It seems that everyone is in a book club these days! We all compare notes about which ones we love, which ones we hate, and the ones that have stuck with us through the years. I thought I would share my favorites with you.
Anne of Green Gables.
This book was very freeing for me, a nerdy little girl with a love of books and a big vocabulary. Anne was such a strange little child, and her imagination and use of big words resonated with me. She loved the world with her whole heart, won over all her foes, and fell in love with Gilbert Blythe, my first literary heart-throb. I named my daughter after her, and I have re read that series of books many, many times. I have always wished I had red hair.
I have had feminist leanings for as long as I can remember, and I have to attribute their beginnings to this book. It is such a beautiful portrayal of family love and interactions. But I loved Jo, and I felt her frustrations as she beat her head against the wall repeatedly, trying to establish herself as independent in society of the time. I hated with her all the rules, both blatant and unwritten, that kept her “in her place.” And my heart broke when she rejected Laurie. I have read this book over and over during my life.
Gone With the Wind.
This was the first book that I literally could not put down. I remember staying up all night to finish it. This was the first book I read that was written by a master storyteller, rather than a great writer, and I love great stories as much as I love great literature. I fell in love with Rhett Butler, and boy, oh boy, did Clark Gable match up with the picture I painted in my head of what Rhett looked like.
You Can’t Go Home Again.
Thomas Wolfe had such huge plot, huge ideas, and huge talent as a writer. This was the first book that I read that astounded me with its sheer power. It filled me with questions and emotions about life that I hardly understood. I read it as a high school student, and I remember realizing that I knew absolutely nothing about the world and what being an adult really meant. I was both fascinated and a little depressed as I read it, and I have never been able to forget the book. I have never been affected by a book or author in such a way since.
Kate Vaiden; then Blue Calhoun by Reynolds Price.
Here is an author that has such talent with words that the plot is secondary, for me anyway. I am awestruck by the talent of this writer, and I think that to listen to him read his work would be a peak experience. I mean to read more of his work.
Oh, the confusion! This book, read when I was very young, hurtled me into a world of sophistication and weariness that I knew nothing about. But the stately homes, jaded lives and blurred sexual boundaries fascinated me. I wished I could be like those people: rich, gorgeous, and sated. The heaviness of their lives went right over my head then. I re-read the book a few years ago, and I found it totally depressing. Ah, life has a way of taking the sheen right off things and opening our eyes, doesn’t it?
Sins of the Seventh Sister.
I lent this book, and now can’t remember the name of the author. Evidently an autobiographical novel, the book is simply one of the best told stories I have ever read. I think it would make a blockbuster movie. I was enthralled. And, of course, the heroine was unstoppable, larger than life, beautiful, high-strung, powerful, sexual, and legendary. Everything that I want to be!
Elizabeth Berg and Elizabeth Buchan, authors.
I have read all of their books, and I have the same experience every time I open one: after reading the first paragraph, I know I am going to love every word of the book. Both Elizabeth’s have such insight into people and such a talent for plumbing thought and emotion. Their books are quiet and about small things. Small things that define a person’s life.
And finally, I now know many wonderful writers personally, and it is such a privilege. Must reads are the books of Beth Hoffman, Victoria Twead, Harriet Smart, Barbara E. Brink, Lisette Brodey, Ian MacGregger, Russell Blake, Anna Lefler, Mariam Kobras, L.K. Gardner-Griffie, Nichole Bernier (hers is just coming out), Robin Black, and the list goes on and on. Whether in e-book form or in hard cover, the world of books is certainly not coming to an end! So many books, so little time…