Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (Gateway Books)


This week’s topic: Top Ten “Gateway” Books

These are in order of having read them—middle school up to the present.

1. Madame Curie, Eve Curie
The first biography I ever read. Possibly my first taste of nonfiction. I was enamored. I remember sitting in my middle school science lab wishing I was in the library reading Madame Curie.

2. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
A lady named Phyllis once gave me a copy of Little Women at her garage sale. She asked if I ever read it, and I told her I hadn’t. She said every little girl needed to read Little Women. I’m so glad she gave me that book. (Oddly, though, I never identified with Jo. Am I the only one?)

3. Hattie and the Wild Waves, Barbara Cooney
This is the book that got me interested in children’s picture books.

4. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
I recently re-read this to see if it held up. I’ll post a review here soon.

5. Fruitful, Anne Roiphe
Just out of college, living in my efficiency apartment, just me, a couch, a TV that got two channels (poorly), and a lot of time to read. I headed to the public library every Saturday morning (my reward for doing the dishes). This is one of the first books I checked out there.

6. The Poet’s Companion, Kim Addonizio & Dorianne Laux
This was one of my very favorite books on poetry and writing. I thought every word of it was perfect. I have no idea what I’d think of it now.

7. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman
It’s really hard to choose just one book to represent my years and years of reading little else but fiction. This one comes pretty close, I think. It’s especially important to me because I taught English to Hmong high schools for three summers post-college.

8. The Father, Sharon Olds
Likewise, it’s impossible to narrow down years of poetry-reading and study to one book, but this one meant a lot to me because all of the poems were about her father becoming sick. I read it as my father was beginning his journey with Parkinson’s disease.

9. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
This book opened the world of classics to me. Not that I’ve read many classics, other than Austen’s other work, since. I now have a feeling they won’t be so intimidating. Especially since I don’t have to read and analyze their images, metaphors, diction, etc.

10. No Higher Honor, Condoleezza Rice
This is the book that tore down the “fear of big books wall.” To date, it’s the biggest book I’ve read.


  1. This is a great list! I still need to read Pride and Prejudice. I have read a couple of Austen novels, but not that one yet.

    1. Thanks, Caitie! I highly recommend Pride and Prejudice. It's my favorite of the Austen novels I've read so far. I also really enjoyed Sense and Sensibility, but I think P&P will always be my favorite.