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A Most Particular Compendium: Christy

March 6, 2012

Welcome to the second list for my A Most Particular Compendium feature (speaking of which, the first participant Kasia was sweet enough to e-mail me and let me know that she loved Ceremony, the first book she read of my recommendations)! Let’s welcome Christy, who blogs at A Good Stopping Point.

Her Introduction

I come from a book-loving family, with a father who was a pastor and is now a math teacher and mother who is a school librarian. I have two sisters with whom I am very close. I am the one in the middle. We grew up in small-town Maine, and our parents passed on to us a love of boating, hiking, competitive board-game playing and of course, books, as mentioned earlier. I was part of a book club in high school that mostly consisted of teachers, but I was usually more comfortable with adults than with my peers at the time anyway. I was one of those kids for whom college was salvation, socially-speaking. I fetched up to my present location in the D.C. metropolitan area thanks to graduate school. I worked for several years in higher education student affairs, but my present job is in a different line, and much quieter, sometimes too quiet, but I like the people I work with a lot. When I’m not reading or blogging, I tend to spend my free time watching movies and tv shows from Netflix with my roommate, visiting friends and family, and going to events and restaurants in the D.C. area.

Christy’s List of Favourites

  • The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King – I love Mary Russell’s intelligence and the dialogue between Russell and Holmes.
  • Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell – Ree Dolly is a savvy teenaged heroine that one can root for as she navigates rural poverty and danger in the Ozarks. It’s a gritty tale told with a kind of crystalline poetry.
  • Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty – I love the languid atmosphere of the Mississippi Delta setting and Welty really captures the sprawl and chaos of an extended family event.
  • A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan – It’s told in second-person, and is creepy and almost apocalyptic as a small Wisconsin town is threatened by an epidemic and forest fire.
  • Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens – I love it for how funny and sharp it is and of course for the motley array of odd characters.
  • Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves by Adam Hochshild – I loved Hochschild’s warts-and-all approach to the abolitionists, because that made the inspiring moments mean so much more.
  • Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman – I call this nonfiction book a travel thriller as I was flipping the pages to find out what happened to Susie and her college friend Claire as they traveled in 1980’s China and stuff starts going wrong.

My List of Recommendations

  • Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: if you love Dickens, I think you’ll find Wilkie irresistable! This is one of his most famous works, and I chose it because the characters are particularly memorable, but you can’t go really wrong with any of his books (I had a difficult time choosing between this and No Name).
  • Shooting the Boh by Tracy Johnston: this is a page-turning travelogue that also centers around an adventure-gone-wrong. Johnston is going through menopause when she agrees to go on a canoeing trip in a remote region of Indonesia, and she writes vividly and humorously about the ridiculous situations she found herself in.
  • To the North by Elizabeth Bowen: Bowen’s writing reminds me of Delty’s, so I think you’ll really enjoy this novel focusing on two sisters and set in interwar England.
  • A Human Being Died that Night by Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela: one of my favourite nonfiction books ever, it gets its power from Gobodo-Madikizela’s willingness to accept how complicated moral situations are and to acknowledge that even men who have done evil things don’t seem like monsters.
  • Cut to the Quick by Kate Ross: this is the first in a sadly short historical mystery series, one of my favourites. Julian Kestrel is a witty and charming sleuth, although he doesn’t have a Mary Russell equivalent to help him solve crimes!
  • Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers: while not the first of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, this is when readers get to meet Harriet Vane. Their intelligence and banter is a bit reminiscent of Russell/Holmes, and once you’ve read the early Vane/Wimsey books, you’ll be ready for the incredible work that is Gaudy Night.
  • Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie: a smart and creepy thriller that mixes social justice issues with a page-turning plot. This is a powerful book that will stay with you!
  • Deborah Blum’s Ghost Hunters: a wonderful piece of popular history, in which Blum profiles the men in the late nineteenth century that tried to bring the discipline of science to the study of ghosts. I think if you liked Hochschild, you’ll definitely be a Blum fan.
  • Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones: this novel is told from the point of view of a handful of fifth-graders living in Atlanta during the child murders. It’s a powerful coming-of-age story, and I think you’ll get invested in the characters quite quickly.
  • Nocturnes by John Connolly: a wonderfully scary collection of supernatural short stories by an Irish author. I mainly included this because you describe the O’Nan as creepy!
  • Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: a wonderful coming of age story by one of my very favourite authors. It features Kambili, a teenage girl trying to figure out her beliefs while living with an abusive father.
  • Tom Jones by Henry Fielding: a hilarious, rollicking romp of a novel, I suspect you’ll really love this eighteenth century doorstop. Lots of unforgettable characters and nonstop action!
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury: another novel featuring younger protagonists; in this case two boys who have to fight for their lives when an evil circus comes to town. Bradbury’s prose is so lyrical, this is the perfect autumn read.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: one of my very favourite Southern novels, this is about a woman who finds herself and the strength to make herself happy.
  • Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr: you might have already read this, but if not it’s a YA novel with a strong girl protagonist, which isn’t as common as I might like! It’s urban fantasy but not particularly dark. (If you can stomach darker, more violent books, then look into Dia Reeves’ books. The first is Bleeding Violet.)

Do you have any recommendations for Christy, based her favourites? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

If you’re interested in participating & receiving a list of your own, it’s easy! Just put together a short biography/introduction, then pick five to ten of your favourite books (they don’t have to be your favourite of all time, just ones you’d like me to base my recommendations on), add a sentence or two for each book explaining why you loved it, and e-mail your bio and list to me: astripedarmchairATgmailDOTcom. I’m really loving this series, but I can’t continue it without your help; right now, I’ve got six more lovely participants lined up, so there’s definitely still room. Both bloggers and non-bloggers are welcome. :)

15 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2012 7:43 am

    Interesting recommendations.

