I really LOVE getting book suggestions from people who've read something that moved them in some way. It always feels like such a gift when I receive that kind of recommendation. It's like they've given me a small part of themselves in some way. So, in this post, I'd like to give you a gift of 10 book recommendations of my own. Some of them you might recognize. (Frankly, some of the books have been around FOREVER.) But there might be at least a few that are new to you and that you'll enjoy as much as I did. The links are affiliate links--which means I'll get a small commission if you use them, but it won't cost you anything extra. If you don't want to use them, that's cool. You can always go directly to Amazon or any other bookseller--including your local bookstore! Enjoy!
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Ever heard of Hemingway--as in Ernest? Yep. Thought so. Well, this book is a fictional account of his first wife--Hadley Richardson--and their passionate and heartbreaking romance. The setting is 1920s Paris and the cast of characters includes many you'll recognize, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce. As a writer, I ate all of this up! It was so much fun to be transported back to a time that was as creative and transformative as it was wild and heady.
Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny
My soul sister introduced me to the Chief Inspector Gamache books several years ago and I fell in love with them from the very start. Although the books are typically murder mysteries, the focus is on the characters who live in a small, out-of-the-way town near Montreal, Canada called Three Pines. I love them all--from the profanity-spewing elderly poet to the gay innkeepers to the intelligent and kind chief inspector. And I miss them while I'm waiting for Louise Penny to publish the next book in the series. The book I've mentioned here isn't the first book in the series--that would be Still Life--but it's my fave.
The Art of Racing in the Rain--A Novel by Garth Stein
If you love dogs, this is a must read. Seriously. Get it now--and bring tissues. I read this book right after I had to put my beloved 15-year-old Labrador to sleep several years ago and SOBBED when I got to the end. (And I'm not a crier.) But it brought me an overwhelming sense of peace that I hadn't been able to find until this book. It's that good.
The Prince of Tides--A Novel by Pat Conroy
When Pat Conroy passed away, it felt like such a huge loss to me. I had never met the man--but I was so sad that I'd never read a new work by him. I'm a southerner by birth and loved how he wrote about the South--fearlessly and beautifully exposing its downfalls and celebrating its wonder. The Prince of Tides was the first book I read by Mr. Conroy. I was in my early 20s and I clearly remember sitting on the floor of my two-room apartment reading the final pages of this magnificent novel--realizing that this would be the book against which I'd forever measure all others.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood--A Novel by Rebecca Wells
Maybe you've seen the movie Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I did. And I loved it! But, even if you saw it, you still need to read the book it was based on. It's such a wonderful tale of strong--and sometimes broken--female characters. I was mesmerized by the way it explored the relationship between mother and daughter and the strength and resilience of the tie that binds a group of such uniquely different friends through the decades.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
I loved The Kite Runner. Amazing story. But I ADORED A Thousand Splendid Suns. From beginning to end, I was absolutely spellbound by this story of two women. It seemed to constantly move back and forth between heartwarming and horrifying. And I was also awestruck by the way Khaled Hosseini brings Afghanistan to life in such a vivid and beautiful way.
American Assassin: A Mitch Rapp Novel by Vince Flynn
Okay. I must confess. I'm a political junkie. And the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn feeds my habit. The main character--Mitch Rapp (obviously)--is a CIA secret operative whose focus is counterterrorism. I've read the entire series to date and most of the reading I did was when I was on the treadmill. The action in the books is too intense for me to read sitting down. Let me just say, it made my workouts go by faster than EVER.
The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
I've always been a history buff and this book set during WWII is the REAL DEAL when it comes to sweeping historical fiction. I read it years ago when I was a college student--and it wasn't a class assignment. I read it because it's a story that absolutely consumed me. I lived with the characters day after day, night after night as I made my way through this epic. And the best part? It didn't end at "The End." There's a sequel called War & Remembrance!
Pompeii by Robert Harris
I've always been fascinated by the story of Pompeii and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. We've all seen the ghostly images of those who were frozen in time by the ash and debris that rained down on the city. But that doesn't even begin to tell the story of the vibrant seaside community that existed before that terrifying day. This book by Robert Harris brings it all back to life in a way that gave me a whole new perspective--not just about the disaster, but about the people who lived through it and died because of it.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
I've been a fan of Sue Monk Kidd for years. And The Invention of Wings just solidified that fandom. Set in 19th century Charleston, it's a tale of an unexpected and complex relationship between a female slave and the plantation owner's daughter. Their age is about the only thing these two have in common--but their life stories are intertwined in ways that held my attention from beginning to end.
So--there you have it! Ten books that I've loved and that touched me in so many ways. Now, how about sharing YOUR favorite books with me and others in the comments below? I'd love to hear your recommendations. Summer's coming up and I need to get my reading list together!