Gini Dietrich

Top 10 Favorite Books of All-Time

By: Gini Dietrich | June 25, 2012 | 

If you read this on Margie Clayman’s blog, it won’t be new to you so you can either skip to the comments or go on about your day. But if you didn’t, I throw down the challenge to you, as well. 

Last summer I challenged Margie Clayman to write a blog post of her 10 favorite books.

She did. And she cheated.

Instead of her 10 favorite books, she wrote her favorite genres: Books about Abraham Lincoln, books about the civil war, guilty pleasure books, etc. Sure, there were only 10 categories and it was a really good list, but it was cheating none-the-less.

When I teased her about it, she challenged me to write my own top 10 list. It’s taken me 10 months to accept her challenge, but here I am!

It’s a good thing I waited, too. Because when she challenged me, I hadn’t read Fifty Shades of Grey yet and you would have missed out on three of my favorite books.

I kid. That was a terrible series. I’m mad at myself for reading all three of them. I have this really bad habit of having to finish everything I start. And that includes terrible trilogies.

Following is my real list of my 10 most favorite books of all time (in no particular order).

  1. My Name is Asher Lev. My mom gave this book to me many years ago. She wrote inside, “Read this book. It will make you happy.” And it did. Many times over. It’s a book about a boy deeply ingrained in Judaism who feels the need to render the world he knows and the pain he feels through painting and drawing. It’s full of Yiddish, which made me love it twice as much. I picked up certain phrases I use all the time from reading that book (oy vey).
  2. The Bell Jar. Sylvia Plath led a very distraught and sad life before she stuck her head in an oven and committed suicide, but was extremely talented. I sometimes wonder if you have to be that troubled (cough, Hemingway, in order to be a great writer). In this story, you’re drawn into the life of Esther Greenwood and watch as she has a complete breakdown. Some say this was written as Plath was doing the same in her own life.
  3. A Prayer for Owen Meany. I am a big, big John Irving fan, but I contend this is his very best book. In the summer of 1953, two boys are playing baseball when Owen Meany hits a foul ball, slamming it into the head of his friend’s mother, killing her instantly. What happens throughout the rest of Owen’s life is extraordinary, as he grapples with killing a his friend’s mom.
  4. The Fountainhead. I read this for the first time in high school. In fact, during parent teacher conferences that year, my AP English teacher said to my mom, “Is she always this motivated?” I’ve re-read it several times since then and it continues to hit my all-time favorite books. This was Ayn Rand’s first book and her best (IMO). It was my first introduction to how the business world treats women and what we can/should do about it.
  5. The Bluest Eye. I love Toni Morrison (just downloaded her newest book last night), but this will always be my favorite of her books. It’s about a very pretty young girl who no one notices. She really believes if she were special, perhaps if she had blue eyes, things would be different. Her parents would stop fighting, her brother would stop running away, and her dad would stop drinking. And then her dad does notice her…and rapes her.
  6. Under the Banner of Heaven. Growing up in Utah and being raised Mormon, I read this book in order to dispel any myths and rumors my friends have about the religion. What I found, instead, was an incredibly researched story about polygamy and brothers who killed a woman and her baby, claiming they had a commandment from God to do so. It’s the only non-fiction on my list, but the story seems so unreal it feels like you’re reading fiction.
  7. The Lovely Bones. Some of you may have seen this movie, but it’s nothing like the book. The book is always better though, right? This is a story about Susie Salmon, who is kidnapped, raped, and killed…and she spends many years stuck between earth and heaven, watching her family cope with their grief and loss. I know it doesn’t sound very enlightening, but the story will capture you from page one.
  8. An Object of Beauty. My dear friend and colleague, Martin Waxman, sent this book to me a couple of years ago for my birthday. Being a bit of a literature snob, I was reticent to read it because it’s by Steve Martin. Yes, the comedian. But what I discovered inside is the man has a talent for storytelling. It’s about Lacey Yeager, a young woman who begins her art career at Sotheby’s and soon finds herself climbing through the ranks with a lot of power and a lot of money. It’s not what you expect from Funny Man Martin.
  9. The Red Tent. This may seem like it’s a religious book, but it’s not. I say that because Dinah, who is only hinted at in the Book of Genesis in the Bible, is the main character. It tells a story, from her point-of-view, of what it was like to live as a woman back then. It’s compelling, interesting, and really well told.
  10. Me Talk Pretty One Day. I’ll never forget what I was doing when I read this book. I was working on The Catfish Institute account and we were doing a lot of work with media in New York City so I was back and forth nearly every week. A colleague recommended I read the book so I picked it up in an airport bookstore. It is so funny, I was laughing out loud while I read on the plane. In fact, I was laughing so hard (tears streaming down my face), I had to sit on it so I’d stop reading and embarrassing myself. No one quites comes as close to hilarity as David Sedaris.

So there you have. I’ve put my stake in the ground and these are my 10 most favorite books. What are yours?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I’ve been rereading Sandman, the comic book series written by Neil Gaiman.  So, so good.  Reading a graphic novel is a different sort of experience and I love it. 🙂 

    •  @jasonkonopinski Hmmmmm…

      •  @ginidietrich Is that a good hmmm or a bad hmmmm. Hmmm? 

        •  @jasonkonopinski That’s a “I don’t know how I feel about that” hmmmmm.

