Sunday, July 15, 2012

My List of Ten Most Memorable Novels

How many books have you read in your lifetime? I'd have an impossible task to think of a number. Some books, though, remain firmly entrenched in my memory, from Strawberry Girl from my childhood,  to a more recent book, The Help. This list contains some of the most memorable ones. I'm sure I could think of so many more, but for now...these make up my list.

#10--TABLE FOR FIVE by Susan Wiggs: Sometimes it takes a leap of faith in order to soar...gifted teacher Lily Robinson's best friend and her husband are killed in an accident, leaving their three young children orphaned. Sean McGuire, a playboy golfer who plays by his own rules, finds himself in the role of guardian with the death of his brother and sister-in-law. Lily and Sean work together in grief and their mutual love for the children, in order to keep them together.

#9--THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett: Stockett writes about a troubled time in American history without resorting to depressing or controversial clichés. She portrays fascinating and complex relationships between vastly different members of a household. It's a compassionate and funny story.   

#8--HALF BROKE HORSES by Jeanette Walls: A true-life fictionalized version of Jeanette's no-nonsense, resourceful, and compelling grandmother, Lily. Lily broke horses by age six, rode five hundred miles on her pony alone to get a job, learned to drive a car and fly a plane. She survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and a very heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds. Written in a simple classic manner, much like Lily herself spoke.

#7--RAINWATER by Sandra Brown: This novel is a departure from Ms. Brown's usual romance novels. The year is 1934, and the country is in the stranglehold of drought and economic depression. Ella Barron runs her Texas boardinghouse with efficiency, ensuring her life will be kept in balance. Solly, her sweet son with his misunderstood behavior is Ella's greatest love and challenge. David Rainwater arrives looking for lodging. He moves into her house, and impacts her life in ways she could never have foreseen.

#6--THE LAST TRUE COWBOY by Kathleen Eagle: A cowboy is as good as his word, but what if the words are "I love you?" K.C.Houston is the last of a breed of untamed men who live by their word and love by their own set of rules. To Julia, K.C. is a dream come true--he can tame a spirited horse with a single touch, he offers to help save the ranch, and he awakens in her a need she thought she'd lost. Even though he fills her days and nights with loving and passion--he never said he'd stay forever. (Note: I have read this book probably six times.)

#5--THIS CALDER RANGE by Janet Dailey: Chase Benteen Calder was bound to wrest a fortune from Montana land, where the whisper of riches swept across a sea of buffalo grass. With Lorna at his side, a woman who took the tough ways of the land as her destiny, he would breathe life into his dream.

#4--SONS AND LOVERS by D.H. Laurence: This novel is a highly autobiographical and compelling portrayal of childhood, adolescence, and the price of family bonds. Repelled by her uneducated and sometimes violent husband, delicate Gertrude Morel devotes her life to her sons. But conflict is inevitable when Paul seeks relationships with women to escape the suffocating grasp of his mother. As profoundly affecting today as it was nearly a century ago, this is the peerless Lawrence at his most personal.(Note: this story is far more complicated and intriguing than this short description.)

#3--MORNING GLORY by LaVyrle Spencer: The story of Ella Dinsmore and Will Parker. Ella, widowed at 26 and with two small children, advertises for a husband, through which she meets Will, a drifter. The time is during the Depression, and Ms. Spencer writes every scene with vivid description and compelling emotion.

#2--THE OUTSIDER by Penelope Williamson: After Rachel Yoder's husband is murdered by outlaws in an act of outrageous greed, she must raise her 10-year-old son alone on the Montana Plains. One day, a handsome stranger dying from a gunshot wound walks into her ranch. With simple kindness, she treats his injury and nurses him back to health. Soon Rachel finds herself drawn to this mysterious outsider with a violent past--and must put her future on the line for a last chance at happiness.

