Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Wrap-Up

July wasn't a bad month for me, but it wasn't amazing either. I was far busier than I intended to be and was only able to finish nine books.

Even though I've already finished my goal of reading 50 books this year, I want to push myself to spend the majority of my free time reading rather than mindlessly surfing the Internet.

I mildly failed on that front since I spent quite a bit of time watching anime. Watching an entire season in one night definitely breaks my rules, but sometimes you just have to relax and enjoy yourself.

I did manage to finish some good books this month, though, so let's get into my July wrap-up.

The first book I finished this month was Absent by Sherri Vanderveen. I've already written a full review and mentioned this book in other posts, so I'll just say that this was my favorite July read and the best novel I've read this year. I gave it a raving 5 stars.

Absent was a weighty read, so afterwards I wanted to indulge in lighter fair. I ended up choosing Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I really enjoyed it and finished it in one night.

If you want to see more of my thoughts on this and other books by her, be sure to check out my Rainbow Rowell spotlight post. This received  3.5 stars.

Next I continued going through the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles by CLAMP with volume 3. It was still good, but I'm starting to tire of the same plot repeated. They go to dimension, they save dimension, they find a feather. I know things start to get darker and change up further along, so I'm ready for that. I gave this volume 3 stars.

Around this time I participated in the #AYearAThon classics read-a-thon, and I wanted to finish three books, but I ended up ignoring the others in favor of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. 
When I was a kid, this was my least favorite of the series, and I actually hadn't reread it since that first time. As an adult, however, I appreciated it so much more.

I see how the events of this book mark the dramatic changes in, not only the wizarding world, but in Harry. I was to young to really understand that before, but now I love this one. It definitely gets 5 stars from me. 

I picked up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell next and devoured it in one night. This is my favorite Rowell book to date. Cath is a really well written relatable character, whom I connected with in so many ways even though I'm much older than her. And all the rest of the characters were just as wonderful.

I especially appreciated her relationships with her parents. I don't think those dynamics are explored enough in YA, so it was a pleasure to read.

And, of course, the Simon Snow homage to Harry Potter was just the best. I want to read Cath's fan fic! 

Fangirl gets 4.5 stars. 

The next book is not a novel, but a photo book called Humans of New York,  shot by Brandon Stanton.

Basically, he wanted to document the different boroughs of New York, so he ran around with a camera, taking pictures of people and getting blurbs about their lives.

I actually follow his website, so I'd been wanting his book for quite some time. I really enjoyed it. He captures a variety of types of people, from the outwardly normal to the flamboyant to the homeless to the old money. I gave it 4 stars.

A lot of people claim Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events as their favorite childhood books.  I was already in high school by the time the series became really popular, so I missed out entirely.

I have finally decided to read them, though, and finished The Bad Beginning this month. It was imaginative, and Count Olaf is a fiend. I would have enjoyed this series as a child.

The only thing I can't decide is whether I like the way the author breaks up the story to input explanations to the reader, such as definitions to long words. When I was a kid, big words meant using a dictionary or looking at the word in context to figure it out for myself. I can't decide if having the author do this for the reader helps them learn or promotes intellectual laziness.

All in all, it was a fun read, and I gave it 3 stars.

Whilst reading these other books, I was labouring away at The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. This was my classics book club July pick, and I meant to start and finish it during the #AYearAThon, but I just couldn't.

Reading this book is like swimming through molasses. The language is so descriptive that it becomes cloying and slows the pace of the entire book.

Had this not been for a book club, I may have given up on it, but I wanted to discuss it. I also wanted to see if the ending justified the struggle.

It didn't, so I had to give this 2 stars.

The last book I read this month was a new release - Rainbow Rowell's new adult novel,  Landline.

I enjoy Rowell's writing, so I was awaiting the publication of this book. Plus, it covers the more adult themes of marriage and marital issues, so I was hoping that I would connect with it more than her other works.

This actually ended up being my least favorite of her books. I still enjoyed it and read it in one sitting, but I didn't care for the main character. Georgie was so selfish that I couldn't pity her at all. I thought she deserved every problem she had.

I also wish that the book focused more on the dissolution of their marriage and less on the magical realism. The magical phone was a cool concept, but it didn't provide enough substance to the book.

This one got 3 stars from me.

