After a recent conversation about my favorite books, I decided I needed to make a list of some of my all-time favorites. I’ll continue to add to this list. Some of these I will expound on and others I will leave with just the title and author.

Here’s my top ten, twenty, thirty, or forty (or whatever number it turns out to be for as long as I keep writing in this blog!):

  • Desert Solitaire by Ed Abbey
  • The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin
  • Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors
  • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  •  Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by Terry Tempest Williams 
  • Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm by David M. Masumoto
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  • The Bean Trees: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
  • A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm by Stanley Crawford 
  • The Solace of Open Spaces Paperback by Gretel Ehrlich  
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Anything written by Sherman Alexie
  • The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 (I believe my little sis had to read this book for one of her college classes. I found it in my mom’s spare room and couldn’t put it down. It has now made my list of top books. Fascinating life and work. Hard times and unbelievable accomplishments. People do what they have to do and face hardships as well as life’s beautiful moments. An inspiring read!)
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (check out the movie starring Hnery Fonda in 1940)
  • Anything by Connie Willis; my top 3 include Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Inside Job (incidentally one of the best sci fi novellas I’ve read).
  • Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Need I say more? Anyone who’s read this book or watched the movie knows that it is titillating and an odyssey of the senses!)
  • Paulo Coelho has to be one of my favorite authors, period. (Okay, well that’s what this blog posting is about anyways…). Some of my top Coelho works include The Alchemist, The Devil and Miss Prym: A Novel of Temptation (I highly recommend the audiobook version read by Linda Emond who has a mesmerizing voice), and By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept: A Novel of Forgiveness.
  • Notes of a Piano Tuner by Denele Pitts Cambell. Okay, I can hear your thoughts – a piano tuner?? This turned out to be one of the best reads of 2006 for me. The author writes about her experience of tuning pianos with the social connection of people and their pianos. It turns out that there are some very interesting and deeply felt connections here. Historical, Emotional, and Endearing connections. A little gem of a read!
  • The Last Season by Eric Blehm. This was a fascinating true-life story about a national park service ranger who disappears in the SEKI NP system in CA. Well researched and written, I felt compelled to learn more about the individual and the systems that create the drive to be in the wilderness, to live there, sleep, eat, recreate, and eventually die there. Richly done, I will put this on the top of my list for 2007!
  • Books by Amy Tan including The Bonesetter’s Daughter, The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat (a sweet children’s book with endearing narrations by Gretchen Schields). I am currently reading Saving Fish From Drowning and will write more on this soon. I am fascinated by the subject matter and Amy’s writing has exquisite details. I usually read novels fairly quickly, but am really taking my time savoring this one!
  • Zlata’s Diary: A child’s life in Sarajevo, by Zlata Filipovic. Published in 1994, this book is touted as a mondern day Anne Frank collection of writing by Zlata Filipovic. From the days just before the Bosnian War (1992-95) broke out. Zlata went from living the life of a normal pre-teen with concerns about her studies, her friends, and the frivolities of life to the life of a child living in a war torn country. While the diary is not as heart rending as The Diary of Anne Frank, readers are still transported into the world and life of a young girl living through a war, fearing for the life of her parents, family, and friends. Zlata writes about fire and gun shots engulfing her neighborhood and watching destruction rip through her community. And for what? It was a war that was never completely understood and for what causes other than the turbulence of the former Yugoslavia and religious intolerance. I was also a teenager during the Bosnian War, with my own concerns like learning how to drive, who was dating who, and my schoolwork. How quickly our lives can change. I deeply respect Zlata’s courage for publishing her diary to demonstrate life in the midst of war. This is an excellent read and companion discussion book to accompany The Diary of Anne Frank and other war memoirs.
  • The Last Season by Eric Blehm (2006). I highly recommend this book for a thrilling and thought-provoking account of seasonal ranger Randy Morgenson and his disappearance from the SEKI National Park system. Fascinating and penetrating, the author explores possibily disappearance theories and packages the research about Ranger Randy’s life in a readable and thorough way. (some reviews have said the detials were “cumbersome” but I disagree. I think the the facts are necessary to put together a picture of this ranger’s life and life in SEKI. As an outdoor enthusiast, I couldn’t get enough of these details!). You’ll want to be camping or spending time outdoors while reading Blehm’s book and be sure to have a map with you to trace the steps and imagine the life of Ranger Randy Morgenson.
  • more coming soon….
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