  2. March 6, 2012 8:06 am

    Oh my gosh, Eva–I love this feature so much! Though it’s really doing damage to my wish list! Despite my best efforts to be particularly picky in what I added, I still managed to expand my wish list by three books (two from your list and one from Christy’s). And of course, the truth is there would have been a lot more added had I not already added them in the past because of you! :P

  3. March 6, 2012 9:25 am

    Oh, I loved “Undress Me In the Temple of Heaven”! I can remember being just like the narrator (except I never actually got to do the backpacking :(), and it was the very first book I blogged about. I can’t actually think of anything that I’ve read since that was similar, but I did love “Nine Lives,” about religious traditions in India, and “In Search of London,” an older book about exploring that city’s secrets (it will make you want to go there, but sadly you will want to go to the London of about 1935).

  4. March 6, 2012 9:43 am

    The one that immediately came to mind was Sea Biscuit, probably because it also has the same feeling of a “non-fiction thriller”. How about Kindred by Octavia Butler?

  5. March 6, 2012 3:44 pm

    What a groovy fun idea! You are ingenious. I don’t have any book titles popping into mind (yet) but I really am liking this concept. I haven’t read any of Christy’s list but have enjoyed 4 of the ones you recommended. Lists are so fun.

  6. March 6, 2012 6:53 pm

    Eva – I was so excited when I saw this post pop up in my Google Reader! And I am eager to try these recommendations out. Two I have read before: Purple Hibiscus and Their Eyes Were Watching God, though it’s been a very long time since I’ve read Hurston’s book, so I’m probably due for a reread. I ought to have read Woman in White by now, considering the widespread love for it in the blogosphere, but I haven’t. I am sorry to report that I was assigned to read Gaudy Night for a class in college and I have heard now from numerous people that this was the absolutely wrong book to have read first in this series. It was my professor’s fault! I didn’t know! To the North and Leaving Atlanta jump out the most from the list, but all of them are going on my to-read shelf in Goodreads. Thanks again for these!

    Debi – of course, I want to know which one of my favorites you thought sounded interesting!

    dangermom – You are the second person in a short time span that has recommended a Dalrymple book to me. Thanks also for the other book title – I’ll have to check it out.

    Alex – Spot on. I’ve read and own both of those. Kindred was close to being on the favorite list that I gave to Eva.

  7. March 6, 2012 8:02 pm

    I have to admit I REALLY don’t need any more book suggestions, but I almost want to participate just to see what you come up with for me…

  8. Mome Rath permalink
    March 6, 2012 11:11 pm

    Great interview of Christy, and good recommendations, Eva! I really enjoyed Sayer’s Peter Wimsey mysteries, and Woman in White was very enjoyable (incidentally, I believe there is a Woman in White read-along in April). I haven’t read Purple Hibiscus, but Half of a Yellow Sun was very well-written, so I know Adichie is a great author. I think Christy knows a lot of books I’d already recommend, but I’ll throw out a couple of new ones I don’t know that she’s read:
    Four Corners by Kira Salak — adventurous (and very readable) memoir/travelogue by a woman who traveled across Papua New Guinea on her own
    Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton — a classic from South Africa during the days of apartheid; I’d pair it with We are All the Same, by Jon Wooten, which is a moving (and fairly short) non-fiction account of a boy born with AIDS who brought change in South Africa
    Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh — because I first heard about it on this blog and loved the rich texture of words and characters woven together by Ghosh

  9. March 7, 2012 8:09 am

    Eva– Thanks to you, my TBR is about twice as big! Don’t worry, this is a good thing. I love this new feature of yours and am definitely going to have to email my own list to you at some point.

    I really need to read Indian Killer, already! Alexie is one of my favorite authors, so I need to get this one on my shelf.

    Christy– If you want to read Woman in White soon, Alice at Reading Rambo is hosting an April readalong. Hope you’re already enjoying these great recommendations!

  10. March 7, 2012 8:36 am

    I love this new feature, Eva…it’s a fantastic idea. I shudder a bit at the thought of what my wish list is going to look like after a few of these posts but I also love book recommendations!

    I recently picked up a copy of Purple Hibiscus and cannot wait to read it (but I’ll have to wait a couple of months since I’m participating in the TBR Double Dare challenge). I read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston several years ago and second your recommendation. It’s a wonderful book

    I haven’t read much Dickens which is strange considering I was an english major. I also haven’t read Wilkie Collins’ books yet but I plan to read works by both this year. It interests me that you recommend Woman in White by Wilkie Collins to Christy because of the Dickens work in her list. I’m hoping that I really enjoy both author’s works!

  11. March 7, 2012 7:16 pm

    I’m saving these posts so I can go back every now and then when I need a recommendation. I love reading them!

  12. Jenny permalink
    March 12, 2012 12:56 pm

    Eva, what a wonderful idea. I absolutely adore making book recommendations for people I know well (I make a list every year for my sister) — I think “recommendations that go right” is one of the pleasure centers of my brain! What a completely delightful feature. I will be watching this closely, and taking notes!


  1. My Woman in White readalong join-up post | A Good Stopping Point
  2. A few quick reviews | A Good Stopping Point
  3. To the North by Elizabeth Bowen | A Good Stopping Point

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