Five Favorite Books

I’m a little late posting this Momversation about finding time to read. Shortly after Hank was born, I realized that reading is my meditation. I get mean if I don’t get book time.

If you’d like to see more books I recommend, have a look at my Eight Books that Changed Things for Me post. The comments on that post are great too. If you haven’t yet, list your favorites here. I’m always looking for good reads.

26 thoughts on “Five Favorite Books

  1. Thank you for recommending The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker! It changed my life too. I’m not afraid by common situations like I used to be. I’m far, far more confident in my own intuitions and that gives me power.


  2. What a fantastic list you made last year, and the comments are so great. I am going to start working through all of those lists, top to bottom, I hope! Many of my favorites are listed there, but in the category of “fun read” I would like to add the last book I read before my baby was born in April: The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart. It was like book candy to me – quick, colorful and delicious. Thanks for the inspiration to get books wedged back into my full life!


  3. I watched that Momversation yesterday and totally wrote down all the suggestions that I hadn’t read already (or typed ’em in my phone, whichever).

    I like that you said “changed things for me” and not “changed me.” Important distinction.

    Mine are:

    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

    Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

    Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (more specifically, his essay “A Propos of Lady Chatterley’s Lover”)

    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    Love Without Conditions by Paul Ferrini


  4. I’ve started reading Malcolm Gladwell’s works recently, and am almost through with “Blink” right now. It’s changed the way I think about how I make quick decisions. Incredibly interesting.


  5. Very interesting discussion. Thanks for the book list. It was interesting to me to see some of the books that made me think show up in the comments of your “8 Books” post. Totally concur with Night, Handmaids Tale, and Enders Game. You may find “Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach to be another good read.


  6. Oooh, so many. But here are a few that come to mind first:

    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

    Life of Pi by Jann Martel

    Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams

    Operating Instructions by Anne Lamotte

    Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall (just read the first sentence and I dare you not to jump in with both feet…)

    A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway

    Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert

    Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and also Mad Cowboy by Howard F. Lyman

    Happy Reading!


  7. By far “The Flamingo Rising” by Larry Baker! I read it for the first time in high school and continue to read it almost every summer! It’s amazing. Just picking up the book, and feeling it, and smelling it will take you to another place and time!


  8. Death Comes for the Archbishop, Will Cather

    This is the summer of D.H. Lawrence for me and I am reading Sons and Lovers right now. It has been slow going but so worth it. Also read his short stories from the book The Woman Who Rode Away.

    The book I read when I need to get centered is Depak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.

    I am 55 and was a voracious reader until about five years ago when I started spending way too much time reading blogs, entertainment and news sites. I found that really cut into my novel reading time. I have recently come back to reading books and all the joy I get from a good book is still there. I am happy to be reading again.


  9. P.S. I need to add one more.

    Girls Like Us, Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon–and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller.


  10. – The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey, by J.D. Salinger – He made me want to be a writer.

    – The Beat Reader – It’s an anthology, but it did spark in me a wish to write poetry, wear black and go on road trips. (I was 16 then. Still wear a lot of black:)

    – Middlemarch, by George Eliot – Novels can be girly and smart at the same time. She was a genius.

    – Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides – I came across this book many times before I finally decided to give it a try, because, reading the jacket made me think that the subject matter was too “genre-y”. Silly me. If you haven’t read it, do it.

    – Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, and The Hours, by Michael Cunningham. Both really struck a cord in me.

    – Pnin, by Nabokov; All Souls, by Javíer Marías; The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri – I love to be in awe of a writer’s ability to make perfection look effortless.

    These were from the top of my head. There are so many others, but I need to stop here or I’ll spend the next 6 hours trying to compile the “perfect” list.


  11. The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell – my parents liked these books well enough to name me after them, and I read them all at once in the span of a week, sitting on the porch in the summer.

    Stone, Andy Goldsworthy – sculpture, photography, stunning.

    Crossing Open Ground, Barry Lopez – will make you look at the American landscape with new eyes.

    And because these are all such terribly serious books, I’ll mention Cocktail Time by P.G. Wodehouse, classic ridiculous humor which always has me laughing within minutes of opening it.


  12. I’m trying hard to think of books that changed me versus my favorite books. One of the books that falls into both those categories is Sense and Sensibility. It opened my eyes to the idea of universal truths and that being a smart, courageous woman who believes in herself never goes out of style.

    Mighty Girl, is your list of your favorite books different?


  13. +1 for The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Incredible book. So glad I read it. One of the best novels I’ve ever read. It stays with you for a long time.


  14. Savage Inequalities, by Jonathon Kozol, really did change my life. I quit my job and moved to Nashville to become a teacher. It’s about the achievement and resource gap in American schools. He also wrote a followup, The Shame of the Nation, which I have yet to read, but have heard is just as powerful.