        •  @ginidietrich Writers like Alan Moore (The Watchmen, V For Vendetta ) and Neil Gaiman are brilliant in the genre. 
          “The Watchmen” also made Time’s list of 100 All-Time Best Novels in 2005. 🙂 

  • I’m with you on the David Sedaris book (or anything he writes or even talks about)for that matter. Listening to Sedaris tapes while driving back to Ohio from Vermont after my father’s funeral, saved me from crashing the Uhaul truck when the sense of loss overcame me. I drove, laughing out loud and sobbing…but more laughing and I credit Mr. Sedaris.Other books? I love so many, with such dedication, that I’m unsure where to start (I can understand why Margie picked genres). One that bubbles up from the wells of my memory is Grapes of Wrath by Stenbeck. Another is My Antonia by Willa Cather. Then there’s Silas Marner by George Elliot and an all time favorite that few people outside of my weird family know and love as we do: Dance of the Dwarves by Geoffrey Household. Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre by the Bronte sisters captured my imagination as a tween and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes made me cry (Ok, perhaps not great literature but a compelling, if short, read.) The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez and… I could go on and on but probably better get to work. 😉

    •  @allenmireles VERY good list! I’ve read all of those, too. Wow. Maybe we should do a classic literature list next. A lot of these would top the list.

      •  @ginidietrich  @allenmireles Classic literature? Oh man, that’s a whole new list for sure. 

  • JodiEchakowitz

    I think I’ve been hiding under a rock. I haven’t read any of the books you mention, but am going to add them to my reading list. One book that I absolutely loved and would highly recommend is ‘The Book of Negroes’ by Lawrence Hill. In the US it was published as ‘Someone Knows My Name’. It is so well written and the story is incredible. I couldn’t put it down.

    •  @JodiEchakowitz Ah yes! I read that one, too. Very, very good!

  • Every time I think through this I come up with more titles. Not sure I could ever do a top ten list, but a few favorites, other than Tolkien, Sayers, Lewis, and Chesterton would be Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, and most anything by Larry Woiwode, particularly Poppa John. 
    Also have really enjoyed a lot of Reynolds Price’s fiction.

    •  @KenMueller I loved Winter’s Tale, too. See! This is so hard!

      •  @ginidietrich If you want a good laugh, try Freddy and Fredericka by Helprin. Some seriously funny satire.

        •  @ginidietrich Oh, and Devil in the White City by Larson. 

  • Hi Gini,
    Ok Like Margie I am cheating. I read your list.  Fountainhead is one of my all time favorites and Atlas Shrugged, Wuthering Heights, and then fast forward to The Stand by Stephen King. That’s 4. I own The Red Tent but haven’t read it. Now I will. I love anything Nelson Demille writes so I will pick The Gold Coast.  I love The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. The Bible, All works by Joseph Conrad. If I have to pick then Heart of Darkness. I know it spans many genres but I love to read.

    •  @Gaga any fan of Lewis is a friend of mine!

    •  @Gaga Ahhhh…CS Lewis. Yes! 

      • scribblinghappy

         @ginidietrich CS Lewis, Tolkein, and Sayers are all excellent writers. Anyone who made it into The Inklings is worth a read! 

  • I’m with you on David Sedaris and Me Talk Pretty One Day. He is an extremely funny and talented writer. The only other book on your list I read (as a teenager) is The Fountainhead. I remember really enjoying reading both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged at the time. Rand is a very good writer, but now I’m not sure about her philosophy of Objectivism. There are some appealing aspects to the philosophy, (i.e., striving to do your best) but it also seems elitist and exclusive. I think there is room for altruism and a more humanist perspective in life.
    One of the books I’ve read in the last few years that I love is Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. It was a book club book, meaning I wouldn’t have picked it up myself to read because of the serial killer story line. I’m not a fan of the horror genre, either in films or books. Larson alternates the serial killer’s story with chapters about the architects who built the Chicago World Fair of 1893, and because his writing is suspenseful and intelligent, I’m now a huge fan.
    Edith Wharton is my favorite author, and I would place her books and short stories on a list of favorites as well. She gets at what was underneath the surface of life in the early 1900s, and her heroines (I’m thinking specifically of Lily Bart in The House of Mirth) are magnificently flawed, trapped in society’s conventions and ahead of their times. She uses irony as a critique of the hypocrisy of her time. I love the short story “Xingu” so much it made me laugh out loud. One of my favorite collection of her short stories is  “Old New York.” 

    •  @glonigro Living in Chicago, Devil in the White City is a must for all residents!

  • Liz

    In no particular order: Orlando by Virginia Woolf, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes, On Writing by Stephen King, Waterworks by E.L. Doctorow, Snow in August by Pete Hamill, Can’t Quit You Baby by Ellen Douglas, Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende, Briarpatch by Ross Thomas. Wow – so many. Hard to rank them. 

    •  @Liz Another Hemingway fan. I cannot get through him. I told @jasonkonopinski at the event last week, I’ve been re-reading A Moveable Feast for three months now. I read The Paris Wife and was compelled to pick up Hemingway again. But it’s taking me fooooorever.

      •  @ginidietrich  @Liz Hahahaha. Hemingway fans UNITE. 

        • Liz

           @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich As a writer, it’s impossible not to love Hemingway. 

        •  @Liz  @ginidietrich #shotsfired

      • Liz

         @ginidietrich  @jasonkonopinski I love A Moveable Feast.

        •  @Liz  @jasonkonopinski I feel like it goes on and on and he uses five sentences for the purpose of what one could say. 

        • Liz

           @ginidietrich  @jasonkonopinski He’s an experiential writer and few have the skills that he had to transport a reader. But reading is subjective and should be that way. 

    •  @Liz I LOVE Waterworks. Brilliant piece of historical fiction.

      • Liz

         @KenMueller He is incredible. Love Doctorow!

    •  @Liz I see not one Bloom County book what gives?

  • I won’t bring up my list from last week’s post – but, DUNE. The Spice must flow. 

