One of the great suprise benefits of Peace Corps is the large amount of books available – in each region’s volunteer transit house, there are libraries for Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees to take from, with just about every book you can imagine. And with tons of downtime, we definitely take advantage of the opportunity to read. I love books more than just about anything else, and for years I’ve wanted a chance like this – to sit down and just READ all of the books that have piled up in the last several years when I barely had time to do anything, much less kill a few hours with a good novel. That’s one of the many things that has changed in my life now: plenty of time to read.

Since I may never have such an opportunity again, I’ve decided to keep this chronological record of the books I’ve read so far.

Expect the list to grow exponentially as time goes on 🙂

** Book I was reading for a second (or third) time
* Book I read for the first time and recommend highly

**A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith (my very favorite book)
**Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone (I’ve decided to read the series again for maybe the fourth time…)
**Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets
**Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban
**Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire
*Tell No One, Harlan Colben (fast thrillers, kind of in the vein of Dan Brown, quick and fun)
Hold Tight, Harlan Colben
Wit (play)
**The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (another favorite)
The DaVinci Code, Dan Brown (I’ve always liked Dan Brown and this is his most popular but I like Angels and Demons much better)
*Water for Elephants (wonderful)
*Little Bee (also wonderful)
Midwives (kind of boring)
The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks (dreck)
*The Kite Runner (amazing, highly recommended)
**Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
The Lost Symbol (my least favorite of Dan Brown)
*The Glass Castle
A Time To Kill, John Grisham (I was so disappointed by this book…I actually hate it a little…really sexist and unrealistic)
The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd (boring, a little silly)
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Dry, Augusten Burrows
*Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage, Elizabeth Gilbert (I enjoyed this despite her “cutesy” writing style, a lot of interesting bits
*Jemima J (yay chick lit)
**Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince
**Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (not as good as Committed)
No Second Chance, Harlan Coben
The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America, Bill Bryson (this was funny but much too long)
Everyone Worth Knowing, Laura Wiesberger (ick)
*The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (amazing)
Wringer, Jerry Spinelli
Mango Elephants in the Sun: How Life In An African Village Let Me Be In My Skin, Susana Herrera (this book is about a Volunteer’s service in Cameroon. In a lot of ways it’s similar to my experience, but the author is kind of a dumbass…for example, she stops taking her anti-malaria medicine and is then suprised when she gets malaria and almost dies…lol)
*Inherit the Wind, Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee (play, I really enjoyed this)
Mona Lisa Smile (I really wanted to watch this movie again, but had to settle for the novelization…it wasn’t as good)
The Good Body, Eve Ensler
*Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (this was awesome, and I loved the movie too)
*A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini (wonderful)
A Long Way Down, Nick Hornby
*Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden (amazingly detailed)
A is for Alibi, Sue Grafton (a really long series of crime thrillers about a private eye, there’s one for every letter of the alphabet. I liked the main character a lot)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
The Abstinence Teacher, Tom Perrotta
*The Pearl, John Steinbeck
**Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
*I’m A Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away, Bill Bryson
**Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt
Dismantled, Jenifer McMahon
Twilight, Stephanie Meyer (I tried so, so hard to like this. I really did. But seriously, it’s dreck)
Running with Scissors, Augusten Burrows
Hoot, Carl Hiaasen
*The Other Boyleyn Girl, Phillipa Gregory
Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safron Foer (I guess I just had heard too much praise about this before reading it, but I was really underwhelmed, it just wasn’t that great)
*The Beauty Myth, Naomi Wolf
How to be Alone, Jonathan Frazen
*The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells
**Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare
Thinner, Stephen King
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Woman at Point Zero, Nawal el Saadawi
**The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama
The Wishbones, Tom Perrotta
Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom
*’Tis, Frank McCourt (sequel to Angela’s Ashes)
Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood, Julie Gregory
Open House, Elizabeth Berg
My Horizontal Life, Chelsea Handler (disgusting, really awful)
Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris
*The Virgin’s Lover, Phillipa Gregory (historical fiction)
*The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett (amazing, highly recommended)


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Naomi Parks
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 12:53:37

    Yay. I just finished “The Kite Runner” definitely a good read. I love how reading international fiction like that can help you understand cultures better. I have a different perspective on Afghanistan now for sure.

    I love reading your blog by the way! I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself despite the incredibly different environment. I know your internet is limited and you haven’t mentioned a camera, but is there any way you can add photos every once in a while? Take care girl! 🙂


  2. Liz
    Oct 15, 2010 @ 22:11:46

    If you liked Kite Runner (you too, Naomi!) you will enjoy 1,000 Splendid Suns. Same author, about two women in Afghanistan whose lives intertwine. So so good 🙂 Also, you might like Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s about a baptist family who goes to the Congo in 1959 for a year long mission trip, it’s told from the perspective of the 4 daughters and tells how they’re forever changed by the continent. I read the three Girl with a Dragon Tattoo books this summer (Stieg Larsson) and really enjoyed those too!


    • Renee
      Oct 23, 2010 @ 10:35:01

      The Poisonwood Bible is really good, I totally recommend! I will have to keep track of your recommendations so I can get some good reading down when I eventually serve! I really enjoy your blog!


    • jessicamaureen
      Oct 29, 2010 @ 07:12:14

      Hi! I actually just did read A Thousand Spendid Suns and I really liked it! I’ve hear from a bunch of people about the Poisonwood Bible but so far I haven’t seen it in anywhere around the country, hopefully I’ll run into it soon. I have The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at my house, I’m going to read it soon. Thanks for your suggestions!


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