What's on Your Bookshelf? My 17 Top Books of all Time....

Real Estate Agent with Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) DRE# 00809499

I love to read. I'll read anything that's well-written.  Don't care about the subject.

Although in general, I don't read political books, romance novels, or mysteries (although Angels and Demons knocked me out!). For the last few years I've kept a journal of books I read.  I rate 'em 1 to 10.  That way when someone asks me for a recommendation, I just scan the 10's.  Pretty cool.

I have tried to remember books I've read through the years, but it's hard. Ones like A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Exodus I'll always remember, although I read them years ago.   Loved the Agony and the Ecstasy (About Michelangelo - read it every time I go to Europe).  And East of Eden.... probably read it 20 years ago, and the part about "you MAY" versus "you SHALL" had ever-lasting impact.  Mr. God, This is Anna.... has helped me appreciate what I HAVE, not mourn what I have LOST. Helped me deal with the death of my brother, Joe.

So here they are... in no particular order.  The ones that have stuck with me as lifetime favorites.

1. Three Cups of Tea - life changing. We are all citizen's of the world. And we can make a difference.

2. Seabiscuit - Great story and read about the race horse. Wow.

3. Touch the Top of the World.. Eric Weinheimer  An amazing man who climbs Mt. Everest, and all top peaks of the world... BLIND.

4. Exodus... A classic set during the formaion of Isreal.   Powerful.

5. The Agony and the Ecstasy - About the life of Michelangelo. Incredible.

6. East of Eden - Another classic. Just... fabulous.

7. The Kite Runner - the recollection of a young boy growing up in Afghanistan... terrific.

8.  Devil in the White City - You're in for a wild ride, here.  Set during the Chicago World's Fair in 1896(?) as a serial killer comes to town.  Unbelievably fascinating. A true story.

9.  The Glass Castle - Gripped me to the quick.  A powerful story.  Beautifully written.  Heart-wrenching, yet joyous.

10. West into the Night - Beryl Markham. About a woman pilot in the bush.  So beautifully written, Hemingway decides he is not a writer after reading this.

11. A Prayer for Owen Meany - You just have to read this.   Plow through the first 100 pages, then you can't put it down.  Amazing.

12. The Red Tent - Powerful novel based on a little known character in the bible.

13. Mister God, This is Anna - Fynn (?) A simple book.  I don't know anyone else who has read it.  But it has stuck with me for 30 years, and keeps coming back.

14. Snow Falling on Cedars - Guterson  Incredibly beautifully written. 

15. Eat Right for Your Type - d'Adamo -  A life-changing book about overall health.  This has made everything in my life come together.

16. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver gets it.  Her wrap-up at the end knocked me out.  All of her books are tops.

17. The Sociopath Next Door - You will see people you know here... and it will scare the crap out of you.

 PS - I have to add Beach Music by Pat Conroy... awesome.

So what are your favorite books?  What have I missed?

Posted by


Your Fair Oaks Realtor for homes for sale in Fair Oaks and the Sacramento Area of California.... I'm your gal (Sally Dunbar). I'm occasionally knowledgable, periodically humorous, and always willing to tell you everything I know.  What more could you ask for?

Here are the newest listings for Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Carmichael, Gold River, and Roseville - all CA, of course.

More Blog posts by Sally Dunbar at www.FairOaksHomesAndMore.comSally's Website at www.sallydunbar.com to search for all homes in the MLS, and for tons of information for buyers and sellers.  You'll find schools information, market statistics... you name it, I got it!  Come visit me.




Sally Dunbar, 35 year Broker Associate, Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks, CA (916) 524-1548, SDunbar@GoLyon.com "Your Fair Oaks Realtor"


This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
ActiveRain Community
POSITIVE ATTITUDE for the Weary Soul
Club Chaos
Diary of a Realtor
ActiveRain Library Station
favorite books
top books to read
top 20 books

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Chris Ann - Listen, twin... you would love them all.

Steve - I DID love Firestarter, all of Dan Brown's books (I encouraged my daughters, Mom, and daughter's boyfriend to read Angels and Demons  before we went to Europe.  christy was reading it all night on our first night in London.  she couldn't stop.  As we are approaching Rome, we are mapping out the sites, then were ecstatic to discover our hotel was a few blocks from one of the key sites.  Before unpacking, we set off to find the St Theresa in Ecstasy site.  It wasn't on any map back then, so was hard to find... a real challenge.  Now there are A&D tours!

And the Bourne Identity was a gripper.  Couldn't put it down.  Go on vacation, and tell me some more good books.

Aug 28, 2009 03:43 AM #11
Tom Boos
Sine & Monaghan Realtors, Real Living - Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Providing the very best of service to Sellers and

I loved Exodus and East of Eden.  I'm going to checkout some of your other favorites. Thanks for the list.