  • I’ve a few additions from last week’s post:
    Philip Roth, “American Pastoral”
    JD Salinger, “Catcher In the Rye”. I was Holden Caulfield on so many levels.
    Stephen King, “The Dark Tower” (Yes, all eight should be treated as one master work)
    John Berendt, “Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil” 
    And, lest it be forgotten, DUNE. The Spice must flow. 

    •  @jasonkonopinski Ahhhh. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. So. Good.

      •  @ginidietrich We need a Spin Sucks book club. 

        •  @jasonkonopinski Funny you should say that…I’m conjuring up something along those lines starting this fall.

        •  @ginidietrich This pleases me. 

        • polleydan

           @ginidietrich Color me intrigued.

        •  @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich oh so you are going to have a book club with all of Oprah’s past picks? Will this sell gini?

      • @ginidietrich @jasonkonopinski I’m in the Holden C. Secret Society as well Jason

  • Once I read your book, it will surely be in my top ten (how many Gini points does that earn me?). This post has made me realize I haven’t read a book in at least 2 years – damn world wide webstraction. Additionally, the books I’ve read, most people haven’t heard of, I’m weird like that. Most people aren’t into geology & hydrology, but then again, most people don’t think there are drift diamonds in Michigan & don’t plan on building a dam in their lifetime. I’ll humor you and throw out a few… Atlas Shrugged, Catcher in the Rye, Who moved my Cheese, The other 90%, Rich Dad poor dad, and The Richest Man in Babylon

    •  @SociallyGenius Fiction. You should read fiction. Everyone should read fiction. But if you want Marketing in the Round to hit your top 10, I see nothing wrong with that.

    • Ummm, last I checked, Holden Caulfield wasn’t real. Besides, I have all the fiction I need inside my head

  • mediachick76

    Steppenwolf, A Room of One’s Own, The Awakening, The Lover (Duras), The Glass Castle, Mistress of Spices, Farewell to Arms, Clockwork Orange, Sirens of Titan, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

    •  @mediachick76 Ug! See why this was so hard. I forgot Farewell to Arms!

  • scribblinghappy

    I’m really into the classics – Austen, Orwell, Lewis, Homer, Shakespeare. Throw in some Donald Miller, Agatha Christie, and of the works of John Muir, and you’ve got an idea of what my summer is shaping up to be. 
    But naming my top ten favorite books is like naming my ten favorite friends. 

    •  @scribblinghappy Someone said it was like saying they had a favorite child. LOL!!

  • polleydan

    I don’t know if I could make a list of my top 10 books, but I will try (and blog about it). Thinking “out loud,” I would probably include “Watchmen,” something from the Godhead trilogy by James Morrow, “Dune” and something from Philip K. Dick (“Androids”?). Also, possibly “Crime and Punishment.”

    •  @polleydan Yes! Another Dune and Watchmen fan. 🙂 

      • polleydan

         @jasonkonopinski I have a feeling my list would lean heavily on graphic novels and science fiction.

        •  @polleydan Dune is about as far as I get into science fiction, truth be told (save Ender’s Game and Fahrenheit 451) – but I’m a big fan of graphic novels. 

    •  @polleydan I haven’t read Watchmen, but Mr. D read it. Perhaps I’ll borrow it from him.

      •  @ginidietrich This is why Mr. D and I are going to be good chums. “Who will watch the Watchmen? ” @polleydan 

      • polleydan

         @ginidietrich I know not everyone loves graphic novels, but if you read just one, “Watchmen” is it. And, as always, it’s better than the movie (although I loved the movie, too).

  • jmicoaching

    @ginidietrich Great list – prompted me to have a look at one I would put together. are they in order of preference?

    • ginidietrich

      @jmicoaching No order…and now I’m mad I put a stake in the ground because I forgot some really good ones!

  • LauriRottmayer

    I loved The Red Tent. I was in a book club, briefly, until I realized that they just didn’t read things I liked. This book, which I was also sure I would hate, was a big surprise. My favorite book of all time is Tuesdays With Morrie. It warms my heart. When I’m someplace where they’re selling books, and I see it, I pick it up and give them to everyone I know. 🙂

    •  @LauriRottmayer Tuesdays with Morrie made me sob. Uncontrollably. 

  • brookereport

    Gini, thanks for this list! I’m always looking for new books, and it seems like we have similar taste. In high school, I LOVED The Chosen (also by Chaim Potok) and have been meaning to read My Name is Asher Lev. I also have The Bell Jar sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I just started The Lonely Polygamist, so I may also need to check out Under the Banner of Heaven. Can’t go wrong with Jon Krakauer.  I don’t often reread books, so it’s hard for me to pick “favorites,” but some I really loved are Catcher in the Rye, A Thousand Splendid Suns, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

    •  @brookereport Ooh, Kesey! Good one for sure. 

    •  @brookereport One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest makes me laugh. I know it’s not a comedic book, but I always envision Jack Nicholson playing that role and it makes me laugh!

  • Before I even got to your list, I had two thoughts: 1: Choosing your favorite all-time book is like choosing your favorite all-time restaurant. So hard, and well, it depends. And then my second thought was – A Prayer for Owen Meany. And you picked it too!!!!  Love love love John IRving, and his second favorite novel of mine is a lesser known one, The Water Method Man. I’ve read it 5 times. 
    I also love Margaret Atwood – A Handmaid’s Tail.
    And I can’t think of others right now so I might be back. 

    •  @Lisa Gerber Why do you think it took me 10 months to accept the challenge?!?
      I also love Margaret Atwood. Dang. See…this is hard!

  • Brian Posey

    A few on my list that haven’t been mentioned – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and just for my personal guilty pleasure, the Stand by Steven King.

    •  @Brian Posey Oh! my Guilty Pleasure fave is Nelson Demille’s Gold Coast. Hilarious. Great Gatsby is a good one. 

