The TBR Pile, by Katherine Reay

The TBR Pile, by Katherine Reay

I write books about loving books. Sure they are about other things too… But my addiction to books pervades every story. I’ve listed a few here that I turn to again and again.

If you’re visiting here, you have probably read them. I’d love your comments. If not, I say each are worthy of a place on your TBR Pile.

Pride and Prejudice: Who wouldn’t want to embody the indomitable Elizabeth Bennet with her quick wit and fine eyes for the time it takes to read her delicious story? And P&P is not a simple love story. There are complex currents of international tension, marital rights/status, opportunities for women/or lack thereof and so much more. You think Austen has you stuck in a drawing room, watching a small drama, but she brings the world to your door – but only a crack in so far as her characters see it too.

Emma: Austen feared that only she would like Emma. But we all do. We laugh, we sigh, we see ourselves in her and we squirm. Deep beneath, it’s a novel about finding/learning humility and Emma wears the journey well. She states at the beginning that she “can not really change for the better” – and yet she does. And so do we for reading her story.

Sense and Sensibility: Austen’s most obvious juxtaposition of two opposite ways of thinking, feeling and living. But, thankfully, Elinor and Marianne meet in the middle – and so do we. There is a lot going on it this novel. At some moments it feels like Austen’s most reckless and fun and, in others, you’re reeling from the first pangs of heartbreak. Through it all you feel a fierce loyalty to your siblings… Well, maybe only your sister.

There of course are more… I need not list them all here, but I’ll say this. Persuasion is my favorite Austen. Not only does she let us know that our “bloom” can return later in life (I’d like to forget that her “later” is the tender age of 27) but she shows, without diminishing Anne’s reality and hardships, true love exists and second chances can be more glorious than first.

Let’s move on…

Be sure to put Jane Eyre on your list. Nothing like Austen – this classic tale is dark and tempestuous and a delicious read. And as we celebrate Charlotte’s Bronte’s birthday, we should give her a little time.

The Count of Monte Cristo – talk about an epic story of revenge! Edmond Dantes is robbed of everything of meaning, by his best friend no less, and left to die in a horrid prison. But wait – he escapes, he finds a treasure beyond measure, he devises a ruthless, elegant and sophisticated plan for revenge… So satisfying. And Dumas underpins this adventure with strong threads of faith, hope, reconciliation and forgiveness – giving it even more layers and substance.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. Even if you’ve seen the movies, grab this one. Percy Blakeney, the true master of disguise and a dashingly handsome hero, trips across the pages and into your heart smack in the center of the French Revolution.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Considered YA, and still a classic tale. This red-headed orphan will make you feel young again, even as she dies her tresses bright green.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Pull this one out a Christmas. A short read, and always satisfying. This year I also thoroughly enjoyed Lovett’s follow-up The Further Adventures of Ebenezer Scrooge

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Margaret Hale and John Thornton. I return to these two again and again. Such lovely antagonism and a look at two different ways of life in England, just as each were changing.

These are a few, very few, of my favorites or this post would go on and on and on…

What are some of yours? Lovely little reads you adore. Oh… Montgomery’s The Blue Castle. A lovely little addition I almost forgot. See? We must end this or I’ll never stop.

Now it’s your turn to add to my TBR pile…

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11 Responses to The TBR Pile, by Katherine Reay

  1. Lovely pile! I think the only one I haven’t read is The Blue Castle, despite having read most of L. M. Montgomery’s books. My current TBR pile consists of only two books: a biography of Andrew Jackson and another biography called The Knife Man, which is about John Hunter. (I love bios and histories about strange people and events.) I have to admit, along with many others, I didn’t like Jane Eyre. (For that matter, I haven’t liked any of the Bronte sisters’ books. Too dark.) I did like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (esp. taking into account that she was Mary Wollstonecraft’s daughter–puts a new perspective on her writings) and Poe’s the Raven (although I’m not normally a huge poetry fan). There are some good laughs in classic literature and some great stories in in Victorian lit if you’re willing to wade through difficult language or excessive verbosity, respectively. I’m also a lover of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Oh, there are too many good ones to count! (I also read P&P every year for the last 20 years, it’s just the best!)

  2. i had to read Jane Eyre in seventh grade for summer required reading and LOVED it. I re-read it 7 more times. But that was all before I found Jane Austen. I have also read all of Alcott’s while in my youth. I have read many mysteries from Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. We (my husband and I) shared reading all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books to my one daughter as bedtime reading. Count of Monte Cristo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, all of Dickens, Gaskell’s books, The Thorn Birds,….and the list goes on. I have always been an avid reader. Maybe my tastes are not as sophisticated as they should be but I read to escape, for pleasure. Oh, and I have read almost all the James Bond books…as did JFK.

  3. All my life my mother was the reader in the family. I don’t remember ever seeing her without a book in her hand. When she died, my father sold her private collection of over nine thousand books. OMG! I have no idea what all she had.
    After I saw the movie “Sleepless in Seattle,” I realized it was OK to read Pride and Prejudice every year. From that time on…I did. When Regina Jeffers came out with Darcy’s Passions…I added that to my list. I was not a great reader until later in life as is my brother. We think Mother would approve.

  4. As many of you realize, I’m a bit of a History Geek so I love stories such as the Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough; a trilogy with the titles of The Kingdom, The Power, and The Glory by Ronald S. Joseph, a YA series set in Vietnam: Welcome to Vietnam, Hill 568, Stand Down, ‘Tis the Season, and The Road Home written by Ellen Emerson White (under the name Zack Emerson); Pre: The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend; Boone and Lions of the West, both by Robert Morgan; and My Life on the Plains by Gen. George Armstrong Custer. Needless to say, having taught English for 40 years, most of the ones Katherine has listed in the post are also favs.

  5. I have to jump in for sheer quirk. Lately, it’s The General and Particular Principles of Animal Electricity and Magnetism, John Bell; Plain Concise, Practical Remarks on the Treatment of Wounds and Fractures, John Jones; Medical Ethics, Thomas Percival, and (giggle) Aristotle’s Complete Master-Piece, anon.

  6. My to be read pile is embarrassingly small, and yet my what I’m reading pile is always so big. I still don’t know why it works that way. I seem to make up for it with my to be built pile: the boxes and boxes of models that I realistically know can never be built in my lifetime.

  7. I have to say that Persuasion is my favorite after P&P! And like Debbie I could not get into Jane Eyre. I really hated the plot on that one. Love the Three Musketeers and Little House, and of course NORTH AND SOUTH!

  8. The only one besides JA that I have read from your list is The Count of Monte Cristo, which was great. Instead I read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and all of Louisa May Alcott’s books – Little Women, Little Men, et al. Books by more modern writers that I return to periodically: Bendigo Shafter by Louis L’Amour; A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle. And if you are looking for something really modern and fun: The Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich – they are laugh out loud funny – even when you are sitting in an airport.

  9. I love most of the stories you mentioned, I just could not get into Jane Eyre. A few of my favorites….The Three Musketeers by Dumas, Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Idylls of the King by Tennyson, The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, and Lysistrata by Aristoohanes (it’s funny).

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