Education was very important in our household. Even during the summer months it was not unheard of to have a book report required by my father. He was always giving us books that he felt we needed to read. Some stick out. Others are vaguely familiar. I couldn't tell you the general plot of Jonathan Livingston Seagull if you paid me; but I remember all three of us being required to read it and our appreciating its shortness. However, The Good Earth is one I remember and one that became my favorite book of all time.
Not only is the book a great story full of life lessons, the story surrounding my discovery of it is a lesson in "father knows best". I was a teenager in high school. My dad gave me the book and told me I should read it. Several days later, he asked if I had started it. Nope. I got one of those disapproving looks and was reminded to begin reading it...soon. He gave me a little more time. A few days later he asked me if I had started the book. Nope. Okay, now he’d had enough. At that moment I was ordered up to my room and I had to begin reading the book. After a few pages of Buck’s wonderful story telling I was hooked. Oh, crap! My father was right...again. The book was great!
WHAT IS YOUR BOOK LOVE STORY?
My favorite book, the one I've read every few years for the past 25 years, is J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories. He's known, of course, for Catcher in the Rye, but I find Nine Stories so much more subtle, and so thought-provoking. It centers me, reminding me of who I am as both a person and a writer.
I gravitate toward the various philosophies, both Western and Eastern that inform the book. He's never in the reader's face about them, but they're quietly at work in almost all of the stories with a message of mindfulness, and of appreciation for the connections we make with each other as humans.
As well, each story is simply so entertaining as a study of character, body language, setting, and theme. I teach both high school and university writing classes, and I never fail to recommend Nine Stories as my favorite book and one which I hope my students will read. Most of them find that they love it as much as I do!
Author, Journalism Teacher
I keep returning to The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
In 2002 this boyfriend and I broke up, but for Christmas a few months later he still got me a gift, this book. The first time I read it was on a road trip from Southern California to Arizona and back over a weekend. At first I thought it was his way of saying he would someday come back to me. I soon realized he wasn't coming back but I kept reading it over and over. For me the book has become a foundation for my beliefs, that the world ever so gently coaxes us toward what we are supposed to do, suppose to become, in life. If we listen closely enough, and look for signs we can choose to follow our dreams and fulfill our purpose in life, but all too often we get carried away in the day to day and lose our purpose, lose our way. Whenever I'm starting to feel like my life isn't moving forward, like I'm losing my way, I re-read this book. I've given it as a gift over a dozen times. It's written so simply, but so elegantly. It's like the peoples poetry, using words everyone can understand but no one else can put together quite like Coelho. As an atheist, this story is akin to my bible, it has morals and representational characters and lessons about how love makes up the fabric of the universe. This book got me addicted to Coelho and while I will buy and read all of his books, nothing quite compares.
Town of Apple Valley
Public Relations Specialist
Looks like you aren't the only one who loves it.
My favorite book is The Alchemist.
Everyone has their own interpretation, but to me, it isn't just a wee man wondering around in the desert. It's a giant (well, 100 page) metaphor on a successful way to approach life. It should be mandatory reading - once you've gotten out of school/university though. And you'll probably have to read it again later, so you appreciate it for what it is.
There are handfuls of books that I would certainly say that I've read many times over the years. And though it's hard to name just one, I'll name the one that popped into my head first. The Stand by Stephen King.
Yes, I know it may be an odd choice. I don't remember when I read it for the first time and I certainly couldn't tell you how many times over the years I've read it. The biggest reason is the comfort factor. I've reread it so many times for the same reason I aways eat chicken soup when I have a cold. Or crave hot chocolate on a cold rainy day. The comfort factor. When things aren't going right in my life I know I can count on the Stand to make me forget for awhile. And if I'm just lacking a better book to read, I can rely on the fact that the Stand will entertain me.
I read it while I was a lovelorn angst ridden teenager. I read it while my boyfriend, the man I would later marry, spent the first two years we were together on the road. When I miscarried my first child I crawled in bed and read the Stand. When my parents divorced. While I was in labor with my son. Camping in the mountains, lounging on the beach, or cooped in a hotel room far from home. The Stand has always been my companion and friend. Always there with the promise that no matter how bleak life may look at any given moment, that there is always a future to look forward to. And that no matter how much evil there is in the world, it will never outweigh the good.
