My life is an open book.

I’ve always thought that reading is the most affordable form of travel. Open a book and  you can be instantly transported to a different place or a different time.

In 2005, I started keeping track of my reading. Life was more hectic then, with kids still at home, and I read only ten books that year. In empty-nest 2010, I added twenty-five books to my list, and thus far in 2011, I’ve read fifteen more. Last week, I hit a milestone, adding the 100th book to my list.

More time to read now that it’s just us chickens!

At, you can make a “bookprint” of the five favorite books you’ve read: On their “wall” of “most-liked” books are, predictably:

To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, The Diary of Anne Frank and, of course, Catcher in the Rye.

What’s on your all-time top five list?

Mine, not necessarily in order: Anna Karenina, My Antonia, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Les Miserables, and, of course, the Bible.  But wait – five is not enough! I must add The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Sound and The Fury, The House of Mirth,  Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter…and so many more!

From The Inferno: not exactly bedtime reading

Of course, a list of five is so limiting. Here is a site that lists “The Man’s Essential Library” of 100 must-read books: And here’s a meaty list of “The 100 Essential Books You Should Have Read In College”:

“My Antonia” makes most must-read lists. If you read it in high school, it deserves a re-read, as its themes are better appreciated with age.

And here are a few lists within my last 100 book list:

Recommended fiction:

London by Edward Rutherford. 1000+ pages but worth the journey!

Home and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I think this author is the Willa Cather of our time.

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. A remarkable story and moving read.

The Blindness of the Heart by Julia Francke. A disturbing and provocative account of life in Weimar Germany

Gilead won a Pulitzer prize in 2005

Recommended non-fiction:

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. A spiritual coming-of-age classic.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. A Holocaust survivor, Frankl persuasively argues that there is meaning in even the most horrific of life circumstances.

The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright. A chilling chronicle of the personalities, influences and events that led to 9/11. Pulitzer-prize winner and absolute must-read.

Read this book!

Not recommended: Books that were Ho-Hum

I rarely meet a book I don’t like. Hey, I even enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love. But here are a few that I considered time-wasters:

Birds in Fall by Brad Kessler

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

“In my humble opinion, it’s not worth reading if it’s not about chickens”

Please send me your top five lists and other recommendations – I need to get started on my next 100 reads!

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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9 Responses to My life is an open book.

  1. Ang says:

    About to start “Bossy Pants” by Tina Fey. Don’t think it will make it to my top 5 but I am sure I will laugh….

  2. Katherine says:

    Wow – I had no idea I was typical until I read the list of generally favored books. Ah well. I would add “Tender is the Night” and “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Both I read first in high school – AND had to write 25 page reports on – and yet I still love them so they must be good.

    “Snow in August” is terrific – if you’re willing to suspend disbelief in the last chapter. For that I give it an A minus.

    Happy reading! What’s better than reading? Not much. Wait – lying next to your dog reading, that’s what!

  3. polloamigo says:

    I would include Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Will give the rest some thought. Look forward to hearing what others like too.

  4. jess says:

    I have a few recs, of very different genres and styles, but if you give them a try let me know.

    Shantaram, G. D. Roberts. Seemed daunting to me at first, a monster of a book about a drug addict in India on the surface….but a beautiful story of life and love and experiences.

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, J. S. Foer. Have I talked to you about this one before? It is apparently being made into a movie with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. PLEASE read the book before you see the film. A post-Sept-11th story told from the eyes of a young boy and an old grandmother. Beautiful.

    The Stories of John Cheever. A great set of short stories, his most famous is The Swimmer.

    A Prayer for Owen Meany, J. Irving. I think you’ll really like this one….I read it right after Jason died and it filled a small place in my heart.

    Keep us posted on what you’re reading!

    • polloplayer says:

      Yes, Prayer for Owen Meany is a great one and one I’ve intended to re-read. Haven’t read Extremely Loud yet but putting it on the list, as well as Cheever. So many books…

  5. Carly Bass says:

    I heart this post. I have been tracking the books I have been reading since 2000. Recently I created a list of 30 things I want to do before I am 30 (I still have a year left) and on the top of the list was read as many of the books (well all the books) on BBC’s top 100 list..
    Why this list? I have no idea – I just picked one and jumped in….So far the books off the list are great but have not made my all time favorite list…That would be (this is really hard to choose since I read a lot…but I have read these books multiple times)
    1. The Power of One (Bryce Courtneay)..really anything by him AH-mazing
    2. Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers)…again all her books are incredible
    3. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy) .. LOVED IT
    4. Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austin)…I just love her books
    5. The Shack (William P. Young)…gave me chills

    And because I cannot pick just 5…here are some others you should read..
    6. Same Kind of Different as Me (Denver Moore and Ron Hall)
    7. The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein)
    8. A Lineage of Grace (Francine Rivers)

    I have a ton more but for the sake of length I will stop here….

  6. Katherine says:

    Oh my gosh YES – A Prayer for Owen Meany!!!! SOOOOO GOOD! (All caps an actual nod to the book.)

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