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I’m not sure what the backstory was, but Gini Dietrich wrote a blog post for Margie Clayman on her top 10 favorite books. I commented that it was a great list (in fact, I bought the Asher Lev book as a result) and Gini said I should write my own top 10.  Not one to pass up a challenge, I figured why not?

Holy moly, it is difficult to decide on my favorites.  I’ve been an avid reader since I was a little girl.  In my house bedtime was 9 p.m. but you could stay up an extra hour if you went to your room and read.  I chose reading; my sister Sandy chose to go to sleep.  She didn’t discover the real joy in reading until her late 20s.

Over the years I have been a fan of Judy Blume, Danielle Steele, John Grisham, John Hart (thanks Monty Hagler), Sandra Brown and Diana Gabaldon (thanks Jenny Brooks).  Of course, I read the Harry Potter series (thanks Sandy), the Hunger Games trilogy (thanks Gini), the Dragon Tattoo trilogy (thanks Indra Gardiner) and as much as I hate admitting it, that darn 50 Shades trilogy, too. But I wouldn’t call any of those books favorites.  A favorite book to me means one I want to read again…and again.  So with that in mind, here are some of my favorites.

To Kill a Mockingbird – I didn’t read this book until a few years ago.  I have seen the movie a dozen times and figured it was time to read it.  The gentle and kind way Atticus has with everyone around him is something to admire and strive for on a daily basis.

The Art of Racing in the Rain – anyone who has ever had a dog, can relate to this story.  I often wonder what Viva is thinking. This book, told from the dog’s perspective, is about pure, honest and unconditional love.  I dare you not to tear-up.

The Red Tent – Much more than a Bible story, this book delves into the power and strength of women.

Annie Freeman’s Traveling Funeral – Although Annie is dead, she is directing the lives of her closest friends when she asks them to come together for her traveling funeral.  Funny, sad and thought-provoking.  Makes you think about how you’ll be remembered when you’re gone.

Sarah’s Key – A French journalist learns about her country’s role in the Holocaust.  What she discovers is her passion and compassion for others.  I read this one in one sitting.

And because I was determined to get to 10, I asked my book club ladies to share some of their favorites, too.


From Mara:  Very tough…… almost too many to choose from but …

The Red Tent – I like how the author took a brief mention in the bible and created a plausible, intricate story about women in so many roles and how our relationships are rich and complicated.

Wicked – think McGuire’s ability to take a fairy tale and turn it upside down with such imagination and treatment of the characters, giving them heart and showing how they develop is genius. Think the love for this book goes back to my enjoyment of the Phantom Tollbooth and Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, in an adult world, I can use some imagination.

Lord of the Flies – a classic, brutal book, this one still gives me nightmares at the thought of young boys being put into a situation where they are forced to tap into their nature to survive.  Children turned into savages – yikes (movies like Children of the Corn have always creeped me out!)

Of course, I love To Kill a Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but this story has stuck with me since I read it in high school.

Many others…. Widow for One Year, The Kite Runner, The Alchemist, Sarah’s Key, My Sister’s Keeper, Cider House Rules, on and on!


From Christine: Anne Of Green Gables  - Book from my childhood that was written about Prince Edward Island which is in the Maritime Provinces of Canada.  My mom is from New Brunswick and we used to visit there each summer – this book was the first in a series and quite reminiscent of Mark Twain.  Good memories.

The Da Vinci Code – I didn’t take all of the historical facts and conspiracy theories to heart. I just thoroughly enjoyed this book and how it was written. Chapter by chapter, it was a page-turner and I couldn’t put it down.

The Shack– Wow, I am surprised that I am listing this book.  This was a difficult read but it is a book of forgiveness for me.  The subject matter was tough and it literally forced me to work through some very dark, heavy issues in my own mind.


From Linda: Bible- the greatest book ever written.  All answers are here.
Gift from the Sea - feels like therapy for a wounded soul
Shell Seekers - completely immersed into another family.
Old Man and the Sea - hard to comprehend the thought it took to write such a simple book with so much meaning.
The Great Gatsby - same problems now as then.  I “know” many of the characters.
The Stand - universal theme - good vs. evil.

So what do you think?  What are some of your favorites?

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio


  1. Rebecca Farrell says:

    I agree with all of these above, and want to add a few more:
    The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon – even if you’re not from Pittsburgh (I am, and this book was given to me during a semester abroad in college when I was beyond homesick) you’ll find something truly relateable in this book; a coming of age with complicated characters and a story line that keeps you engaged throughout. Another wonderful Chabon book is Wonder Boys – also set in Pittsburgh (and environs), with another self-destructive male lead, this one is not to be missed. Avoid both movies, however, they don’t do the books justice in the least.

    A Widow for One Year by John Irving – I had never wept when reading a book until this one. John Irving is a modern master of the written word and this novel doesn’t disappoint. If your heart doesn’t break when you read this, go to a cardiologist.

