One of the services that our library system offered during the Winter Reading Program was a free personalized picks reading list. I often having trouble finding books that suit my rather eclectic taste, so I thought: why not let someone else have a whack at picking out my reading material? I filled out the survey, and included about twenty titles of books that I had read in the last year or two that were very enjoyable. A few days later, a librarian e-mailed me a personalized list of ten books she thought I might enjoy. So here it is:
1 Confessions Of A Sociopath – a biography by M.E. Thomas
“A diagnosed non-criminal sociopath explains how her charisma and penchant for convincing lies enables her to influence and seduce others, offering insight into her system of ethics while offering advice on how to manage a relationship with a sociopath.”
My take: Good grief, what kind of a person do you think I am?! Not interested.
2 An Altar In The World – by Barbara Brown Taylor
“…how to discover altars everywhere we go and in nearly everything we do as we learn to live with purpose, pay attention, slow down, and revere the world we live in.”
My take: Whaaaat? I don’t do well with non-fiction books that are about vague concepts and ideas. I have to be able to see the picture in my head of what is going on, which is why I do well with biographies, fiction, and non-fiction like disasters and road trips.
3 Touching Spirit Bear – by Ben Mickaelsen
Fiction about a young man with an anger problem that is sent to an Alaskan island, where he has an encounter with a huge spirit bear, which changes his life.
My take: I actually got the book, read a bit, but didn’t find it interesting.
4 Castles In The Air – by Judy Corbett
Judy and Peter buy a 500-year-old castle in Wales, which they move into and renovate.
My take: This is more like it! Some parts of this non-fiction book sounded as if Judy might have embellished slightly, but it was a great read.
5 The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto – by Mitch Albom
“…the story follows Frankie Presto, a war orphan born in a burning church, through his extraordinary journey around the world. Raised by a blind guitar teacher in Spain and gifted with a talent to change people’s lives—using six mysterious blue strings—Frankie navigates the musical landscape of the twentieth century, from the 1950s jazz scene to the Grand Ole Opry to Elvis mania and Woodstock, all the while searching for his childhood love.”
My take: The story seemed too odd and disjointed; I didn’t get very far into it.
6 Dog Song – by Gary Paulsen
A teenage boy travels 1,400 miles by dogsled as he ponders his place in the world.
My take: A well-written book by Mr. Paulsen! The author focuses on one character, which I enjoy far more than books that have dozens of characters. I like the clean, get-back-to-the-basics feel of this and other Paulsen books.
7 The Pocket Wife – by Susan Crawford
This suspense/mystery is about a woman with bipolar disorder whose memory is so bad that she thinks she may have killed her friend, who lives down the street and was found dead in her living room.
My take: Excellent who-did-it novel! The author makes you feel like you’re inside the tormented mind of Dana.
8 The Brimstone Wedding – by Barbara Vine
“A gracious, dignified woman, who’s dying in an English nursing home, reveals the secrets of her erotic past to her young caretaker.”
My take: I indicated on the survey that I wasn’t interested in books where the main theme was the character’s sex life… (sigh)
9 The Poisonwood Bible – by Barbara Kingsolver
A fanatical preacher drags his wife and four daughters to a primitive area of the Belgian Congo in 1959 to try to evangelize the natives.
My take: Excellent read! The wife and four daughters – none of whom initially want to be there – take turns telling the story. The personality of each character is unique and interesting. The story stretches across several decades, and kept my attention to the very last page.
10 Pastrix : the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner & saint – by Nadia Bolz-Weber
Nadia, former stand-up comic and alcoholic, becomes a Christian then becomes a female pastor to people struggling with addictions and people with alternative lifestyles.
My take: What a fascinating biography! I loved Nadia’s passion for being a spiritual leader to individuals who felt that they wouldn’t fit into a traditional church.
So there you have it. Five books got the thumbs-up, and five books got the thumbs-down. For not knowing me at all, the librarian didn’t do a bad job at making this list.