Aug 28, 2009 04:11 AM #12
Kate Wheeler
Country Homes and Land Murphy NC Realtor - Murphy, NC
CCIM - Murphy NC Real Estate for Sale

I love to read too Sally.  It's not a life-changer, but one I read and enjoyed recently was Outliers.  It is a fascinating look at the sociological reasons behind such diverse subjects as why Korean airplanes had such high crash rates and why Bill Gates and Steve Jobs became computer geniuses.

Aug 28, 2009 08:51 AM #13
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Kate - that sounds interesting.  I'll check into it.  thanks.

Aug 28, 2009 12:00 PM #14
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

OK... I also loved "the Spirit caches you and then you fall down" about a Hmong family with an epileptic daughter, and the cultural/language divides we have.  Also Bel Canto, and The Prince of Tides, and Banker to the World (about micro lending).

Aug 28, 2009 04:31 PM #15
Jim Hale
Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website

I have only read six of your 17.  But I agree that those are all time.  I'll try to work in one of the others sometime soon.

Just reading you speaking of reading makes me want to go sell some more real estate so I can spend more time on writing my own great American novel.

Aug 28, 2009 07:03 PM #16
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

jim - I'll read it!  what's it about.  Are you r

Aug 29, 2009 01:36 AM #17
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

Sally, I am a reader also but either go with anything by Fern Michaels, Sandra Brown, Zig Ziglar, Stephen Covey, Gary Keller, and anything motivating...

Aug 29, 2009 03:22 PM #18
Sherry Siegel, Managing Broker, EcoBroker, ABR
BrokersGroup, serving Sequim and Port Angeles - Sequim, WA

When readers list their favorites, it's time to grab pen & paper (or mouse and word doc). So I'll be copying a few into a Must Read list after closing off AR tonight. My go to's, when I'm sick but can't sleep are the old Claudia and David series by Rose Franken, written 50+ yrs ago, then all of Diana Gabaldon's series about Claire who time travels back to the 1700s and meets the love of her life. One of the most entertaining, however, is a tome by John Barth titled The Tidewater Tales. The way his characters play with words and interweave their long tale with pieces of Odysseus and other classic figures is amazing. I fell in love with this book. If you're flying from California to Europe or Australia, and begin to read it, you won't finish before you arrive. Could count as extra luggage.

Aug 31, 2009 06:26 PM #19
Tanya Nouwens
RE/MAX ROYAL (JORDAN) INC. / Tanya Nouwens Inc. www.readysetsold.ca - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

Sally, I've read about a third of your top 17. Great list to pick from. Two of my all-time favourites are:

1. Beach Music by Pat Conroy -- The first few pages will grab you and then you can't put it down. Heart-wrenching, sad, inspirational, a wee bit of history too -- all things that add up to a great story to learn from.

2. The Alienist by Caleb Carr -- Fictional story about one of the first criminal profilers and all the resistance he had to deal with to solve murders.

At the moment, I'm trying to finish The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova -- 600+ pages of....a vampire story that I should have stopped reading about 550 pages ago.  Aaarrgh!

Thanks for sharing!

Tanya in Montreal

Sep 02, 2009 01:55 AM #20
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Tanya - You should be in my book group.

I forgot Beach Music - LOVE LOVE, LOVEd it.  I really like him.  And I did read the alienist along time ago, and liked it alot.

If you ever move to the Sacramento area, join my group!

Kate - Outliers is next on my list.

Sherry - Tidewater Tales sound interesting.

How can I keep working when there are so many good books to read....

Sep 02, 2009 06:48 AM #21
Michelle Viggiano
Four Winds Healthy Home Carpet & Air Duct Cleaning - Scottsdale, AZ

Hi Sally, I also love "West into the Night" I read it over twenty years ago on a plane, and it was the first and only time I was disappointed we were landing as I had to put that book down. That is a beautiful list you have, great books.

I will share with you a few of my favorite books.  These are perhaps not the "best" books I have read, but in many ways they are more important to me than that.  These are the potent books that have stayed with me vividly long after initially reading them.

Other Voices, Other Rooms~ Truman Capote ~ read this book when I was twelve and remember it as if it were yesterday. Lyrical detail and written so you feel and smell the events as they unfold, much like you do when you are dreaming, it's as if you are there but no one sees you.

The God of Small Things~ Arundhati Roy ~ a lush tale about growing up in India among the stark beauty of nature and the equally stark nature of humanity.

Ficcones~ Jorge Louis Borges ~ short stories by one of the great Latin writers.  Brilliantly subtle messages that at times implode upon you with their acute powers of observation. A different translation of these stories is titiled Labyrinths.

Scandal~ Shusaki Endo - set in Japan, a Catholic writer discovers remnants of a life that he believes is not his own, but rather someone is out as an imposter to discredit his high moral standing. Powerful writing, unforgettable characters. The synopsis or reviews of this book never seem to touch on the deeper issues this novel is exploring within Japanese culture or any culture for that matter.

