Every few months of so I have to clean out the bookshelf in my bedroom. It pains me to move some of the books because they were so good to me....but if I don't clean out the bookshelf, one night it will topple over onto me in my sleep and I'll be smothered.
There are a large number of books that I always keep there ready to read when I need them. A few of them are classics - the Anne of Green Gables series (although I really only re-read 2 or 3 of the series), my Jane Austen collection, Little Women, East of Eden, The Bell Jar (I read this almost annually - I feel such a connection with this crazy woman), and Wuthering Heights. There are other classics that I keep in the spare bedroom bookcase and I have to grab some of those occasionally too - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Little House on the Prairie series, My Antonia, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Fountainhead (I am one with Ayn Rand but I have to distance myself so I don't become too much like her), Gone With the Wind, and Anne Rice's vampire books.
I need the books in my bedroom bookshelf to stay close to me. I may only open them up once or twice a year but I look at the books everyday and they remind me of the time that I read them and the story or message in each one. Here are some non-classic books and authors that I highly recommend. Most are contemporary but written about history. Also, I cannot claim that all of these books are 100% pure and moral - not that they are vulgar but I think you know what I mean.
Isabel Allende - Ines of My Soul and Daughter of Fortune - she makes me want to live in Peru.
Tracy Chevalier - Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Virgin Blue, Falling Angels, The Lady and the Unicorn - she's just a great historical storyteller
Philippa Gregory - I read about three of her books and then made the mistake of assuming that all her books must be as good. I was so very wrong - stay away from the Wideacre series. I suggest The Other Boleyn Girl and The Queen's Fool. These books are great if you like the Tudor age. She is historically accurate and weaves a nice story into the era.
Allison Weir - This author is not for everyone because she mainly writes non-fiction about British royals from the 12-17th century. That's my cup of tea but it bores most everyone else. (Another book that I keep close to me is my bed is The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens. It's 800 pages of lists of rulers with brief descriptions starting in the year 100BC).
Edward Rutherford - His books are historical but his stories are enthralling! Historical fiction has gotten trashed by others genres but his books are fantastic. I have read every single one (there are about 8) and highly recommend all of them.
Mark Kurlansky - this is an odd choice for me since his books are non-fiction with a singular topic. I have read three of his books and enjoyed them all but Salt is my favorite. It's the history of salt. No joke. 449 pages of salt. The two other books I read were Cod (about....cod. as in, the fish) and The Big Oyster. Oddly, the Big Oyster isn't all about oysters, it's also about the history of New York City and how oysters played a roll in it's growth. The subtitle is History on the Half Shell, which always gives me a chuckle.
The Red Leather Diary - if you think your grandmother lived a quiet life, read this book.
Gilead - a somber book from an elderly father to his very young son.
The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End - two books that take place in the 12th century. The only thing I didn't like about either book was that even though they were set in the 1100's, the people talk and act as if they are living in 2009.
The Monsters of Templeton - Come visit me and I'll take you to Cooperstown!
The Red Tent - FICTIONAL story of Dinah
The Historian - Set in present day but they have to solve a mystery from the 15th century. Similar to...
Possession - but not exactly like The Historian.
The Zookeepers Wife - How Polish zookeepers hid Jews during WW2 in their zoo. True story.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - only for those of us who grew up in the 90's. It's a very gen-X book. I found it amusing. I only recently read it, so it's on my mind, I'm not sure how long it will remain on my list of recommendations.
The Dud Avocado - The 1950's version of Bridget Jones.
Year of Wonders
The Painted Kiss
Robbing the Bees
The Distant Land of My Father
People of the Book
I would LOVE to hear what some of you all are reading now or some of your favorite books. I always need something new to read and I am always open to different books, even if they aren't typically what I am attracted to. Currently I'm reading Liar's Poker about 1980's Wall Street so you never know what I might find interesting. Let me know what you recommend!