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Which books have stayed with you meme

I'm pinching this idea from deslily who originally got it from Susan and where it came from before that I have no idea. :-)

Which books have you read over the past decade that have stayed with you? What are your favorites? If you've always kept a books-read list, is there a theme to what you end up liking the most?


Grass - Sheri S. Tepper
Probably my favourite science fiction book ever, and I only read it for the first time about four years ago. A world completely covered in grass which has been settled by some not very pleasant people. And there is something about 'the hunt' that you immediately realise is all wrong but you're not told what. I've never read a book with a more well defined sense of extreme menace. Brilliant.

The Sparrow - Mary Doria Russell
A strange mix of religion and science fiction - but it works. A team of scientists and explorers headed by a RC priest go off on an expedition to the planet Rakhat. This one could be summarised by the phrase ' They meant well...' A brilliant 'first contact' kind of warning.

Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
I've only read the first three books in Hobb's nine strong 'Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man' sequence but even based just on those I still believe she's the one of the best fantasy writers around at the moment. Her world building and story telling abilities are second to none, imo.

The Hollow Kingdom - Clare B. Dunkle
All three books in this trilogy are excellent but I particularly love this first book. I've a thing about elves and goblins anyway but this YA fantasy with a touch of romance where the 'hero' is a very strange looking goblin who kidnaps the heroine in order to marry her, was just perfect. I loved the humour and the underground setting and well... just everything about it really.

The Harper Hall trilogy - Anne McCaffrey
I love all the Pern books but this particular little trilogy is one I read over and over. It's the story of Menolly who is a talented singer and musician, but on Pern girls never get to be harpers. Betrayed by her father, she runs away to a coastal area where she discovers tiny dragons and teaches them to sing. These books are quite simply perfection.

The Island of Adventure - Enid Blyton
It might seem odd to choose an Enid Blyton book for this meme but I believe in being honest and this lovely little book has stayed with me since I read it. Blyton conjures up such a wonderful feeling for the Scottish Isles, where it's set, that I haven't been able to get the atmosphere out of my head.

The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
Vampires, history, East European travel... what more could a person want? Loved it.

Frederica - Georgette Heyer
I could name any one of a dozen Regencies by Heyer but Frederica is the one I reread the most. I love its mix of a romance between the older man, Alverstoke, and the younger Frederica, and the way her younger siblings and a mad dog complicate the issue. Joyous.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith
Francie Nolan's story. Born into poverty in turn of the century New York I found her story of survival completely inspirational. Beautifully told.

Saplings - Noel Streatfield
WW2 story of how a well-to-do family fell to pieces as a direct result of the war. I worried endlessly about the children while I was reading it.

The Mist - Stephen King
This longer short story tells how a strange mist envelopes a town and a man and his son get trapped in a supermarket with a group of people. What's outside? And why is it trying to get in? Probably the scariest thing I've ever read - I just don't look at mist in the same way since I read this...


Lost Lands, Forgotten Stories
- Alexandra Pratt
The author follows in the footsteps of Mina Hubbard who made a 600 mile journey into the interior of Labrador in 1905 to restore the reputation of her dead husband. Ms Pratt canoes up river with a Native American as a guide and the resultant descriptions of scenery and happenings and discussions on Indian history and the future of the province, with her guide, are just fantastic. I want to go Labrador but realise it's never gonna happen.

Stargazing: Memoirs of a Lighthouse Keeper - Peter Hill
An account of the author's six months spent on lighthouses when he was a student - the people he met, lighthouse routines, cogitations etc. There is just something wonderful about this book.

My Family and Other Animals - Gerald Durrell
Durrell's account of his boyhood on Corfu with his eccentric family. Hard to get the atmosphere of Corfu out of your head once you've read it.

I'm sure there are others I could add to this list - *many* more in fact - but I'll stop here before the list gets completely out of hand. So, is there a theme to the books that stay with me? Erm... I seem to be keen on sci and fantasy, but I already knew that. Truthfully, I don't think there is pattern... I'm an electic reader and I think this list is evidence of it.


You have a great list of memorable books. The Historian is something I've been meaning to read.
Not everyone likes The Historian but I certainly did. I tell people who are going to read it to take their time. It's a book to be savoured not rushed.
The Sparrow would be on my list. Over the past ten years I seem to have read a lot of very disposable genre fiction *g*. But I'd include Nick Stone's King of Swords and Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire as memorable books in the crime fiction genre.
The Sparrow was amazing... not so mad about Children of God but at least it finished the story.

Just getting into the crime fiction genre so have made a note of the books you've mentioned here and will look them up.

I've got two crime books to review here as a matter of fact. Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir (and you can say that you're a better woman than me) and Snow Blind by P.J.Tracy. Both of them very readable... not *brilliant* by any means... but reasonable reads.
CoG I was ambivalent about. I think the main problem was that it had a hard act to live up to . . .

I've just read Last Rituals and rather enjoyed it. Bits of it annoyed me, but I've on the whole liked both books I've read by her.

I've read one or two from PJ Tracy and could take them or leave them.
I didn't realise the Icelandic woman had written anything else. Will go and check that out.

