books i have loved

I love to read. I have loved to read since I could at the age of four. As a kid I preferred sitting inside curled up with a good book to almost anything else. I read under the covers at night, haunted book stores and libraries, and tapped-out my parents pretty extensive fiction library by the time I was 13. I fixated serially and momentarily on every style, genre and type of fiction you can think of, and have weeded out a few I no longer need to explore.  I probably need not state this, but romances in the Harlequin vein are among them.

Fiction taught me about life before I was old enough to experience it fully: about people,  life, love, values, God and gods,  spirituality, obsession, hate, the best and worst of human nature, belief systems, tragedy, comedy, tragi-comedy (sorry, Shakespeare), etc. Reading taught me how to write. It taught me how to think and organize my thoughts logically — at least on paper — and it introduced me to a plethera of words that people don’t use in conversation much anymore.

I read pretty much anything with words back then, but I am much, much more choosy now. For me to pick up a book, it must come highly recommended by readers I trust, something I can’t always say about Oprah.  For me to finish a book, it must have a reasonably compelling story-line and characters, be relatively well-written and be something I can safely recommend to my book club, a very discerning group. I will read non-fiction now, though a work must read like good fiction to hold my interest, and that is an art unto itself.

For me to love a book? Golly. A tall order, but it can be any of a number of combinations. The one characteristic shared by all my loves  is good to great writing. The kind of writing that makes you weep because it is so beautiful, thought provoking and original.  Whether it moves me or entertains me, it is the kind of writing I WISH I could create, the way a small child might look at Mount Everest and wish they could climb to the summit.

So with that over-lengthy explanation, my ever-evolving list follows, in no particular order, other than, “I just read this,” or “ooh, I just remembered that.”

Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese
A unique story, lyrical writing and well-developed, complex, yet likable characters.

Where’d you go, Bernadette?
Maria Semple
A delightful read despite the kinda dumb title.  A Seattle woman goes missing and her daughter tries to find her through a trail of letters and emails.

Beautiful Ruins
Jess Walter
A quiet yet epic Hollywood/Italy love story that takes place in  the present and the 1950s.  Megastar cameos and redemption abound.

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
Warning: you’ll need to keep your hankies at the ready, but this little gem about two teen cancer patients who fall in love never falls into the Nicolas Sparks realm of schmaltzy sentimentality.

Oh My Stars
Laura Landvik
By a Minneapolis writer, this book has all the elements of an Oprah book (downtrodden, abused, but tough heroine leaves home at a young age to find a better life) but it is even better, less heavy, full of sweetness and light but still very meaningful.  Couldn’t put it down.

If you want to see many, many more of the books I’ve read, go to my Goodreads pages.

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