top five All-Time-Favorite books

Amy’s List

  1. The Message to the Planet
    by Iris Murdoch
    Alfred Ludens believes the elusive and charismatic Marcus Vallar holds an important secret for all of mankind. Ludens devotes a lot of questionable mental energy to Vallar. I identified a lot with Ludens. Still searching for that secret.

  2. Midnight’s Children
    by Salman Rushdie

    I like books that tell a story both personal and political. Born at midnight at the precise moment of Indian independence, Saleem Sinai’s story is also about the re-birth of India. I read this book on a houseboat in Kerala. It doesn’t get much better than that.

  3. Hopeful Monsters
    by Nicholas Mosley
    Another great novel that is both personal and political. This one is a love story between Max and Eleanor in the first half of the 20th century, but it also tells the story of the intellectual and political history of the Western world during this time. I used to think this book could be about me and a friend of mine. It’s not.

  4. Conspiracy of Fools
    by Kurt Eichenwald
    I like books that satisfy my nosiness. And books about business scandals. This one appeals to both interests. It’s a blow-by-blow of the Enron scandal in 2001. Not sure who Eichenwald’s sources were but they were definitely in the room where it happened. Began re-reading it as soon as I was done.

  5. Wave
    by Sonali Deraniyagala

    This book presents the interior monologue of someone living through horrific circumstances. The writing is declarative, lean, and unforgettable. Also began re-reading it as soon as I finished.

Mary’s List

  1. The Westing Game
    by Ellen Raskin

    In Strange Land Home, our main character Katie Keaton says this is her favorite book, and I agree with her. The story is the perfect puzzle. I loved trying to figure out the clues along with the characters and also the mystery of unmaking the bookie, the bomber and the mistake. I was probably the most excited about the last one. The mistake?? Who could it be? I love that a lot of schools are still reading this book so many years later and I loved reading it to my daughters and hearing them gasp in exactly the same places I gasped the first time I read it.

  2. Sula
    by Toni Morrison
    I took a class on Toni Morrison in college and I loved all her books. Sula might have been my least favorite at the time, but then I was lucky enough to do the sound design for a staged production of the book and I got to hear the poetry of the words over and over and they sort of crept into my blood. I imagine I still only understand a few layers, but I often think about the main message I took away. That female friendships have an indelible nature and they are more important than you realize.

  3. The Accidental Tourist
    by Anne Tyler
    This book reminded me so much of my father. Macon was such a regimented man and the idea that he could find this happiness and spontaneity in his life after such an unimaginable tragedy gave me so much hope. The concept of a travel writer who hates to travel is brilliant in and of itself, but everything else in this book matched it.

  4. Heartburn
    by Nora Ephron
    I’ll admit I saw the movie first. But after hearing Meryl Streep deliver that monologue towards the end with the pie—if you’ve read it or seen it, you know the one—I had to have it in print. That scene takes my breath away every time I read it. And with the book you get a bunch of recipes to boot. Including the one for key lime pie with all that ripe-for-throwing-in-someone’s-face whipped cream.

  5. To Room Nineteen
    by Doris Lessing
    This one is a short story, so kind of a cheat, but I love it. I did a performance piece based on this story. It’s about a mother who feels like she’s losing herself in the routine of caring for her family. I didn’t have kids when I first read it, but—as you’ve probably figured out—I tend towards the dramatic and this story resonated then and has stayed with me.

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