Tuesday Top Ten

historical fiction

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list the top ten books in a specific genre.  I chose historical fiction since it’s a genre that I never thought I really liked until it quickly became one of my favorites over the past couple of years.

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – The most touching book I have ever read, it takes place during WWII in Germany and provides unique perspective and an even more unique narrator.
  2. The Son by Philipp Meyer – The history of Texas, from 1836 through the present day, from the attack of Native Americans through the rollercoaster of the oil industry.
  3. Belle Cora by Phillip Margulies – From early-1800s New York City to the farms of upstate NY to San Francisco during the Gold Rush this is the story of a woman and her life.
  4. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – A coming of age story in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950.
  5. Codename Verity by Elizabeth Wein – The story of two women, two friends, a pilot and a spy, during WWII.
  6. Brewster by Mark Slouka – A beautifully written story of friends growing up in upstate New York in 1968.
  7. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – The last public beheading to take place in Iceland in the early 1800s.  A devastatingly beautiful story.
  8. A Good American by Alex George – The story of immigrants to America in 1904 and their lives, and the lives of their descendants, as told by their grandson.
  9. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – Ursula’s story allows you to travel through various scenarios throughout the early to mid-1900s as she is born and dies again and again.
  10. Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – Epic in scope, from the mid-1700s through most of the 1800s, this story also travels the globe, from England and American and Amsterdam to Tahiti and the jungles of the world.

The Signature of All Things

signatureThe Signature of All Things is epic in scope as it spans the life of Henry Whittaker from a thieving child to the wealthiest man in Philadelphia and the long life of his daughter Alma.  The story also travels the globe, from England and America and Amsterdam to Tahiti and the jungles of the world.  It addresses topics as varied as botany, masturbation, insanity, homosexuality, religion, sacrifice, abolition and family relationships.  In spite of its large and beautiful scope, at its core it’s the story of Alma, a lonely woman struggling to know and be known. Unfortunately for Alma, she was born an unattractive woman with far too much intellectual curiosity for the age.  Desiring love, she instead spends much of her life being content in taking care of her father and his estate while she studies mosses.  Ultimately travelling the globe in the desire to understand, she finally finds what she seeks, but not in the way in which we’ve come to expect.  Romance is not to be in her cards, but she can finally be known and loved instead for her mind, for her knowledge and brilliant insights. The book is very lyrical, the words seem to sing, making it an enjoyable and engrossing read.  There are parts of the middle of the book that are almost too odd, but I powered through them, still anxious to find out what happened to Alma and whether she would find what she sought.

“You see, I have never felt the need to invent a world beyond this world, for this world has always seemed large and beautiful enough for me. I have wondered why it is not large and beautiful enough for others– why they must dream up new and marvelous spheres, or long to live elsewhere, beyond this dominion… but that is not my business. We are all different, I suppose. All I ever wanted was to know this world. I can say now, as I reach my end, that I know quite a bit more of it than I knew when I arrived. Moreover, my little bit of knowledge has been added to all the other accumulated knowledge of history– added to the great library, as it were. That is no small feat, sir. Anyone who can say such a thing has lived a fortunate life.” 

Title: The Signature of All Things Author: Elizabeth Gilbert Genre: Fiction Pages: 512 Publication: Viking Adult, October 2013

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Tuesday Top Ten


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list my favorite books featuring travel, travel of any kind whether it’s airplanes, cars, or by foot – travel across town, through time, or across the world – these are books about travel that I liked.

  1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Although I found Gilbert’s story annoying in some regards – in reality who can take a  year off to focus on themselves while traveling around the world – I did love the stories of her travels.  Her stories of her time in Italy, India, and Bali were amazing tales of what it’s like to become immersed in different cultures around the world.
  2. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson – Ginny gets a ticket to London from her deceased aunt along with 13 little blue envelopes that she needs to open at various points throughout her trip.  What will follow is an adventure throughout Europe that will teach her about herself and her aunt and give her new perspectives on life.
  3. The Cliff Walk: A Memoir of a Job Lost and a Life Found by Don J. Snyder – When the author loses his job at Colgate University as a professor, with three kids and another on a way, and receives over 100 rejection letters he ends up building a house in Maine and working as a day laborer to support his family.  Both a personal and a physical journey it was a moving memoir.
  4. Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer Harrer’s memoir tells the story of the time he spent in Tibet after escaping from the British during WWII.  He gains acceptance within the Tibetan culture, ultimately becoming a friend and tutor to the Dalai Lama, fleeing the country with him when the Chinese invaded.  A wonderful and beautiful story with amazing insights into the Tibetan culture.
  5. Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger – One of my favorite novels ever – and if we’re talking about travel why not talk about time travel?  This is the story of Henry, a librarian who travels through time (and not voluntarily) to meet up with Clare, an artist who is living a normal life.  The story of their love, crossing through time, is told artfully.
  6. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – I love Steinbeck and this is one of my favorites.  A heart-wrenching tale of the Joads during the Great Depression as they are forced to leave their home in Oklahoma and travel to California to seek their future.
  7. On the Road by Jack Kerouac – It’s been a long time since I’ve read this book – but isn’t it the ultimate road-trip book?  Sal and Dean wandering their way across the country, free, hippies, and all the things that sound romantic until you realize they’re really not?  That eventually they tire you out and drag you down?
  8. Born to Run by Christopher McDougallMcDougall provides an engrossing story about ultra-runners, from scientific research to the Tarahumara Indians in an isolated part of Mexico that run hundreds of miles, to a race between those very natives and the world’s best ultra-distance runners.  An interesting story with travels all over the country and an in-depth look at an isolated and private tribe within Mexico
  9. Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye by Rachel Joyce – Harold is recently retired and living in a small English village with his cranky wife when he gets a letter from an old friend who is dying of cancer.  Instead of stopping at the post office to send his response he keeps walking, deciding to walk across the country to deliver it personally.  I found the book to be humorous, poignant, and charming.
  10. Abundance of Katherines by John Green – I have admitted to a love for John Green and this is one of my favorites.  Colin, a former child prodigy, has only dated girls named Katherine (and always with a “K”, never a “C”), and has been dumped by all of them, nineteen times.  He takes off on a road trip with his best friend in search of a provable Katherine Theorem.  What follows is funny and insightful, a story of friendship, love, and figuring out who you are.