Na’s #FavoriteBooks List


What I will never forget about The History of Love is how moved I was, how my heart ached and how I cried, how my whole body tensed as Krauss wove her magic and built tension in a completely original way.

The story itself centers around an old book which a woman is translating. The woman is quite depressed, and her 14-year-old daughter sets out on a journey to find it’s missing author in an attempt to cheer her up. Interspersed with this story are chapters about a dying old man named Leo Gursky, who keeps himself afloat by remembering the great love of his youth who he lost in ‘the old country.’ Leo’s story is nothing short of amazing, and heartbreaking. Don’t think you’ve already guessed the ending – I promise you will be stunned.

Krauss’ writing is some of the best I have ever read.

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I enjoyed this novel by John Irving, who tends to always write about writers. This time his main character is a female author named Ruth who, as a young woman in her early 30s, is hugely successful in her career but is not as lucky in love. The novel opens with a section about her four-year-old life, then on to her career days in the 90s, then later, when she becomes a widow and single mother- and falls in love for the first time. Many readers complain that Irving does not write women well, but I found his attempt wonderful to read.


I am a fan of short story compliations, and this theme is one of the coolest I have come across. First, start with a list of some of the hottest voices in publishing today. I’m talking Francine Prose, Gregory McGuire, Micheal Cunningham, and Ludmilla Petroshevskaya (there are more!) Throw in some serious inspiration, give free reign to their vast imaginations, and add a heavy dose of magic… I bet you can’t guess what they end up with!

The stories in My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, are modern fairy tales. Twisted ones. Fairy tales only their authors would dream up. They are inspired by folk tales from near and far– from Russia’s Baba Iaga to The Grimm Brothers– which are totally re-imagined to inspire and horrify us. These original stories are like nothing you have read before.

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I regard this as a very artsy book, considering Kundera’s philisophical style and intensly thoughtful way of writing. The novel is sensual, emotional, and deeply reflective. The story centers around a womanizer, the woman he is in love with, and his struggle to become loyal to only her. At the same time, it is about one of the womanizer’s poor mistresses and the humble lover who remains faithful to her even though he knows about her ongoing relationship with the older man. The writing is superb; I felt the conflict as a tighness in my chest as I read.

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Funny and creative as hell. This is John Irvings most well-known and best-loved novel. There is a movie version too (and it’s an odd one!) Garp is a fantastically unique character, and we get to follow him through his childhood, all his growing years, dating, marriage, and onward. His perspective on life will stay with you. Enough said.

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This is another funny, sweet, quirky book by Nick Hornby- one of my favorite writers. 30s-ish couple Annie and Duncan live in a sleepy seaside English village. Duncan is obsessed with rock musician Tucker Crowe, who no one has heard a peep from in 10 years. Duncan stays up late nights trolling the internet, contributing to websites where fans write their opinions about what may have happened to Tucker, supposed Tucker sightings, etc. One night while she’s snooping around on Duncan’s websites, Annie stumbles across Tucker’s email addres — she emails him, and they secretly begin a correspondance which results in him flying from America to England to meet her in person. Now, she must figure out how to tell Duncan that his God is alive — and she might be having an affiar with him.

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Snow is the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature. It centers on a small Turkish town where themes of political Islamism threaten to unsettle the largely secular community, Pamuk writes with a sympathetic ear for Ka (the poet who is the main character) and Ipek (his love interest), as well as the Turkey of their childhood which they are afriad will be lost. This is a dense and complex novel but it still manages to be witty and wink at it’s audience on a regular basis. It is funny. It also happens to illuminate some of the thoughts and feelings that much of the Muslim world may be going through at this time in it’s/our history.

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This is not the type of novel I normally read — simply written, broad storyline, intellectuallly light. However, it was a pleasure to read and made me feel like I was caught up in a very exciting and different time and place – one I would like to imagine I could be a part of.

It tells the story of Laura, a gifted violinist studying at a conservatory in London. Her education has been financed by a loan which is guaranteed by a famous work of art owned by her 90-year-old grandmother. Her grandmother, Emma, is a famous English artist known for her radical social views. The artwork is a portrait of Emma which was painted by Emma’s lifelong lover and companion Patrick, an even more highly regarded painter. Their love has been legendary in the art world, for one because Patrick was gay. When the authenticity of the painting suddenly comes into question, Laura must dive into her grandmother’s storied history to discover the truth about “The Things We Don’t Say” or she will lose her loan and her own chance at stardom.

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Dave Eggers does a masterful job of fictionalizing the story of a refugee of the Sudanese civil war – who walked to Kenya on foot to escape the war, lived in a refugee camp for years, and was eventually brought to America by a charity organization and resettled in a typical American town. The things I remember best are the descriptions of his childhood in Sudan; the first time he encountered an ice cube when he got to Kenya; trying earnestly to figure out the difference between the freezer and the fridge in his first American apartment; the grand scale of the overarching story, and all the beautifully described little details that made this book a joy to read.

Something like 10 years later they made this into a movie with Reese Witherspoon as the American charity worker who helps him out. They changed the story a whole lot, but the movie is also wonderful in its own right.

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A pair of American twins travel to England to live in their recently deceased aunt’s abandoned apartment. Their aunt, Elpeth, and their mother were twins, too, and while living Elspeth’s space they discover mysteries relating to their lives as twins. The American girls find that even in their insular, secretive, and very private world, the things they think only they know have deep roots. I don’t remember all the wonderful details of this story, but I remember I absolutely loved it– especially the shocking ending. It has to do with subtle spiritual clues that we can’t quite bring ourselves to believe.


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