Top Ten Tuesday- Back Then

This week The Broke and the Bookish ask up to list the top ten books we read prior to becoming bloggers. Considering I've only been blogging for less than three years and have been reading for like 25, this was actually hard because there are just so many. I've mentioned many of these before, but for good reason. 

1. Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky: I just want to go on record by saying that his last name can be spelled in two ways, since every time I type it out I'm paranoid that someone will accuse me of not knowing how to spell it. Anyway, I had to read this book as a junior in high school and fell in love with the story and Russian literature (I need to read more). The quintessential question at the heart of it is simple- how do you react to guilt? Do you let it control you? Even more so, what do you do to cause it?

2. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: I actually just pulled this out to reread- I think I read this junior year of high school too. The novel is set in the future where births are declining- Offred has viable ovaries and must subject herself to the Commander once a month to hopefully become pregnant.

3. House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende- Man, we read some good shit in high school! I used to think that Isabel and Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez should get married on some sort of literary level and spit out wonderful, amazing magical realism babies.

4. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl- I really could not give two fucks about what anyone says about this book, or Pessl- I love this book. Yes, it's flawed, but the coming-of-age literary style turned out to be my kryptonite. I loved Blue, and I love her dad. And stay tuned for my Thursday post about how excited I am that Pessl's new book actually has a release date and cover.

5. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer- I read this in college when a professor let the class vote on what our final selection for the course was (I loved that idea so much- I left class with a nice list of books to read that day).

6. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole- I think I read this book seven or eight years ago and thought it was hilarious. Ignatius is such a pain in the ass but the adventures he ends up in are fantastic. It's fun to hate him.

7. Spark by John Ratey- I read this a few years ago as part of University of San Diego's Project INFORM- I needed the units to top out on the salary schedule. I ended up loving this book- it completely validates every minute of exercise I do. Not only is moving your ass on a regular basis important for your body, but your brain too.

8. Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle- Sorry, I know, I've mentioned this a few times before (and by a few times I mean once a month). For those that have missed my past gushes, it's about illegal immigrants in California and how we should maybe be a bit more compassionate and less dickish towards them. Do you want to raise your family in Mexico (I'm not talking Cabo, I'm talking Ciudad Juarez or Chihuahua)?

9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides- I am convinced that Eugenides is one of the best current American authors- his brilliance in terms of stories, characters, and ability to write surpasses most others. 

10.  Empire Falls by Richard Russo- There's something about Richard Russo that's so... familiar. Maybe it's his easy prose or the fact that so many of his stories are set in small towns with people that you could easily imagine knowing.


  1. Empire Falls ranks as one of the books that has had the most influence on me. I think it's a beautiful story beautifully written.

    A Confederacy of Dunces is possibly one of the funniest fiction books I've read, I met someone the other day who hated that novel - she couldn't understand why people kept recommending it.

  2. Mann, I want to go back and add Everything is Illuminated to my list too...and Middlesex. I love that book. I decided to focus on YA books so they wouldn't qualify, however. Good list.

  3. I have been wanting to read Middle Sex for a long long time now. I just need to squeeze it into my TBR pile! Here is my list: Top Ten Tuesday.


  4. Rory at Fourth Street Review has been urging me to read Empire Falls for sooooo long - I'm about to start it!

    Interested to see Everything is Illuminated on your list - I didn't mind it but after reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close I was blown away - it's one of the most creative books I've ever read.

  5. That awkward moment where I realize Middlesex should have been on my list and I failed. Also, I agree with the previous commenter: I loved ELaIC, and EII wasn't as good for me.

    I also love The Handmaid's Tale and enjoyed Crime and Punishment. Those Russian names are tricky, no?

    Special Topics in Calamity Physics I liked at first, but then...not anymore, and now I think of it with rage. Haha. I think either readers will love the twist or want to punch it in the face. Glad it worked for you!

  6. So many fascinating sounding books were mentioned, but I'm distracted by the idea of a class voting on what book to read. I'm going to steal that idea once I'm back in the classroom - genius!

  7. I've only read one of these (CRIME AND PUNISHMENT). I've started THE HANDMAID'S TALE several times and have yet to finish it. Not sure why. I love dystopian books and really, really need to read this genre classics. One of these days, I will!

  8. haven't read any of these but have heard of them :)

  9. I f-ing love Ignatius Reilly! I have a picture of me posing next to him with a daiquiri in the middle of the day where the old DH Holmes building was in New Orleans.