Hawksmoor~ Peter Ackroyd ~ A gripping novel about the building of seven of the great churches in London, after the huge fire and the secrets that are buried within each of them. 250 years later, detective, Nicolas Haswksmoor's odyssey, revisits these same structures to research their true history and the current events that are taking place on or near these same premises. Very unique book.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat ~ Oliver Sacks ~ case studies of people with brain disorders or brain damage and how they see and feel about their world and the people who care for them. Surprising insights and viewpoints about how we experience our sensory lives.

The Map of Love~ Ahdaf Soueif ~ set in Egypt with a parallel narrative by two related Western female characters 100 years apart. Masterfully written.

The Day of the Locust~ Nathanial West ~ classic story about Hollywood and the desires as well as the expectations it spawns. 

Original Short Stories ~ Guy de Maupassant ~ Classic, brilliantly engaging stories that are delightful and leave you wondering.

Sep 08, 2009 07:13 PM #22
Jane Penttinen
V.I.P. Mortgage - Tucson, AZ
NMLS #222178

One of the best I have read is The Purpose Driven Life.  It really made me think about what's important and the human will to survive.

Sep 26, 2009 10:26 AM #23
Dina Caffrey
Coach Realtors - Rockville Centre, NY

The Poisonwood Bible and The Red Tent are two of my favorite books. If you liked The Kite Runner  A Thousand Splendid Suns was the second book.(I think I even liked it better ) Thanks for some more great suggestions.

Sep 27, 2009 11:16 PM #24
Sylvie Conde
Sutton Group-Associates Realty Inc., Brokerage - Toronto, ON
Broker, Toronto Real Estate

Sally, I have read almost everything on your list.  All great books.  The two books that first grabbed me, and made me a lover of reading, when I was VERY young, were Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.  I'm also a great lover of the classics .... For Whom The Bell Tolls, War and Peace, The Count of Monte Cristo, Of Mice and Men ...

When I'm feeling like something less serious, I can pick up anything from Iris Johansen, as well as Grisham, Faulkner...

Sometimes I'm afraid to pick up a good book, because I won't be able to do anything else, until I've finished it. :)


Oct 10, 2009 04:56 AM #25
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

This is such a great post.  Michelle - I've passed your list on to  my daughters.  I've read some, but will read more. I want to see what has fed your amazing mind. sylvie and dina - thanks for your comments.

Oct 10, 2009 05:00 AM #26
Angie Francis
StepStone Realty LLC - Austin, TX
StepStone is Real Estate without Limits!

Thanks for your list... anyone who puts Owen Meany on their favorites list is a friend of mine.  It makes me anxious to try out some of your other suggestions.  

I've tried to keep a notebook but never seem to keep up with it.  I do love to keep my book collection so I try to keep everything I've read (unless I couldn't make it through then it's good to go back to the half-priced book store).

Oct 12, 2009 12:54 PM #27
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Angie - Yes... Owen Meany is such a terrific book.  Just amazing.  I have always kept my favorites, then decided to let the used book store keep them for me.  Now I keep my journal, although must admit I have a few dozen of my favorites that I can't part with.  And a few I buy doubles of when I see them at the used book store, so I can give them away.  I have two or three Kite Runner's just waiting for someone.

Oct 13, 2009 01:53 PM #28
Michele Malovos

Sally - These book lists are great.  I have read many of those selections and agree they are winners.  Here are a few of my favorites that have made a difference in my life.

Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Novel about a concierge in a Parisian apartment and a 12 year old resident)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (19th century Russian turmoil about love and relationships)

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (A WWII novel in two parts about Parisians fleeing the Nazi occupation in Paris and co-existing with Nazis in one village)

The Source by James Michener (Historical novel about the Jewish people)

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Moving testament to friendship in 19th century China)

Sarem by Edward Rutherford (Historical fiction about Stonehenge)

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (Depression story of an Oklahoma family's struggle)

The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (A well-laid out argument for the shift in globalization and America's need to wake up)

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (A memoir of a family's struggle in impoverished Limerick)

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck (A way to look at life with personal responsibility)

Wild Swans:  Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang (A memoir of the China's tumultuous 20th century)

Nov 05, 2010 08:00 AM #29
Sally Dunbar
Lyon Real Estate, Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento Area) - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale

Michele - I, too, have aread a number of your favorites.  But I've missed a number of them, as well.  I read the Hedgehog, snowflower and the Secret Fan, Grapes, The World is Flat, and Wild Swans.  Loved them all.

Nov 06, 2010 03:23 AM #30
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Sally Dunbar

Fair Oaks Realtor - Fair Oaks Homes for Sale
Ask me a question
Spam prevention

Additional Information