  15. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
    I never read any of her other work, nor really truly got into the philosophy of Objectivism behind her work, but this book really TRULY changed me. I learned that the most important factor towards success is knowing that I accomplished what I, myself hoped and dreamed for myself – no matter what others want for me or what the norm is. I probably need to re-read it again…


  16. This is probably mundane, but it answers both “what books have changed your life” and “how have you kept reading in your life after becoming a mother.” Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (Weisbluth). I know, how prosaic, right? But honestly, the answer to the question of how I am still able to read a TON is that I read HSHHC and learned how to train my daughter to sleep (she is 3 now, and I read this when she was 4 months old–now we’re working on the new 8-month-old sister). When you have a child that starts sleeping 12 hours with no wakings, at 9 months old, and she goes to bed at 7pm and wakes at 7am, guess what? You have time to read! Even after doing the have-to’s like washing the dinner dishes, putting away some laundry, etc., etc., when you have from 7pm until (your bedtime here) to do it, you still find yourself with plenty of time for want-to’s like reading. And cuddling with the husband. And maybe some blogs. 🙂

    So, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child could also be titled Sleep-Trained Children, Happy Parents. It’s my little secret for still having my life–as an individual, an adult, a woman, as well as a mommy.


  17. I would have to say that a book that changed me, changed things for me, _and_ is a favorite is Lolita by Nabokov. I refuse to apologize for the plot (yes it’s shocking, but the shocking part is how much you are drawn into it), and the writing is absolutely amazing. I had never experienced such conflicting feelings from a book – you love and hate pretty much every character; you accept and refuse the storyline. It’s really a mind-bend, and I think it gives justice to the complexity of humankind, and in what a beautiful way!

    The Backlash book you mentioned sounds very interesting as well. Being in the field of psychology of women, I think/talk/write/read/discuss/persuade/argue/deconstruct/etc. feminism all the time, but it’s amazing how many women today are pretty much over it (or at least have such complicated (and usually negative) feelings toward it). Anyway, this should be an worthy read, thanks for the suggestion.


  18. Two books that have been important to me are “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath; and “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay. Interestingly, to me anyway, I read “The Bell Jar” first when I was 16 and full of adolescent angst and truly found it life changing. I read it again over 15 years later and while I appreciated it, it did not have the same effect at all. Helped me understand the importance of what the reader brings to the book.


  19. We The Living – Ayn Rand

    i don’t know if it changed me but it still haunts me a few months after reading it.
    rand based the story on her experience of communism in russia (she lived the revolution).
    her main character is a girl and goes through a love story that’s beautiful but the whole day to day of living in a newly communist state is really fascinating.


  20. City of Thieves, David Benioff

    Marathon Man, William Golding

    And most importantly:

    Complications, by Atul Gawande. This book is graphic (Gawande is a surgeon and writes about extreme cases he’s seen) but taught me to be a better patient and made me want to be a doctor.


  21. Wow! Such great lists. First for me, most important: Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged.’ My husband and I both loved it, would have named our first child after the main character, if we’d had a girl, and I wish everyone in America could read it right now, with what is going on in the country and economy. It is all about work ethic and taking responsiblity for your own success.
    Also, loved and still think about ‘The Power of One’ by Courtenay.
    Those are the two which come to me off the top of my head. I love all the suggestions I’ve gotten. Thanks!


  22. Although I love reading of all kinds, I am partial to the short story. The two best collections I have come across are:

    1. Fidelity by Wendell Berry – If you’ve never read anything by Berry, stop what you’re doing and get this book. Berry’s simple way with words floored me.

    2. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – I read this book before I lived in India and read it again after I returned last year. Powerful both times, though in different ways.


  23. 1. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell: The struggle between contrasting feminine archetypes–Scarlett and Melanie–made me understand the advantages and consequences faced by different kinds of strong women years before I read any feminist literature.

    2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver: the post-Green-Revolution food industry is creepy. It’s effects are even creepier. Home-grown tomatoes are tasty.

    3. Beowulf: There’s a reason Lit majors still have to read it.

    4. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy: When I was little I imagined god as a bearded old man who knew so much about the universe that he could talk about it wisely, simply, and in terms that were lovely and compassionate. It turns out I was thinking of Tolstoy.

    5. Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas: I read that Dylan Thomas wrote UMW to convince himself and his audience that there could still be beauty in the world after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’ve been rereading it since I was a teenager, and I remain convinced.


  24. I am going to second “Operating Instructions” by Anne Lamott. I read it many years ago as a required reading for a college course and absolutely loved it.

    As far as finding time to read…? Well even with a 2 year old and a 1 year old who go to bed at 7pm and wake up at 9am (yes, I’m spoiled…I know), I still find it hard to sit down and read. The piles of laundry and dust bunnies cry out to me as I read. So, my answer is books on cd. I LOVE them. I’m currently half way through my local library branch’s selection of cd books.


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