Sunday Salon: Some Old Favorites

Earlier this week at The New Dork Review of Books, a blog that I highly recommend, Greg posted a list of books that he wanted to bring attention to for his readers, but which he read before he began blogging. I thought this was a great idea, so I decided I would do something similar for this week's salon.  I often bring attention to some of my favorite literary works through the Literary Blog Hop, so I am not going to mention any of those here.  These are books that I haven't discussed on the blog, or have mentioned only in passing:

1. Atonement by Ian McEwan:  Obviously this is a widely read book, so I'm not uncovering a "hidden" book here.  However, I noticed in last week's Top Ten Tuesday that this was one that many people push aside.  I loved this book and treasured every moment of the reading experience although it is a painful story of loss and deception and selfishness and misunderstanding.  Many of the characters are so sympathetic that watching them go through hardship is heart-wrenching; I think this is a sign of McEwan's skill.

2. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson:  The first Gibson book I read was Neuromancer, which I liked, but found confusing in parts.  Pattern Recognition takes place in the present day, and although the science fiction elements are there, the book is very story driven. It is a prescient book and examines our relationship with technology in a meaningful way.

3. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach:  Sounds morbid, yes?  I was interested in this book because I was interested in Gunther Van Hagen's exhibition of plasticized cadavers, "Body Worlds."  I also had a roommate who was in medical school and was dissecting a cadaver of her own.  This book is a fascinating exploration of what happens to our bodies after we die, and how science can benefit when we choose to donate ourselves.  Mary Roach is a very talented non-fiction writer, whose books are accessible and informative and I highly recommend her for fans of popular science.

4. White Teeth by Zadie Smith:  Ms. Smith is one of my favorite young writers, and this book is a brilliant exploration of what it means to be British in a post-colonial London.  Archie Jones family is a fascinating glimpse into this London, where race and class are concepts in question. Smith's writing is quirky and humorous and touching, all in the right proportions.

5. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver: This was probably my first favorite "grown up" novel.  I received it as a gift when I was in high school, and I was a bit suspicious of it, but ended up loving it.  It is a road trip novel, filled with seriousness and beauty.  It is my favorite Kingsolver novel still, although she is   a writer that I love and I look forward to her new titles.  Her wonderful descriptions of desert life, also renew my love for Tucson and the rest of Arizona, which is my home.

I'm going to leave it at five for today, but perhaps I'll do it again.  Do any of these books seem like they might be your taste as well?  Have you read them? 


  1. I haven't read any of those, you have intrigued me over Atonement.

  2. I have heard of each of these but have only read Atonement. The Mary Roach I have read so much about and really need to pick up (I just haven't because Death just doesn't make me want to run out and grab it).

    I haven't read any Kingsolver, but I hope to remedy that with my next trip to the library.

  3. I had mixed feelings about Atonement - both the book and the movie... did you feel by the end of it that atonement had been reached?
    I am on the lookout for White Teeth having recently read Smith's "On Beauty". I found that a little tough going though but have heard "White Teeth" is better? And I'm still on the lookout for a Kingsolver book after your recommendations - thank you!

  4. Thanks for sharing your favorite literary books! I loved Atonement, and found White Teeth a wonderful read. I love Barbara Kingsolver, but have yet to read The Bean Trees (thanks for the reminder!!). I also am interested in Stiff...

    Great list of books!

  5. I am also a big fan of Atonement although my favorite McEwan novel is one that many have mixed feelings about - Saturday. White Teeth is in my near future so glad to hear you enjoyed it. Love the idea of discussing books read before the blog life.

  6. These are all good books. I like your idea of highlighting older literary works. It would make a great prompt at The Blue Bookcase's Literary Blog Hop (hint, hint).

    Here is my Sunday Salon post: I hope you will stop by and say hello.

  7. I haven't read any of these, but I have Atonement on my TBR stacks.

    I need to get to it soon!

    The others sound good, too. Thanks for sharing.


  8. Some great choices you have there. I really liked Atonement and I pretty much love anything Barbara Kingsolver does!

  9. Hey this IS a good idea! The only one I've read is Atonement. It seems to be a highly discussed book, I think! Great recs for the rest, will keep an eye out for them. I read Gibson's short stories last year and have been wanting to read his novels ever since. Neuromancer is first, though. Have heard good things about it!

    Have a great week :)

  10. I've been trying to decide which Kingsolver to read next and keep hearing good things about The Bean Trees. I've only read Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna, perhaps Bean Trees will be next.

  11. I haven't read any of these, but I've heard good things about several of them. I always like reading about other people's old reading favorites.

  12. I tried to start Atonement while I was backpacking but ended up putting it aside for other books. I will definitely read it this year!

  13. I'm currently reading Atonement, and I completely agree with everything you said about it. Spoilers have been floating around the Internet, so I already kind of know what's going to happen. That doesn't make it any less heartbreaking, though. :)


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