Books That Made Me Ponder My Little Ole Self in 2010

To say that books can make a difference in a person’s life would be a huge understatement. I find, that nearly every time I read a book, there is something within it that speaks to me.

Liking a book is not even a requirement for me. There are plenty of books out there that I didn’t like that still managed to say something to me. If an author manages to do that and I find myself thinking about the book for days or even weeks on end, then I consider that book a success.

If the book manages to make me think about the way I live or what I’ve become (or haven’t for that matter), then that book becomes a favorite.

With that said, these are the books that were important to me in 2010:

Finn

Finn proved to me that an author can build on a beloved classic without destroying the said classic. I was struck by the awfulness of the main character. Not so much what he was about, but that I could relate to him at times. This disturbed me to no end. There’s something very comforting in admitting that.

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Great World Spin Book Cover

Let the Great World Spin hit me on so many different levels. The storytelling was different from what I’ve encountered before. The chapters are really almost separate stories that come together to form the novel. Somehow though, McCann manages to give you that sense of spiraling out of control. The sense of tragedy and loss in this novel stayed with me for a very long time but there was a fragile beauty to it, too. Being able to watch it unfold from afar, without getting your hands dirty in the process.

Many of you who’ve read the book may recall that part of the story is told from a prostitute’s point of view. Well, I grew up in Hollywood, California with parents that could not take care of themselves, much less me, so those sections took me back to my childhood. No, I was never a prostitute, but I had a few friends that were. These girls were very young, ten or eleven years old and they looked out for me. There was also a priest that took me under his wing… Let’s just say that the book took me back to my childhood which is something I don’t choose to visit too often.

 

 

The Glass Room Book CoverThe Glass Room I liked for completely different reasons. The novel was inspired by the Tugendhat house. I love stories that center around a home, whatever it may be. In this case, it’s a sterile, steel and glass number that on the surface is open to all, but still houses secrets of its own. I played the voyeur with this one. I watched these characters within their glass room and felt all of their insecurities. It was uncomfortable but enjoyable at the same time. The transparency of the room, the cold steel, the large areas of emptiness all made me want to run my hand along its surfaces.

As cold as it seems, there was warmth to be had too but not the type you’d find in any traditional sense.

 

 

Atonement Book Cover

I read Atonement many years ago and then again recently for my Contemporary Lit class. The first time around, I considered it a good book. The second time though, I had the luxury of picking it apart over the course of several weeks and found all sorts of treasures within it. The consequences of doing something horrible and then never being able to fully atone for it seemed like such a tragic premise for a novel, and it is, but I reveled in all of the internal conflict. McEwan is known for his attention to detail and some may take issue with the amount of detail he chooses to include in his novels, but I hand myself over to him fully and never have a problem with it.

 

 

Middlesex Book CoverAlthough it’s been around for a while, and it occupied space on my bookshelf since the day it was published, I was hesitant to pick-up Middlesex. In my head I heard “family saga” which translated to long and boring. Boy, was I wrong about this one! Yes, it’s a multi-generational, coming-of-age story but it’s about a hermaphrodite (not boring) and secrets and the devastating effects they have upon a family. It’s good reading, but it’s the kind of reading that you do with a notebook and pencil by your side because nearly everything means something.

The ongoing theme of transformation is what held my attention and how certain events can shape who you are.

 

 

Last Night in Twisted River

Reviewers, the ones who get paid, didn’t really care for this one but many book bloggers did. I find this fascinating. Perhaps the professional reviewers get caught-up with the mechanics of the writing more so than the feeling it evokes. For me, Last Night in Twisted River is about relationships and what you’re willing to do to keep them. The characters are memorable and complex and…loyal. Yes, there’s that word again. It’s been a tough year for me as far as friendships go and ending the year with characters who still possess the loyalty gene was surprisingly refreshing to me.

 

 

So there you have it. These are the books that stayed with me, that meant something to me or forced me to look at myself differently. Reading is such a personal thing but 2010 was such a good reading year for me, that I wanted to share a few of those reads with you.

This year, I plan to do more of the same, read what I want to read and savor every minute of it.

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34 thoughts on “Books That Made Me Ponder My Little Ole Self in 2010”

  1. Ti, that sounds like an excellent reading plan for 2011. I want to do the same – just read whatever catches my fancy instead of agreeing to review books that are not my cup of tea by any means ( I had too many of those last year). And I agree with you about how books speak to you – I feel the same way. Even books I don’t really care for, I can usually connect to it somehow, but there are those few that truly captivate me and haunt me for quite some time afterward (those are the books I love). I hope you have a wonderful reading year!!

  2. Oh, I wish you would “make” me read “Let the Great World Spin.” I looked at it again last night. Something about those first few pages makes me put it back down, but I’ve heard so many good things!