So those are all the books I finished in July. I also started a few that I'm hoping to finish in August.

August should be a more productive month for me with #AYearAThon doing a middlegrade read-a-thon and Bout of Books towards the end on the month. Be on the lookout for my TBRs for those.

What books did you read this month? Do you have any recommendations for next month's read-a-thons? Tell me in the comment section.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Top Books That Made Me Cry

This week's top 5 topic was actually quite difficult for me.  You see, I am not much of a crier.  It really takes a lot to get me to feel something so deeply.  I have to really connect with the characters and empathize with their situation.

Therefore, it took awhile for me to put this list together, but while staring at my shelves, these few stood out in my memory as books that overwhelmed me enough to make me cry.

Number 5...

The Little Prince by  Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

After crashing his plane in the middle of a desert, an adult male finds a little boy, called the Little Prince, who fell from space in a rocket ship.  While the man tries to fix his plane, the Little Prince teaches him about life and love.

This is one of my favorite children's books.  I didn't read it until I older, and I got so much more out of it than I would have had I read it as a child. I truly believe that this book is meant more for adults than for kids.  There are so many themes within its pages that I related to, and when the Little Prince spoke of his flower, it really touched me and made me cry.

Number 4...

My Sister's Keeper  by Jodi Picoult

13-year old Anna was born to be a donor for her older sister, Kate, who has leukemia.  This system has always worked perfectly for their family until she decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.

This was my first Jodi Picoult book, and it was so sad.  I hadn't seen the movie, so I had no idea how it ended, and I was completely wrecked.  I've read a few more of her books since then, but none of them have affected me the way this one did.

Number 3...

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Jolene and Michael's marriage is on the verge of divorce when she gets deployed to Iraq.  During her time there, she experiences things that will change her forever, and Michael realizes just how integral she is to the family.  But when she gets home, a whole new battle must be fought since war has brought her back damaged.

This was one of my favorite books of 2012.  It speaks of the breaking up of a marriage, war, and mental illness, and Hannah did well at making the characters' trials relateable.  Even though I have never gone to war or had a spouse with mental illness, I was still able to apply what they were feeling to my own life and find a connection that moved me deeply.

Number 2...

Created to Be a Help Meet by Debi Pearl

This book is completely different than the rest of the ones on my list.  It's about the Biblical role of wives and how God designed marriage to work.

There was a specific chapter in this book that convicted me of the way I was treated my husband and opened my eyes to how much I neglected to appreciate him for who he is.  Rather, I was comparing him to who I thought he should be and being unduly disappointed.

Once I realized that about myself, I broke inside and woke him up sobbing to apologize and tell him I love him.

And the number 1 book that made me cry...

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Ok, let me be real here for a second: When Sirius Black died in this book, I literally threw my copy across the room because I was so upset.  I sobbed and sobbed as if he were my godfather and only real family.

Not only was I heartbroken for Harry, but I remember being so angry with J.K. Rowling for taking Sirius away from Harry.  I vowed I would not finish the book or ever read another one from the series.  Of course, after I calmed down I did end up reneging that vow, but the rest of my Harry Potter experience was coloured by Sirius' death.  I didn't cry when anyone else died because now I knew that Rowling was capable of anything.

So, those are my top 5 books that made me cry.  If you want to join Top 5 Wednesday, just check out the Goodreads group.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bout of Books 11

I am so excited to participate in Bout of Books 11 next month!

I just started doing read-a-thons this year.  Bout of Books 10 was only the second I'd done, and I absolutely loved it.  All of the challenges, interacting with people all over the world, the cheerleaders - I loved it all.  There are people I met during that week that I still talk to now.
Bout of Books

Not only is it great to be able to read with a bunch of people, but this event is organized so well.  The organizers are always available on Twitter to answer any questions. And every day there is at least one challenge, each one held by a different person, so they are really varied.

Bout of Books also makes it a point to be inclusive.  They aren't genre-specific, and they are international, so no one has to worry that they won't be able to participate in the challenges.  Being from Guam, that makes me so happy!

If you want to know more, here is the official blurb from their blog:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

I strongly encourage you to sign up.  There is no pressure as no one is keeping track of how much you read. It's not a competition by any means.  It's just a week you can set aside to focus on making progress through your TBR.

