Take Ten - Sam's Picks

I live in north Raleigh with my husband, Bill, and our dear golden retriever, Holly. My greatest joy is visiting our son, Simon, in New York City. Books and music are integral to who I am, so becoming a part of the Quail Ridge Books family has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life.

There are so many great books, but when deciding what my ten favorites are, I realized that they all have something in common: I love them as much for their exquisite prose as for the stories they tell. My list includes five classics and five contemporary works that I believe are destined to become classics. Note from Mamie: Samantha is also our go-to person for all things music.

Dombey and Son (Penguin Classics) Cover Image
By Charles Dickens, Andrew Sanders (Introduction by), Andrew Sanders (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780140435467
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - November 26th, 2002

First the Classics:

Anything by Charles Dickens: My favorite is Dombey and Son. This lesser known book contains all of the elements of a great Dickens novel: pathos, wit, empathy and fantastic prose.

The House of Mirth Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307949523
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Books - June 5th, 2012

Anything by Edith Wharton: My favorites are House of Mirth and Ethan Frome. A product of New York society, Wharton brought her personal experience of that social milieu to her novels, so perhaps it was not so much of a stretch for her to write great books about the New York upper class. But her ability to portray the lives of the simple, poverty-stricken folks of the northeast U.S. is pure genius.

Anna Karenina (Margellos World Republic of Letters) Cover Image
By Leo Tolstoy, Marian Schwartz (Translator), Gary Saul Morson (Editor)
ISBN: 9780300216820
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yale University Press - July 14th, 2015

It took more than a decade for Schwartz to complete this translation. Her objective: to give us the text that Tolstoy intended. Even if you've read this novel multiple times, this translation will give you a different, more satisfying experience.

Bartleby the Scrivener (Art of the Novella) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780974607801
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House Publishing - May 1st, 2004

Note: This book shows as $10, but is $13.

This is the novella that produced the phrase that appears on my ever-present tote bag: "I would prefer not to.” A heartbreaking tale of a man adrift.

St. Mawr & the Man Who Died Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394700717
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Vintage - February 12th, 1959

This is a stunner of a book. In this obscure novella, Jesus is taken from the cross before he has died. Thus, when he revives, he is not resurrected. He is still human and so has to come to grips with the pain, disillusionment and questions about the meaning of life that we mere mortals face. I read this for the first time as a young girl on a cliff overlooking the ocean at Big Sur. It was a huge influence then. I've recently reread it, and it is as powerful today as it was then and there. 

This book is only available as a used book. Find it here: http://www.biblio.com/search.php?author=lawrence&title=man+who+died&keyisbn=

A Gentleman in Moscow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670026197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - September 6th, 2016

This is the best book I have read it ages. It deserves the Pulitzer Prize. Towles’ writing is gorgeous, witty, brilliant, and a sheer joy to experience.

Everything Beautiful Began After Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061661488
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - July 5th, 2011

A book I wish everyone would read. Van Booy constructs a clever plot, and reveals it in language that is intelligent and insightful while completely accessible.

All the Light We Cannot See Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501173219
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - April 4th, 2017

Perhaps the most perfectly constructed novel I've encountered. I hated for it to end. I think that says it all.

The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316055444
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - April 7th, 2015

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014, this novel is an exceptional feat of storytelling. I was amazed by Tartt’s ability to get inside the head of a little boy and follow him through early adulthood.

H Is for Hawk Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802124739
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - March 8th, 2016

The one nonfiction book on my list reads like a novel. I was captivated by Macdonald’s willingness to reveal her very soul in dealing with her grief at the death of her father, and her relationship with the hawk with whom she shared so much in an effort to overcome her loss. She helps us to understand the gifts and limitations of inter-species relationships.