A Few Favorites

Recently I was listening to The Moth and a story told by Colin Ryan came on.  It broke my heart a little because I experienced something similar.  However, there was one line in the story that made me smile.

Colin Ryan made the embarrassing mistake of earnestly answering a questionnaire in middle school that later caused him to realize and remember a true friend in the room.


The question in the story was “where is your favorite place to travel?”  His answer-“anywhere a good book takes me”.

LOVE IT!  For me, no truer sentence was said!

What books stand out for you?

Here are a few of mine:


A Tree Grows In Brooklyn:

The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.


I have read and re-read this book many times.  For Christmas a few years ago, my mom gave me an illustrated book club edition from 1947.  This will definitely be a book I pass on to Miss ME.


In 1985 North and South was on TV.  My parents wouldn’t let me watch it, but I actually sat on the stairs behind them and watched the entire mini series.  I’m sure they knew I was there and just decided to let it go.  Once Patrick Swayze stole my heart as Orry Main, I knew I had to read the book.  I still have my worn copy of John Jakes North and South.

Two strangers, young men from Pennsylvania and South Carolina, meet on the way to West Point . . . Thus begins this brilliant novel of antebellum America, spanning three generations and chronicling the lives and loves of two great family dynasties. The Hazards and the Mains are brought together in bonds of friendship and affection that neither jealousy nor violence can shatter — until a storm of events sunders the nation and brings the cataclysm of war!

When I was working in Boston and commuting on the train, Oprah’s Book Club was at its peak and She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb was a choice.  I can tell you I missed my Central Square stop several times because I was engrossed in the book.  I re-read it a few years ago and realized it is an odd book, but boy did I love it!

She’s Come Undone is a deeply affecting, often hilarious novel that centers around one of the most extraordinary characters in recent American fiction: wisecracking, ever-vulnerable Dolores Price, whose life we follow through her fortieth year. When we first meet Dolores in 1956, she is four years old, innocently unaware that the delivery of a television set will launch her tumultuous personal odyssey.

There are two books I always recommend to people.  The first is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves.

The second book is Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese.  I adored this book.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.

Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles–and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

What books have stuck with you through out the years?

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along.

8 thoughts on “A Few Favorites

  1. Susan says:

    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my all-time favorite. My mom gave it to me for Christmas many many years ago, and it’s dog-eared and the cover is battered, but I still read every once in a while. This book feels like going home.


  2. Tracey says:

    You and I are much alike when it comes to books. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time forever favorites. Have you read Joy in the Morning by her, as well? It’s very different from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but just as compelling.

    Ann Patchett is another author whose books just take me places. Magician’s Assistant is my very favorite, and Run (set in Boston) is a gorgeous, gorgeous read, and both are books that, for me, make you just SINK into them.

    The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell is another one – so gorgeous, so compelling, so different from anything else I’ve ever read. A bit more sci-fi, but stunningly gorgeous.

    and holy crap, North and South! I remember my mom and Dorney being SO SO SO INTO Patrick Swayze in that, oh my god. I’ve never read the book – I’ll seek it out!

    (I listened to that Moth story slam too – that story hit home with me, as well! I loved this whole post.)


    • MrsMcD918 says:

      I love hearing about books that have meant a lot to people!
      Yup, freshman year, advanced history I believe, the teacher did something similar and read people’s answers aloud to a questionnaire. Worse was that she was the one who mocked people’s answers. Glad it is behind me 😉

      I’ll take a look at the books/authors you suggested!


  3. Caroline says:

    My grandmother lent me her copy of City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre and that still remains one of my favourite novels. Of course the movie stared Patrick Swayze so this one may be of interest to you!


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