Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is top ten favorite books from the past 3 years.
These are favorite books that I’ve read in the last 3 years, not necessarily books that have been published in the last three years. I was going to rank them, but that proved to be impossible, so they’re in random order.
1. Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
Cat's Eye is the story of Elaine Risley, a controversial painter who returns to Toronto, the city of her youth, for a retrospective of her art. Engulfed by vivid images of the past, she reminisces about a trio of girls who initiated her into the fierce politics of childhood and its secret world of friendship, longing, and betrayal. Elaine must come to terms with her own identity as a daughter, a lover, an artist, and a woman—but above all she must seek release from her haunting memories. Disturbing, hilarious, and compassionate, Cat's Eye is a breathtaking novel of a woman grappling with the tangled knots of her life.
Why I love it: The author realistically captures the politics and pettiness of childhood cliques.
2. The Fault In Our Stars – John Green
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green's most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
Why I love it: The blend of humor and seriousness. It’s a cancer-kid story, but it’s not completely depressing.
3. Nine Stories – J.D. Salinger
Nine Stories (1953) is a collection of short stories by American fiction writer J. D. Salinger released in May 1953. It includes two of his most famous short stories, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" and "For Esmé – with Love and Squalor." (Nine Stories is the U.S. title; the book is published in many other countries as For Esmé - with Love and Squalor, and Other Stories.)
Why I love it: Most realistic child characters ever.
4. In Our Time – Ernest Hemingway
When In Our Time was published, it was praised by Ford Madox Ford, John Dos Passos, and F. Scott Fitzgerald for its simple and precise use of language to convey a wide range of complex emotions, and it earned Hemingway a place beside Sherwood Anderson and Gertrude Stein among the most promising American writers of that period. In Our Time contains several early Hemingway classics, including the famous Nick Adams stories "Indian Camp," "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," "The Three Day Blow," and "The Battler," and introduces readers to the hallmarks of the Hemingway style: a lean, tough prose—enlivened by an ear for the colloquial and an eye for the realistic that suggests, through the simplest of statements, a sense of moral value and a clarity of heart.
Now recognized as one of the most original short story collections in twentieth-century literature, In Our Time provides a key to Hemingway's later works.
Why I love it: The writing. It’s brilliant.
5. Burned – Ellen Hopkins
I do know things really began to spin out of control after my first sex dream.
It all started with a dream. Nothing exceptional, just a typical fantasy about a boy, the kind of dream that most teen girls experience. But Pattyn Von Stratten is not like most teen girls. Raised in a religious—yet abusive—family, a simple dream may not be exactly a sin, but it could be the first step toward hell and eternal damnation.
This dream is a first step for Pattyn. But is it to hell or to a better life? For the first time Pattyn starts asking questions. Questions seemingly without answers—about God, a woman's role, sex, love—mostly love. What is it? Where is it? Will she ever experience it? Is she deserving of it?
It's with a real boy that Pattyn gets into real trouble. After Pattyn's father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control until Pattyn ends up suspended from school and sent to live with an aunt she doesn't know.
Pattyn is supposed to find salvation and redemption during her exile to the wilds of rural Nevada. Yet what she finds instead is love and acceptance. And for the first time she feels worthy of both—until she realizes her old demons will not let her go. Pattyn begins down a path that will lead her to a hell—a hell that may not be the one she learned about in sacrament meetings, but it is hell all the same.
In this riveting and masterful novel told in verse, Ellen Hopkins takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride. From the highs of true love to the lows of abuse, Pattyn's story will have readers engrossed until the very last word.
Why I love it: Uniqueness. It’s a novel in verse, but it’s very easy to understand.
6. Different Seasons – Stephen King
From the magical pen of Stephen King, four mesmerizing novellas . . .
“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption”: An unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge . . . the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award nominee The Shawshank Redemption.
“Apt Pupil”: Todd Bowden is one of the top students in his high school class and a typical American sixteen-year-old—until he becomes obsessed with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town. The inspiration for the film Apt Pupil from Phoenix Pictures.
“The Body”: Four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. The film Stand By Me is based on this novella.
“The Breathing Method”: A disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death.
Why I love it: Some of Stephen King’s best writing is contained in this book.
7. The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
The Blind Assassin opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist. Brilliantly weaving together such seemingly disparate elements, Atwood creates a world of astonishing vision and unforgettable impact.
Why I love it: It’s part historical fiction and part science fiction. What’s more awesome than that?
8. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.
By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left behind by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery.
So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.
Why I love it: The writing.
9. Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk
Tender Branson—last surviving member of the Creedish Death Cult—is dictating his life story into Flight 2039’s recorder. He is all alone in the airplane, which will crash shortly into the vast Australian outback. But before it does, he will unfold the tale of his journey from an obedient Creedish child to an ultra-buffed, steroid- and collagen-packed media messiah. Unpredictable and unforgettable, Survivor is Chuck Palahniuk at his deadpan peak: a mesmerizing, unnerving, and hilarious satire on the wages of fame and the bedrock lunacy of the modern world.
Why I love it: A hilarious story about suicide cults, plane crashes, and the apocalypse.
10. Close Range: Wyoming Stories – Annie Proulx
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes comes one of the most celebrated short story collections of our time.
Annie Proulx's masterful language and fierce love of Wyoming are evident in these breathtaking tales of loneliness, quick violence, and the wrong kinds of love. Each of the stunning portraits in Close Range reveals characters fiercely wrought with precision and grace.
These are stories of desperation and unlikely elation, set in a landscape both stark and magnificent—by an author writing at the peak of her craft.
Why I love it: The majority of the characters are unlikeable but still compelling.