What are your Desert Isle Keepers? Which stories stayed with you long after you closed the cover? Do you have comfort reads? And the last question for writers, which books made you say, “I want to do that!”
1. Christy by Catherine Marshall. I was twelve when I read this story of a young woman going to the Appalachian mountains to be a teacher. In the town of Cutter Gap, Christy Huddleston experiences life in a whole new way, and she learns to see and love people for who they are. Her friendship with Fairlight Spencer is both glorious and heartbreaking. The story is fiction, but it’s based on the life of Catherine’s mother. It’s also considered the book that gave birth to the Inspirational market, and the Christy Awards are named after it.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Love this story! The movies first brought it to life for me, namely the Hallmark movie with George C. Scott and Susannah York. A romance writer was born the night I saw the made-for-TV movie. Later I read the book for a Women’s Fiction class at UCLA. Forget symbolism and literary stuf, this is a story of redemption, transformation and romance. My favorite film version is the one with Timothy Dalton as Rochester.
3. The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley. Alec Ramsey was my first crush. I read this series over and over, mentally riding in the races and taking on whatever challenges came Alex’s way. They fed my child’s imagination in a big way.
4. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. We’re getting off the beaten path with this one. I read it as a college freshman at the recommendation of a teaching assistant. In short, it’s about a woman trying to make sense of a chaotic world. The title is derived from structure of the book. It’s made up of narrative, four “notebook “sections–each a different color and about a different part of the main character’s life–and finally a Golden notebook. I’m now light years away from the content of the book, but it made me want to write.
5. Hawaii by James Michener. I read this in middle school, around the time I read Christy. I thought the beginning was a bit dull, but I plowed through and discovered the joy of historical fiction. Does anyone else miss the days of long books? Some of my favorites by Michener are Centennial, The Source, Space and Chesapeake.
6. Captains and the Kings by Taylor Caldwell. I read this shortly after my first son was born. What a wonderful mix of history and drama! In the coming years, I read every Taylor Caldwell book in the Thousand Oaks, California library.
7. The Outsider by Penelope Williamson. I will never forget reading this book for the first time. It’s a mix of violence and faith, love and hate, guilt and forgiveness. I finished it at 3 a.m., blinked away the tears and thought, “I want to do this . . . I want to write books like this one.” That’s a lofty goal and I don’t think I’ve met the challenge, but I intend to keep trying. No one uses language like Penelope Williamson. This book doesn’t just tell the story, it sings every word.
So those are my favorites. What about you? What’s on your keeper shelf? I don’t think any of us could pick just one.
P.S. My current release is available now at Amazon . . . Marrying the Major . . . Check it out along with the other titles in the “Women of Swan’s Nest” series!