And you do it with some awesome people.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Author Spotlight: Rainbow Rowell

One author who has been really popular lately is Rainbow Rowell, an American writer of Young Adult and Adult books.  I hadn't heard of her prior to this year, but I became intrigued when I saw that she is adored by many different types of readers, not just people who love YA or people who love contemporary fiction.

Because of this, I checked her out and ended up reading all of her books within the past four months.

As of right now, she has four published books: Attachments (2011), Eleanor and Park (2013), Fangirl (2013), and Landline, which was just released in July.


The first Rowell book I read was Eleanor and Park.  This novel is about two misfit teenagers who meet on a bus and begin a relationship but who are also dealing with deeper issues in their separate lives.

This book came highly recommended to me, so I picked it up with no real expectations.  Once I got a quarter of the way in, though, I already loved it, and I ended up reading it in one sitting.

Eleanor is a strong female protagonist with her own mind and plenty of spunk, so I really admired her.  She has a lot of family issues that are heavy and dark, but that doesn't extinguish her own light.  But at the same time, she has fears and insecurities that are relatable for the typical teenage girl.

I completely fell in love with Park.  For one, it's great to see Asian male protagonists in literature that isn't about being Asian.  Secondly, I really liked that he is an atypical romantic interest in that he's super skinny, kind of punk, quiet, and reads comic books.  He's also not perfect.  Sometimes he's not brave, and he can be really prideful and self-centered.  But in the moments that truly count, he is Eleanor's hero, and it makes it so much better because he wasn't built up to be the whole book through.

I liked the characters a lot, but I couldn't relate to the circumstances of their lives very much.  I don't necessarily have to be able to connect with a character in order to learn from them, but my own life is so different from theirs that I couldn't take away much from their experiences.

I really enjoyed this read, and I gave it 4 stars.

Attachments is an adult novel about a man named Lincoln who gets hired to monitor a company's email servers and ends up "eavesdropping" on the personal correspondence of two women, Beth and Jennifer.  Through reading their emails to each other, he ends up falling in love with one of them.

The three main characters were completely likeable and realistic.  But the one who I really related to was Jennifer, since she's married and what she goes through very closely follows my personal experiences.

The friendship between Beth and Jennifer, their banter, fighting, and support for each other, was a delight to read.  Even though it was solely told through the medium of their emails, I got a very full picture of who each woman is and what their relationship looks like.  Nothing was lost in Rowell's choice to tell the story that way.

The development of the relationship between Lincoln and Beth was something that I rooted for but that I wasn't completely invested in.  I was a lot more interested in seeing Lincoln develop as a character in other areas of his life, with his career choices and at home.

I gave this book 3.5 stars.

I love this cover, by the way.
After reading those two, I picked up Fangirl, which I was the most excited to read.  It is about a girl name Kath who goes to college for her freshman year and is completely terrified of it.  She's not very social and hates trying new things.  Instead, she leaves that to her completely opposite identical twin sister, Wren, who is vibrant and chatty.  Usually, the two of them create an inseparable pair, but Wren decides that she doesn't want to room together when they get to university, so Kath is left foundling by herself.  The only thing that Kath really feels passionate about is Simon Snow (an homage to Harry Potter) and writing Simon Snow fan fiction.

Being a Harry Potter fangirl myself, and with clear memories of moving in for freshman year of university, I really related to Kath.  I am not as anti-social as she is, but I understood each of her fears and hesitations.  Her obsession with Simon Snow was depicted so realistically, as well as just fandom in general.  In reading this book, I could tell that Rainbow Rowell has been involved in the fan fiction community because it read true to reality.

Each of the characters were really well written.  I especially liked the friendship that formed between Kath and her roommate, Reagan, who is edgy and harsh at first.  I thought that they balanced each other out well and created a relationship dynamic that was fun to read.

Kath's relationship with Levi was so well developed.  It grew slowly and settled into something so solid and warm that it was almost reassuring to me.  I felt like, no matter what else Kath had to face, she would be fine because Levi would be there for her.

What was surprising to me was that this book dealt with so many deeper issues than just college or fan life.  Mental illness, divorce, and abandonment are central themes in this book.  A lot of Kath and Wren's lives are built around the fact that their mother left them.  The way that Rowell has each of them work through that is so beautiful and true.  And Kath's development through these issues made her that much better of a character.

