Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Recommended Books

3 May

Okay before we get into the nitty gritty of today’s Top Ten Tuesday (which is about books that have been recommended to me, not vice versa), I just have to marvel about the fact that it’s already May. MAY! 2011 is going oh so quickly! Also, I need to just share a squee-worthy moment – I tweeted my review of DISMANTLED by Jennifer McMahon, and she tweeted me back to say thank you!! Love her!

Also, I did have a great trip and managed to finish three books (!), reviews of which are coming soon. One fantastic, one not so fantastic, and one right in the middle. A mixed bag, but that’s okay. It actually is a good segway into today’s Top Ten Tuesday. I’ve seen some great lists (you can see the bloggers that have participated on The Broke and the Bookish) and it’s a great insight into the kind of readers people are. I thought I’d put together my own list and challenge myself to remember where I got some of my favorite books.

  1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – This book has been on a lot of people’s lists/TBR shelves because of the HBO series, but I first read this about four and half years ago off a recommendation from my manager at Barnes & Noble. At the time, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with fantasy – high fantasy like this was certainly nowhere on my list of favorites. But my manager, Jacob, said to me, “Rachel, read the first 150 pages, and if you can put it down after that point, you don’t have to read any more. But I think you’ll be hooked by then.” And he was right. I got completely obsessed with the series, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Not only that, but this book way my gateway into other types of fantasy that I normally would’ve been very hesitant or skeptical of. Now I count certain types of fantasy among my favorites and am much more willing to give something a chance. I also think this was the first book that I read purely because of the person making the recommendation. I trusted his opinion and I wasn’t disappointed.
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – What a recommendation this turned out to be. I got this one the summer before my freshman year of college, 2001, from my future roommate, Caroline. I’d poo-poo’d Harry Potter to that point (I think only #4 had been published so far), but when I talked to Caroline on the phone the summer before we became roommates (our college had sent each of us the names and numbers for all the roommates), she insisted that I read it. I did, and the rest is history. However, I didn’t get all the way through Book #4 before school started and I’d gotten so busy that I hadn’t been able to finish the last 50 pages or so. When all my roommates and friends found out I hadn’t finished it yet, they locked me in the bedroom until I finished it.
  3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – I get a lot of recommendations from my mom. We have similar but not quite the same tastes, so if she really likes something, she’ll recommend it and vice versa. We tend to trade books a lot. I chose The Help for this list because it’s a good example of the ways that sometimes, even if something doesn’t sound like it would appeal to you but the recommendation is so adamant, sometimes you should just shut up and read it. You’ll probably love it. That’s what happened in this case. I’d been reading lots of different things when my mom read this, and she practically threw it at me to get me to read it. When I finally did, holy moly. One of my favorite books of 2010.
  4. Twilight by Stephanie Meyers – I’m including this one because it’s a great example of how wildfire-like books recommendations can get. This came out while I was the manager of the Children’s department at B&N and I thought it was completely dumb and inappropriate and all of that. I also did not read vampire books – phew! But a few years after the first book was released, a coworker read it and completely raved about what a guilty pleasure it was. She agreed that it was completely dumb and not at all a good thing for teenagers to read (in the opinion of those of us that don’t believe in that whole “waiting ’till marriage” thing). But that omg it was addictive. From there, it spread through my office so quickly and soon I think almost every woman in my department had read it. Then the movies came out and we all went back to not caring.
  5. Just Kids by Patti Smith – I sort of knew who Patti Smith was when this came out. And I’d seen a ton of reviews on other blogs which encouraged me to read it. But the nail in the coffin? My mom. Once again. So happy I stepped out of my comfort zone.
  6. A Widow for One Year by John Irving – I’m almost positive this recommendation also came from my mom (can you sense a pattern?) but I have to include it because it led to me discovering my favorite author in Irving. They always say that you never forget your first, and while this is not my favorite of his books, it holds a special place.
  7. The Quiet Game by Greg Iles – This recommendation came from a coworker at Barnes & Noble who loved, loved, loved crime fiction. But we would challenge each other with recommendations and I would push his limits with lit fiction and he gave me some of my favorite guilty pleasure reading. His recommendation for The Quiet Game was simple: “It’s like John Grisham, but Greg Iles can actually write.” That was good enough for me and I’ve read almost everything else he’s written as a result.
  8. Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes – I got this one from Rebecca @ The Book Lady’s Blog. She RAVED about this book – on her blog, on Twitter, everywhere – and when she said that she didn’t even LIKE “war” books, I knew I had to pick it up. Well worth it, and her recommendations rarely disappoint.
  9. The Last Werewolf  by Glen Duncan – A recent recommendation, I’d seen a review from Lori @ TNBBC and decided that I was dying to read this! I saw that she’d gotten a review copy from the publisher and I tweeted her asking her how she pulled that off. Not only did she give me an answer, she mailed me a copy of the book. How’s that for a recommendation? I’m going to post my review shortly, but this is definitely one of my faves for the year.
  10. The Song Is You by Arthur Phillips – This is kind of a cheat, because I didn’t really like this book at all. But it was recommended to me by Greg @ The New Dork Review of Books and because we have very similar tastes in books, I read it. I did not like it. Greg loved it. Something was off kilter here. But it led to a really great discussion about how we read books and if gender plays a significant role into how we perceive character intentions. I didn’t like the book, but I loved the result which is why it made my list.

