Sunday Salon: What are your three books?

Good morning! Right now I’m sitting at my desk with a hot cup of coffee and enjoying the start of my day even though it’s still dark outside. My daughter’s birthday is tomorrow so I’m spending the next two days running around getting her tea party and presents ready. But for now I’m relaxing before the chaos starts.

As you all know I’m a college student. Next year I plan on transferring to the college of my dreams (there’s six colleges on my list!).  I’ve been spending time every week researching different colleges, application deadlines, and also the personal essay statements or required critical essay. One essay statement stood out more than the others. It asks for students to look back on their reading for the past few years and pick the three best books. Three.

Though it’s a hard question, I was so excited. A book-related question! I started compiling a huge list of possible titles to write about: Persepolis, Wit by Margaret Edson, the Fable series by Bill Willingham, and more. I started thinking about titles I could write about that might impress the admission committee but I changed my mind. I love discussing books especially those that aren’t well-known. I decided to just be me and discuss the books that I really love.  I still haven’t picked three books but my list is down to four: Bayou by Jeremy Love which is a graphic novel, Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama a few years ago, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I really think these are the four best books I’ve read in the past few years, books that have stayed with me and that I still think about months after reading them. I’ll probably spend the next few months reading these four over and over again as I write my essay.

My question for you: What are the three best books that you’ve read in the past few years? I know that’s a hard question but I’m curious to see which books you would pick. Can you pare it down to just three books?

50 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: What are your three books?

  1. Wow, what a tough question! Off the top of my head, I can’t come up with a list, but the first title that I thought of was Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.

  2. Hmmm. I am not sure what my three would be. (FYI: Absolutely True Diary of A Part Time Indian may or may not make the list).

    I think I would choose: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly, Looking For Alaska by John Green, and hmm, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Weird, and probably not the most academic.

    1. I haven’t read any of the books you’ve listed though A Northern Light and Looking for Alaska are both on my TBR list. Thanks for telling me your choices.

  3. Oh gosh that’s tough. Hm. Let’s see. I’d probably have to say The Grapes of Wrath, Germinal, and…oh this is even more tough! Do I put in Jane Eyre? We? Never Let Me Go? Little Children? I’d have to think about that third one a little more. Too many choices!

    1. LOL! When you think of your third choice, Amanda, please let me know! The Grapes of Wrath is a book I’m hoping to read next month. Never Let Me Go, Jane Eyre, and Little Children are on my TBR list now.

  4. Three! That’s so hard! I would say, The Book Thief, Mary Renault’s The Mask of Apollo, and Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith. I would have said Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series if I could have counted it as only one book…

    1. I’m going to let you count the Chaos Walking series as only one book! 🙂 The Book Thief is a lovely book. Sorry to say that I haven’t read anything by Sarah Waters yet and haven’t heard of The Mask of Apollo. Research! Thanks for telling me your pics.

  5. That’s a tough one because what I remember most are the books I just read. I think I’d probably have to say

    Same Kind of Different as Me
    Mister Pip
    Whale Talk

    1. I haven’t read any of these, Edi! I’ve seen Same Kind of Different around but haven’t picked it up to see what it’s about. I haven’t heard of Whale Talk so I will look it up.

  6. Wow. Hard question, I’ve read so many. What has stood out for me has been War and Peace. I have to agree with Jenny, The Book Thief really stuck with me. The 3rd one, a short novella, An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.

  7. What a hard question! I’d start with The Homemaker and Therese Raquin, but then I can’t decide between Let the Great World Spin, Olive Kitteridge, The Tortilla Curtain… and I just finished Cutting for Stone – that was amazing, too.

    Would love to be the admissions officer reading those answers!

  8. Hard question, but good topic. Off the top of my head, I’d pick The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safron Foer. But there are a ton of other ones I could choose, that’s tough.

    1. I love Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close! Now you’re making me want to change my list! I think I’m going to have to reread it now.The Blind Assassin is already on my TBR list so I’m going to add Fadiman also.

  9. It is SO hard to narrow it down to just three! And what if you pick the wrong ones? What you read says a lot about you! 🙂 If I HAD to choose–The God of Small Things, The Bone People, and Fall on Your Knees. But that’s right now. Could change in 5 minutes! 🙂

    1. Yes! Yes! Yes! I definitely agree with you, Trish! To write about only three books and to have that define part of who you are as a person. . . harsh.

