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Ms. Finnegan's Top 10 Books

Looking for a good book to read?? Consider one of the following books, my top ten all-time favorites!

#1: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I read this book when I was a freshman in high school and have re-read it multiple times since then. I think Atticus Finch is one of the best characters in all of literature. One of my favorite lines from any book I have ever read is from To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus tells Scout, "You never really understand a person until you see things from his point of view." Author Harper Lee tells the story of a young girl, Scout, whose father, Atticus, has just agreed to defend an African American man, Tom Robinson in a controversial court case. The novel takes place in Alabama in the 1930s when racial tensions were quite high and few white lawyers would have taken on such a case. However, Atticus makes the difficult choice to help Tom Robinson, showing the difference one person can make. The message of the book is great, the writing is excellent, and I love the characters. I even named my dog Scout!

#2: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
I would rank Owen Meany as one of my favorite characters from literature, alongside Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Phineas (A Separate Peace). He is so unique and I have never read about another character who is anything like him. I love John Irving's writing style and how he brings everything together at the end. The novel is about a boy, Owen Meany, who, for some reason (which we later find out!) has stopped growing and has an abnormally high-pitched voice. He believes he is an "instrument of God" and is put on Earth for some extremely importance reason. The ending of this book is one of the best I have ever read.

#3: A Separate Peace by John Knowles
I first read this book over the summer before entering the eighth grade. I chose it because after reading the back of the book, I discovered it took place during World War II. At the time, I was fascinated by this time period and had to read it. I was expecting a novel that would directly involve the war, but instead, I found a novel based on friendship and betrayal, with the war always looming in the distance, but never directly shown by the author. Phineas is a gifted, almost god-like athlete at an elite prep school in New Hampshire in the 1940s. His best friend, Gene Forrester, is quiet and reserved and excels in academics, rather than athletics. When jealousy divides the two friends, their true colors are revealed. I still think Phineas is one of the greatest characters ever written.

#4: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
One of the biggest reasons I love this novel is because it introduced me to an area of the world, Afghanistan, that I was largely unfamiliar with. It tells the story of two very close friends, Hassan and Amir. Hassan is of a lower social class than the wealthy Amir, which contributes to one of the primary conflicts early on in the novel. One of the best messages in this novel is the idea that you can atone for your mistakes and "be good again".

#5: My Losing Season by Pat Conroy
Pat Conroy is one of the most gifted writers I have ever read. You can picture everything he describes as if it is right in front of you. This is the true story of Conroy's experience as a student at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, and his time spent playing on the school basketball team. He has mixed feelings about his time at the school and at one time was asked not to return to the campus because of the negative portrayal of his time there. In great detail he describes the agonizing workouts with the team, as well as his highest moments of success on the court. You don't have to be a basketball fan to appreciate this novel. He also reveals his tumultuous relationship with his father and the impact it had on him as a teenager.

The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
I picked up this book simply because I was bored and was looking for a new book to start. I did not think I would enjoy it because it is non-fiction, which I usually find less enjoyable than fiction. The book is a memoir of J.R. Moehringer, a boy growing up outside New York City with his mother. His father disappeared from his life when he was too young to really remember him. J.R.'s father is a disc jockey on a New York radio station, so J.R. becomes fascinated by "the voice", the only connection he has with his father. J.R. becomes fascinated by the neighborhood bar where his uncle and many of his friends spend their time. Eventually, his Uncle Charlie and his friends take J.R. under their wing and provide the male influence he was lacking and yearning for so much. I think I enjoyed this book so much because it was true (surprising since I generally do not enjoy non-fiction!) and because it was so well-written. You could picture the characters as he described them and felt like you were there alongside J.R.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
If you have read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, you will almost certainly enjoy The Five People You Meet in Heaven, a second novel by the author. After dying in a freak amusement park accident, Eddie, a maintenance worker meets five people who he unintentionally impacted over the course of his life. I love the message of this book, that you can have an impact on someone and never even know it! Very inspiring and entertaining book. Also, it's very easy to read and keeps you wanting to turn to the page.

The Alchemist
by Paolo Coehlo