I am avid when it comes to updating my Goodreads books. I can spend hours on my profile, browsing through recommended books, reading other people’s reviews on the books that I want to read or that I already read, and most of all, I love adding books to My Books. (I don’t think I’ve ever written a sentence with so many instances of the word “books”.) I love giving each book the appropriate star-rating I think they deserve. I feel like a lot of people can relate when I say that I find a lot of my reads on there, and that Goodreads’ book recommendations based on my shelves are more times than not spot on and I can use them to choose my next reads.
I also add books to my To-Read list (TBR, as other people call it) too often. By “too often”, I mean that I will read a book’s description, imminently fall in love with it, and add the book to my TBR, even though I end up forgetting about it the next day. I think one of my resolutions for next year should be to be more selective about the books I add on my To-Read list, because sometimes I feel confused and lost when I start browsing through it.
Since it’s been almost a year since my last “top ten” post, I wanted today to write another one. Because the top 10 would be too long for this kind of list, I think it’s time that I do a top five last books added on my To-Read list post.
Top Ten Books Added On My To-Read List
Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857)
“When Emma Rouault marries Charles Bovary she imagines she will pass into the life of luxury and passion that she reads about in sentimental novels and women’s magazines. But Charles is a dull country doctor, and provincial life is very different from the romantic excitement for which she yearns. In her quest to realize her dreams she takes a lover, and begins a devastating spiral into deceit and despair.”
I have been meaning to read this book forever, so I bought it last year. I only recently put it on my To-Read list after I found it while cleaning my bedside table drawers, which were so full of meaningless junk, by the way. I really want to read it – the only version available on Goodreads is the translated version, but I have the one in French, obviously, since my primary language is French. It is something I want to read for cultural reasons and because it is a classic, and I like to keep up with literary discussions. Even if I don’t read this one right away, I know I’ll come back to it eventually.
Kathleen Winsor’s Forever Amber (1944)
“Abandoned pregnant and penniless on the teeming streets of London, 16-year-old Amber St. Clare manages, by using her wits, beauty, and courage, to climb to the highest position a woman could achieve in Restoration England-that of favorite mistress of the Merry Monarch, Charles II. From whores and highwaymen to courtiers and noblemen, from events such as the Great Plague and the Fire of London to the intimate passions of ordinary-and extraordinary-men and women, Amber experiences it all. But throughout her trials and escapades, she remains, in her heart, true to the one man she really loves, the one man she can never have.”
This book apparently caused quite some turmoil when it came out in the nineteen forties. People were saying it was blasphemous because of its sex scenes, adultery, abortions and etc., which only makes me want to read it more. I love controversial reads, not because I love when people are fighting, but because I like to situate myself in conflicts. I like to know where I stand on issues, controversial or not. And, let’s be honest, it’s always interesting to see what the noise is/was all about! I also suspect a dose of feminist issues to be in this novel, which I always appreciate.
Siri Hustvedt’s The Summer Without Men (2011)
“Mia Fredrickson, the wry, vituperative, tragicomic poet narrator of The Summer Without Men, has been forced to reexamine her own life. One day, out of the blue, after thirty years of marriage, Mia’s husband, a renowned neuroscientist, asks her for a “pause.” This abrupt request sends her reeling and lands her in a psychiatric ward. The June following Mia’s release from the hospital, she returns to the prairie town of her childhood, where her mother lives in an old people’s home. Alone in a rented house, she rages and fumes and bemoans her sorry fate. Slowly, however, she is drawn into the lives of those around her—her mother and her close friends,“the Five Swans,” and her young neighbor with two small children and a loud angry husband—and the adolescent girls in her poetry workshop whose scheming and petty cruelty carry a threat all their own. From the internationally bestselling author of What I Loved comes a provocative, witty, and revelatory novel about women and girls, love and marriage, and the age-old question of sameness and difference between the sexes.”
On one of my favorite blogs, if not my favorite, The Bookshelf of Emily J., I read a couple of posts about this author, Siri Hustvedt. It’s the one reason I started looking into her bio and her books, and after reading all of their summaries, I decided that I would want to start off with this book, The Summer Without Men. I don’t really know what to expect with this one, apart what I read in its synopsis, but it’s supposed to be good – and the “women and girls” premise seems very promising to me.
Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44 (2008)
“Stalin’s Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state. Defending this system is idealistic security officer Leo Demidov, a war hero who believes in the iron fist of the law, but when a murderer starts to kill at will and Leo dares to investigate, the State’s obedient servant finds himself demoted and exiled. Now, with only his wife at his side, Leo must fight to uncover shocking truths about a killer–and a country where “crime” doesn’t exist.”
I am sure to love this book as I love anything having to do with stories of corruption in countries lead by dictators, like Stalin’s Soviet Union. This is that sort of story, mixed with a murder and the discovery of truth, which is always an interesting premise. This book was recommended to my history class in high school by one of my favorite, most captivating teachers and I haven’t thought about it again until I saw it as a recommendation on Goodreads. I’m so glad I’ve stumbled upon it once again!
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
“First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads, driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into haves and have-nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.
A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes the very nature of equality and justice in America.
Sensitive to fascist and communist criticism, Steinbeck insisted that “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” be printed in its entirety in the first edition of the book—which takes its title from the first verse: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” As Don DeLillo has claimed, Steinbeck shaped a geography of conscience” with this novel where there is something at stake in every sentence.” Beyond that—for emotional urgency, evocative power, sustained impact, prophetic reach, and continued controversy—The Grapes of Wrath is perhaps the most American of American classics.”
This classic tale of the Great Depression has been read by almost everyone, I’ve been told. Not only do I want to join the club just for the sake of joining it, but I’m also extremely interested in that time period in American history. I’ve read a lot of similar books set in the World Wars/Great Depression era, but most of them were told in the Canadian point of view. I want to get acquainted a little better with the United States version of the Great Depression story, and I can’t think of a better way than by starting with this book. I also want to get started on John Steinbeck.
I have no idea if I’ll read these books sooner, later, or never, as I tend to read my books in a sporadic manner: I have no order of when to read what. I hope, though, that I do end up reading them because I am, truly, immensely excited to do so.
Did you read any of these, and it so, what did you think?