Despite the snow, spring is (hopefully) right around the corner. The promise of warm, sunny days ahead has us wanting to crack open a good book… and it’s no coincidence that March is National Reading Month! To help celebrate, the Responsory team has offered up some of their favorite books for you to stick your nose in. Happy reading!
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There is no other book that’s made me smile, cry, think or reminisce more than The Little Prince. Although it’s technically a children’s book, the book addresses so many important life lessons that I think people can appreciate even more as adults. It can grow with you, and even if you’ve read it 100 times, you can get a different message each time.
Here is my favorite quote from the book – “Here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Blindness by José de Sousa Saramago
Saramago is a Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature. I read this initially because the author is Portuguese (my mom is from Portugal). And, I had heard the author is known for his punctuation, or lack of it, so that intrigued me. At first, the lack of punctuation was noticeable, but it wasn’t long until I couldn’t put the book down.
The Whiskey Rebels and The Coffee Trader by David Liss
David Liss is a master of the historical novel. The Whiskey Rebels is set right after the Revolutionary War. There’s an abundance of colorful details and intrigue and two concurrent stories that keep the pace moving. The Coffee Trader is set in England and is equally thrilling and interesting all at once.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I resisted reading it for some time because I am not a fan of her typical stories—too sappy and syrupy for me. Boy, am I glad I finally did. This historical fiction novel, set in World War II, Nazi-occupied France, follows two sisters and how each respond to the challenges of the time. Vianne and Isabelle’s parallel stories are unique, suspenseful, complicated and emotional. I actually cried at the end!
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
I first read the book when I graduated from college. No one’s personal library should be without it! Fulghum’s first book is necessary for every young adult to read in order to have a proper perspective on growing up. It should be a must-read for all high schoolers. It should be read again, in bits and pieces, throughout the rest of our lives. Useful and thought provoking life lessons in every chapter!
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Both of these books convey the true value of life. Be generous and sometimes what you are looking for is right under your feet.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The Pillars of the Earth is set in the 12th century in the fictional town of Kingsbridge and tells the story of the building of the world’s greatest Gothic cathedral. It details the lives of those involved in the cathedral’s construction and is both a love story and an epic. There is a sequel, World Without End, which is also very good.
The Shack by William P. Young
This novel is one of my favorite books because it challenges the traditional white male patriarchal Christian image of God that we’ve been taught and trained to believe in. The book also moves us through this incredible deep spiritual journey along with a father who desperately tries to understand why his young daughter suffered a tragic end. I like the fact that the book challenges mindsets, stirs anger and moves us beyond a man-made understanding of that Great Spirit that cannot be contained within a book.
Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson
Rich in detail about the daily lives of the Saudi royals and loaded with vivid personal stories, this novel tells the story of one Saudi Arabian princess. Even though my heart breaks every time I read it, Princess is one of my favorite books. I keep coming back to it, each time riding a roller-coaster of shock, anger, sadness and empathy. The sad and true reality of this novel enlightened me, and the women living as second-class citizens amaze and inspire me.
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Though it may be an obvious choice, this book has so much to it and is not just entertaining. The novel includes maps, poems, songs, endless detail, love, action, battles, monsters and an adventure roaming through a vast world like none other. Each time I read it, I discover new ways of looking through Tolkien’s words, revealing the same story with slightly new meanings.
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
This book has remained one of my favorites because it’s such a creative and imaginative story about accepting yourself and others. It can be viewed as a simple and silly book about a boy and imaginary monsters, but it really illustrates that it’s okay to express your feelings, to be wild and crazy and just let loose. The monsters and Max teach readers to accept themselves and others for who and what they are. That is why this book will forever be a classic.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Historical fiction novels have always been a favorite of mine, but this book touched me in a way that not many have. With two intertwining narratives of a young boy rising through the ranks in Nazi Germany and a blind girl escaping to the French countryside during World War II, the plot leaves you pining to find out more about each of them as you wait in anticipation for their paths to cross. Doerr’s beautiful imagery and conveyance of the humanity in all of us made for an intense and thrilling read that I will remember forever.