The PJ Tracy was odd. I couldn't work out who these 'Monkeywrench' people were, who were not that important to the plot but who I was clearly supposed to know about. *g* Turns out I'm reading the 4th. book in this *loose* series and the Monkeywrench people were the main people in previous books! *duh* *This* book is all about two detectives in the Minneapolis PD and their investigations of cop killings where the bodies have been made into snowmen. It was not bad actually - Peter passed it on to me from his library pile in fact and he's notoriously fussy. A couple of Amazon reviews reckon this is the best of the four so far.

And now somebody else has mentioned Stieg Larsson in my hearing so I'm obviously going to have to investigate. My library has his books but they're all out at the moment.
Sigurdardóttir's new book is the second in the series. OK, but a bit slow, and I found the running gag, so to speak, about the annoying secretary and also the family stuff a bit tiresome.

I've read two (I think) in the Monkeywrench series and got totally fed-up of the way the authors (it's two sisters, or maybe a mother and daughter, I forget now) went on about 'wow, isn't the overweight woman pretty and can't she do her job brilliantly!' Patronising f**ks! I just thought the whole formula felt tired as well.

Larsson is awesome. The books have been much hyped, but are definitely worth it. The third (and last) is due out at the start of next year, and the film of the first one is on the way.
Interesting :) *adds a few to her check out at the bookshop list* Particularly like the sound of Grass and The Historian and I've been meaning to read Stephen King for years, but never got round to it. (My brother in law offered to lend me some just last weekend actually - must take him up on that.)
I'll be honest - I don't really read Stephen King. Not his novels anyway, they just don't appeal. I do quite like *some* of his short stories though. I think he's a very skilled short story writer even though he's rather into 'toilet' stories. *cough*

Imo, Grass is well worth reading and another book by Tepper - Gate to Women's Country. I wish we were neighbours and then you could borrow these from me! I don't don't know if you've read Bram Stoker's Dracula? If not, it's not a bad idea to read that before you read The Historian.

Any chance you might do this meme?
I'll admit to being a bit of a wuss when it comes to horror/scary fantasy. That's the main reason I've put it off, but I did get into the later film adaptions, like The Green Mile and Dreamcatcher, so I keep meaning to read them as well. We watched 1408 the other night, which was apparently from one of his short stories. It had us jumping. Not overly original, but a fun ride nonetheless. I've since discovered that a lot of other films I've seen were his too. The book K was reading when it came up was a compilation of short stories. I think they'll be a good place to start. Ah, I see. Yeeees. *raised brow*

Good o. Thanks for the rec. Aww, thank you! Shame we're not closer. I'll admit the same thought has crossed my mind when you've said you're looking for books that are sitting on my shelf. I haven't read Dracula, no. (shockingly) Might be a good time to do it then. :)

You know I think I might! *is determined to do book posts today* *is also determined to get some reading time this week* I'll send you links when I do.
I'm a bit of a wuss about the horror genre too. The movie of The Dreamcatcher was too much for me, for instance. I'm not so squeamish about books, but still am not keen on blood and gore for the sake of it. On the other hand, one of my favoutire movies ever is The Fog, with Jamie Lee Curtis. *So* atmospheric.

Well, I didn't read Dracula until last year so don't worry about it. ;-) I thought I had but soon realised I was wrong. It's not strictly necessary to read it before The Historian but it helps I think.
Glad it's not just me then ;) Ah, that's interesting. See I'm the opposite, the books stay with me longer than the films. No, blood and gore for the sake of it isn't nice. Too much of that about. Ooo, sounds good.

*g* I'm not one that really worries about what I 'should' read anyway. I always think the right books appear at the right time. :) It would be nice to read it first I think.
What an interesting list.

Ah, The Island Of Adventure - that does have a wonderful feel to it.
I could also have added The Valley of Adventure and The Castle... but I was doing this for the last ten years not as child. And of course things change, I'm now reading more crime books so if I did this in 5 years times you'd doubtless see that genre better represented.

Love to see your choices if you decide to do it. :-)

Forgot to mention that I've just sent you an e.mail so keep an eye.

Edited at 2009-07-08 10:24 am (UTC)
I know what you mean. I'm pleased you're enjoying the crime genre.

I might do at that.

It flew in safely, thank you.
Great list. I have a copy of The Historian somewhere - I've been putting it off because I want to read it when I have time to get into it.

The only King I've read was The Stand, but I've read that twice and see the miniseries (it helps that I love Gary Sinese).

I'm there with you on The Sparrow and Grass. It's too bad that most of Teppers novels just irritate me. I've also read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 3 times I think, so it's one of my favorites.

I've never read any Enid Blyton but I hear about it a lot, and it's this sort of nostalgia by proxy for me. Do you think it's worth reading as an adult?
Oops, HTML is not my friend, apparently. :)
I really do think The Historian is a book to take your time with. It's a book with a lot going on and it's worth savouring, imo.

I haven't read enough of Tepper's novels to be able to judge properly. I think I maybe read the best ones first, which kind of makes your opinion slightly skewed. lol.

I'm pretty sure I'll be rereading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn again. A lot of people seem to read it multiple times.

Oh goodness, that a hard question about Enid Blyton. They really are 1930s, 40s and 50s children's 'nostalgia' type books. And really British too. If you think you might like that then by all means try one or two. The Susan Cooper 'Dark is Rising' series is slightly more challenging and from the 1960s. I've only read the first one but I can tell already that they're excellent and worth a try as an adult. The first book is Over Sea, Under Stone.
Oh yes, I read Susan Cooper's books as an adult, and I agree they are totally worth it. I may even reread them at some point.