My favorite book: The Magic of Thinking Big
Because it’s simply amazing and ever so inspiring to strive for the best in me!
My favorite book is The Awakening by Kate Chopin.
I first read it as required literature reading in college, and have read it at least 10 more times since then. Even though the book was written in a different time/place, I always feel the struggles for the main character has remained timeless. Whether you have children, don't have children, work, don't work, it doesn't matter; you can identify with her thoughts and feelings throughout the book. The ending may not be a happy one, but it's one of the few endings I truly feel completely fits the book. To me, there is no other way to realistically end the story. We miss out on that in current literature and fiction writing. It seems writers are afraid to end the book with a solid ending. They look either to wrap it up in a cute, happy little bow or leave it open for possible sequels.
Each time I read it, I'm reminded to embrace my own personal "awakenings".
Director of Media Relations
One book which really deserves a lot of recognition is Shadow of the Sword by Jeremiah Workman. This really is a powerful book of a Marine who was awarded the Navy Cross (The second highest award that can be given.) This book truly helped me through a rough period of my life after I returned home from Iraq. It really takes you into the world of PTSD and it let me know that I was not alone during my struggles reintegrating back to civilian life.
My favorite book that I have read over and over is The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. My father recommended it to me when I was in high school because I was scared of storms, I think. Anyway, I have re-read it during every crisis and happiness. It's a book that I find hope and guidance for life's curve balls.
P.S I am 52 now and still have my copy from high school. I have never loaned it out but prefer to buy friends their own copy.
I read Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited every year - and it seems strange that this dusty relic of a vanished world means so much to me. It’s a story about an aristocratic family in England in the 1920s and 30s, but it’s narrated by a friend of that family, Charles Ryder, during World War 2.
It is a magnificent, beautifully-written and incredibly moving book. I read it for the first time when I was 15 - it had been one of my mother’s favorites and I finally succumbed to her encouragement to read it. I have now not lasted a year without returning to its pages for timely insights into my own journey through life. Every time I curl into whichever battered paperback copy I’ve got closest to hand, I feel like I, too, am coming home.
Author, Literary Manager, Freelance Writer and Dramaturge
I've read, re-read and re-read Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber Series - A total of ten books now available as a single anthology called The Amber Chronicles. Roger Zelazny was an incredible writer in his own right and his swan song is The Amber Chronicles. There are so many elements that make the books re-readable a hundred times over without even a hint of boredom creeping in.
Zelazny wrote endlessly about family squabbles, quarrels and cabals -- something we can all relate to at one point or another in our lives. On a related note -- Machiavelli himself could study the Amber novels to gain new ideas and insights on how to best his opponents politically or otherwise. Zelazny wove the very best elements of fantasy into the fabric of modern-day reality with a very "believable" twist making The Amber Chronicles a fiction series that ANYONE can enjoy. The rich references to a cross-section of our culture - from nouveau riche to old money to ivy leaguers to hippies to royalty to vagrants, vagabonds and viceroys -- there's something in there for EVERYONE.
I first read The Amber Series some twenty-five years ago - when I was a teenager and I can credit Roger Zelazny for schooling me in gentlemanly behavior, philosophy AND real-world grit when I was a youngster. During my 20s and 30s the occasional re-read would leave me wiser and shaking my head in wonder at how many times Zelazny hit home with his writing on a myriad of subjects. Now that I'm past the big 4-0 I can sit down and read the novels again and walk away with even more appreciation, understanding and awareness of just how deep Zelazny's Amber universe ran - and still be endlessly entertained. The Amber Chronicles is on my coffee table and I'm roughly one third through -- yet again.
My favorite all time book is Rachael Carson's 1956 A Sense of Wonder.
I have 11 1/2 grandchildren and I read it each time another one is born to remind me of my role as their grandmother in nurturing their natural sense of wonder of the world around them. To this day, one of their favorite things to do with me is to go on a nature walk and we try to learn and discover at least one new thing every day. Even my little ones can identify a female cedar tree from a male and it is exciting to see their excitement!
