Friday, February 21, 2014

Five star books

I've been musing this morning over what I enjoy doing most in my bounteous leisure time.  I concluded that I really like writing in this blog and I really like looking for books to read--more than reading them, I fear.

I read the NYT Book Review first each Sunday (after the Travel section maybe) and especially like the By the Book section where authors cite their favorite books.  I look at Goodreads suggestions particularly from my "penpal" Marilyn McClellan who is a great mystery buff and an author herself.  I like to read the NPR reviews.  My friends Sue and Beth and Maggie are great readers and give me suggestions.  Sometimes I go back over previous journals and look for books that I have loved and want to reread--or to find others by those authors.  I have a long list of books to read at this point.

However, many of those books on my "to read" list never get read.  I start them and decided they are not worth my time and energy.   So I rarely rate books on Goodreads lower than three stars.  If it is a two star book, in my estimation, it doesn't get read.

I thought I would look back and see which books I rated five stars on Goodreads since I started this blog in September.

Dissolution  (Sansom)   I didn't think I liked historical novels, but this one was fascinating in its setting of Cromwell and Henry VIII and the breaking up of the monasteries.  However, when I tried the second one in the series, I found the torture scenes too upsetting and gave it up.

The Gods of Guilt   (Connolly)   As I wrote in my Goodreads review, the plots are so convuluted that I can read this one again and enjoy it again.  I'm not even sure why I rated it five stars at the time!  I'm sure it was one that totally absorbed my attention.  I am a Connolly fan for most of his books.

Someone   (McDermott)   I would rate this higher than five stars.  It was short, dense, powerful, and true.  McDermott took an "ordinary" life and made a wonderful book out of it.

If I go back farther than September, I can add a few more:

The Little White Horse (Goudge)--a favorite of CJ Rowling.  Again, I don't think I like fantasy but I loved this book and would enjoy rereading it.

Fin and Lady (Schine)--quirky characters--an unusual family configuration with resilient characters.

After Visiting Friends:  A Son's Story (Hainey)--a real life mystery in which a son tries to find out the real story of his father's sudden death.  Would he have been better off not knowing?  Should he have shared it with his mother?

Notre Dame and the Civil War (Schmidt)--This short book was so informative and interesting.  Can you imagine a food fight at St. Mary's College between the Yankee women and the women from the South?  More seriously, the chaplains from Notre Dame suffered a lot to be with the troops.

Astray (Donoghue)--A very unusual book in which the author took bits of old news and made them into stories and did so in a way that convinced me.

As I look over my list, the books are a mixture of fiction and non-fiction.  Maybe I rate books as five stars when I am surprised at home much I enjoyed them--when I think I don't care for fantasy or short stories or historical novels.

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