In the last few weeks, I've run across several lists of books other people have recommended. Some lists have classics. Others are books that have influenced the reader. My list is simply a list of books I've enjoyed for a variety of reasons. When I peruse the lists created by other people, I always wonder what the reasons are behind each book listed. Why exactly did that book make the cut? So I'll try to include a bit about what each book means to me.
None of them are new books. All have been on my keeper shelves for at least three or four years. There are non-fiction, fiction, print, and digital books on the list. If nothing else, you can read the list and wonder what facets of Anny Cook are revealed by the books on the list.
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. A non-fiction book compiled from the original records, diaries and letters of the Mayflower settlers. It's definitely not your grandmother's version of the pilgrims. However, if you want a vivid portrait of early settlement in America, then this is the book for you. I believe it should be required reading in all high schools, but then I'm not crazy about the current educational requirements in U.S. schools.
When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone. A history of the goddess religion in the Old Testament era with a discussion of how current gender expectations were ultimately shaped by the clash of paternal religion vs. maternal religion. Clearly, in the past women played very different roles from today. This book offers some fascinating theories about why our roles have changed.
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. This was the first romance I ever read. I checked it out of the library in my high school my freshman year. I believe I can safely say it sparked a lifelong love of romantic suspense and the understated, unexpected hero. I still love the story and read it every two or three years. I fell madly in love with Sir Percy Blakeney.
The Domesday Book, edited by Thomas Hinde. In 1086 William the Conqueror sent Royal Commissioners out across England to take the first census. Over nine hundred years later ninety percent of the towns and villages in that first census are still there. It's a fabulous document with amazing details about city and country life at that time. Of course, I'm a genealogist so I'm even more fascinated when I can point to the entries for the house hunk's ancestors.
The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. Yes, yes, I know I'm strange. However, I confess I could spend hours reading through the entries in The Synonym Finder. As a writer, there have been many, many times when I couldn't put my finger on exactly the right word. Blame aging brain cells. But when I absolutely, positively have to have the right word, I will be able to find it in The Synonym Finder.
Last Man Standing by Janet Davies. A few years back Janet and I launched our writing careers at close to the same time. We shared a lot of things including an irreverent view of the world. Last Man Standing is the second book of a duet that begins with Swift of Heart. Both books are wonderful but I admit I fell hard for Alex Navarro in Last Man Standing. Yep, I did. The world building for the alternate world is wonderful. Sigh. The books are currently unavailable but if you happen to see them sometime in the future, snap 'em up.
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon. On the face of it, you'd wonder why this book made the cut, but it's simple. I so relate to the heroine, Ofelia. She's an elderly woman who contrives to be left behind when the space colony where she's lived most of her life is evacuated. Why? Because she wants some peace and quiet! One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Ofelia realizes she truly is alone and can do anything she wants...and she dances naked in the street. I felt such kinship with Ofelia. Each time I re-read it, I smile. Go, Ofelia!
A Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk, compiled by Hugh Rawson. "nude. Naked. There is more to nudity than meets the eye. A woman may pose for an artist in the 'nude,' but if she is seen minus her clothes by a Peeping Tom, then she is 'naked.'" Written with a wonderful sense of the irreverent, this is a excellent collection of words and phrases, complete with historical references to the first usage. A rare book that is both useful and entertaining.
Dragon in the System by Cindy Spencer Pape. First of all, this book has a dragon. Need I say more? Yeah? Well, it has a dragon. Okay, okay. It also has a wonderful romance between two unlikely characters. The world building is dead-on. And I suspect the hero is the spitting image of a certain author's spousal unit. If so, lucky, lucky author. And I'm still waiting for Drake's book. (That would be the dragon, of course.)
The Boy Who Invented the Bubble Gun by Paul Gallico. Uh, yeah. This is an adult/young adult book about a nine-year-old boy who invents a gun that blows bubbles. He runs away from home, taking a bus to Washington, D.C. in order to patent his bubble gun. On the way, he has quite a series of adventures. Yes, he does. On the bus with him is a Russian spy, and American Colonel with secret documents, two teenage lovers and a psychopathic killer. See, I told you he has quite an adventure!
Birthright by Nora Roberts. This book has two of my favorite subjects--archeology and family history. One plays against the other in an intricate dance of murder, discovery, lost love, and redemption. It's tough to choose, but I'm pretty sure this is my all-time favorite of all Nora's books and I've been reading her books since the very first one was published waaaaay back when. Psst. And Jake is to die for. Yummmm.
Well, that's my list for now. Maybe you could share some of your favorite books--the real keepers on your shelves.