#1--INTO THE WILDERNESS by Sara Donati’s epic novel sweeps us into another time and place…and into a breathtaking story of love and survival in a land of savage beauty. In this ambitious and vibrant sequel to The Last of the Mohicans, Elizabeth Middleton, a well-educated spinster of 29, journeys from her home in England to her father's lands in upstate New York in 1792. It is a place unlike any she has ever experienced. And she meets a man unlike any she has ever encountered—a white man dressed like a Native American: Nathaniel Bonner, known to the Mohawk people as Between-Two-Lives. Determined to provide schooling for all the children of the village, Elizabeth soon finds herself locked in conflict with the local slave owners as well as with her own family. Interweaving the fate of the Mohawk Nation with the destiny of two lovers, Sara Donati’s compelling novel creates a complex, profound, passionate portrait of an emerging America.
The authors of these novels have become some of my favorites. I've read many, if not all, of each author's books.

Which book that you've read would you have placed at the #1 spot?

Thanks for visiting...I hope you enjoy some of the stories.

Celia Yeary


  1. What reading is all about - books touch us all in different ways, since my 10 are totally different (and very eclectic!)

    1. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
    2. Tell Me No Lies - Elizabeth Lowell
    3. Wildest Hearts - Jayne Ann Krentz
    4. Rape of the Soul – Dawn Thompson
    5. Swan Song – Robert McCammon
    6. Moonrise – Anne Stuart
    7. Ritual Sins – Anne Stuart
    8. Single White Vampire – Lynsay Sands
    9. The Witching Hour – Anne Rice
    10. Angel Knight – Susan King

  2. I'd forgotten about the Calder Series until I read your list. I may have to dig those out and read them again.

  3. I loved Morning Glory. I just finished Rainwater - it was very good but sad. I'd put Jude Deveraux's books on the list. Her A Knight in Shining Armour and a short romance which the title escapes me right now. LOL

  4. I also loved Morning Glory and the Calder Series. Great choices, Celia. The story I always go back and read is Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss. It's the book that got me back into reading and want to try writing myself.

  5. Deborah--(when my little sister and I pretended like we were grown women of the world, I was Deborah and she was Rebecca...trivia.)
    Your list is quite different from mine, as you know, and quite revealing as to your reading preferences. I am a real List nut--using only one topic would get many different lists.
    We do have Elizabeth Lowell in common, and of course, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. My book club used this as a choice this past year, and it's the only book we read that every single one of us liked. Best discusion we had all year. Good choice.
    Thanks for your list!

  6. Katherine by Anya Seton. I just got the urge to read it again after a History Channel show the other night. good post, Celia.

  7. Lauri-I think I'll start at the beginning and re-read all of them.
    When she got into the 20th Century, I thought she lost the flavor of the series...and a little of her wonderful voice, too.
    I still recall the scene in the first book where Benteen is taking his Lorna to his new ranch. They were crossing a long stretch of dry land and little food for the cattle. Each person got one cup of water per day, and Lorna had brought cuttings of her rose bush..she kept the cut end wrapped and wet. Benteen forbid her to bring the cuttings, but she did it anyway. In the middle of the dry days, he caught her dribbling some of her cup of water on the cuttings. He cursed, grabbed them from her, stalked out to the darkness and threw them them as far as he could. She ran out into the darkness screaming...oh, it was so emotional, I still remember it.

  8. Diane--Rainwater did not get good reviews. Her editors did not want her to publish something so different from her usual thing. But she insisted...and the book has not sold well, nor got good reviews. Mainly, I think because readers felt betrayed...such a loyal lot.

  9. Thanks, Paisley. I read one book by Kathleen Woodiwiss,but never read another. It seems she's a common favorite among romance readers--I somehow missed the appeal. I should find another and read it--now that she's passed on, I should certainly do that.

  10. Tanya--I'll look that up. My list of to read is really too long as it is...but I hate to pass up a good one. Thanks.

  11. There are so many of these I haven't read!
    My absolute favourite is 'The Sunne in Splendor' by Sharon Kay Penman. Her knowledge of medieval England is superb.
    I'll agree with Tanya about 'Katherine' by Anya Seton, too. Another superb medieval novel.
    I love John Jakes too - the Kent Family chronicles, and his Civil War trilogy.

