As they say Reading is Fundamental but, for me it’s a craving. In the same way some people crave a good cup of coffee, a piece of chocolate or potato chips! I have always craved a long list of great books to read!
I love the smell of the paper and the weight of a book in my hand but, in the last two years I’ve started listening to books. It’s great to do while doing this or that - or walking to and from school - I utilize the Hoopla App through my local library.
I promised to share my favorite reads - here they are in no particular order from my entire life!
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper: A sweet tale of discovery. What happens when Arthur goes on a quest to learn more about his wife. I loved this story.
Secrets of a Charmed Life: The elderly author Isabel McFarland agrees to be interviewed and after never sharing the true details of her life - give up not only the details but, the secrets. Makes you think about history on a personal level.
️A Man Called Ove: Ove is a particular man, he does things in a particular way. The question is - is he willing to change those ways? He pulls you in just as he is pulled in by those around him.
Commonwealth: It delves into how a chance encounter changes the lives of 4 parents and 6 children. Stirs caring for these souls in a profound way.
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage: Ann Patchett shares her life; from childhood to present day, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships and charts the work and joy of writing and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore. After reading Commonwealth and now this - I am a true Patchett fan!
️Brain on Fire: A riveting true medical mystery.
What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love: She lost her best friends and husband within weeks of each other.
The Good House: What can I say… something I loved about this book I learned when I was finished reading it…. which is Ann Leary intended the book to go in another direction and the main character Hilde was not supposed to be the main character - But, Hilde took over the story because she’s quite a character… she likes her wine too much….
Mrs. Queen Takes the Train: What might happen if the Queen wandered off for a day.
The Shoemakers Wife: I can’t express how much I enjoyed these characters. I listened to this on Hoopla and was really sad when it was over.
The Perfume Collector: Weaving through time from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers of an Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.
Rare Objects: Mauve Fanning has had a challenging life and starts over by landing a job at an eccentric antiques shop catering to Boston’s wealthiest and most peculiar collectors. While delivering a purchase to the wealthy Van der Laar family, Mauve is introduced to beautiful socialite Diana Van der Laar but, discovers she knows her from before.
️Killing Monica: I have always been a Candace Bushnell fan. This book did not disappoint.
White Chrysanthemum: I was unfamiliar with the history of Japans invasion of Korea and of girls stolen from their families. This story is gripping and hit home with me as a sister and a woman.
My Mrs. Brown: Emilia Brown has a frugal life in a small town in Rhode Island. We accompany her on a trip to purchase the dress - an Oscar de la Renta it’s a fun and inspiring short read - focusing on a goal and the reasons for goals.
If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home: I’m a huge fan of Dr. Lucy Worsley is an English historian, author, curator, and television presenter in England.
My Antonia: Is the unforgettable story of an immigrant woman’s life on the hardscrabble Nebraska plains. I read this in High School and still count myself lucky the book was assigned to us.
Younger: Alice has always looked young - now that she’s divorced and her daughter is grown she lets her best friend transform her on New Year’s Eve and at midnight, she kisses a boy and that boy Josh doesn’t ask her age - no one does - now she’s got a new job, a new man and a new life. This book is the inspiration for the television show.
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore: Due to the economy Clay Jannon a web designer finds himself working at the bookstore. He discovers the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest.
The Thanksgiving Visitor: Buddy and his closest friend, his eccentric elderly cousin Miss Sook love preparing their old country house for Thanksgiving. But this year, there's trouble in the air.
The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A captivating novel about Truman Capote’s friendship with Babe Paley.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Holly Golightly is pursued by gangsters and playboys, she is so much and so delightful to meet.
Primates of Park Avenue: Wednesday Martin struggled to fit in. She used her background in anthropology and primatology to look at her situation with new eyes and bam it all fell into place. Her conclusions are witty, thought-provoking and it’s a great read!
Where ’d You Go Bernadette: Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades and her mom Bernadette who is a shut-in, throws herself into trip planning, but, she suddenly disappears - Bee works hard going through e-mails, school memos and invoices to reveal a secret past that her Mom had been hiding.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: Henry joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, boarded up for decades, the new owner has discovered items belonging to Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during WWII. Henry remembers a girl from his childhood in the 1940s.
The Invention of Wings: Hetty a slave in 19th century Charleston is part of the Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah is given ownership of 10 year old Hetty on her 11th Birthday. We follow their journey over the next 35 years.
Capital Gains: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff: Chip Gaines is a very motivating personality. This book should be shared. So enjoyable.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House: One of my favorite books and the film starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy: Mr and Mrs. Blandings design their perfect home and we follow along during their construction issues and the funny workers they deal with.
Ludwig Bemelmans - he did more than write Madeline . I have a copy of To the One I love the Best: Episodes from the Life of Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe) It;s about his friendship with the interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe, its a great peek at a specific time.
The House in Good Taste: This great design book was published in 1914 and much of what Elsie de Wolfe said then still rings true. To shun clutter in favor of simplicity and to let the light in and she believed in white paint.
Sister Parish: The Life of the Legendary American Interior Designer: Sister - as she was always called - was born Dorothy May Kinnicutt in 1910 and spent a privileged early life at all the right places. She was compelled to work during the Depression. Sister combined her innate design ability with her upper-echelon social connections and created a successful interior decorating business. The Parish-Hadley firm's list of clients reads like an American Who's Who. I am a huge fan of her work and of the current firms.
