Jodi Picoult's Top Ten List

Reader Bio

Jodi Picoult (born 1966) is a prolific, bestselling American author whose novels often depict people confronting traumatic situations. Her debut novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), interwove five voices – a mother, her daughter and three very different men - to tell a story of love, loss, and self-discovery. Her other novels include The Pact: A Love Story (1998), which hinges on an apparent suicide pact between two teenagers; My Sister’s Keeper (2004), about a sister, conceived as a bone marrow match for her sick sister, who tries to break away from her family and The Tenth Circle (2006), a story of changing relationships and secrets focusing on a father who seeks revenge after his teenage daughter suffers an act of violence. Other works include Sing You Home (2011), The Storyteller (2013) and Leaving Time (2014). Her many honors include the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association and a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America. To learn more, visit her official website.

1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936). Many sagas novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and cities of the American South as Gone With the Wind does. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of love and war creates haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of remarkably vivid characters. Through the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet.

2. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926). Hemingway’s first novel recounts the revels and misadventures of the expatriate community—including the introspective writer Jake Barnes and the tantalizingly elusive divorcée Lady Brett Ashley—in Paris and in Spain’s bullfighting centers. For all their wit, wealth, or social clout and despite their rounds of drunkenness and debauchery as repetitious as the sun’s daily rising, Hemingway’s jaded, morally bankrupt characters can’t get no satisfaction.

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925). Perhaps the most searching fable of the American Dream ever written, this glittering novel of the Jazz Age paints an unforgettable portrait of its day — the flappers, the bootleg gin, the careless, giddy wealth. Self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby, determined to win back the heart of the girl he loved and lost, emerges as an emblem for romantic yearning, and the novel’s narrator, Nick Carroway, brilliantly illuminates the post–World War I end to American innocence.

4. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch (1980). The beautiful princess Elizabeth is about to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon destroys her castle, burns her clothes and kidnaps Ronald. The clothes-less Princess—and proto-feminist heroine—dons a large paper bag and hunts down the dragon and her cherished prince. She outwits the dragon but Ronald is not too happy because she is not “dressed like a real princess.”

5. Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman (1992). This is the story of a divorced woman, her disillusioned teenage son, and the events that change their lives in ways both simple and extraordinary. When Keith Rosen runs away from his Florida home - inexplicably taking along a motherless baby - his mother is perplexed and terrified. She takes off on her own journey to find him. The novel follows their path, in a suspenseful and beautifully written story.

6. The Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2001). The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional - but is it more true?

7. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffennegger (2003). This is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.

8. The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett (1992). St. Elizabeth's is a home for unwed mothers in the 1960s. Life there is not unpleasant, and for most, it is temporary. Not so for Rose, a beautiful, mysterious woman who comes to the home pregnant but not unwed. She plans to give up her baby because she knows she cannot be the mother it needs. But St. Elizabeth's is near a healing spring, and when Rose's time draws near, she cannot go through with her plans, not all of them. And she cannot remain forever untouched by what she has left behind . . . and who she has become in the leaving.

9. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813). “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” reads this novel’s famous opening line. This matching of wife to single man —or good fortune —makes up the plot of perhaps the happiest, smartest romance ever written. Austen’s genius was to make Elizabeth Bennet a reluctant, sometimes crabby equal to her Mr. Darcy, making Pride and Prejudice as much a battle of wits as it is a love story.

10. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (1595). The story of star-crossed Veronese lovers, this early romantic tragedy painfully depicts the fatal course of young lovers ruined by circumstances beyond their control, belonging as they do to two families who hate each other for long forgotten reasons. The intense violence at the heart of the play is matched only by the intense passion of Romeo and Juliet, who pay the ultimate price for the brief, intense, and pure love they shared.

New List

Peter Blauner

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).

2. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905).

3. Call It Sleep by Henry Roth (1934).

4. A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes (1957).

5. What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (2003).

6. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos (1989).

7. Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg.

8. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara (1934).

9. American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997).

10. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939). 

 

Classic List

Amy Bloom

 

1. The Deptford trilogy by Robertson Davies (1983).
2.Persuasion by Jane Austen (1817).
3. His Dark Materialsby Philip Pullman (1995–2000).
4.The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1995).
5.The Known World by Edward P. Jones (2003).
6. The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro (1978).
7. The Plot Against Americaby Philip Roth.
8. The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1998).
9. Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier (1951).
10. Larry’s Party by Carol Shields (1997).

 

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