Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl and this week’s topic is Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About.
In an ideal world, I would remember every last detail of every single book I’ve ever read. It is not an ideal world.
I’ve read lots of books during my time here on earth, and many of those are but a vague and distant memory. This is even true of some of the books I call my favorites. While I wish that I could recall the details of everything I’ve read, I’m okay with just remembering the feeling the books gave me. The gut feeling you have about a book is very powerful. Plus, now I can reread those favorites and relive the magic!
Here is a list of 10 books that fall under this funny love-but-can’t-remember category. They’re all on my bookshelf, so I might just have to go back and reread them. It fits right in with my Back To My Bookshelves Challenge. For each of these titles, I’ll include the publisher description (since my summaries would be pretty pathetic 🙂 ) and what I remember loving about it.
Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.
But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outré rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?
Feelings: I remember being thoroughly entertained by Franzen poking fun at suburbia. Silly suburbia!
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin
A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over–and see everything anew.
Feelings: I love books about bookstores and book people, so this fit the bill. And the relationship between Fikry and the “package” is touching.
Blindness, by Jose Saramago
A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing.
Feelings: This book terrified and enraptured me. The concept was like nothing I’d read before.
Life after Life, by Kate Atkinson
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can — will she?
Feelings: I remember feeling like I was unsure footing for a lot of the book, but was blown away by how everything is illuminated at the end.
White Teeth, by Zadie Smith
At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage (he had to wait for his bride to be born), produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them, and a renewed, if selective, submission to his Islamic faith.
Feelings: I’m a self-confessed Anglophile so I loved the extreme Britishness of this book (humor included).
Veronica Mars and the Million Dollar Tan Line, by Rob Thomas
Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.
Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.
Feelings: Adored the show and remembered thinking this was a fantastic book equivalent.
A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.
Feelings: I was in awe of Egan’s writing ability and creativity.
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a isolated mansion on Indian Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…
Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?
Feelings: The solution to the mystery was a complete surprise to me. Basically, Agatha Christie was a genius!
The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the novel introduces two of Hemingway’s most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. The story follows the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates. It is an age of moral bankruptcy, spiritual dissolution, unrealized love, and vanishing illusions.
Feelings: Beautiful prose and… that’s it all I can remember, geez oh Pete.
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.
As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.
Feelings: I liked the main character so much. I can’t remember why, but I did!
What books do you remember loving but can’t remember very well? Please share in the comments below!