      •  @Lisa Gerber  @Brian Posey The Beautiful and The Damned > Great Gatsby. Fight me. 🙂 

    •  @Brian Posey I saw The Great Gatsby is coming to the big screen so I’m going to re-read it!

  • sudhamathew

    Uff..I just don’t get why Fountainhead is such a fave with people. I read it in school and still don’t get why it is liked so much. I’m a Hemingway fan too 🙂 Coincidentally my last post was on my favourite travel books so I’m posting it here to meet your challenge. Inspired to do a post on my all time favourite books across genres soon.

    •  @sudhamathew That’s how I feel about Hemingway. I try so hard and I…just…can’t….do….it.

      •  @ginidietrich Hemingway’s short stories are much better than his novels.

  • I couldn’t pick my Top Ten… maybe I could write something about the Top 30 maybe… but yes works of Fathima Bhutto, William Dalrymple, Paulo Coelho, Naguib Mahfouz, Jhumpa Lahiri remain favorites. 

    •  @Hajra  Now this is a different list! I’m going to check some of them out. Where would you suggest I start?

      •  @ginidietrich These are mostly writers who focus on this part of the world. But my favorite among these would be the following three – 
        Like, I love William Dalrymple’s work because he wrote about the Mughal era (a history chapter for us Indians) and he writes about India always. And I have lived in places he has written about – so the inherent interest. 
        But Jhumpa Lahiri writes beautifully; she is based in Brooklyn and her stories have always something to do with immigrant psychology and behavior. Fathima Bhutto again, wrote about her lineage and her book is mainly political and focuses on Pakistan.
        So, my interests and experiences lie within what they talk about…. But do check out Jhumpa Lahiri, her words resonate with you long after you’re done!

  • Robb_Wexler

    1. Marketing In the Round (sucking up big time)2. Whack On The Side of the Head3. Was America Founded As A Christian Nation4.The Natural5. What They Don’t Teach You At Harvard Business School6. Why Bad Things Happen To Good People7. To Kill A Mockingbird8. Curious George9. The World Is Flat10. ANYTHING that wasn’t promoted on Oprah

    •  @Robb_Wexler Darn. That means no Toni Morrison for you. But, in my defense, I found her long before Oprah did.

  • acraKA

    @ginidietrich i just ordered 3 of your book recs! years ago i could not get through Lovely Bones, maybe I should try again…

    • ginidietrich

      @acraKA Which three did you order??

      • acraKA

        @ginidietrich bluest eye, me talk pretty, bell jar!

        • ginidietrich

          @acraKA Nice!! I can’t wait to hear what you think!

  • mediachick76

    @ginidietrich I replied on your post! 🙂 My Woolf answer is kinda wrong since that’s more of an essay than fiction, but what’evs.

    • ginidietrich

      @mediachick76 Woolf works for me! It’s really up to you!

  • Jenluit

    Oh, my gosh. Many of these are on my all time list, but picking ten is truly hard. I am adding those I haven’t read to my list, since if you love David Sedaris, I’m pretty sure we are book soul sisters. I love when my mother suggests books; it makes me feel like she knows me.

    •  @Jenluit I thought Me Talk Pretty One Day was freaking hilarious. I tried Running with Scissors (Augusten Borroughs) and didn’t think it was quite as good. Check out An Object of Beauty. It was a nice surprise.

      •  @ginidietrich Yeah, Augusten Borroughs is tough to read. Such constant sarcasm gets old. Me Talk Pretty One Day though is fabulous. Might also read Up the Down Staircase.

  • bhas

    @ginidietrich Can I get some credit for this post about books? 😛

  • hajraks

    @ginidietrich I would never be able to come up with my fav; it would be like choosing my favorite shoe; wouldn’t want to hurt any! 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @hajraks Or your favorite sibling.

      • hajraks

        @ginidietrich or like choosing between my nephew and niece…yikes!

  • gibsondm

    @ginidietrich I don’t think I’ve read a fiction book in 4 years…and decided I was NOT going to start with 50 shades of grey. 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @gibsondm No, please do not start with that awful series

      • gibsondm

        @ginidietrich Seriously- not sure what all the hype is about. Makes me wonder if too many people aren’t getting any.

        • ginidietrich

          @gibsondm You KNOW that’s why.

  • LisaDJenkins

    Let’s be serious. I own a library, with well over 3000 books and the list grows each month. I adore all things paper, ink and written word; to pick 10 favorites might be possible if I could have a list for each genre. To pick 10 of the most memorable … I’ll stick with fiction for this list. 
    1. A Wrinkle in Time/Madeleine L’Engle
    2. The Alchemist/Paulo Coelho
    3. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch/Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
    4. The Pillars of the Earth/Ken Follett
    5. The Portable Dorothy Parker
    6. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell/Susanna Clarke
    7. The Mists of Avalon/Marion Zimmer Bradley
    8. An Instance of the Finger post/ Ian Pears
    9. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister/Gregory Maguire
    10. The Wheel of Time/Robert Jordan
    I also adore Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, Patrick McManus, L.E, Modesitt, George R.R. Martin …. I should just stop.  I have to work at some point today.

    •  @LisaDJenkins The Alchemist! YES!! Great list…I’m glad I did this so I have books to read when I get stuck.

