The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers- translated from the German, this book also contains pen and ink illustrations by Moers. The story takes place in a land in which books are the most important things in the world. The story is told by a book-loving dinosaur of sorts, a Lindworm. He goes in search of the perfect author and is dragged into the catacombs- the city of dreaming books. Rich language and dense descriptions make the book an adult book, though a dedicated middle or high school could tackle it.
Peace Like a River* by Leif Enger- a book found through the Chinaberry book catalog. Told by a young boy whose father does miracles, brother shots a man to protect the family, and sister who writes cowboy narrative poetry. The middle sort of dips and you want to put it down- but don’t!!!
I Capture the Castle* by Dodie Smith (author of 101 Dalmatians)- A classic English coming-of-age novel written in a journal format that almost loses the journalness at times. This book made me want to swim in moats and have midsummer rites. The book looks long and intimidating but it will quickly pull you in. Recommended for high school plus. Not a bad movie either (of course, the book must be read first, but the BBC movie makes for an interesting comparison).
The Secret Life of Bees* by Sue Monk Kidd- Not too long and a good read (warning: it will make you want to eat honey). As good as everyone said it was.
My Antonia* by Willa Cather- a book that I thought would be work to get through- I ended up adoring it. Cather lived and wrote in the American west in the first half of the 21st century. Her work is filled with descriptions of period life and the prairie..
The Poisonwood Bible* by Barbara Kingsolver – Set in 1950s Africa and told by five different girls/women. The alternating points of view allow readers to see events from different angles and see the world through the lens of each woman’s opinions. Good female protagonists and some lovely description. Interesting emotions and relationships as well as reflections upon the setting. I did two views of the same event as a speech and debate piece.
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay- My advanced 8th grade reading class found this “Totally amazing.” Also set in Africa, it follows the journey of a boy and his life as a Boer (has actual historical content). Some chapters are so beautiful you just want to cry.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad- a classic book with some beautiful analogies lines. For older readers.
The Chosen* by Chaim Potok- a classic that was recommended to me by adults and friends. Do read it (also has a sequel: The Promise).
The Bee Keeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King- This was recommended to me by a friend (thank you Allie) and it was a fun take on Holmes. It is a part of a series following Sherlock Holmes and a young Jewish woman through their detecting adventure.
Bel Canto- A book to be read in one sitting, or when one has the time to give it. It is not a reread sort of book as the reader is put in an alternate state, a suspended state, and the enjoyment of the book is mostly in the process of reading it.
The Thirteenth Tale- A Jane Eyre-esque novel that bounces between the present and the past. It features dark over tones and Victorian themes. Lovers of high classic romance and Gothic novels will enjoy this, as should readers who enjoy classifying themselves as extreme readers (those who become lost in books and often prefer novels to the real world). Also very good in audio book form.
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer- told by an incredibly bright young boy trying to unravel a mystery set out by his father before he died in the twin towers on 9-11. Interspersed with letters telling the story of his Grandparents.
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer- the story of a young man, a Foer, searching for the story of his grandparents and what happened to them in Ukraine during WWII. A quirky, touching story that includes flashbacks, weaving the story together from the past and present. The movie is visually stunning and worth watching after reading the book.
Mistress of the Spices by Chitra Divakaruni
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffinengger- follows a couple’s relationship from both their points of view. The husband is a time traveler, likely to pop into a different time at any point, while his wife knows he’s her husband before he’s ever met her. The book chronicles a relationship tested by the oddities of time. For adults.
The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde- a classic with beautiful language and social satire.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke- A regency era novel about two magicians in Wellington’s England. The language is reminiscent of the regency period and Clarke weaves a tale of shadows, magic, madness, and manners. Contains excessive footnotes including stories and myths referenced in the novel. Book includes charcoal illustrations by Portia Rosenburg.