I don't have any one copy that is all marked up....because I keep getting new ones and giving my old ones away. Once I show it to a friend...especially someone who has never read it...it usually touches their heart and spirit like it touched mine so many years ago when I was a brand new mother in 1973 and read it for the first time and oh how I wanted to help keep my child's sense of wonder alive and vibrant! In my opinion, this book will never be outdated....and in fact, it seems to be more applicable all the time! I also like this book because its effects go beyond its covers...it is not completely read unless it is lived....it is what I call a "living" book.
Cathy C. Runyan-Svacina
Over the winter I read Four Hour Work-Week, which I borrowed from the library. I liked it so much I bought three copies - one for me and one each for my twin 22-year-old sons.
Author Timothy Ferriss details (and I mean details) many extraordinary steps and guidelines for taking one's passion and monetizing it. Most important to me is that it provides a roadmap to earning non-linear income. Linear income has been vexing me for several years now. So this book is now one of my most valuable resources. He also points out the folly of doing things that are not of value to one's personal mission and goals, and that includes working 40 years/40 hours per week for the CHANCE that you get to enjoy some moderately comfortable retirement. I even emailed Mr. Ferriss' VA and, through her, sent him my thanks. BTW- EVERYone would benefit from his policy on handling email correspondence. Though I admittedly have not been able to bring myself to implement it! It is brutal. I am happy to share more about my love for this book, certainly one of the best of the dozens I have devoured over recent years.
Surf Ohio LLC
The book I cannot get enough of is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
It’s usually always classified as an all-American novel, but to me it has a deeper significance of my American teenagerhood and trying to grow into myself. I read it the first time my sophomore year of high school, and trust me; the book is covered with class scribbles, highlighting marks, and post-its. The symbolism is amazing with the green light and its parallels to money, but it’s more symbolic towards the awkwardness of being a teenager while reading it. Whenever I had to read that book for "homework" (and it definitely didn’t feel like homework), I was able to escape to a land of reshaped American dreams and ideals. To this day, I read this book once in a while and I can image the certain passages I am reading and the certain feelings I was feeling in my life. It truly is a book love story.
University of Wisconsin - Madison
When I was in my late twenties, I went on vacation to Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) Canada. I was only tangentially aware of Lucy Maud Montgomery's writing (she wrote the Anne of Green Gables series). I visited her childhood home, where she wrote the series and purchased several of her books, most of which were not available in the U.S. My very favorite book, after devouring most of her work, has got to be The Blue Castle.
The main character, Valancy, is a spinster, living with her disapproving mother and spinster auntie. Everything Valancy does, says and thinks is suspect. She's constricted on all sides by her society and family roles. Then, after suffering mysterious chest pains, Valancy secretly goes to see the doctor who leaves her breathless with a diagnosis that her condition is fatal and she only has one year to live. THAT's when the story gets interesting. I love, love, love the change in Valancy at this pivot point in the story. I also love the feeling I get when I reread this book. I'm left with the feeling that if Valancy can change her life that drastically, I can, too.
Every time I open those yellowed pages, I'm swept back to a picturesque island beach, while my two sons make sand castle after sand castle as the sun drops into the Atlantic Ocean. My sons were five and seven when we visited P.E.I. They're now twenty seven and twenty nine, but I still remember those golden days we spent together. The races across the kitchen floor with Abbott and Costello (their lobster dinners), the times just spent hanging out together, and the never to be forgotten times when they were both small.
Cherie K. Miller
Wisdom Creek Press
My favorite books to reread to my kids are by E.B. White: Trumpet of the Swan, Charlotte's Web & Stuart Little. I read all three when I was a child in the 70s and have read all three to my oldest 3 kids. Number 4 needs a couple of years, but I have the originals saved for him.
My favorite book to read to myself is Great Expectations. The heartbreak and redemption is overlapped on stark reality and neurotic love is breathtaking.
Z Group PR
I first read Gravity’s Rainbow during a backpacking trip through Europe at age 20. In London, in fact, where much of the book takes place. I’m reading it now, at age 50 for the 3d time, which is unusual in that I read so much I have only read one other book twice.