  • Here’s my lucky 14:
    1. Crossing to Safety by Stegner
    2. Any Human Heart by Boyd
    3. Saturday by McEwan
    4. The Book Thief by Zusak
    5. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Dorris
    6. The Year of Magical Thinking by Didion
    7. The River Why by Duncan
    8. Out Stealing Horses by Petterson
    9. Empire Falls by Russo
    10. Lonesome Dove by McMurtry
    11. Unaccustomed Earth by Lahiri
    12. Little Children by Perrotta
    13. A Long Way Down by Hornby
    14. And of course Owen Meany is also one of my all-time favorites
    My partner teaches 19th Century Women in British Literature, and he put this wonderful list together for his graduating class this year:
    * Buy a copy of The Madwoman in the Attic by Gilbert and Gubar and keep it in your library FOREVER.
    * Take the next step from the Brontes’ novels, and read George Eliot’s novels, especially Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss, and Daniel Deronda
    * Watch the Masterpiece Theatre miniseries versions of Eliot’s novels (especially Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda)
    * Read George Bernard Shaw’s turn-of-the-century play, Pygmalion, and then watch the movie musical revision of that play, My Fair Lady
    * Buy a copy of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of Their Own and keep it in your library FOREVER.
    * Read Woolf’s modern novels (20th Century), Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse
    * Read Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, The Poisonwood Bible
    * Read Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter
    * Read any Flannery O’Connor short stories (especially “A Good Man is Hard to Find”)
    * Read Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Read Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping

    •  @jono.smith OMG. I’m in love with your partner. What a fabulous list! Makes me want to audit his class just so I can get more of this. I LOVE George Eliot. So, so good.
      You loved The Book Thief enough for your top 10, huh? It took me forever to read it, but I really loved it by the time I finished. I thought it was a really interesting take on history we’ve all heard over and over again. And dang. I’m mad I forgot about Empire Falls. LOVED that book. I almost married it I loved it so much.

    •  @jono.smith Hello! Nice to meet you, I’m Mimi…Crossing to Safety is WONDERFUL and I don’t run across many people who appreciate it as much to make it number 1. I love Wallace Stegner!

  • AnneReuss

    Need ten months to pick 10 too, but I’ll share one: White Noise by Don DeLillo – about media saturation, consumerism, and technology and how they all intertwine in the character’s lives.  It’s trippy. Some things today remind me of that book! 

  • Great; now you are going to make me think to play.
    I did read Me Talk Pretty One Day over the weekend; good choice. 
    Not necessarily in any particular order and they might not even be my top 10, but they are 10 that easily come to mind.
    1) A Land Remembered – Patrick D Smith A Florida book
    2) Cold Mountain – Charles Frazier Civil War w/ disillusioned Confederate soldier
    3) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson Computer hacker who overcame abuse
    4) The Help – Kathryn Stockett This was the south I grew up in
    5) Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut Anti-war, on must read list
    6) Catch-22 – Joseph Heller I found it funny
    7) White Noise – Don Delillo Consumerism and advertising
    8) The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy Spy & Espionage
    9) Without Remorse – Tom Clancy One of his better efforts
    10) Green Eggs and Ham – Dr Suess What? It’s a classic……….:) 
    I’ve seen you comment that you can tell a lot about a person by what is on their reading list; hopefully you will still make eye contact w/ me the next time we meet. 

    • John_Trader1

       @bdorman264 Green Eggs and Ham happens to be the best sales book ever written. As many no’s did “Sam I Am” get before making the sale? Classic. Shows you persistence pays off.

    •  @bdorman264 Everyone’s life needs more Vonnegut in it. 

    •  @bdorman264 I love that your list has Green Eggs and Ham in it 🙂 no list would complete without Dr Seuss 🙂

      •  @SarahArrow  Don’t egg him on! @bdorman264 

        •  @ginidietrich  @SarahArrow Yes, don’t feed that guy; you’ll never get rid of him………..

    •  @bdorman264 Without Remorse…such a good one. In fact, I loved it so much, it made me hate Willem Defoe for playing John Clark. And I love Willem Defoe!

    •  @bdorman264 I forgot about The Help! Nooooo! I loved that book! I also loved the Millennium Series, but didn’t include them because I felt like it was cheating to have three books as one. 
      But honestly, Bill. Only one picture book? I’m shocked.

      •  @ginidietrich I never cease to amaze…………:). 

      •  @ginidietrich The Help is surprisingly entertaining. I’m a fan, and I was hesitant to read it. General premise (unemployed, living at home) struck too close to home.

    •  @bdorman264 Of course you would be the one with Dr. Seuss on the list. Number 2 and 4 are ones I’ve enjoyed as well. And I think I have number 10 memorized!

  • Nuk3dawg1

     in a year or two a new hardbound book will will cost us $150 if its available but i egress….iv’e probably read most all (more than 10 )of the travis mcgee series by john d. macdonald.    the protagonist was wriiten as an intelligent and introspective man, sometimes with a hard cynical streak like myself and provided plenty of inspiration for afternoons of gilligans island imagining myself  helping ginger come aboard my houseboat (The Busted Flush) drinking boodles gin…straight.  Each new novel would inspire a fresh style in my wardrobe as well through the clever use of the color wheel and flashy names like  Darker Than Amber, The Deep Blue Good-by and The Lonely Silver Rain.  I enjoy fifty shades of gray too! if the cleaning lady remembers to bring it with her retired bus driver je ne sais quoi . She says the discussions are a great way to get to know her clients  better . Anyhow, ive also read most all the Chiltern series about Chevy silverados but thats a haul for a blog comment. Deuces everybody and enjoy the summer!!!

    •  @Nuk3dawg1 You are crazy! LOL!! Thanks for the entertaining comment.

      • Nuk3dawg1

         @ginidietrich hi Gini, you do pull it out of us in your disarming way then im commenting on the spin sucks blog again.  It was his tenth novel and ten is my lucky number so of course the 1st impulse was to throw down a “more die of heartbreak”  saul bellow fluff thing but who wants to be that guy that makes everybody feel like  blowing up federalist architecture. you know, it being summer and all. drink the wine and let the world be the world

  • rdopping

    I gave my list over at Marjie’s site but there is this new book out that I was looking for an opinion on. It’s called something like Marketing in the Round. Don’t know the authors.
    Is it any good?

