Winter Roses

Ten Five Star

Books on my current reading list.

A caveat, my friends: For the most part, the books I read are not happy books. They're usually difficult, heart breaking, thought-provoking, and tell a story that must be told.  This list is of the most memorable 5 star books I've read this year. ToT List for today is 10 Favorite Books of 2014. 

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving -  This book was a page turner and I became complete wrapped up in the lives of John Wheelwright and Owen Meany. The story ran the gamut of emotions, with a focus on humor. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

2. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver - I have been opening this book to any page and reading it aloud ever since I brought it home. I copy inpiring sentences onto my chalkboard and keep them on view for a few days. My "One Word" revealed itself to me through this book.

3. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote - This novella is not like the movie with Audrey Hepburn. It is darker and delves more deeply into Holly's character and her personal history. 

4. Light In August by William Faulkner - Faulkner's language soars. I was swept away with his descriptions of place and the way he had of drawing a scene I could step into. I could, also, feel the desperation of his characters and understand their struggle. The small southern town and its people surrounded me as their story was told. Faulkner deserves all the praise heeped upon him over the years.

5. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - The book tells the respective stories of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy, alternating chapters between the two as they come of age during WWII. This is a book you shouldn't miss and is another I highly recommend to all.

6. A Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan - This is a brutal book, a grim reminder of the horrors of war. Few people know of the Australians held in POW camps by the Japanese during WWII or that they were forced to build the Thai-Burma death railway. Their story needed to be told, but it is one of the most difficult and disturbing books I've ever read.

7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Adichie tells the stories of Nigerian immigrants and the challenges they face when adapting to a new country. She sheds light on the many aspects and facets of race issues in Western cultures.

8. A Marker To Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik- Marked by the Liberian war, Jacqueline, the main character, lives in the shadows on a Grecian isle. She is barely surviving, unseen, haunted, and nearly mad with grief and guilt. The story was a hard one to shake, but well worth the read. 

9. The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan - I'll admit to having a soft spot for Irish novels. Each chapter of the book is narrated by an different character, all of whom live in a small Irish town, which has been adversely affected by the collapse of the economy. The stories are poignant, sometimes funny, but beautifully full of Irish idioms. They center around the violence that affected the town in the wake of the collapse and the demise of the local building firm. I listened to this book, but it's only 150 pages, which would make a quick read.

10. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - If you could live your life over and over again until you got that one thing right, that one thing you think could change the world, would you? 

Many of the books I "read" I listen to, but some I read and, often, I'll do both at the same time. What you choose to read is up to you and I know many of the books on my list will not make it to your reading list, but if anything strikes your fancy, I hope you'll have a go.


Thanks for your list Margene, I am always on the look out for a good book so I'll copy this and keep it handy. When I returned to work 15 yrs ago, I had to quit my day book club and it's harder to come up with titles on my own.

I loved Life After Life but I read it in 2013! And All the Light We Cannot See has shown up on every list I've seen so far today. I think it was my favorite of 2014. I have The Spinning Heart on my "to read" list and I appreciate your review.

I have started and stopped Owen Meany several times because I was too preoccupied with other things, but I think it's finally time for me to give Owen the full attention he deserves. Thank you for some great recommendations!

Owen Meany would show up on my Lifetime All-Time Favorite Book List, for sure! I first read it in 1989 (when Erin was a newborn!) and I have read it many times since. Such a treasure!

We share many books on our lists, Margene. (But then. . . I knew we would.) XO

I got Blue Horses for Christmas as requested. Love it. Gifted one to my 90 year old aunt who happens to love Mary Oliver. All the Light We Cannot See I need to get my hands on next.

All the Light We Cannot See and A Prayer for Owen Meany are both on my favorite books list. I don't have quite the discipline that you do for reading tragedy, but I certainly appreciate the recommendations. I will have to check them out. Happy, Happy New Year, Margene!

i just downloaded all the light we cannot see, and look forward to reading it - i don't often make new years resolutions, but this year one thing i am going to strive to do is to read more - so thanks for the suggestions

My reads are much less literary! :D I haven't read any of those, although the Kate Atkinson is intriguing and will go on my library possibilities list.

Some of my 5 stars for the year are What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, Blackout (All Clear 1) and All Clear (All Clear 2) by Connie Willis (you might enjoy this one!!), To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (reread, again - you might enjoy it!), and a bunch of fanfiction. :)

I do intend to read that Mary Oliver, and I've started Owen Meany.

My reading is quite ecclectic. I read Owen Meany a while back. A book I've never seen anyone list isa American Pastoral by Philip Roth--it is dark and it was a slog for a while, but has stayed with me. I'd like to find someone who has read it!

A couple of the books caught my interest. I will be looking further at The Spinning Heart and Blue Horses. Thanks for sharing.

I can't wait to read Blue Horses (Christmas gift to myself). And late to the party, I'm also planning to read All the Light We Cannot See and Americanah. I am so tickled you enjoyed Owen Meany, too!

These all sound great! I am going to look up All the Light We Cannot See The Spinning Heart.

I need to read Owen Meany....thanks for suggesting it again

Your list appeals to me very much, but it is Bright Wings that I have ordered. It will help me start the year with fresh eyes. Thank you. Linda M.

great list and thanks for the recommendations :)

Cool list, grrl. I have a love for Faulkner that has been ongoing for over 40 years. The others on your list are fascinating. Happy New Year!!!!!

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