Top Ten Tuesday: Making the All-Stars Team

For today’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), we’re asked to list books from the past three years that would make our list of all-time favorites. This is without a doubt one of the more difficult questions to answer, at least for me, because it means that I have to leave out other books I loved, even books I’ve been pressing into people’s hands for the last three years.

To pull this list together, I asked myself a few tough questions:

  • Did the book stay with me? Does it pop into my head, not only in reference to other books, but simply for the sheer power of some scene or description?
  • If it’s a book by a favorite author, is it one of the best representations of her/his work? Is it the one I would recommend most highly to new readers?
  • Do I want to read it multiple times?

Of course, one thing I know: if you ask me this same question six months or a year from now, some of the books on this list might change, even ones I selected from 2012 or 2013. No matter, though. Here’s what I chose for today’s list:

The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach. If you think this is a book about baseball, you are so, so wrong. Read my original review here.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn. Yes, it’s been hyped beyond all belief, and made into a movie, and it’s currently this litmus test for every psychological thriller written by woman, but I think this book stands on its own as a fine example of a literary thriller.
Broken Harbor, Tana French. This might be one of the least popular of her novels, but I think it’s incredibly well done, specifically for painting a picture of a dire economic time in Ireland specifically, in addition to hitting on many more universal issues about what it means to grow up, have a family, and acquire all the things that mean “success,” especially while fighting the demons of the past.
Stone’s Fall, Iain Pears. This historical mystery wends backward in time to explain how shipping magnate John Stone went out of a window one night. The writing, the detail, and the trick of it all work together so well, I couldn’t put it down.
A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry. This novel follows its four main characters through an uprising called The Emergency, which took place in Mumbai, India from June 1975 through March 1977. In Mistry’s capable hands, I learned a great deal about Mumbai and the surrounding areas, but also about fine storytelling. You can read my review here.
You Are One of Them, Elliott Holt. This book surprised me. I have thought about it a lot since I first read it, and I keep telling myself I’ll return to it as soon as possible. This novel is primarily a story about friendship, but also how we use friendship to define ourselves and our place in the world. Read my review here.
The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt. Let’s see, a Western full of dark humor? With well-drawn characters and one of the best narrative voices? Hm. Yep. Makes the list. Read my mini review here.
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt. This novel was so vivid for me, I visit it like a memory. I know readers were divided over it, but I clearly fall on the side of “loved every second.”
Canada, Richard Ford. A remarkable story about a completely unremarkable person–over and over again, this is the type of book that really draws me in, I suppose because it requires real mastery of narrative and character development. Read my mini review here.
A Simple Plan, Scott Smith. This is another remarkable story about an unremarkable man, who along with his brother and a friend finds a big bag full of cash in a plane that’s crashed in the woods. If you saw the movie and think that’s enough, it isn’t. Smith’s attention to detail, character development, and tight plotting make this an unbelievable page-turner and a fine piece of literature to boot.

And there you have it! So how about you: was it hard to narrow it down to ten?

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14 comments

  1. Oooh I haven’t heard of several of these like A Fine Balance, but I definitely want to check that and some others out. Gone Girl is a great time, and I should really finish The Goldfinch at some point…haha. Nice list!

  2. Hi Julianne, thanks for visiting! Obviously I highly recommend everything on the list–it would be difficult to pick a best of the best! I do hope you get around to a few of them.

  3. Lauren, I could not put down A Simple Plan. It is so well written. It seems unusual for a novel with such strong character development to also be so tightly plotted. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Andi, that’s so true. Some books have such an immediate impact, and then months or years later they’ve been eclipsed by something that really surprised me and stayed with me long after I thought it would.

  5. It was so interesting to see your list because you mentioned books I haven’t thought of for awhile about reading, but now they’re back on my radar!

  6. ebookclassics, I found several books I had forgotten about on other lists as well. That’s why these features are fun–they serve as constant reminders!

  7. I don’t know if I’d be able to come up with ten, just from the last three years! Not that I would consider to be all-time favorites. There have been a lot of amazing books in that time, but all-time favorites? That’s a big thing to claim about a book!

  8. Jenny, it’s a little less serious than that. I think the idea is simply if you had to pick favorites from the last three years, what would you choose? I sort of thought of it as if I had to pick desert island books from the last three years, not as if I had to add them to my permanent record, so to speak.

  9. I meant to post in response to this blog a couple of weeks ago, but it seems to have slipped my mind. I own/have read many of the books on your list, and for the most part, liked what I read….except for A Simple Plan. Sorry to say, I just despised it. It’s been many years since I read it, but the fact that I hated it has stayed with me much more than the plot/characters of the book…plane crash? Is that right? Anyway, I think it’s odd, since I normally like the books you like, but this one? Nope, it would make my least favorite list, close to the top!

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