    •  @rdopping It makes a lovely coaster. 🙂 

      •  @jasonkonopinski  @rdopping I heard, too, it makes a lovely coaster!

  • Gini, thanks for adding onto my (endless) reading list! 🙂 I’ve read #7 and #10. Actually, I read The Lovely Bones when I was maybe 14 or 15, and my mom had read it and actually forbade me from reading it because she thought it was so graphic. I was sleeping over at my best friend’s house and she had a copy — I read it in one night. It was an incredible book. I’ll have to revisit it — AND Me Talk Pretty One Day. Have you read any of Sedaris’ other books? I haven’t sadly. More books on the list…

    •  @annedreshfield I have this vision of you, with your head under a blanket and a flashlight, reading a book in its entirety before you have to go home the next day. So funny!

      •  @ginidietrich That’s pretty much what it looked like! 

  • Ok, ok, here you go:
    1) Just Kids – Patti Smith
    2) Tonight at Noon: A Love Story – Sue Mingus
    (I promise all these will not be musician biographies)
    3) Anything by David Quammen, particularly love Wild Thought from Wild Places, but all are good.
    4) Anything by Michio Kaku, but Hyperspace and Parallel Worlds. 
    (Ok, no more cheating with multiple books per author…)
    5) The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Classic. I will always love it, and depending on my mood, will cry at the end.
    6) The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Regardless of my mood, I will cry while reading this.
    (Ok, obligatory kid books – check.)
    7) A Thousand Splendid Suns by  Khaled Hosseini. Equally if not more moving than The Kite Runner.
    8) The Persians: Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern Iran by Homa Katouzian. I learned so much about Iran with this book. I wish there was an update for the last 10 or so years.
    9)Bigfoot: I not Dead – Graham Roumieu. Funny. Really funny.
    10) Ok, I’ve read The Fountainhead at least a dozen times, but that almost seems like cheating…hmmm. I know, what about … Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

    •  @katskrieger Wow! Your taste is VERY eclectic. I love it!!

      •  @ginidietrich I saw @katskrieger reading an archie comic book at starbucks.

        •  @HowieSPM  @ginidietrich Lately it’s been more Wonder Woman, but okay, sure…

      •  @ginidietrich 10 books is impossible, but I went with ones that really affected me…or continue to do so. My guilty reading pleasure is all the Inspector Jury books by Martha Grimes. 

    •  @katskrieger Oh I missed out Khaled Hosseini’s work… my favorite too!

    •  @katskrieger I wasn’t a fan of A Thousand Splendid Suns. The Giving Tree: good choice! Always a good, quick, thoughtful read.

  • Have to make a plug for The Great Gatsby. Oh, and To Kill a Mockingbird. 🙂

    •  @jacque_PR I’m totally going to re-read The Great Gatsby. On my immediate list.

      •  @ginidietrich  @jacque_PR Hurry before Baz Luhrmann ruins it with a bad remake!

  • ginidietrich

    @LouHoffman It’s soooooo good.

  • ginidietrich

    @stevekaplanlive Hey crazy!

    • stevekaplanlive

      @ginidietrich Hey Gini!

      • ginidietrich

        @stevekaplanlive How’s the fast life treating you?

        • stevekaplanlive

          @ginidietrich Crazy, as always – but wouldn’t trade it. Excited about some upcoming projects in July. How about you?

        • ginidietrich

          @stevekaplanlive About the same! Going into my busiest month of the year. 😐

        • stevekaplanlive

          @ginidietrich Ah the double-edged sword! Good luck with everything. At least it also happens to be a great time of year to live in Chicago.

        • ginidietrich

          @stevekaplanlive Yes, it is! I’m loving the summer this year. Tons of cycling.

  • RebekahCrane

    @ginidietrich I love The Red Tent!! Such a great book.

    • ginidietrich

      @RebekahCrane You know what you should read? Hang on. I’ll find it.

    • ginidietrich

      @RebekahCrane This:

  • MollyBorchers1

    Four of these books are also in my top ten list. Good taste!

    •  @MollyBorchers1 And now I have four immediate reasons to like you!

      •  @ginidietrich @MollyBorchers1 Molly run before it is too late!

  • I am finally here. What did I miss?

  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – HST
    Naked Lunch – William S Burroughs (junkie was great too)
    Lord of the Rings – Tolkien
    Conan – Robert E Howard
    Foundation trilogy – Asimov
    Art of War – Lao Tzu
    Tao Te Ching
    Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond
    Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung – Lester Bangs
    Dune – Frank Herbert

    •  @HowieSPM You and Geoff and The Art of War.

  • This was tough. Have to wrack my brain over all the books I’ve read, so tried to cover a variety of areas. I’ve read them all more than once.
    1. The Neon Bible
    2. Winesburg, Ohio
    3. The Mother Tongue
    4. The Outlaw Sea
    5. The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture (by @johnbattelle)
    6. Hot Property: The Stealing of Ideas in the Age of Globalization
    7. Where the Sidewalk Ends & A Light in the Attic
    8. The Phantom Tollbooth
    9. Where the Red Fern Grows
    10. Millennium Trilogy

    •  @econwriter5 I also loved the Millennium trilogy! I hated the first American movie, but loved the Swedish versions. They were more to what I imagined while I read.

      •  @ginidietrich I saw the whole Swedish trilogy, uncut, on Netflix. Far better than the first American film. Actually, the first film in the Swedish series was OK. The first novel is kind of sluggish as it sets up the rest of the series. The rest of the Swedish films were good, though. It will be really interesting to see how the American adaption goes. I’m really curious how they’ll work out some scenes, or cut entirely.

