On My Bookshelf, No. 12

To see previous posts in this series, click here.

This is my bookshelf.


Here is a snippet of what’s on it, ten at a time.


We Were the Mulvaneys (1996) by Joyce Carol Oates

Wise Blood (1952) by Flannery O’Connor

The Book of the City of Ladies (circa 1405) by Christine de Pizan

Good-bye, I Love You (1987) by Carol Lynn Pearson

Gilead (2004) by Marilynne Robinson

The Lovely Bones (2002) by Alice Sebold

The Pilot’s Wife (1998) by Anita Shreve

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (2000) by Dai Sijie

American Wife (2008) by Curtis Sittenfeld

Joy in the Morning (1963) by Betty Smith


Have you read any of these?

51 thoughts on “On My Bookshelf, No. 12

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  1. I’ve read the Flannery O’Connor, Marilyn Robinson’s “Gilead” and “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. I absolutely agree that O’Connor was a writer ahead of her time. I remember one great quote. She was asked why southern writers always wrote about insane people (or something to that effect.) She responded: “Perhaps it’s because we can still recognize one.”

    Marilyn Robinson’s “Gilead” definitely deserved the Pulitzer Prize it won in 2005. You have a great bookshelf!

    1. Robinson’s work is all good! She is amazing. I love that quote from O’Connor. I had not heard it before. Thanks for sharing. Have you read the autobiography of her that came out a few years ago, by Brad Gooch? It was fascinating.

  2. American Wife was one of the first LW reads. I still remember being frustrated with Alice’s refusal to assert herself and being thrilled when she finally did somewhat! 🙂 Flannery O’Connor and I have yet to make acquaintance! (I know…shameful, isn’t it?) I love love love Marilynne Robinson’s writing. Should reread Gilead and Home for blog posts! And I have a copy of Lila at home but it has yet to make it to the top of one of my TBR piles! 🙂 Own another 4 that I have yet to read; it is the story of my life! 🙂 I should read something other than A Tree Grows in Brooklyn authored by Betty Smith–I can imagine anything she writes is well done. I need to check out Pizan and Pearson. Have you read Good-bye, I Love You?

    1. Yes, I’ve read all of these. 🙂 Good-bye, I Love You is about a Mormon woman who married a gay man without realizing and how she learns to love and let go and he ends up dying of AIDS. It is a true story and when I read it, I realized that I was not alone in my experiences.

  3. Did you like ‘We Were the Mulvaneys’? Oates created kind of a mythical Chautauqua County, which was where I grew up, and so of course I’ve always been drawn to her books, and The Mulvaneys is one of my favorites. I came late to Robinson and Stegner; I REALLY have enjoyed Stegner!

    1. I really liked Mulvaneys. I didn’t realize it was somewhat related to Faulkner, but cool! I know a lot of people didn’t like it, because it is dark and depressing, but I like that type of literature. Stegner is AMAZING!

  4. The only one I’ve read on that list is American Wife, but Marilynne Robinson has been on my to-read list for a while. In fact, I saw her latest book in her quartet, Lila, in the newspaper today. I didn’t realise that Gilead is the first in a series.

  5. Read ‘The pilot’s wife’. If I remember it correctly – was something about a crash where the pilot was suspected to have played a role. Irish liberation army connection, I think.

      1. Yep, that’s the one. It was my first Shreve book, and I thought it was terrific, though sad, about a woman who finds she knows nothing about her own marriage.

  6. I have! We Were the Mulvaneys was the first Joyce Carol Oates book I read, years ago. I loved the family dynamic in that book. I’ve read a few more of hers and enjoy her writing, but sometimes I need a break from her intensity. Also read The Pilot’s Wife and The Lovely Bones for my book club. Great post!

  7. You have a lot of comments so far! In the good category I would put The Lovely Bones, Gilead, and The Pilot’s Wife. In the classic but difficult category I would put Wise Blood. Joy in the Morning is disappointingly bad, and I wasn’t impressed at all by Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, which I thought was condescending to the girl (although she gets them in the end). I haven’t read the others. I have a love/hate relationship with Joyce Carolyn Oates.

  8. Yes! I enjoyed We Were the Mulvaneys, It reminds me how one event can throw the entire family off its trajectory. The Lovely Bones is set near my hometown. It gripped me so much that I left the office and sat on a bench in the parking lot to finish it. The Pilot’s Wife forced me to thrown out old letters from an old flame (and I was fortunate to meet Anita Shreve and tell her so). And scenes from Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress are still vivid.

    1. I love that a book made you clear out old letters! I was actually thinking yesterday about how I had shredded and thrown away some letters from an old boyfriend. I was reading Marie Kondo’s book about tidying and she suggests throwing all papers away. So it reminded me of that time I did it!

  9. The Lovely Bones! A friend gave that to me as I was in the hospital with my dad dying. The story really helped distract me and, oddly, brought me comfort.
    Balzac! I adored this story, and it really taught me about something I did not learn in school.
    And American Wife: amazing! Quite a page turner.

  10. I’ve read The Lovely Bones and it was both disturbing and beautiful. My recommendation is reading her memoir, Lucky. In parts, it’s very graphic but you begin to understand the kind of person she becomes. It’s very well written in my opinion.

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