Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Best Of: My Sister's Book Recommendations

You notice I didn't say "Best Reads Ever". I'm finding that dragging a top ten list out of people is no easy task. I thought it was a challenge to get ten out of my mom, but this deal with my sister was no cakewalk either! Straight away, she declared that since I didn't give her fair warning before she left home to visit my parents down here in IN, and that she couldn't peruse her bookshelves in Minnesota, that I would just have to suffice with her more pleasurable reads that she could think of. So before I list them, I will preface it by saying that my sister is not a big book-reader. She is an artist and an indie movie critic (she has a day job, but that just provides cash to support her habits), which I think makes the list all the more fascinating. She has great taste in music, and has her own movie blog here. So here goes:

The Road - Cormac McCarthy: This one stayed with me for a long time as well. I'm very excited to see my Viggo tackle this little project.

Planet Hong Kong - David Bordwell
: All about Hong Kong film, which is my sister's passion.

The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom - Slavomir Rawicz
: A true story about three prisoners who break out from a Siberian prison and walk to India, where they find freedom.

Jimmy Corrigan - Chris Ware
: One my sister's favorite graphic novels, differentiated by its incredible sense of detail. Also a bit of quirky humor.

In the Heart of the Sea - Nathanial Philbrick
: A true story about a group of men whose 19th-century whaleship went down in the Pacific ocean, and survived on a lifeboat for 93 days. This same author wrote the amazing "Mayflower", which is probably my favorite historical non-fiction book of all time.

Coming Home Crazy - Bill Holm
: An essayist relays his thoughts about traveling in China in the '80's. The stories rang pretty true to my sister, who spent over a year in China, studying the language and art.

The Unsettling of America - Wendell Berry: One of the greatest thinkers of all time is a farmer. Everyone should be required to read this.

Red Azalea - Anchee Min: A riveting memoir of Communist China in the Cultural Revolution.

In Defense of Food - Michael Pollen: The amazing follow-up to "An Omnivore's Delimma".

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles - Haruki Murakami: "Elements of the fantastic and humor into tales of modern alienation". Haruki's best.


Unknown said...

Very interesting list! A lot of books I've never heard of - I'll have to go and take a further look at some of them.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - I sort of expected this knowing my sister. After looking them up, there are more than a couple I think I need to read!

Beth F said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth F said...

My husband loved The Road. I've read lots of McCarthy, but not that one . . . yet.

Several of the books are not my taste (Hong Kong film?)

I'll have to check out the GN -- I'm trying to get back into the medium.

I have read Philbrick, but not this one; I do own the book, it's waiting in my TBR.

And Wendell Berry belongs on everyone's list of favorites.

I've been a Michael Pollen fan since his Botany of Desire. There is a lot of overlap among his books and I didn't read In Defense of Food because after reading his first two books, his blog, and many of his articles, I think I've got the idea! He is well worth reading.

Wind-up Bird Chronicles is another one in my TBR (I have the audio).

Violet said...

This is an interesting list.

I have The Road in my TBR since a long time. I even started it once but I found it too bleak for my then mood. I'll definitely get back to it though.

I have read and loved 2 other books by Anchee Min. Red Azalea is on my wishlist.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Beth - she does have an eclectic list, but that is what I love about my sister. She has a passion for Hong Kong film like no other person I've ever known, but I wouldn't know what to do with such a book! She doesn't mess around with drivel, that's for sure.

Violet - The Road is bleak, but I just loved it. My mom hated it. I don't think there is any in-between.

Unknown said...

That's a serious list. Lots of very good stuff on it. I've read The Road, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, In The Heart of theSea. And I love Hong Kong film.

Your sister and I should do lunch.

P.S. Thanks for the award, too.

Sandy Nawrot said...

James - Of all the people that read this blog, I really thought that you and Matt would appreciate my sister's tastes. You would get along smashingly! (And you're welcome, you deserve the award!)

Kathleen said...

Wow, what an eclectic list. I'm looking forward to reading The's been on my TBR pile for far too long. I've had several people recommend Murakami to me and need to buy one to read...maybe it will be this one?

Darlene said...

This is an interesting list. I've only read The Road. Your sister seems to have some pretty heavy reading tastes although a few of these sound quite good.

ds said...

Another interesting, eclectic list (I am sensing a family trait ;) ). I do love Murakami, and I agree that Wendell Berry ought to be on everyone's list: his thoughts on the environment and his own attempts at farming are profound. I need to read Mr. Pollan, though, and there are some others I'd like to check out. Thanks!

Literary Feline said...

I'm not sure I'd do very good at coming up with a top 10 list either. At least one that was static. Your sister has quite a collection of movies there on her list. I can see the indie movie critic in her coming out in her choices. :-)

Unknown said...

I'm probably one of the few people who didn't like The Road. I thought it was slow and I didn't care for the authors style of writing. Some of the other books on her list look interesting though!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Kathleen - I know, I need more Murakami in my life. She has inspired me!

Dar - it is pretty heavy, but my sister doesn't do light reads. She likes things that make you think!

ds - I have the Berry book on my list now. I feel like an oaf that I am a farmer's daughter and I haven't read it!

Wendy - I would be pretty hard-pressed to come up with one too, espcially if I didn't have any warning!

Shelley - well my mom would agree with you. She HATED it. And I can totally understand. It is pretty dark!

Kathie Smith said...

Do I need to defend myself? I guess not. Although I read like a snail, I like to read. I also have a good friend who owns a bookstore, so I'm always looking for good excuses to buy books!

I would say the one book on this list that has a very specific target audience is the Hong Kong film book. As a HK film fan I get very tire of the choppy-socky stereotype that the films get. Bordwell, an academic for sure, added some brains in my guilty pleasures. The analyses of the films are just brilliant.

Hopefully I have inspired some reads!

Melody said...

Interesting list!
I've read The Road and think it's an okay read. I think it's the writing style that gets to me... and I look forward to reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles.

Melissa said...

That's a very interesting list! I have In the Heart of the Sea and The Road, but haven't read them yet. The Wind-up Bird Chronicles has been on my WL forever!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I really have to get my hands on Haruki Murakami's works. I know I have been avoiding them. I should read your sister's selection. I miss my hometown Hong Kong!

bookworm said...

I have been inspired to read two from Kath's list, The Long Walk and In the Heart of the Sea. Most of her choices, knowing the girl like I do, are WAY over my head, but these two sounded like something I would enjoy.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Kath - no of course you don't have to defend yourself! I knew you would bring an essence of "different" around here. Most of the blogging community I hang out with, with a few exceptions, read similar things. You are broadening our horizons!

Melody - I would love to hear what you think of Wind-Up Bird!

Melissa - I'm surprised at how many of these on all of your TBR lists! I am motivated to read a number of them myself!

Matt - I figured you, of all people, would appreciate the Hong Kong film book!

bookworm - so you know my sister in real life? You live in St. Paul?

Anna said...

These all sound good. The only one I've read is The Road.

Diary of an Eccentric