Top Ten Tuesday (14) – John Grisham!

This week’s topic–Pick a favorite author and suggest similar reads. I decided to use the first half of the list to point out the top reads of one of my favorite authors and the rest of the list for similar authors. Yay! Don’t forget to participate in the Top Ten Tuesday post from The Broke and the Bookish. They always have such great post ideas.

I could write this one several times over for several different authors. Of course, I must choose one for today’s post, so I will pick one I have read since I picked up his first novel shortly before the film version was released. Remember, I tend to read the book before I will watch the film and have since I was a teen.

So, this week’s post is all John Grisham :-)!

These are in the order of how much I like them, which is hard, because so many of Grisham’s are EXCELLENT!

1. A Time to Kill

First published in 1989,A Time to Kill, is the first Grisham book I read. I hadn’t heard of John Grisham, until the move was in production in the mid-1990s. After hearing the storyline of the film, I decided I had to find the book and read it. I was fortunate at this point to be working in an ancient used bookstore for a few summer months and found his first several novels for the bargain price of $0.50 each. Yay me!

This is one of the best Grisham books. The story captivates the reader by pulling them into Clanton, Mississippi and the injustice still lurking beneath the social landscape of America. The story, much like the early 20th century’s To Kill a Mockingbird, leaves the reader questioning their beliefs and struggling with the greater questions of justice and revenge.

A Time to Kill left me wanting more. I began devouring Grisham novels then and there and continued reading each new release as it appeared in bookstores. (Note: I have not yet read Calico Joe. Still debating whether I will, because I am not a huge fan of baseball.)

2. A Painted House

I re-read this novel every summer/fall. Every year. Since 2000. It has become one of those novels I return to year after year because the story is down to earth and heartwarming in its severity.

This novel contains one of my very favorite first lines:

The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day.

After a decade of writing legal thrillers, Grisham broke out of his mold and wrote a novel about a rural Arkansas farm family in the early 1950s. You see a family straddling the line of change–that line between the way things were and the way things are going to be from now on. The change from the past to the future. It is a bittersweet novel, sure to capture your imagination as Luke, the young protagonist, changes from being an innocent child into one with experience many won’t get in a lifetime.

3. The Firm

Mitch McDeere is one of my all time favorite Grisham character’s. And, I can even stomach Tom Cruise as Mitch McDeere, which for me says a lot!

Grisham’s second novel has a protagonist who has it all–a Harvard education, the job opportunity of a life time, and a beautiful wife. How in the world could this go wrong? And it goes oh, so wrong! This one has been a favorite since I read it the first time and continues to pull me in every time I read it.

4. The Chamber

I am drawn to John Grisham’s stories because of his characters’ battles with injustice, usually in the south, and almost always because of the battle between what we think of as evil and then those other things we deem lesser evils. His novels are never a clear cut picture of good versus evil. It always comes down to the worst and what’s not as bad as the worst.

For instance, in this novel, the worst, as you start to read is the KKK member, Sam Cayhall, on death row. But, as you continue to read, one cannot help but begin to question whether it was Sam’s fault, or more the fault of those who raised him to be the way he is. You begin to question the very existence of a justice system meant to catch the truly guilty, but which often misses that mark and a system more than satisfied to punish someone, rather than no one.

Note: Sam Cayhall, as played by Gene Hackman, is the reason I have a slightly odd crush on Gene Hackman, even though he could be my grandfather. Maybe even my great grandfather…lol And, in retrospect, I should probably question why I would begin to like someone for playing a KKK member…hmmm…;-)

5. Skipping Christmas

OMG! I remember when I read this the first time–I wanted to make the movie immediately! I thought–finally, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation in novel form. And it would have been that great of a movie. In case you aren’t aware, the Tim Allen/Jamie Lee Curtis film Christmas With the Kranks is based on this Grisham novel. It is a good adaptation, but it could have been soooooooo much better!

6. The Innocent Man

This book is Grisham’s first, and I hope not the last, foray into non-fiction. He tells the true story of two men wrongly accused and convicted of murder in small town Oklahoma. One man was given a life sentence and the other sent to death row. It is a good read and is told using his fiction writing skills to make the true story feel as read as it was.

For the final 4 I will suggest authors I think you would enjoy just as much as Grisham!

David Baldacci

He writes a mix of government and military thrillers, which often leave you on edge to find out who or what comes next.

Patricia Cornwell

One of my other all time favorite authors. Her Kay Scarpetta series is one of the best I have read. Kay is a medical examiner who battles official as well as personal difficulties.

James Rollins

I stumbled across Rollins’ books when I had no more Grisham to read. He weaves incredible tales of international thrillers that always leave me wanting more.

Richard North Patterson

Writes a mix of legal and governmental thrillers.


7 responses

  1. I’ve been meaning to read some more from John Grisham – I loved The Firm! So thanks for all the recommendations on books by him and authors to follow up with!

    1. Thanks for reading!
      I have been a Grisham fan for so long and I recommend him to almost everyone I meet.

  2. Thanks so much for this list! I have so many male students who love Grisham but I just don’t so it’s nice to be able to share this list with them! Thanks!

    1. They will love the recommends. Another one might be James Patterson.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!


  3. I loved A Time to Kill! I haven’t read much of Grisham’s more recent books but the stuff he wrote in the 90s was so good. I also really enjoy Patricia Cornwell’s books.

    1. They are two of my faves!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.


  4. I love John Grisham! I’ve read all of his books, thought I think we will have to respectfully agree to disagree on The Innocent Man. I didn’t like that book at all. My favorite is The Client (it was my first) but A Time to Kill and The Firm are also favorites. I’ve only read Baldacci but I will have to check out Patterson, Rollins and Cornwell as well because I love legal thrillers. Thanks for the recommendations!

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