Avid Staff Top 10 Series: Jennifer

Chloe

Welcome to the next installment of our staff top 10 series. 

This week we are featuring the top picks of Jennifer Stephens. Jennifer is the Bookclubs Coordinator here at Avid Reader and also one of our Where The Wild Things Are staff members. She loves talking to bookclubs about great books for discussion, and is passionate about both fine Australian writing and encouraging a love of literature in the young. For our top ten series, Jennifer has chosen a beautiful collection of vintage and new classics.

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING by Milan Kundera

The Unbearable Lightness of Being tells the story of a young woman in love with a man who is torn between his love for her, his incorrigible womanising, and one of his mistresses and her humbly faithful lover. This magnificent novel juxtaposes geographically distant places, brilliant and playful reflections, and a variety of styles. [Classic/ Fiction]

MRS. DALLOWAY by Virginia Woolf

Mrs. Dalloway details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a high-society woman in post-World War I England. The novel addresses Clarissa's preparations for a party she will host that evening. With an interior perspective, the story travels forwards and back in time, and in and out of the characters' minds to construct an image of Clarissa's life and of the inter-war social structure. [Classic/ Fiction]

A SUITABLE BOY by Vikram Seth

Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find - through love or through exacting maternal appraisal - a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves. A sweeping panoramic portrait of a complex multi ethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love and ambition, humour and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette and the most appalling violence. [Fiction]

TESS OF THE D'UBERVILLES by Thomas Hardy

When Tess is driven by family poverty to claim kinship with the wealthy D'Ubervilles and seek a portion of their family fortune, meeting her cousin Alec proves to be her downfall. A very different man, Angel Clare, seems to offer her love and salvation, but Tess must choose whether to reveal her past or to remain silent in the hope of a peaceful future. [Classic Fiction]

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen

Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. [Classic]

A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century. A diary is Nao's only solace, and it will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox - possibly debris from the devastating tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao's drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future. [Fiction]

ANIL'S GHOST by Michael Ondaatje

Anil's Ghost transports us to Sri Lanka, a country steeped in centuries of tradition, now forced into the late twentieth century by the ravages of civil war. Into this maelstrom steps Anil Tissera, a young woman born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and America, who returns to her homeland as a forensic anthropologist sent by an international human rights group to discover the source of the organised campaigns of murder engulfing the island. What follows is a story about love, about family, about identity, about the unknown enemy, about the quest to unlock the hidden past - a story propelled by a riveting mystery. [Fiction] 

THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS by Arundhati Roy

The year is 1969. In the state of Kerala, on the southernmost tip of India, fraternal twins Esthappen and Rahel fashion a childhood for themselves in the shade of the wreck that is their family. Their lonely, lovely mother, Ammu, fled an abusive marriage to live with their blind grandmother, Mammachi, their beloved uncle Chacko, and their enemy, Baby Kochamma. When Chacko's English ex-wife brings their daughter for a Christmas visit, the twins learn that things can change in a day, that their lives can twist into new, ugly shapes, even cease forever, beside their river. [Fiction]

THE MEMORY STONES by Caroline Brothers

Buenos Aires, 1976. In the heat of summer, the Ferrero family escapes to the lush expanse of Tigre. Osvaldo, a distinguished middle-aged doctor, and his wife Yolanda gather with their daughters, sensible Julieta who lives with her husband in Miami, and willful Graciela—nineteen, radiant, and madly in love with her fiancé, José. It will be the last time they are all together. On their return, the military junta stages a coup, and Osvaldo is forced to flee to Europe as friends and colleagues disappear overnight. Osvaldo can only witness the disintegration of his family from afar, while Yolanda fights on the ground to find and reclaim their beloved daughter. [Historical Fiction]

WHAT I LOVED by Siri Hustvedt

This is the story of two men who first become friends in 1970s New York, of the women in their lives, of their sons, born the same year, and of how relations between the two families become strained, first by tragedy, then by a monstrous duplicity which comes slowly and corrosively to the surface. [Fiction]