Gravity’s Rainbow is (something its virtually never given credit for) soulful, hilarious, a searching meditation on our contemporary condition and what got us here, encyclopedic, and endlessly mind-blowing, a trait that makes my current re-read incredibly gratifying. I see it now, I think, something that at age 20 I couldn’t possibly presume to understand while understanding nonetheless for certain that within its endless digressions into matters I never had even imagined but knew were vital to know
Associate Professor, Legal Analysis & Writing
Case Western Reserve University School of Law
There is one book in my life that I keep returning to at different point in my life. I have ended up reading it every couple of years over the past 15 years.
The book is The Little Prince by St. Antoine Exupery. I first read the novel (in English) in my French Class when I was 13. On my first reading it seemed straightforward and I loved it. A few years later it was assigned a second time for class. This time it was read on a deeper level looking at the historical context of the story. Again I loved it but for a new reason. The third time I read the book was also for class but this time in French and a whole new level was opened for me.
After high school, there was no need for me to read this book again but I found myself buying different editions of it whenever I would come across one in bookstores and then sitting down to reread in one sitting. Also lending and giving copies as gifts to children and adults alike. Every time I have gone back to reread the book it has illuminated something new that relates to my life in the present, whether it be love, work, friendship, obligation etc. And every time I cry, laugh and fall in love all over again. It is the only book that I continue to learn from and has stood the test of time. It is ageless.
In fact, I think it is time for me to read it again now!
"Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents," grumbled Jo, lying on the rug." Thus begins my favorite book. The book of course is Louisa M. Alcott's Little Women.
I read it first when I was about ten years old. I'd been pestering my mom for something new to read. She rifled through her shelves and handed me a fat old book, a bit tattered around the edges. I was skeptical--then I was absorbed. I laughed at Meg's misadventures in being a governess, got angry at Amy's vicious teacher, sobbed my heart out when Beth died, and sighed with happiness when Jo finally embraced her professor.
As I read and re-read my vocabulary expanded to include words like garret, conservatory, and tarlatan. At times the Civil War era seemed more real to me than my own, and I would worry that Father would never make it safely home.
Little Women accompanied me to sleep away camp, on high school sports trips, and to college. It was the only book I took with me when I went to Russia for a summer study program. Each time I read it I found some new meaning. When my fourteen year old heart broken by my first boyfriend I read Amy and Laurie's love story and took comfort in happy endings. When I was nervous about a new teaching job I reminded myself the students couldn't possibly be worse than the spoiled brats Meg had to teach.
I'm in my thirties and I still read Little Women. The one I "borrowed" from my mom is now much tattered around the edges and retired to my cedar chest. My working copy is a cheap paperback, dog-eared and falling apart. Right now my bookmark (one I picked up in middle school) is at the chapter where Jo leaves home to teach in the city. I think I'll go join her.
My favorite book is The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz .
I love it because it's true, it's a great story, it's about overcoming impossible obstacles, it has one of the oldest stories about yetis in it, it was written by a military man who knows how to observe clearly and closely, yet can also talk about his and others' emotions and why they do what they do. It covers everything: adventure, war, love, nature, survival, man's inhumanity to man, different cultures, extreme weather and habitats, strange situations including luck and torture.
The problem with this book is that I keep buying it to give to friends, but I always reread it, give it away, and then buy another copy!
P.S. I'm a librarian and I've read tons of books! This is still my favorite.
My favorite book is The Secret of Inner Strength by Chuck Norris. Seriously.
I first read it in 1989, not long after it was published, and have read it about 6 times over the past 12 years. Each time I have renewed my awe that someone at the absolute bottom of the economic ladder could climb to the absolute top - all while having high integrity, honesty, and resiliency that most of us dream about. More importantly, reading Chuck's story (repeatedly) helped me get through a very, very tough 2 years of unemployment (from 1990 - 1992), as it served as the fuel for my motivation to keep persevering through those hard years.