    1. Well with Let The Great World Spin, I would read a bit more before giving up on it. It’s really a collection of stories (sort of)and they come together in the end. So you may not care for the first one, but the others…

  3. Wow Ti, what powerful affects books can have on us, huh? Even fiction! Thank you for sharing how personal some of these were to you, I got goosebumps reading your reaction to Let The Great Worls Spin, i think this means i need to read it too.

  4. You picked some powerful books. It sound like you had a pretty intense childhood too. I rememebr that character in Let the Great World Spin, amazing book.

  5. Your list looks excellent, Ti! I super loved Atonement, too. Middlesex is on my TBR, will be read this year. Let the Great World Spin and Last Night in Twisted River are on the wishlist. I love John Irving. Always had a soft spot for him, being one of my favourite authors as a teen. I agree with you about the reviewers, as while I can see his literary merits may not be up to par with other greats, there’s something comforting and moving and so real in his books that critics overlook.

    Happy new year, Ti!

  6. I have The Glass Room on my shelf and your description makes it sound all the more interesting to me.

    I’ve started Middlesex twice but never got through with it. Since it took me a few tries to read through Atonement (and well worth it, I might add) I hope to succeed with Middlesex at some point as well.

    1. Middlesex jumps around a bit and Eugenides plays with flashbacksand name changes, etc but once you get the rhythm, it flows much better.

  7. Atonement also had a big impact and as you also described, I found myself thinking back to it weeks after I finished it.

    It’s interesting that your class improved the reading experience. One of the reasons why I didn’t study literature was that I was afraid it would take all the fun out of reading.

    1. Well, I think the instructor had a lot to do with the experience being so positive. She was wonderful. Really  made it fun. Those kids (kids, ha.. I am like 42), some of them never read a novel like the ones we picked but by the end of the semester they were talking about literature which was very exciting.   The papers were sort of a drag. I am not used to MLA formatting and fought the format a bit.  

  8. Love this post, Ti! I’ve only read Let the Great World Spin, but I’d really like to read Middlesex and maybe Finn.

    And as far as it having been a hard year friendship wise, *hugs* I understand. Hope 2011 brings you joy!

  9. I love this post. SO many good books, and several of them sitting on my shelf (Let the Great World Spin, Middlesex, Last Night in Twisted River) unread. I am inspired to go pick them up.

    Thanks for sharing about your childhood. I have to admit that I’m fascinated with your story…. I would have never expected it. I pictured you growing up in a home much like the one you are making now. From what I can see, you are such a well-rounded person as well as an incredible mom with a beautiful family. Looks like you you are a very strong person to take the lessons from where you came from and turn your life into something so productive and good.

    1. Oh! the stories I could tell! They would make your eyes cross 🙂 Thanks. I think I am pretty well-rounded and often, people don’t believe my background when they hear it. Sometimes, it’s even hard for me to believe it because so much of it is so far out there. Every now and then I hit Hollywood just to visit the places I’ve lived or had experiences in. It’s good to put things into perspective every now and then.

        1. Most definitely. Hey, I heard the Festival of Books will be at USC this year. I hate driving down that way. I much prefer the UCLA site.

          Visit my book blog: Book Chatter

  10. Middlesex was amazing wasn’t it? I laughed, I cried, and I did not want it to end. LTGWS took me to a whole new level, literature wise. I might even put it on my top reads ever.

  11. I love the way you approached your year-end list – it was unique, personal, and well-articulated. And I’m glad Middlesex made your list – it’s a favorite of mine.

  12. I really enjoyed reading your reflections on these books. These are all books that I haven’t read, although I have a few of them on my wish list.

  13. I’m sorry to say I haven’t read ANY of these books. I completely agree though, some books just have staying power.

    We now have about 8 inches of fresh snow for tomorrow’s race. I just received an email from the event coordinator to tell us they spotted 12-15 unique prints in the snow (people), the trail had light traffic today. HA!

    I can’t wait to start running, the waiting is killing me! 🙂

  14. i *just* wrote (last night!) a scheduled post about being inspired to do things by books and articles i’ve read in my lifetime! you and i really are on the same wavelength!

    it’s interesting to see how books can really influence readers and though i haven’t read any of the books you mentioned, i know books have gotten me to at least think about things from other perspectives. love this post!

  15. My book club read “Let The Great World Spin” in December and I must say that I was disappointed by these very intelligent women’s ability to connect with the book in any way. They certainly didn’t have the background that you did – that must have made the book difficult for you to read.

  16. “Middlesex” did it for me too. An amazing book that I kept putting off for the longest time. Glad I finally read it.

    And I’m so happy that I have “Let The Great World Spin” already loaded on the old Kindle.

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