Jane Eyre: Jane was orphaned as a child and has felt like she didn’t belong her whole life. She is overwhelmed and nervous when she arrives at Thornfield Hall to be governess to Edward Rochester’s charge Adele. This is quote I want to live by - Jane says “Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.” I love so many of the Bronte sisters novels but, Jane has a never give up attitude I truly admire.
Harry Potter: I read all the Harry Potter books before I had Liam. I thoroughly enjoyed and simply couldn’t put them down. I am excited to share them with him in a few years.
I love Kate Morton and I’ve read most of her titles. You should definitely read them in order!
The House at Riverton: The story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death. It’s told in flashbacks. I love this book - for the time period it shares in the flashbacks and the people you meet.
The Forgotten Garden: This is a captivating story full of secrets, family and memory. Cassandra is grieving her grandmother Nell and she receives an bequest that turns her life upside down.
The Distant Hours: Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a decaying fortress where the Blythe sisters live and where her mom was sent to live as a child during WWII. Edie will unravel the mystery of her mother’s time there and some then some. This is my favorite Kate Morton book…I was mesmerized by it.
The Secret Keeper: During a summer gathering Laurel will watch her mother speak to a stranger and not soon after she will witness a crime. Now, years later Laurel realizes time is running out to find out from her 90 year old mother the truth about that day.
The Lake House: The Edevane family is throwing a party in June 1933 and Alice Edevane who is 16 years old and a young writer is terribly excited she’s in love but, by the time this night ends the family will loose much.
I have a deep affinity for novels that take place at the turn of the 20th century - I love the Alienist and The Angel of Darkness both by Caleb Carr. Time and Again by Jack Finney is a magical illustrated novel.
Another from this same time period is E.L. Doctorow - work The Waterworks: One morning in 1871 Manhattan, reporter Martin Pemberton sees in a passing omnibus with several elderly men, one of whom he recognizes as his supposedly dead and buried father. I loved the mystery of this story and how Martin as a reporter can’t stop seeking answers. (I will also share that I read this after my father passed away and I had dreams Jim was back!). The Waterworks becomes, in the words of The New York Times, “a dark moral tale . . . an eloquently troubling evocation of our past.”
Brideshead Revisited: I read after watching the 1981 British Telepic on PBS. It’s the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmain family. It’s a wonderful tale of love and loss and grasping for what you think will make you happy.
East of Eden: I asked my husband to buy me a hardcover of this for a milestone birthday.
A Christmas Carol: Oh Ebenezer needs to learn the error of his ways and boy does he!
Great Expectations: Orphaned Pip lives with his married sister and encounters an escaped convict. While terrified he complies and helps the man. Years later Pip is given a great deal - in possession of “great expectations” he does not realize who his benefactor is.
The Picture of Dorian Gray: Fashionable Dorian Gray sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.
The Great Gatsby: Nick is the narrator of this tale of love and loss. Nick lives next door to the mysterious Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night. it is revealed that Gatsby knew Nick’s married cousin Daisy in Louisville in 1917 and is deeply in love with her. Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle is simply an attempt to impress Daisy. This is one of the Best American Novels. If you have not read it DO SO!
Some treasures from childhood:
The Secret Garden: Mary a young English girl returns to England alone from India because her parents have died. Mary must live with her uncle; when he's away from home, she discovers a beautiful walled garden which is kept locked. The mystery deepens when she hears sounds of sobbing from somewhere within her uncle's vast mansion.
The Christmas Mouse: Mrs. Berry is frightened by a mouse and goes downstairs to sit-out Christmas Eve and is disturbed yet again. This time by a young run-away boy. This lovely tale still enchants me about the best in human nature
The Diamond in the Window: Eddy and Eleanor Hall have always known their family was uncommon and they live in a most remarkable house. But, they would never have guessed just how remarkable the house really is.
Her Majesty Grace Jones: A young Ohio girl is convinced she is an English princess and the true heir to the throne.
I love everything Margaret Bloy Graham illustrated or wrote - the Harry the Dirty Dog series, the Benjy series and I have a copy of the Storm Book on the chair in my hallway!
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret: Margaret is almost twelve and wants to fit in with her new friends - none of them can believe she doesn’t belong to a religion. What they don’t know is Margaret has her own special relationship with God.
Harriet The Spy: I read this book when I was 11 and appropriated my sister’s copy. I made a lifesize study of myself mirrored after Harriet. Harriet M. Welsch is a spy; she writes down everything about everyone she sees - including her classmates and her best friends - in her notebook. Her notebook ends up in the wrong hands and her thoughts are read - will she be able to fix the damage these thoughts have caused?
I checked out PT109 written by John F. Kennedy at least fives times from my school library.
I asked some special friends what books they would recommend:
My Sister - Noreen: To Kill a Mockingbird, East of Eden, The Godfather, Gone with the Wind, The Poisonwood Bible, The Pearl, Slaughter House Five, The Aviator’s Wife and The Things They Carried. She is an avid reader and could have kept easily shared more - but, we’ll stop here.
Kristin: Any title by Nicholas Sparks.
Sara: The Alchemist
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a new book. I have always checked out the recommendations section at my Library. I follow Ann Bogel ‘s blog Modern Mrs. Darcy.
Recently I’ve also discovered BookBub - its a free service that helps millions of readers discover books they'll love. BookBub works with all major eBook retailers and devices and partners with thousands of the industry’s leading publishers and authors to promote their books.
I wanted to close by noting my three favorite authors:
I hope you have found a few new reads!
If I’ve left your favorite off this list. Please share it with me and leave a comment!
Til next time! Happy Reading!