gut & go

The year week of the sentence flopped.  If you don’t know what that was, consider yourself lucky.  Sweet and Arch needs to be, well, sweet and arch.  So I’ve uploaded some of my favorite books & writing posts of yore (and will continue to do so over time), and I am re-launching this infant blog with a gift to anyone who visits: List of Lists of Books.

This is a list of lists of books, as it says.  It started when a few friends asked me for my favorite book.

It grew and grew and has kept growing…in fact, those of you who saw an earlier incarnation may be shocked by more recent additions (fair warning).

Bottom line, though, these are books organized into the categories I think books belong in–a reader’s system, like Goodreads on steroids.

But truth be told, I am less interested in this list now than I was once upon a time.  I’m more interested in your lists–what categories and books would you include?  Please share!

And, with my own permission, the list of lists is republished below:

Books I Will Not Live Without

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
  3. Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince (& etc.) by JK Rowling
  4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (& etc.) By CS Lewis
  5. Anne of Green Gables (& etc.) by LM Montgomery
  6. Fellowship of the Ring (& etc.) by JRR Tolkien
  7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  8. The Wellspring by Sharon Olds
  9. Romeo & Juliet
  10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Non Fiction that’s Changed My Life

  1. Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle* by Barbara Kingsolver
  2. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoe Francios and Jeff Hertzberg
  3. Kids are Worth It by Barbara Coloroso
  4. Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen
  5. The Food Revolution by John Robbins (an embarrassing title; he writes with more exclamation marks than content, but it did its job for both my husband and I as we have been committed vegetarians since)
  6. Loving Across the Color Line by Sharon Rush
  7. There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Faye Green
  8. Savage Inequalities and Amazing Grace by Jonathon Kozol
  9. Born for Liberty by Sara Evans (a women’s history of the US)
  10. Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell

Guilty Pleasures

  1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  2. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
  3. Austenland by Shannon Hale

My very short pop-sci-fi list: The Ender Series (beginning with Ender’s Game) and the Bean series (beginning with Ender’s Shadow) by Orson Scott Card (I prefer the Bean series, personally).

Poetry (of the contemporary kind)

  1. The Wellspring or The Dead and the Living by Sharon Olds
  2. Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyaaka
  3. Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser
  4. Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
  5. Rose or The City In Which I Love You by Li-Young Lee


  1. Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
  2. Garden Spells and The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
  3. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Armin
  4. I Wish I Had  Red Dress and What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day by Pearl Cleage
  5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  6. Amalee by Dar Williams
  7. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
  8. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Meaningful books in my spiritual journey

  1. Dakota and Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris (I prefer Cloister Walk)
  2. A Circle of Quiet (and the other Crosswicks Journals, Summer of the Great-Grandmother and The Irrational Season) by Madeleine L’Engle
  3. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson
  4. Mudhouse Sabbath  and Real Sex by Lauren Winner
  5. Wendell Berry (poems, essays, stories–doesn’t matter which)
  6. What About Hitler? Robert W. Brimlow

Books I Love and get to teach

  1. Romeo and Juliet tied with A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  2. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  4. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  5. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
  6. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  7. Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper

The ending makes me cry because it’s so relentlessly perfect: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The prose is crystal or the voice is captivating but I probably won’t re-read:

  1. When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otuska
  2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  3. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Jane Austen from absolute favorite book of all time to slightly less favorite in her cannon:

  1. Pride & Prejudice
  2. Emma
  3. Sense & Sensibility
  4. Northanger Abbey

Memoir (mostly listed above in various categories, but deserving a list of its own)

  1. Educating Esme by Esme Raji Codell
  2. There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Faye Green
  3. Loving Across the Color Line by Sharon Rush
  4. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
  5. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
  6. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
  7. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
  8. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (best read alongside a general history of iran and the books she and her students read—Lolita, Gatsby, etc.)

Dystopias I’ve Visited Several Times

  1. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  2. The Girl Who Owned a City by OT Nelson
  3. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I’ve inexplicably reread these books a dozen or more times and went through a period in which I had difficulty loaning them out (in case I wanted to read them again) but now can hardly make it through a chapter without gagging: Twilight (& etc) by Stephenie Meyer

Charming Bodice-Rippers

  1. The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn
  2. Any series by Mary Balrogh
  3. Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll

More Recent “Thumbs Up” Reads

  1. The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  2. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
  3. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
  4. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

Books I’m waiting to read

  1. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
  2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  3. Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins
  4. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

2 thoughts on “gut & go

  1. I never knew you had a blog~ but now that I found it, I’ll be back! I’m also going to enjoy diving in to some of the books that made your lists.

    One of my favorite authors is Wally Lamb. She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True are books I can read over and over again – poignant writing and great character development… from my very casual-reading only perspective!


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