    • Additions:
      11. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
      12. Born to Run
      13. Island of Lost Maps
      14. Delivered from Evil
      15. Nightmares & Dreamscapes
      16. The Alienist
      17. Devil in a White City (mentioned by others and a very good read)
      18. Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means
      19. Water for Elephants
      20. Snow Crash
      21. REAMDE
      22. The Wrecking Crew
      23. Time Won’t Let Me
      24. A Fraction of the Whole
      25. Ghost Rider
      26. The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger
      27. Prince of Tides
      28. South of Broad
      29. Moneyball
      30. Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0
      31. The Outlaw Sea
      32. Goodbye, Darkness
      33. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
      34. I Was Told There’d Be Cake
      35. Rule of the Bone
      36. The Last Convertible
      37. In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington
      38. No Ordinary Time
      39. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
      40. Into Thin Air
      OK. OK. I’ll stop now. Until I think of more. 😉

    • rustyspeidel

      @econwriter5 Love #2.

  • heybethanyrae

    Some of these are being added to my summer reading list RT @ginidietrich: It’s here. My top 10 favorite fiction

  • ginidietrich

    @SarahRobinson I didn’t love Atlas Shrugged as much, but I did relate back to it the past couple of years

    • SarahRobinson

      @ginidietrich my mom feels the same way. She’d choose the fountainhead every time.

  • Yay! I have made notes off everyone’s lists! I would add…
    1) Shipping News by Annie Proulx
    2) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
    3) Giliead by Marilynne Robinson
    4) Home also by Marilynne Robinson–read them in this order 🙂
    5) The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
    6) Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn (please, please…everyone…read this book!)
    7) Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
    8) English Creek by Ivan Doig
    9) Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
    10) Blindness by Jose Saramago tied with Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and Little Bee by Chris Cleve.
    That was kind of cheating. But can I give a shout out to Let the Great World Spin, too? Anyone who lives in New York or remembers the news story of the guy who walked the tight rope between the two towers of the world trade center in the early seventies should REALLY read Let The Great World Spin.
    Ah, Gin, this was fun!
    Oh…and for @bdorman264 …I too, loved Cold Mountain and The Help. I just love books.
    And Gini…I also confess that I read two of the Shades of Grey trilogy and couldn’t read one more reference to lip biting…so I stopped. Love you!

    •  @MimiMeredith  @bdorman264 Blindness is a fantastic read. It took a few pages to get used to his lack of punctuation, but it made it all the more interesting.

    •  @MimiMeredith  You’re the fourth person to recommend Blindness. I’m going to have to pick it up. I also loved Little Bee, but I was so disappointed in its ending. Is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close better than the movie? That was terrible. I couldn’t even watch it all.
      I hate that I have to finish books. I envy the fact that you were able to stop after the second book.

      •  @ginidietrich @AbbieF might warn you that her book group called Blindness the book that kills book clubs. Either you love it; or you hate it. It is not a light read. I found so tremendously well written…just as @econwriter5 said, there’s no punctuation. No quotation marks or paragraphs. It just wraps the story around you. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is spectacular. But I thought the movie was one of the best I’ve seen in years. For a perky person, I think I’m surprisingly open to a heartbreaking tale told well.

    • rustyspeidel

      @MimiMeredith @bdorman264 Art of Racing is a GREAT book.

  • AbbieF

    I am working on my list now.  Had to ask my book club ladies for some help. 

  • kbmciver

    1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (sorry, I’m young, they all made an impression!)
    2. The Year of Magical thinking by Joan Didion
    3. Just Kids by Patti Smith
    4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
    5. Freakonomics by Levitt & Dubner
    6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    7. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (I loved them all but this one in particular) by Stieg Larsson
    8. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
    9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    10. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    I’ve gotten ideas from other lists! 

    •  @kbmciver I also loved Harry Potter. Every one of them!

    •  @kbmciver The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favorite books :)! Great choice! Cheers.

      •  @Griddy  @kbmciver I’m re-reading that right now. Picked it up in the airport yesterday. Now that’s a Hemingway-era author I can read.

        • rustyspeidel

          @ginidietrich @Griddy @kbmciver Forgot about him! I’m gonna pull that out of the attic!

  • lainlalaland

    1. It, Stephen King
    2. Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
    3. 1984, George Orwell
    4. Anything by Edgar Allan Poe
    5. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
    6. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    7. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
    8. The Golden Pot, E.T.A. Hoffman
    9. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
    10. The Devil and the White City, Erik Larson

    • kbmciver

       @lainlalaland i’m reading the devil in the white city right now!

    •  @lainlalaland AWESOME list!! You liked Atlas Shrugged better than The Fountainhead?

      • lainlalaland

         @ginidietrich Thanks, Gini! Haven’t read The Fountainhead yet, though I’m assuming I’ll like it. 🙂 It’s on my “to read,” shelf, but then so are many other books!

  • jennwhinnem

    Gini, you SERIOUSLY GAVE ME A HEART ATTACK because that JOKE appeared before the break and I was like “no. NO. Gini cannot be publicly declaring her love for that mess. She was an English major for goodness’ sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I honestly exhaled in relief when I clicked into this. I was ready to get to “brakeing up with you”

    •  @jennwhinnem HAHHAHAHAHA! I totally did that on purpose. LOL!!

  • ginidietrich

    @LauriRottmayer What is it?

