Monday, February 21, 2011

Fiction Favorites

I think you know by now how much I love to read. Reading is one of my life's treasures. I can't live without books. They've given me gifts of understanding, solace, knowledge, appreciation, joy, quiet, and humor.

The other day, I took over one of my all- time favorite books, Ava's Man by Rick Bragg, to my dad to read. He loves to read and I thought he'd enjoy this one, especially. My dad grew up in Louisiana and this book is as "southern" as you can get. It's the story of the author's grandfather that he never knew. It takes place in rural Georgia.

Both me and my dad made such a connection with this book. He called me just the other day, out of the blue, just to tell me how much he was enjoying it. Last night when we went over to visit, there he was sitting in his recliner, book in hand, calling my name when he heard I was there, "Emily, this has got to be the best book I've ever read! This is the story of my people, our family." He says how he needs to have his own copy. That he needs to tell is siblings about it. That he wants to find the other books by the Pulitzer prize winning writer. (I suggested Bragg's All Over But the Shoutin'- the story of his own childhood. Another good one.)

I can't tell you how happy this makes me.

Thinking about this made me think about you. Maybe there's some books I love that you might like and enjoy, too. I made a list of some of the books that have touched my heart, that are unforgettable. I know that there might be some I'm leaving out and not listing here, but this is what I came up with. Maybe you can share with me some that you've loved. I'm always on the lookout for good reads.


~Anthem "is a dystopian fiction novella by Ayn Rand, first published in 1937 in England. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age as a result of the evils of irrationality and collectivism and the weaknesses of socialistic thinking and economics Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the word "I" has disappeared from the language). As is common in her work, Rand draws a clear distinction between the "socialist/communal" values of equality and brotherhood and the "productive/capitalist" values of achievement and individuality." I couldn't put this book down. Very powerful, thought provoking, and simple all at the same time.

~The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Can't tell you how much I enjoyed this book written in letter form. It has it all. I fell in love with each of these enduring characters and hated coming to the end and not having that "relationship" with them any more. A can't miss, for sure!)

~The Number One Ladies Detective Agency (Every one in this series set in Botswana is a delight. You'll absolutely fall in love with these wonderful characters, especially it's star- Precious Ramotswe.)

~Jane Eyre (after reading this in high school, I vowed to name one of my daughters Jane. I love, love, love this story. The BBC production starring Timothy Dalton made it come alive for me.)

~The Professor (Another Charlotte Bronte novel)

~Villette (Somewhat autobiographical novel written by Charlotte. My second favorite novel by her.)

~Wuthering Heights (Haunting novel by Emily Bronte set on the Yorkshire moors of England.)

~Agnes Grey ("Concerned for her family's financial welfare and eager to expand her own horizons, Agnes Grey takes up the position of governess, the only respectable employment for an unmarried woman in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, Agnes cannot anticipate the hardship, humiliation, and loneliness that await her...")

~The Tenent of Wildfell Hall (another Anne Bronte novel)

~Pride and Prejudice (a must)

~Persuasion (my favorite Austin novel)

~Cranford (So glad I found this last fall. Wonderful tale of a small community of women in pre-Industrial England. Love the BBC production.)

~Return of the Native (The following three novels by Thomas Hardy are beautifully written, but hauntingly depressing. Just so you know.)

~Tess of the d'Urbervilles

~Jude the Obscure

~The Good Earth (novel of family life in rural China prior to the revolution. Powerful and simply written, all at the same time. Won the Pulitzer Prize.)

~Little Women (Story of the March family. Their loving home life, their escapades, the unity and devotion during the trying times of the American Civil War.)

~Little House in the Big Woods (My favorite in the series. Always love reading this in the fall. Very cozy and homey.)

~All of a Kind Family (series. Story of Jewish family in New York City in the early 1900's. The kids and I have loved these books.)

~Anne of Green Gables (Who can't fall in love with Anne? --with an "e". A classic. Love the two part film adaptation, just as much as the book.)

~Daddy-Long-Legs (told in journal form, this is one you can't put down. Funny, sweet, mysterious, delightful, romance. Love this to pieces.)

~The Secret Garden and A Little Princess (Lots of good memories reading and re-reading these two Frances Hodgson Burnett books to my children.)

~Where the Red Fern Grows (Every child should read this.)

~Summer of the Monkeys (My mom read this to me in the hospital in Portugal when I had my appendix out. So funny I had to tell her to stop because it hurt so much with all the laughing we did.)

~Little Britches (laugh out loud funny. Have a box of Kleenex nearby for the ending. An absolute must.)

~These Is My Words (First in a series. Told in journal entries, it chronicles "one courageous woman's life and struggles in the Arizona Territories in the late nineteenth century. Loved these.)

~Sarah's Key (fictionalized story of the 1942 roundup and deportation of thousands of Paris Jews. Heart wrenching story told through the eyes of a ten year old girl. This book leaves a powerful impact.)

~Crossing to Safety (Wallace Stegner's story of an enduring friendship between two couples.)

~All the Little Live Things (Another Stegner. "Retirees Joseph and Ruth Allston find their placid, rural California life disrupted by a hippie who builds a treehouse on their property and by a young married couple tragically affected by pregnancy and cancer.")

~The Ladies Auxiliary ("When free-spirited Batsheva moves into the close-knit Orthodox Jewish community of Memphis, Tennessee, the already precarious relationship between the Ladies Auxiliary and their teenage daughters is shaken to the core." Very funny and powerful writing.)

~Letters of a Woman Homesteader (wonderful narrative told in one woman's letters. Makes me want to write and receive letters like these.)

~Peace Like a River (couldn't put this one down. Has everything I love in a story. Beautiful characterization, a little mystery, a little romance, great story.)

~The Remains of the Day (story of an English butler and his devotion to his employer. Themes of dignity, bantering, loyalty, politics, social constraints, love and relationships. I absolutely love the movie adaptation starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.)

~Ethan Frome (haunting and beautiful. I have a love-hate relationship with this book. A favorite. When I first read this book in AP English, I wanted to throw it across the room after finishing it. Be prepared for a not so happy ending.)

~David Copperfield (remember reading this in bed 10 years ago over Christmas break when I was ill with strep throat.)

~A Christmas Carol (try to read this favorite every Christmas)

~The Scarlet Letter (read this first in 10th grade. Like it still.)

~Christy ("When Christy Huddleston leaves a life of privilege and ease to teach in the impoverished Smokey Mountains, her faith is severely tested by her pupils, the love of two men, and the curious customs of the mountain people in her community. Yet she grows to love these people and the simple, fulfilling lifestyle to be found in the heart of God's country.")

~At Home in Midford (first in a series. Gentle story of small town life through the eyes of Father Tim, the local rector.)

~Mama's Bank Account (Norwegian immigrant mother's devotion and resourcefulness in early 1900's San Francisco)

~The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio (one mother's heroic and inspirational story how she kept her family fed by entering jingle writing contests)

~Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (relationship between a Chinese boy and his sweet friendship with a Japanese girl in Seattle during the Japanese internment.)


  1. Wow! Great list! i see so many favorites that I share with you and you definetly pick my curiousity about many others! Isn't reading a delight? I used to spend my teenage years with my head burried in a book - I miss those days!
    2 books I enjoyed lately:
    Blink - The power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
    And of course Persuasion by Jane Austen which is my second favorite after Pride and Prejudice.
    I am refering to this list for future reading. Thanks for sharing! xoxos!

  2. Your list is a dream come true! The one's I've already read are some of my favorites, so I'm sure I'll love the rest. Now the only problem is finding time to read them all!