  10. Wow, three? I will make a serious effort to come up with three and get back to you. I may even have to write a post about it!

  11. Very hard question! I agree that Bayou is amazing, but I don’t know if I would categorize it as a book – more like an experience! I guess for books I’d pick Fingersmith and Lizzie Bright and A Northern Light.

  12. Just three? My brain might implode trying to narrow it down! I think Every Book Its Reader, The Disappeared (or maybe Waiting for Columbus, I can’t decide) and To Kill a Mockingbird.

  13. Hmmmm. That is a good question! I wish I’d gotten fun essay questions like that when I applied to schools. Instead all I had to write about was why I wanted to go to school there. 😛

    I really have no idea what the 3 best books I’ve read in the last few years are. I mean, there were books I really liked but I’m not sure they were the “best,” if that makes sense. I’d want a more detailed account of what they mean by best. Well-written? Important? Or just books I enjoyed reading?

  14. Wow, this is a tough question! think I am going to have to pick 2 from among the classics that I have read recently and say my three are: East of Eden, Brideshead Revisited, and of more recent books I have read, I would pick Room, by Emma Donoghue. This is a really great question!

  15. My list changes week by week. But for now, right this very moment, my three are:

    Atonement by Ian McEwan
    The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir
    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

  16. It’s hard to pick three books so I’m not even going to try. I saw a production of Topdog/Underdog in New York starring Jeffrey Wright and it was simply amazing.

  17. Wonderful choices! I think this is such a brilliant list because it naturally and honestly reflects the diversity in your reading. I can’t image they’d be anything less than really, really impressed with you. 🙂

    Still thinking about my own choices…

  18. The last few years – hmmm. Hard, but easier than 3 best books of all time (why would anyone ask that question, it is wrong). I’d go with The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall, Liar by Justine Larbalestier and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital by Lorrie Moore for now.

    What a relief it must be to get a book related question. Are the ‘where do you see yourself’ questions cropping up all over the place, or are they quite inventive?

  19. Wow this would be a really hard question for me!!! I can’t imagine how rough this has been for you :p But I absolutely adore that Bayou is in your shortlist 🙂 This makes me really excited for you too 😀 Best of luck to you!!!

  20. Oh goodness I have a hard time coming up three favorite books of the year much less of the last couple of years. Good luck with your essay!

    Hope you and your daughter are enjoying her birthday.

  21. I’d totally blow that question because, like Tasha, I’d want to know exactly what they meant by “best.” I know my best three books of the past ten years (MELUSINE by Sarah Monette, TIGANA by Guy Gavriel Kay and WICKED by Gregory Maguire, if I avoid listing multiple books by the same author), but I’m not sure how a post-secondary institution would look upon those choices. I’d assume they would consider them too “popular,” since WICKED is the only one that’s been consistently shelved in the Fiction & Literature section and/or included on English syllabi.

  22. Okay, I’ve decided to take an easy way out.

    I’m picking my favorite children’s books of the last few years. The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrated by Ted Lewin,The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin, illustrated by Rosana Faria and The Negro Speaks Of Rivers by Langston Hughes, illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

    I’m glad that’s taken care of!

    1. LOL! You did take the easy way out! I love The Black Book of Colors and The Negro Speaks of Rivers! I’m going to try and get a copy of The Longest Night.

  23. Oh, does this mean your daughter and I share the same birthday?! Hope she had a great one :-).

    That is a great question for that school to ask, but such a hard one to answer. The “why” is probably more important to them than the “what”.

    This is definitely one I have to mull over to come up with my own favorites, but I’ll say that “The Absolutely True Diary” is a good choice (I really liked that one) — and I’m still hoping to read Oscar Wao (when you reviewed it a while ago, it went up higher in my TBR). Will have to look into what Bayou is about; sounds interesting.

    1. Valerie, you and my daughter share the same birthday while you and one of my little sisters share the same name! I’m glad you and Natasha (Heidenkind)brought up the “why”. It’s a good question and I think I should think about that. I hope you tell me what your three books are once you’ve thought about it.

  24. Hm, off the top of my head:
    The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy, Kindred by Octavia Butler, and Random Family by Adrian LeBlanc. Leaving off a ton of other worthy books, however . . .

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