Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: The Top Ten New-to-Me Books from my Project List!

Every week the folks at The Broke and the Bookish host Top Ten Tuesday-where bloggers create their top ten in the week's given category!

This week, however, they have left it up to individual bloggers to create their own lists, revisit a topic they missed, or repeat a topic they really liked. I think this is a fabulous idea and while I debated creating a list not based on classics, I thought it would be even more fun to talk about the top ten "new-to-me" books I have read off my project list so far.

I have read 130 titles off my list and have loved many of them, so narrowing it down to ten was agonizing and painful. I could have easily created a top 50. ;)

But, I pushed through and after lots of painful whining and deleting books, here are the top ten titles I've read off of my project list so far (these are in the order I read them, from earliest to most recent. Trying to rank them was painful, so I didn't so that). I should also mention that I only chose books that were new to me when I read them. All rereads were immediately disqualified:

  1. Germinal by Emile Zola: This was the 13th book I read of my project list, way back in the December of 2009 (right before I got married). I knew nothing about the author or the book when I made my list, but it was one of the very first titles I bought when I went shopping to add a few more titles to my classics collection. It is about a young man who finds himself working in a village with a large community of miners. They are poor, starving, and yearning to fight back. The novel is tense, tragic, dramatic, and hopeful-not to mention beautifully written. I still think about it, and I cannot wait to read it again, as well as some of Zola's other work.
  2. The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow: Book 18 came out of nowhere to knock my socks off. One of the "modern" classics on my list, it was also a hard book to find. I wound up finding a used copy at John King books in Detroit. The novel is set in World War II era Detroit. The main character is struggling to maintain an identity in the midst of war and her children's demands. And man, this novel is heartbreaking. It was also a novel I had an intensely personal reaction to and immediately became one of my all-time favorite books.
  3. The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot: I was a long-time Eliot fan even before I decided to read this as book 22. But my love for other Eliot novels paled in comparison to the overwhelming surge of passion I felt for this-what I think is Eliot's best work. It contains one of my favorite female characters, a whole lot of passion and emotion, and the ending-GOSH the ending! 
  4. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: I avoided this book for YEARS because I thought it was some silly romantic nonsense. I eventually picked it up as book 45, and I had the hardest time setting it down to act as a functioning adult. This book was everything I thought it wasn't. I loved the epic scope of the story, the attention to detail, and the characters. Oh Rhett! What a phenomenal character!
  5. Villette by Charlotte Bronte: The first book by Charlotte I read, book 59, was another extremely personal book for me. I felt a kinship to Lucy Snowe as she seemed to observe rather than live life. I loved the description of the school, the characters, and Lucy's life. And while I have since read Jane Eyre (and loved it), there is something about the quiet maturity in this novel that I love more. I cannot wait to revisit this one again.
  6. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham: Book 69 was a book that wasn't on my original project list. When I realized that I had doubled a James Joyce story, I added this one instead...and boy, was it worth it. Set in Hong Kong, the book explores the relationship between a couple where the wife cheated. It is in part painful, but also beautiful and hopeful. It gave me so much to think about, and I am sad I have no more books by Maugham to read on my project list!
  7. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: 2011 started off with a bang, and so did book 72. Collins was an author I added to my project list in January 2010 (I removed some of the non-fiction books in favor of more fiction). I had never even heard of Collins until I started blogging! This book was a fabulous winter read-full of mystery, suspense, and a kickass female character. Oh, and did I mention the villains? Superb! I have another Collins, The Moonstone, on my reading list for this year, so I cannot wait to read more!
  8. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko: Another "modern" classic, Silko's novel had me from the opening line. Centered on a young Native American veteran, the novel is lyrical and focused on his struggle to find himself again. The language in this one is beyond description. There were so many beautiful and haunting passages... (this was book 104)
  9. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville: I don't think I intended to love Melville's ode to a white whale, but gosh, once I started reading, I knew that the book was about more than a whale. As I finished each chapter, I was continually in awe of Melville's ability to change and alter the way I viewed his work. The attention to detail was magnificent and I slowly savored this one throughout the fall as book 113.
  10. The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James: Book 122 solidified James as a favorite author. Focused on Isabel Archer, this novel follows her as she comes into a great deal of money-allowing her freedoms and choices she didn't have before. Gut-wrenching and beautiful, this book was the focus of my gushing in the end of 2011.
You guys must realize how hard it was for me to narrow it down to these ten. I've left off Shakespeare! Austen! Dickens! Wharton! and more. The truth is, I have read so many phenomenal books so far that it was extremely difficult to narrow it down so far.

Have I convinced you to read any of these (or all)? Let me know!


  1. You've definitely convinced me to read The Mill on the Floss. I've wanted to read all of George Eliot's works but i've only managed Middlemarch so far and it's one of my favourite books, so now i'll definitely prioritise that one.

  2. It was you who convinced me to add 3,9, and 10 to my list. Now you've definitely got me interested in 1, 2, and 8. (The others are already on my list. Including, the novel to crown all novels, #4. (Read it, all who read this!!) :D

  3. I bought The Painted Veil and The Woman in White together a couple of weeks ago. Looking forward to reading them both!

  4. I'm with you on Germinal. Read it so many years ago, but still think about it often. There's a great adaptation with Gerard Depardieu that's worth seeing.

  5. Oh! I bought The Dollmaker last year, but I haven't read it yet. I don't remember where I heard about it--in another book I read, I think. But you are the only other person I've heard talk about it now. It's on my TBR pile for this year and now I'm really looking forward to reading it!

  6. Can I tell you how happy I am that The Painted Veil made this list??

  7. I am so glad you loved The Mill on the Floss. I still have that one on my to read list and it's exciting to know I might not have read her best work yet!

  8. I enjoyed The Painted Veil as well (although, not nearly as much as Of Human Bondage). I LOVED The Mill on the Floss and I plan to read Middlemarch for the first time this year. I've had Germinal sitting on my shelf for years... probably 3 or 4 years at this point. Should give it a go, eh?

    Also Loved Gone With the Wind (just watched the movie for the first time this weekend, too) and I'm planning to read The Woman in White pretty sooooon!

  9. I've been meaning to read The Painted Veil but I'm afraid I'm going to end up all ;_; afterwards, haha (I know they changed certain parts in the adaptation but it was still a beautiful movie). The Woman in White was a fantastic book xD

    Here's my TTT for this week! =)

  10. Wow, most of these are new to me too! I really really really loved The Mill on the Floss- I haven't read anything else by Eliot yet, but that one is really a firm favourite. And Gone With The Wind! Have to have to have to re-read that :)

  11. I haven't read anything by Zola, but he's high on my "want to" list. Good choices, Allie!

  12. I would love to read The Dollmaker. I also just got Germinal on my kindle. :)

  13. The only book I've read on your list is Villette, but they all sound great. The Woman in White is definitely on my TBR for this year. (I loved The Moonstone!)

  14. Yes, you have convinced me! I'm definitely excited about Portrait of a Lady (but you convinced me ages ago about that!), Zola, Villette (I have a block with it) and Woman in White :) I've just written a post about how I'm going to start Vanity Fair tonight, but you've given me second thoughts! :)

  15. There are a couple of titles on that list that I've never heard, but would be curious to read if I ever come across them. It is surprising to find no Austen et al in that list - but somehow that makes me like the list more; it has a little bit more personality (actually, a lot more). Looking forward to reading Zola and I might give Moby Dick a chance!