This is my favorite Rainbow Rowell book to date, and I gave it 4.5 stars.

Lastly, I picked up Landline, which is about Georgie McCool, a woman who knows that her marriage is in trouble but doesn't know what to do about it until a magic phone connects her to her husband 13 years ago, before they were married.

I was highly anticipating this release.  I was excited that it deals with marriage since I am married; moreover, having read all of her previous books, I was certain that I would enjoy this one.

While I did like it, it is not my favorite of her works.

I understood all of the issues in Georgie and Neal's marriage.  At the root of it all, it boiled down to selfishness and the incompatibility of their desires.  Those are very common areas of disagreement in relationships in general, and part of committing to another person is the battle between self and spouse.

This is the very reason that this book frustrated me, though.  I found Georgie to be so self-centered that I almost disliked her.  I wanted her to wake up!  She was bemoans their marriage and their problems without admitting that most of them are direct causes of her singular focus on what she wants over what is best for the family as a whole.

I also wished that the book focused more on their marriage and the breakdown of it and less on the magical realism.  The entire phone aspect was interesting only as far as it drove the plot forward, but in and of itself it wasn't so impressive.  Had all of the time and energy Georgie put into thinking about the logistics of the magical yellow rotary been put into dissecting her marriage and where things went bad, I would have gotten much more out of their story.

I gave this one 3 stars.


Rowell does a great job of creating realistic characters that don't come shrink-wrapped.  Meaning, she doesn't deal in mass produced characters. Her characters are overweight (Eleanor is described as "fat"), unfashionable, and nerdy.  Instead of writing about characters people wish they were, she writes about real people.

Her dialogue is well-written, too.  She's excellent at writing realistic wit and being true to each character's voice.  She doesn't make them sound too smart or too clever.

Her books are really easy to read, as well.  Every one of them I read in one day.  They are paced well and flow beautifully.  If there are deeper issues, they are hidden in the story instead of protruding out of the narrative and causing you to stumble over them.

Rowell writes like someone I would want to be friends with in real life.  I will gladly read anything and everything she writes in the future and would recommend her books without hesitancy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Wish I Had Read Earlier

This week's Top 5 Wednesday is five books I wish I read earlier.  There were some that came to mind instantly, but others I had to peruse my shelves to find others.

As always, you can join all of us who participate in Top 5 Wednesdays by checking out the Goodreads group.

These are in no particular order.  Let us begin!

  1. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    Somehow, I made it into my late twenties without ever reading this classic.  I'm not sure how I managed that.  When I finally read it, I couldn't connect with it the way countless others have.  When I hear other people talk about it and read literary analysis on it, I completely understand why this is a beloved novel to so many.  However, I think my life was too far removed from the stage that Holden experiences, so I wasn't able to share that with him.

  2. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
    Confession: I still haven't read this book.  It's on my bookshelf, though, waiting for me to pick it up.  I just wish that I had read it before I knew that J.K. Rowling wrote it.  I would have loved to read her writing without the bias of knowing that it's her.

  3. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
    Asian literature is one of my favorite genres, but I didn't discover it until 2007 when I took an class.  We mostly read the classics, which was great, but I discovered a passion for contemporary Asian literature when I read my first Murakami novel.  It was so different from Western writing that I remember finishing it and feeling like I had changed as a reader.  Murakami changed the course of my literary life.

  4. Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard
    While working on my degree in philosophy, I read a lot, of course.  But I didn't get around to reading any Kierkegaard until the very end of my sophomore year, the last book in my course on existentialism.  I really, really wish that there had been more of a balance before then because I was so overwhelmed by how hopeless all the philosophy I was exposed to was by the time this was assigned.  

  5. The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
    This selection represents my regret that I didn't start reading classic Christian literature sooner.  But this influential work by Tozer is one of my favorites thus far.  It's short but impactful, and it really illuminated what I was already reading in the Bible.  This is one that all Christians should read.
Those are the top 5 books I wish had come into my life much sooner than they did.  What books do you wish you had read earlier?  Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Review: Absent by Sherri Vanderveen

"Do you have any idea what happens to a family when someone disappears just like that" (pg. 267)?

