading books set in India and this one really hooked me, especially when you consider the fact that I finished it in like two days.

9. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

This was just a fabulous book written by a great author. I plan to rent the movie ASAP.

10. The Healing by Jonathan Odell

This was a very interesting and unique book. I really enjoyed it!

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What have been the favorite books you’ve read during the lifespan of your blog?

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