Wednesday, February 12, 2014

100 Books You Should Read...

... if you're exactly like me.

After grumbling about amazon's list of 100 books everyone should read, I sat down to compose my own list.

I followed amazon's apparent rule of just one book (or series) per writer. Otherwise this would be largely a list of books by Diana Wynne Jones, Terry Pratchett and Dr. Seuss.

I set another rule for myself: There are no books on the list by authors I know personally.

Anyway, the following list contains hardly anything from the adult or juvenile literary canon. There are no books that I was required to read in public school, and only one that I read for a college course. The list is made up of books that I personally found to be at least three of the following:
  • fascinating
  • fun
  • funny
  • life-affirming
  • well-written
  • full of information that I didn't know
  • memorable
  • worth multiple rereads
They're books I've recommended to people. So, without further ado, here's a list of books you're guaranteed to enjoy... if you're exactly like me. :-)

  1. A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs: Reminscences of My Life in Camp With the 33rd Colored Troops, Late 1st South Carolina Volunteers by Susie King Taylor
  2. A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti [poems]
  3. A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss
  4. A House for the Season series by Marion Chesney [Regency romance]
  5. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  6. A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  7. A Schoolteacher in Old Alaska by Hannah Breece
  8. A Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman
  9. America at 1750, a Social Portrait by Richard Hofstadter
  10. America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines by Gail Collins
  11. An A to Z of Georgian London by John Rocque & Ralph Hyde [atlas]
  12. And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
  13. Andrew Lang's Fairy Books by Leonore Blanche Alleyne Lang1
  14. Anticancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber
  15. As Various as Their Land: The Everyday Lives of 18th Century Americans by Stephanie Grauman Wolf
  16. Bedknob and Broomstick by Mary Norton
  17. Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
  18. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
  19. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
  20. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willem
  21. Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman by Ann Baer
  22. Dr. Goat by Georgiana
  23. Earl's Too Cool For Me by Leah Komaiko
  24. Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key2
  25. Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce
  26. "Fire, Fire!" Said Mrs. McGuire by Bill Martin
  27. The Golden Gazette: News from the [California] Newspapers of 1848-1857 by Dudley T. Ross
  28. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
  29. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  30. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
  31. Having Our Say by the Delaney Sisters
  32. I Can't Said The Ant by Polly Cameron
  33. I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss
  34. I Hate English by Ellen Levine
  35. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  36. If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow by Cooper Edens
  37. In Search of the Birth of Jesus by Paul William Roberts
  38. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself by Harriet Ann Jacobs
  39. Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
  40. Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Erickson
  41. Journey by Aaron Becker
  42. Just Us Women by Jeanette Caines
  43. Katherine by Anya Seton
  44. Life in a Medieval Castle by Frances and Joseph Gies
  45. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  46. Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind by Carol Hollinger
  47. May I Bring a Friend? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
  48. Memoirs of an Infantry Officer by Siegfried Sassoon
  49. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
  50. Mother Earth Father Sky by Sue Harrison
  51. My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
  52. One Monday Morning by Uri Shulevitz
  53. Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood on the Lower East Side by Rose Cohen
  54. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
  55. People by Peter Spier
  56. Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
  57. Plain Folk in a Rich Man's War: Class and Dissent in Confederate Georgia by Teresa Crisp Williams et al
  58. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  59. Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer
  60. Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary
  61. Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
  62. Roots by Alex Haley
  63. Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol
  64. Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy E. Shaw
  65. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
  66. Somewhat More Independent: The End of Slavery in New York City by Shane White
  67. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  68. Speak Softly, and Carry a Beagle by Charles Schultz
  69. Ten Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Years of Pogo by Walt Kelly
  70. The Adventures of Tintin: The Black Island by Hergé
  71. The Aran Islands by J.M. Synge
  72. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  73. The Five Gospels, by Robert W. Funk et al
  74. The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar
  75. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
  76. The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi
  77. The Lives and Times of Archy and Mehitabel by Don Marquis
  78. The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
  79. The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith
  80. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth by herself
  81. The Norton Anthology of Poetry
  82. The Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak
  83. The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage by Carol Lynn Yellin & Janann Sherman
  84. The Prospering by Elizabeth George Speare
  85. The Quest of the Silver Fleece by W.E.B. Du Bois
  86. The Search for the Pink-Headed Duck: A Journey Through the Himalayas and Down the Brahmaputra by Rory Nugent
  87. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  88. The Thirteen Clocks by James Thurber
  89. The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
  90. The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum
  91. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  92. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  93. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  94. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  95. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
  96. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
  97. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  98. When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
  99. Women in England c. 1275-1525: Documentary Sources by P.J.P. Goldberg 
    100. Women's Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel

1As my mother always says, "This women's lib thing wasn't about nothing, you know."
2Key wrote several other middle grade fantasies, all worth reading


  1. ((I tried to send this as an email but it wouldn't let me - so I thought I'd try sending it as a comment and see if that would work!))

    Hello! A good while ago I read Jinx, and a week or so ago I was shelving books at work (I work at our local library) and found we'd finally purchased Jinx's Magic! Needless to say, I was delighted and checked it out at once. I wouldn't have thought it possible to enjoy any of your books more than I enjoyed Jinx, but Jinx's Magic somehow did the impossible! The humor was always right on, the story was engaging, and the characters were realistic and made me wish they were my friends. Thank you for writing such good books; can't wait for the next one!
    Sincerely, Evangeline Sherer

  2. (also as an actual comment on this post)
    I've read over 50 of these and loved nearly all of them - you even have The Thief (which I loved and hardly anyone I know has read) and Till We Have Faces (which is by my favourite author of all time and a fantastic retelling of a classic story). Have you ever heard of Enemy Brothers by Constance Savery? It's probably one of my top five favourite books (Eagle of the Ninth is also up there), and of the books on your list, it's probably comparable to The Winged Watchman and To Kill A Mockingbird.

    1. Hi Evangeline! Thanks for your kind words about Jinx and Jinx's Magic. I'm so glad to hear you liked the second as much as the first.

      You must have read an an enormous number of books to have read over half of my fairly-obscure list. Till We Have Faces is a very favorite book that I reread every year or two, as are a few others on the list-- including #21 and #78. I liked The Thief particularly for the twist that I did not see coming at all.

      I haven't read either of the books you mentioned but I'm going to look for them right now, as you clearly have excellent taste in books :-).

      You can contact me via the form on my website... I haven't been able to work out how to do it on blogger, nor how to link blogger to my website, but the site is

      /am off to look for those two books now