Absent by Sherri Vanderveen
Penguin Book Canada, 3 February 2009
288 Pages
Contemporary Fiction
5 Stars
Amazon; Barnes and Noble; Goodreads

In 1979, Otto Sinclair flees in the wake of a tragic fire, leaving his family to sort through the ashes. Twenty-eight years later, he comes back to them: his wife Lenore, a kept woman in mourning with a box of memories in the trunk of her car; his daughter Ruby, who peoples her world with the imaginary and the unattainable; his son Gavin, confined in a prison of his own creation; and the ghost of his mother, dead on the third floor of the house he burned down.
A single act of desperation can echo for decades. Now, a wounded family struggles to answer one final question: is it possible to forgive when it's impossible to forget?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Top 10 Most Influential Books

As someone who has been a reader my entire life, I've ready more books than I can remember.  Some of them were light reads for fun, some mandatory for school, and some challenging works that made me think.  I can't recall every book I've ever read, but I do remember those who somehow shaped me, whether as a person or as a reader.

Here is my list of the top ten most influential books:

1. The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss

This is the first book that I read all by myself, when I was four-years old, and I had it completely memorized.  Even now, at twenty-six, I can still recite the first few pages.  It was just so fun, and I read it to anyone I could any time the opportunity presented itself.

2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (specifically Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

I am one of the blessed who grew up while the Harry Potter series was being written.  I was ten when The Sorcerer's Stone was released, and I had The Deathly Hallows delivered to my college dorm when I was nineteen.  I had enjoyed reading before, but Harry Potter was the first series that I was insane for.  I remember that impatient anticipation as a book release date drew near, the joy of getting the new book, and the hours curled up on the couch, drinking in every word.  When I think of my childhood, I think of Harry Potter.

3. The Green Mile by Stephen King

Stephen King was my first foray into both adult fiction and horror.  I felt so rebellious reading his books, but I loved his characters and the way his stories slowly unfold, revealing how interconnected each character and situation is.  Til this day, he is one of my favorite authors.  And The Green Mile moved me in ways no children's book had previously.

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I am one of those people who loves to read unless the reading is mandatory.  Then I can't stand the book or the act.  Pride and Prejudice was the one exception to the rule, and it was the first classic I really enjoyed and connected to.  I, like so many other women, fell in love with Darcy and modeled myself after Lizzie.  Austen's writing opened me up to so many other classics, as well as romance.

5. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Any time my life goes through a dramatic change, I pull this book out.  I first read this when I was seventeen, and the two main characters search for truth was such a reflection of my inner reality that this book spoke to me in ways no other work had previously.  It always reminds me to stop anxiously looking for answers because they always get revealed in God's perfect timing.

6. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

After I first read this poem, I carried this book around in my purse for months, just pouring over the words and letting new meaning shift to the surface.  It connected to me as a woman and as a person of colour.  It was one of the first works I read that introduced me to the literature of the minority and made me realize how much I wanted to read multicultural works.

7. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

In my early twenties, I thought Jack Kerouac was my time-crossed soul mate.  His words reflected my heart and my thoughts.  I wanted to live the way he did and be as free as he seemed.  Reading On the Road was like reading my diary of adventures I wanted to have.  Even now, when I read his quotes, part of me sets aflame.

8. Silence by Shusaku Endo

During my sophomore year of college, I took an Asian literature class, and this is the first book we read.  It was the catalyst for my obsession with Asian lit.  Not only did it speak to me on a cultural level, but it challenged my spirituality.

9. A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George

This is the first Christian book I read after I returned to church.  A woman who didn't know me well gave it to me, and it just completely changed the way I viewed my role as a woman and as a wife.  It really educated me about the Scriptural woman and helped me to shed my ignorant views of gender roles.

10. The Holy Bible

As an adult, there is no other book that has had more influence on me than the Bible.  I've read it four times now, and every time it speaks to me in new ways.  I never leave its pages unchanged.

These are the books that have shaped me the most.  I'd love to know which books have made you who you are.  Please leave your titles in the comments, as well as any other thoughts you may have.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

My #AYearAThon Classics TBR

I am a member of the Goodreads' group #AYearAThon, which is a group for people who love doing read-a-thons.  There are four hosts who organize one, week-long, themed read-a-thon every month.  Themes this year have included Harry Potter, Rereads, and Rick Riordan.