    • LauriRottmayer

      @ginidietrich Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close. 🙂 I love that post. A gift that keeps giving. 🙂

  • rustyspeidel

    I tend to be categorical in my likes. If I like an author, I read everything they have produced. 
    1. All Hemingway, especially the short stories. He suits my hyper-macho, Hank Moody alterego perfectly.
    2. All Chris Tilghman, for his amazing character development, evocative location-beauty, and local flavor. His newe one is coming out and I’m beside myself.
    3. Lovely Bones was a beautiful and compelling read. Help with with some other titles by Alice Sebold.
    4. Cormac McCarthy, for his Hemingway-esque, manly simplicity and amazing story ideas. 
    5. Anything Nora Ephron–she will be sorely missed by the witty and witty-wannabes among us. 
    6. Anything Jack London. Pure adventure that taps my childhood aspirations of heroism. 
    7. Anything Jon Krakauer. Love his shit.
    8. Jon Hart. The new, more literary John Grisham. Good drama without the need for a post-read justfication, e.g. “it’s a good beach read, jeez!”
    9. All Malcolm Gladwell. So insightful, yet has dramatic, page turning energy.
    10. Marketing in the Round. 🙂

    •  @rustyspeidel See. That’s cheating. The categories. That’s what got Margie in trouble with last summer. Also, I have to edit your comment for swearing. #somepeoplewillneverlearn 
      But I have to say, with so many Hemingway fans, I try so hard. WHYYYYYYYY can’t I read him? At least enjoyably? 

      • rustyspeidel

        @ginidietrich Point taken. But that’s how I roll! I get on jags where I read everything someone wrote, then move on to the next.

      • rustyspeidel

        @ginidietrich And sorry about the swearing. ;(

      • rustyspeidel

        @ginidietrich Maybe you don’t like his mysogyny? Or his prose is too plain?

  • Hmmmmm…and here I thought I loved to read! I’ve only read two of these :(.
    For some reason – some of my favorite books are from my childhood.
    I loved The Scarlet Letter. 
    I admit to liking the occasional John Grisham’s when I’m in no mood to think to much.
    Crime and Punishment
    Any Coelho
    Love Alexandre Dumas – especially The Count of Monte Cristo
    Was a huge fan of poetry…Poe, Shakespeare and so many others.
    Of Mice and Men
    My stepfather’s novel…but it’s in French – La Belle Sunamite
    Is it bad if I saw that I like Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons
    2 books that I started reading a while back but got lazy and have yet to finish (although I enjoyed them thus far) are Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson.
    Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
    Steinback’s Grapes of Wrath
    Okay that’s enough lol ;).
    Hey Gin! Miss you!

    • Crap…too many typos up there lol ;)!

    •  @Griddy Count of Monte Cristo is awesome! I was reading a book every 7-10 days, picked that one up, took me a month and then it was REALLY HARD to find a good book to read after. +1 for Count of Monte Cristo.

      •  @econwriter5 I love that book too :)! I even liked the movie although needless to say that the book is almost always better.

    •  @Griddy I loved The Scarlet Letter, too. Did you see Easy A? If not, get a copy. Hilarious, modern day story with strong underpinings of that book.
      I miss you!

  • rideboulderco

    @nittyGriddyBlog @spinsucks great list. Will be checking out A Prayer for Owen Meany. thanks for sharing!

    • nittyGriddyBlog

      @rideboulderco my pleasure :). IT’s @GiniDietrich’s list actually.

  • Pingback: My Top 13 Favourite Books of All-Time | Kaarina Dillabough()

  • KDillabough

    @benSchmidt1 @SpinSucks @Upworthy Thx so much my fellow Canadian/Ontarian. Happy Canada Day Sunday!

  • Pingback: Not Having A Favorite Book List Is A-OK | Kaarina Dillabough()

  • ifdyperez

    I CANNOT believe I missed this blog post. I sucketh. But I love your list… and ya know wha? I think you’re my new book buddy. I’m like you; I don’t trust most people’s recommendations in literature but if you’re a fan of “The Bell Jar,” you have taste IMO. 🙂 I can only think of 5 right now, and let this serve as an IOU for the remaining:
    1) “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje: The movie can’t be compared to the book; I have never read a vivid story with such a soft use of the language. It almost makes you think you’re reading something in Spanish or Italian because he writes in a more “romance English.” I went to a book reading of his once, and it was the first and only time I ever cried listening to someone read their work. I also liked “Divisadero” a lot.
    2) “Hopscotch” by Julio Cortazar: He’s my favorite author because he has an amazing command of the (Spanish) language yet loves to break the rules–and does it so damn well. One thing about Hopscotch: you can read the book a million different ways, jumping around the chapters, and it still works, telling the same story in different ways. So creative. I emulate a lot of his writing style.
    3) “Blow Up and Other Stories” also by Julio Cortazar: I recommend people unfamiliar with Cortazar to “test” him out by starting with this short story collection. His writing is fantastical but weaves it so well with reality you just have to believe. For example, in “Letters to a Young Lady in Paris” is a series of short letters written in first person by a guy renting out an apartment while the girl is gone. The thing is he realizes he’s coughing up bunnies (yes the animals). Then it becomes a problem, but you go through it all with him–how he hides them in drawers, how they’re chewing up her furniture (and he’s apologizing profusely in the letters). It’s hilarious but the way he describes it, makes it so realistic! I love it.
    4) “The Genius of Hunger” by Diane Goodman: She was a professor of mine in college (and the only professor whose writing I liked) and this book was just so well done. She’s a chef/caterer, so the way she describes food makes you hungry whether you ate or not. I’m including her because she’s one of the few modern-day writers I like.
    5) “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyevsky: ’nuff said.
    In writing this I realized there are more books/authors out there that I don’t like. :

    •  @ifdyperez I will take your IOU and your book buddy offer!

  • Pingback: My Top 10 Favorite Books of All Time « mansquees from polleydan()

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