Apr 052017

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.

Beware of the person of one book. Click To Tweet

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.

... prose as forceful as a hollow point bullet. Click To Tweet

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.




  14 Responses to “A Few Favorite Novels”

  1. I have always been a fan of Hemingway and especially his short stories. In the past several years though I have been “binge reading” Cormack McCarthy. The style of his writing and his use of obscure and arcane words is fascinating.

  2. I’ve always been a bookworm. When I don’t have a book on the go, I feel a little lost, lol. Books are truly my friends.

  3. I love this quote, “I think of book recommendations as a sort of serendipitous matchmaking.” I have been in a book club for almost 18 years and have read books recommended by others I never would have other wise. I have learned so much and continue to be surprised. Recently I was asked to host and offer a book without much time to prepare. I went to the New York Times Best Seller List and chose “A Gentleman from Moscow” off the list without knowing much about it. We all ended up loving it! Such a fabulous read and wonderful discussion book. I look forward to my next book surprise and so appreciate your blog!

  4. Books have always been some of my best friends.
    They have kept me company in the best and worst of times, and shown me worlds there was no other way to access.It is always fun to see what others hold as their favorites. For me, stories of fantasy and magic rise to the top. Although Pablo Neruda’s poetry can satisfy me like nothing else.
    Great post. Thanks.

  5. I love to read Anne Rivers Siddons and Dorothea Benton Frank. They write what I call “girl friend” novels. I also love Rosemond Pilcher’s books. As for non-fiction, it’s whatever I’m into at the moment which can be anything from research on happiness to native American wisdom teachings!

  6. Thanks Andrea, for including me among so many great books. From Grapes of Wrath to One for the Money, wow, that is a broad sea, but wonderful for all the differences! Never, never bored.

  7. Andrea, I love how you wrote “books are a serendipitous matchmaking!” I can recall many times in my life that I picked up a book, it was exactly what I needed at the time. I enjoyed reading about your selections above and how they were reminiscent of differing times in your life.

  8. Thank you for sharing this list of classics and new authors to explore Andrea. We have similar taste and it’s always a delight to mix up the genres when the mood strikes!

  9. So many to choose from, but you have reminded me of a few I’d like to dive back into! Thank you!

  10. It’s so true that certain stories can touch our lives at certain times and be exactly what we need. Great post!

  11. Hi Andrea, first let me say we have similar reading tastes and I love this list for all the new, juicy books to explore. Second, hands down Travels with Charley was my favorite Steinbeck book. Scenes from that book still float through my mind whenever I see a standard poodle or think about deer season. What a great selection of novels and a fun glimpse into you!

Care to share? I love to hear from you!

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