In 1992, when Chuck was doing a tour for his then-recently released movie, Sidekicks, I brought my dog-eared copy to my local theater, where he was signing autographs. While the rest of the group all told him how much they loved his movies, I quietly thanked him for helping me get through my difficult years, and giving me the strength and courage to start my own business (which was flourishing). He seemed genuinely touched, and as he signed my book, I encouraged him to write another book to continue to share his lessons on pulling ourselves out of difficulties. He laughed and said "I don't know... that first one almost killed me!", but in 1996 he did release another (the first is still my favorite).
I keep re-reading an English translation of Cervantes' Don Quixote because of its universal characters and compelling story.
I read it the first time when I was in junior high school Spanish class. We actually did read parts of it in Spanish. The teacher told us we should read it three times in our life, as a young person, in middle age and in old age because the story changes as your point of view changes. I have far exceeded that recommendation.
When I was in high school, I read it again because I was still taking Spanish and "The Man of LaMancha" opened off-Broadway. I fell in love with the musical and have seen it many times since. The last time I re-read Don Quixote was when I turned 50; he is 50 in the story. I was appalled at how they treated the "old man" especially when I did not feel at all old at that age. I am always struck at how, even in the 16th century, people are people. We have not changed all that much.
I want to read it again, but in Spanish. I need a lot of work to get there. I am still not fluent.
Susan Bender Phelps
Susan...one of my favorite words is quixotic. You don't get to use it often in every day conversation though. :-)
All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates -- it is perfect for reading on a plane, on the beach, or at the pool. This book sits on my nightstand. I've read it about 20 times, and I pick it up whenever I lose faith in dating. (Which is about once a week!)
All Men Are Cremated Equal: My 77 Blind Dates was a winning and energetic read that I savored like creamy Swiss chocolate! This gal wanted the love of her life to show up sooner than later, so she got off the couch and went out the door to find him. When she ends her engagement in her mid-30s, Elizabeth decides she is going to take matters into her own hands. She makes a list of unswayable dating criteria, or "The Big Ten" as she likes to say, and then gives her friends and relatives the green light to set her up on blind dates. Elizabeth remained determined to carry out her dating rules, and no matter what discards were sent her way, she stayed animated throughout, and ultimately wins her hand by playing close to the vest.
I recommend this memoir because it is a complete hoot, and everyone will for sure roll their eyes at her dates. (Some are pretty wacky!) But mostly, Elizabeth will inspire women to be true to themselves since she is such a fine example of a quality woman who did not succumb to settling for half a loaf.
Can you tell I was inspired?
The best book ever written - 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
It doesn't matter how many times I read it, there is something I missed each times. The characters are so fantastic and the detailed descriptions are phenomenal. I read it for the first time in my late teens. I am now in my early 40s. It is one of my favorite gifts to give people and while I may not re-read it every year, I doubt 2 years go by without another pass. It is easy to be transported to a totally different world through his exceptional prose and once begun, a very hard book to put down.
Business Consultant / QuickBooks Advisor
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Her descriptions of characters and scenes always ring true, and her action scenes make you feel like you're right there. I can't even tell you how many times I've read this book since first reading it in my 9th grade English class. My original paperback is now just separate sheets, no longer bound together.
Thompson Writing & Editing, Inc.
One of my favorite books is The Hotel New Hampshire.
I loved The World According To Garp and so picked up Irving's next book. It became a sort of bible for my family when my parents divorced and my mother had a nervous breakdown and ended up in a private mental hospital. In fact, my brother had t-shirts made up that said, "camp roth" on the front and "where life is serious but art is fun" an important line in the book. When my husband and I started dating I gave him the book to read as the best way to know me and my family. The book really resonated with me because it was all about a family who was incredibly eccentric and loved one another fiercely. As I write this I realize I am due to read it again.
Debbie Roth Fay
bespeak presentation solutions
The book that I have read over and over again, even as an adult (I have a copy at my parents house that I sometimes read when I go visit them!) is the Black Stallion by Walter Farley.
I certainly had every little girl's love of horses, and read nearly every horse book I could get my hands on, but none of them really sparked my imagination like the Black Stallion. The Black Stallion had a world where I could completely lose myself, but unlike more fluffy horse fiction, it is a world of consequences. Alec really could have died on the island and not even Bear Grylls could have done a better job at surviving. The Black really was the center of an international legal battle with conflicting documents, claims, and jurisdiction.