  12. Paula--oh, I could have made a list a mile long. It was hard to decide on which ten.
    I haven't heard of some of your choices. I will certainly agree with John Jakes and his novels.
    Thanks for you list!

  13. HI Celia,
    What a great idea to post a top ten list. Your list is a reflection of your personality: a bit of Texas, a bit of romance, a bit of social justice, and a bit thought provoking. I'm not sure I have ten all-time favorite books. Let's see:
    1. Prince of Tides - Pat Conroy
    2. A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
    3. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
    4. Dragons of Pern - Anne McCaffery
    5. Soft Focus - Jayne Ann Krentz
    6. The Black Stallion- Walter Farley
    7. The Accidental Tourist - Anne Tyler
    8. King's Oak - Anne Rivers Siddons
    9. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    10.The Diary of Anne Frank

    I had to stretch back to come up with 10, but these books have truly shaped who I am.

    Great post! You made me think.

  14. MAGGIE--great list. I could have made ten lists of ten. These were some that just came to me.
    It's interesting that you point our our choices identify our personality and characteristis. So true. I think I was trying to say something like that, but obviously did not put it into words.
    It's odd--Ive read only one on your list--The Diary of Anne Frank--but didn't everyone have to read that?
    Some of yours also pinpoint a decade or two--The Hobbit--my son read that when it came out.A Wrinkle in Time? My daughter read that as a young girl.
    The comments have provided a kind of education..we're all so different, and our reading material reflects that. Interesting.

  15. Tayna,

    My late friend, Dawn Thompson's book Rape of the Soul was described by her as Anya Seton meets Stephen King. Seton's book The Green Darkness was what set Dawn to becoming a writer.

    Celia, I am honoured by your childhood :-)

    Yes, I think out top books is revealing about the readers. To make my top 10 you have to touch my heart in some way, and it has to be a book that I will read over and over again.

    Excellent topic!

  16. Thanks for the postscripts, Deborah. And we have the same criteria to be a good book--it has to be emotional--make me cry, make me laugh, make me sigh and say Yessss!

  17. Re-reading the responses again. Indeed, Green Darkness is another top notch Seton. Really atmospheric, time travel-y with lots of Tudor-era facts. Oooh, gotta re-read that one, too. xoxox

  18. Hi Celia:

    This is a wonderful exercise because you did not ask for a list of the best books: you wanted the most memorable books. This is easy to do because you will think of the most memorable first. It is an interesting test. I just did this in a few minutes and was very surprised by the results. I have been reading for decades and the below books came to memory.

    Ask yourself on your books: What do they have in common? What does that tell you about yourself? How can what you learn be used in writing your own books?

    1. The Great Cycle -- Tarjei Vesaas (Norwegian)
    2. The Sorrows of Young Werther - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German)
    3. La Dame aux Camelias Alexandre Dumas (British)
    4. Zazie dans le Métro Raymond Queneau (French)
    5. Childhood’s End Arthur C. Clarke (British)
    6. A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemmingway (American)
    7. Hunger Knut Hamsun (Norwegian)
    8. Green Mansions W. H. Hudson (British)
    9. The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell (British)
    10. The Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches Janet Tronstad (American)

    Common features: all these books have been read more than once. The most reread book is the first one!

    Most are highly emotional. Most are by non Americans. Five are translations. I also don’t think that any would be on a list of the best 100 books ever written.

    I am sure there is a lot more to learn from making a list like this and then looking for commonalities.

    Thanks for this very interesting post.


  19. Vince--one thing I learned from your list is that you're way over my head! You have a very intriguing reading list...but I knew you were a learned man, and a deep thinker, and passionate, too.
    Thanks for the list, and for giving me a glimpse into the real you.

  20. You inspired me to make my own list!

  21. M.J.--I read your list on your wordpress. WP never likes my name or it rejected my comment three times. Grr.
    I remember Lois Lenski books, especially Strawberry Girl. Vampires and witches? I'm really too wimpy to read anything like that!

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