This is not, by any means, an exhaustive list of my favorite books. It is a list of some of the books that have made me think or touched a special place in my heart, at a certain time in my life.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – This book was my first love. This true English masterpiece opened my eyes to the world of story telling – the sweeping narrative of love, power and neglect, set against the dramatic landscape of the English Moors. Heathcliff and Cathy are tragically beautiful characters whose love could not survive life, but hauntingly lived on in the eternity of death. I was captivated by the power of this story and read the book three times before my 20th birthday.
Colony by Ann Rivers Siddons – I read this book in my early 20s. I remember upon finishing, that I cried knowing I could not continue my relationship with the rich characters who graced the pages. Looking back, I realize that this story connected me to the strength of the women in my own family, and the love of traditions that women feel compelled to carry on.
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher – To be honest, I believe that one of the reasons this book is so embedded in my soul is that it was one of the last books my grandmother read before she died, and she loved it so. It is also a book about family – the values that they share and the changes that occur through generations. It is a beautiful story full of deeply developed characters. It is a once in a generation book.
The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling - For people my age, the love of these books began when we saw our children embrace their own love of reading. The first book was published before either of my children were old enough to read on their own, so they created, for me, the most wonderful bedtime traditions we ever had. I saw them enchanted by the wonder and magic of these stories, and I know that they will pass our tradition on to their children through these books.
The Great Santini by Pat Conroy – Dysfunction is the main theme of this story, so boldly told by a survivor. I was fascinated by how beautifully Mr. Conroy wrote about the horrors of being raised in an abusive household, and how matter-of-factly he saw the flaws in his father that ultimately lead to forgiveness. What a great lesson for us all.
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – This was Ms. Grissom’s first novel. It is the story of a young, orphaned Irish girl in a new world - America during the time of slavery. Raised with the slaves, but ultimately accepted into the main house as family, I was amazed at her ability to tell a story of family in such a bold new way. I had strong emotions about the characters she created – loved and hated them - and it made me see love and fidelity in a whole new way.
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell – Reading Mr. Gladwell’s assessment of the culture of success, I felt as if I were reading my own thoughts. He spoke to me in a way that sounded so familiar - his logic was my logic. I just GOT him. This book explains, in such a fantastic way, why successful people are different from those who are not. Since Outliers, I have read every Malcolm Gladwell book I can get my hands on. He truly is the voice of reason in a world of chaos.