All of that aside and before I even knew what legal jurisdiction was, I wrote a short novel about me riding the Black Stallion in the Kentucky Derby and dealing with the horrific situation of losing the tack on our flight. Yes, at age 10 I thought people flew their horses around. It’s like the boat in the original story right? Despite my not quite so realistic story and imagination and my drawings of horses that have funny looking legs (one admittedly looks more like a goat than a horse) my early authorship is still sitting on my parent's bookshelves like I was on par with the Random House and McGraw Hill published writers on either side. So move over highly paid authors, my imaginary horse and I are going to board a plane and fly into a spot above you on the bestseller list.
Technology & Social Media Account Executive
PR/PR Public Relations
The book I keep going back to is one about how to be assertive without being aggressive -- When I Say No I Feel Guilty by Manual Smith, PhD. When I have to handle a difficult situation and I am afraid I am going to lose my cool, I go back and read the book again.
I've read Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor at least ten times.
Its dog-eared pages and highlighted passages are like old friends to me. I like reading and re-reading my notes and even making new notes. It was written as a resource for how to get along with people, how to change habits (theirs and yours), but it's been adopted by dog trainers. It's a bible on how to modify behavior. The basic laws of behavior are written in the book and every time I read it again, I learn something new. Or find something I can apply in a different situation in my life. I couldn't get by without it.
As a dog trainer, I use the principles every day when working with both the dog and the owner. And as a wife, I find it crazy-useful when my husband's habits are getting ready to send me over the edge. I just crack open the book to the right chapter and I'm armed with easy and fun ways to help my husband pick up his socks off the floor -- without nagging! This is one book I couldn't live without.
Smart Dog University
My absolute favorite book is The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.
I served in the Navy for about five years and that’s where I first read this. It’s a parable about war and how you can never really come home afterward. Home is a place we’ve idealized and dreamt about for so long after serving in the military, that when you return, it can never possibly be as good as how you remember it. Aside from the book speaking to me on a service member level, it’s just a fantastically well written story. The dialogue is moving and you really care about the main character by the end. Plus it's sci-fi, which I love and deals with the effects of near light speed travel (you barely age while traveling close to the speed of light, while everyone on Earth you left behind gets much older or dies during your journey).
Going to the Sun Marketing
My favorite is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
I've read it 10 times or more and love its sense of journey. It's a tale of movement, physical, emotional, chronological. I go with Huck and Jim down the river, threading its tight places, fearing its snags, reveling in its high-noon brilliance, despairing its desolate, blinding fogs. Spirits rise and sink; there is an ebb and flow to the book that reflects Twain's humor and hijinks, his exploration of man's cruelties and shortcomings. The river is life itself, all its changes, captivations, challenges--I journey anew every time I move through the book's pages. The book is so much Twain, cantankerous, doleful, lyrical, uproarious, scruffy and penetrating. I think Huck Finn is the greatest creation of our greatest writer. I'm lucky: I can stop Huck before he lights out for the territories--I can go back to page one and start all over again.
The Write Word
The book that I have read many times is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
I have taken it off my book shelves each December since 1985; it has become a Christmas tradition—it just speaks of the Christmas season to me. I love Dickens’ long descriptive passages; the familiar spoken words of each character; the redemptive story of Scrooge; and the hope it gives that all people will one day become good and care for one another.
The 21st Century Guide to Bachelorhood by Brad Berkowitz
I have re-read it several times. This is a must read for men and women because it has humor and practicality. You learn from it and realize you were in some of those situations. You reread this book to learn again, laugh again and suggest it to other people.
I'm noting a small trend...
One book I just re-read is The 21st Century Guide to Bachelorhood: Lessons Learned Over the Past 20 Years by Brad Berkowitz. I think in these times of dating uncertainty, especially in a big metropolis such as New York, Brad's insight into the world of dating provides to the point advice which is wrapped up in humor and charm. Definitely a good buy and something that has value when going through a second time, third time, etc.
Hey Dan & Harry, do you two know Brad? Do you know each other? :-)
Thank you to all of you who shared your book love stories. I think my summer reading list just increased.