July's theme is classics, which I am excited for because I love classics.  Moreover, I am a part of a book club that only reads classics, so this will help me finish that group's July pick.

Without further adieu, here is my #AYearAThon classics TBR!

My first book is one that I just picked up last month, Old New York, by Edith Wharton.  This is a collection of four novellas about New York in the mid-1800s.  I adored Age of Innocence by Wharton, and I am moderately obsessed with New York, so I am greatly looking forward to this read.  Plus, I tend to gain more momentum and motivation when I start a read-a-thon with a warm-up book, so this is perfect for that.

Secondly, I plan to read The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy.  This is my classics book club read.  Truthfully, I started reading this years ago, but it wasn't what I was craving at the time, so it's been sitting on my shelf ever since.  I am usually really interested in books that take place in Asia and include aspects of Asian culture, so I am glad that I am being somewhat forced into attempting this one again.

Finally, I will be reading J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I am slowly rereading the series this year, and I've actually already started this one.  But as it is a classic, and it is a good choice for breaking up Roy's book if it becomes too taxing, I am including it in my pile.  I will try my utmost to not just read this one and ignore the other two the whole week long.

Those are the books I plan on reading next week.  Will I get through them all?  Eh.  But we all have to have goals, right?

If you want to join in with us, check out the Goodreads' group.  Are there any classics that you recommend I read?  Leave them in the comments below.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Best Books I've Read So Far This Year

We are halfway through 2014, and I have read 42 books so far.  Most have been pretty good, a couple I absolutely hated, and a few I fell in love with.

So, let's get into the top 5 books I've read so far!

In fifth place is Jerusalem: A Family Portrait, by Boaz Yakin.

I have already talked about this book in multiple blog posts, including a full review, so let's just say that I loved it.

Next is A Game of Thrones, the first book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R.R. Martin.

I have put off reading this series for years because, frankly, it intimidated me.  I tried to read this book a few years ago, but I just wasn't in the mood, so I set it down indefinitely.  Finally, enough people recommended it to me that I decided to attempt it again, and I ended up reading it in two days.  I couldn't put it down, and I got very little sleep because I just needed to know.  Even though the plot is fantastic, what really seduced me were the characters.  I felt so strongly about each of them, whether love or loathing, and I became so invested in them.  Terrific read.

Third is Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë.

I honestly don't know how I got through high school without reading this, but I did.  It was never on my classics TBR list because it never stood out in my mind as one of those game-changing classics that everyone says you just have to read.  But several BookTubers either read it for the first time and sang its praises or touted it as their favorite classic, so I decided to read it, and I am so glad I did.  Heathcliff has become one of my favorite characters in all of literature.

I know that he is detestable and horrid, but I am fascinated by him.  I loved the passion in each page, and how none of the characters were truly likeable.  It was so entertaining, and it's become a favorite classic of mine.

Coming in in second place is The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.  
Again, I never had plans to read this because American classics that take place in the South have never sparked my interest.   However, one of my book clubs was reading it, so I did, as well.

So many people list this as one of the most difficult books to get through, and though I understand why that is a popular opinion, I had no problem finding momentum with this novel.  The complexity of the different narrators, the varying mental states, the disorganized timeline - all of the traits that make others cringe are what I enjoyed the best.  I found so much inspiration in Faulkner's experimental writing, and I was truly in awe that he was able to create something so unique and profound.

His ability to speak about social change, the deterioration of the family unit, black servitude, the loss of innocence, and so many other important themes in a novel where nothing much happens is nothing short of masterful.  Many find A Sound and the Fury to be boring, and I certainly don't think it should be approached purely for entertainment.  But it made me think, and it challenged me as a reader.

Finally, the best book I've read so far is Absent by Sherri Vanderveen. 

I just finished this book, and I can't even begin to describe how much it has affected me.  I saw myself in the pages, saw my family and my friends.  This book so delicately and professionally and beautifully explores a topic so painful and prolific in our culture, and Vanderveen manages to do it in a way that makes each character so human and so real.

I am going to do a full review of Absent in a few days, so please stay tuned for that.  But just know that it's not only my favorite book of this year (so far), but is one of my favorite books of all time.

And those are the top 5 books I've read thus far.

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, and you can check out the full list of those who participate in the Goodreads group.

What has been your favorite book so far?  Let me know in the comments below, and maybe I will check it out.