Despite my love of reading and writing, I am not much of a fan of the classics. I even struggle through Jane Austen. When I graduated from college (my major was English Lit) I promised myself I would never again read a book that didn’t grab my attention by the first sentence. My absolute favorite genre is fiction. I like mysteries, but they can’t be cheap. I like romance, but it can’t be too much in my face. I guess you can say I am very picky when it comes to the books I read. That being said, here is my list of five books you absolutely must read, in no particular order. And of course, the list will grow as time goes on!
What can I say about “The Red Tent”? It’s a gorgeous book. The narrator is Dinah, the only daughter of the Biblical Jacob. The Red Tent is the place where the women gathered during their monthly cycles, birthing, and even illnesses. It’s bold and in-your-face with the details, but Dinah’s voice is compelling and poetic, which helps keep you reading. I absolutely loved this book, and I guarantee you will too.
I don’t know why, but I really thought “The Help” was about something else entirely. Not black maids working for white people in the 1960s. Seriously. I didn’t know anything about it until I ordered it from the mail order library (I kept seeing it advertised EVERYWHERE). I even doubted that I would like it. But… what do you know? I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. I loved Skeeter, Aibileene and Minny. I loved Mae Mobley Leefolt. I loved Celia Foote (as pathetic as she was as a person, I loved the way she treated Minny). I laughed and laughed at Minny’s antics. It was a beautiful book. I don’t care what the African American community says about it – the story shines! It will make you laugh and it will make you cry, the best of both worlds. This is how all writers should write, no holds barred. I aspire to write like this, getting to the heart of my characters.
This is, without a doubt, my favorite novel of all time. This was the first Jodi Picoult book I read, and when I was done, I just logged onto amazon.com and ordered the rest of the Jodi Picoult books. Not all at once, but I eventually got them all. It is the first book that I’ve ever read that came close to my own story. Maybe it’s strange, but I can’t get enough of cancer stories. It is like a drug for me. Maybe it’s just that I need them in order to tell my own story. “My Sister’s Keeper” is UNBELIEVABLY sad. No matter how many times I read it, I still cry when I pick it up again. But this is good. The story is a part of me, as my own story is. I am glad Jodi Picoult wrote this. If she hadn’t, I know I’ll still be blundering through my own writing. She helps me be more focused. Before I discovered her, I didn’t have that.
This is a more recent find of mine. I treasure it for the most part because it proves my college creative writing teacher wrong. For all intents and purposes, for the most part, it is a “bathroom novel.” What I mean by that is that it largely takes place in one setting, until the characters escape. The story itself is told in the voice of five-year-old Jack (everything you think that entails is probably correct – bad grammar and everything else). His mother was kidnapped when she was a teenager and he was born in captivity. No doctors, no nothing. They are kept in a 11 X 11 room, and as time goes on, his mother begins to think of ways to escape (mostly by using Jack as the propeller). It eventually works, and Jack and his Ma have to get acclimated with the world, Jack for the very first time. For him, Room was all he knew the world to be, and you can imagine how frightening the outside stuff is for him.
I was over the moon when I finally got my hands on this book! “A Dog’s Purpose” is told from the point-of-view of a dog (as with “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which is another good one) who keeps reincarnating as other dogs. I don’t want to give away too much, so I can’t say much more than that. I absolutely LOVED this book. It made me appreciate MY dog more. 🙂 Who wouldn’t love that?