So! There’s my list. What are some of the best books that have been recommended to you?


15 Responses to “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Recommended Books”

  1. Lisa May 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    I agree with Harry Potter, Twilight and The Help. Great choices!

  2. Lisa Almeda Sumner May 3, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    A Widow for One Year is my favorite John Irving novel–I really love that book.

  3. lori (TNBBC) May 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Oh Yay! One of your favs for the year?? I am so happy, and was thrilled to be able to supply it you, too 🙂 Thanks for the shout out!

  4. Greg Zimmerman May 4, 2011 at 11:09 am #

    Hey, thanks for the mention – even though you pretty clearly didn’t like the book. 😉

    • Rachel May 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

      It was such a great conversation though! I’ve gotten some other great recs from you too 🙂

  5. Alley May 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    First up, that’s awesome that you can share books with your mom. Yay for bookish families.

    I had pretty much the same Twilight experience. I hadn’t heard of the books until the last one came out. A co-worker’s friend made her read them and then she heard they were making a movie. My co-worker wanted company for the movie, so she had me read the series. It is awful and stupid and promotes just horrible things but it was addictive. And then I saw the first movie and it was so much worse than the books, which is a feat in itself.

  6. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog May 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    I’m so so so glad to see MATTERHORN on this list. Almost a year since I read it, and I’m still raving. Thanks for the shout-out and for giving it a shot. So happy that you weren’t disappointed!

    • Rachel May 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      I’m still raving too :). It was a fantastic recommendation. Thank you!

  7. zeteticat May 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    I liked the Help too and picked it up because my sister was reading it. A Game of Thrones is in my TBR & I’d been passively interested in Matterhorn & might have to actually check it out now… Great list!

  8. Kari May 5, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    The Song Is You is one of the very first books I reviewed on my blog. I can’t even really remember what it was about at this point, but I remembering not loving it either. (I think it was just “eh.”) I love getting recommendations. I usually enjoy most books personally recommended to me!

  9. Colleen May 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    A Widow for One Year is excellent (I really like Irving too) and come to think of it, a college friend recommended it to me.

    My Mom and I also trade books – our tastes overlap a bit but not too much and its nice when we can share a read.

  10. Books are my Boyfriends May 10, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    I just bought MATTERHORN! I’m a scoch intimidated by war novels too, but with you and Book Lady raving, I have more confidence diving in. Am SO excited for LAST WEREWOLF, can’t wait for summer release date, am going to take it to the beach and read its’ butt off!

    • Rachel May 11, 2011 at 10:41 am #

      You will love both books, I promise 🙂

  11. Biblibio May 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    I’ve found that a lot of my favorites have been recommended to me by my family, typically from an early age. My brother insisted I read The Count of Monte Cristo after he read an abridged version in high school (I was ten years old at the time), my sister immediately began to read Harry Potter aloud to me right after its publication (I was still too young to tackle a full-length book, and this was even way before the books got to be 800 pages long!), and my parents always showed me the way to some of the great classics. Obviously in the age of the internet, my recommendations come from all over impressions but it’s interesting to look back and see just how much my family has influenced my reading.

  12. James May 22, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    I would definitely echo your recommendation of A Game of Thrones. I read this years ago and have since read all of the other books in the series. I’m currently re-reading them in preparation for the release of Dances With Dragons (finally out in July).

    @Biblibio I also really enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo – it was recommended to me my my sister.

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