Favorite books. One would think that would be a fairly easy topic of conversation, right? It isn’t. The question “What’s your favorite book?” immediately brings about a feeling of dread. Novels or non-fiction? Recent or classic? What if the person asking the question really wants to know? What if I’ve temporarily forgotten one that has truly served me? Yikes!
I think of book recommendations as a sort of serendipitous matchmaking. After all, how many times have you picked up a book and fallen in love simply because it was exactly what you needed at the time? And as a lifelong learner who believes that really good books become part of us? My lists go on and on. (I feel vindicated by none other than Thomas Aquinas who is reported to have said, “Beware of the person of one book.”)
I write mostly non-fiction and most of the time that is what I prefer to read. But there are times that a good novel is exactly what is called for. So here, in no particular order, is some of my favorite fiction.
It was probably a high school reading assignment that introduced me to John Steinbeck. My guess is that we started with The Grapes of Wrath and, while I may have grumbled about the assignments as much as anyone else, guess who dominated my independent reading for some time after? I’d be hard-pressed to choose between Cannery Row, Tortilla Flat, and Travels With Charley. I loved each and every character and was hooked on the feeling transported to a completely different place and culture.
If you’ve visited my blog before, you know I’m fascinated by thinking. And brains. I’ve noticed that, as I think about various books and authors, they show up as a category. For example, when I was a single Mom with a young child, we were fortunate to leave New England in early spring and visit relatives in the sunny South. At the time, John Grisham’s releases coincided with those trips and became a bit of a tradition for me. Runaway Jury comes to mind.
That leads to my love of series. Andrew Vachss’ Burke series is full of honest, gripping stories and compelling characters. It has been described as “prose as forceful as a hollow-point slug.” When recommending a starting place, I can’t choose between Flood, Blossom, or Hard Candy. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (One for the Money, Two for the Dough) is as silly as Vachss is revealing.
And of course, there are my friends who write. I love them — no only for the feedback and encouragement they share but for the work they produce. They keep me traveling to genres that I might now always choose for myself. I enjoy David-Matthew Barnes short plays and romances. (Ambrosia is pretty funny.) I turn to my sometimes-neighbor Barbara Bond for mature chick-lit that takes place on my island home… although I’m going to a launch party for her new release Everyday Enemies next week. And I can’t thank Nancy Blanton enough. Sharavogue — the first book in her series of 17th-century Irish historical fiction — boasts well-drawn characters and enough “action” to make me a fan of a previously untasted genre! There’s something wonderful about knowing The Prince of Glencurragh is waiting for me on the bedside table.
Tell me about some of your favorite novels in the comments, please.
This post was originally part of a “Favorite Books” blog hop — a collaborative effort by several different authors. The links below are other posts on the topic.