  2. Stephanie Lough says:

    Timbuktu – Paul Auster. I have to start by saying how disappointed I was at “The Art of Racing in the Rain”. As a huge dog lover, several people recommended AoRitR, but I felt that it read like an after school special, with new drama unnecessarily added (the lawsuit) and taking away from the main story line (cancer, single parenthood), which really was enough.
    Timbuktu is a dog story, but not one that will leave you feeling good, at least in the way most dog stories do. I don’t remember if I actually cried, but it fills you with mixed emotions and leaves you thinking about life and loyalty. Bottom line is it’s really good.

    The Gates – John Connolly. Hilarious, fun and sprinkled with scientific footnotes about quantum mechanics and the large hadron collider, which triggered the opening of the Gates to Hell. If anything, it’s a break from the ordinary.

    The Glass Castle & Half Broke Horses – Jeannette Walls. MUST read if you are from Arizona, which the majority of both (true) stories take place in. Both books you can’t put down.

    Slaughterhouse-Five, The Big Trip Up Yonder and 2 B R 0 2 B – I love Kurt Vonnegut’s prose.

    The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom. Albom is a great writer – his popular stories are short and sweet and always have a message. Sometimes I feel that his books are a little too, how to put this, “soft”, like he is trying too hard to get the reader to cry. This story is beautiful and makes me wonder not who the five I will meet in Heaven are, but rather, whose lives have I impacted in a way that they will meet me.

  3. Wonderful post (I love the quote by Nora Ephron who wrote and directed one of my all-time favorite moves – When Harry Met Sally). I am however somewhat surprised that Barbara Kingsolver is not on this list. I have loved her writing since the Bean Trees and Animal Dreams but the book that blew me away was The Poisonwood Bible. It is beyond me how someone can write a book like that. Instills deep jealousy in me….

  4. Indra – I’m also a fan of Barbara Kingsolver and I would add all of John Irving’s novels. Irving’s latest, “In One Person,” is on my nightstand and sure to become a classic. His protagonist is a truly bisexual young man and Irving, even though assuredly straight, captures his psyche perfectly. If you haven’t bought it yet, run down to your INDEPENDENT bookstore and get it pronto!

  5. Thank you for the shout out, Abbie. As for the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, I am on my third round of the series and recently introduced it to my mother-in-law and a friend in my book club. Both are over the moon for it. The series is my ultimate escape – and every time I read one of the books, I can’t get over how on earth this woman can write such a complex, involved, detailed story. Anyone interested just has to remember to get past page 100, and you’ll be good.

    I, like you Abbie, have been an avid reader all my life. My summers were spent with my dad in a town where I had no friends. While he worked, I read. Book after book after book. I especially remember my stint with VC Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic series and then all of the series under her name. Then there was also Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. I was always up for getting as many stars on the book report chart in class as I could. My love of reading has never faltered, and I feel very much like Nora Ephron about reading.

    My list is not nearly as profound as any of the commenters here, and while I crown the Outlander series as my favorite books, I do have an eclectic palette when it comes to reading. I love the easy escape of chick lit and the more emotional books by authors such as Wally Lamb. And don’t forget the formula mysteries by John Sanford (who incidentally I took on book tour while working for HMA). A brief look at my Kindle and here are some books I would recommend:

    1. Dog Lovers? “Stay” by Allie Larkin. Adorable.
    2. Historical fiction? “The Paris Wife” – intriguing, and a great way to get some insight into one of America’s most famous authors without having to read his books!
    3. Classics? “Pride and Prejudice” I’m not usually one for stuffy old literature, but this one speaks to me.
    4. Surprisingly good? “The Last Letter” by Kathleen Shoop. I read it last summer as part of a reading challenge; I never would have picked it up, but I was so glad I did. It was a very interesting book.
    5. New release? “The Night Circus” – definitely a different kind of story.

    Reading is an individual journey – most of the time. That’s why it’s so much fun when a series like Hunger Games or Twilight, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or 50 Shades resonates with so many – it means we’re all enjoying a good story and escaping to the same place.

    I’m so happy to have a few new recommendations to consider – Sarah’s Key, Poisonwood Bible (always meant to pick that one up).

    Here’s to a summer full of books! And long blog post comments:)

    • Jenny — thanks for your comment and additional book recommendations. Going to check out a few of them. I am finishing the latest in the Outlander series, have maybe 100 pages to go. Vacation is coming up so I know I’ll finish it then. Not sure I could read them again but I definitely enjoy the story and like you, am amazed at Diana’s ability to continue this story for what is now close to 10,000 pages.

      • I’m a sucker for love stories, I think. In looking at my list, that’s a pretty consistent theme. And when I think about “The Night Circus,” it’s not really a different kind of story. It’s a love story in a different kind of setting. Have on vacation! You’re finishing the latest Diana book in time for the new one to come out soon:)

    • Stephanie Lough says:

      Jenny – Thanks for your comment about reading being an individual journey. I feel that so many “book snobs” turn their nose up to books that have been strongly embraced by mainstream culture simply due to popularity. While many books may not be the best literary works of our time (Twilight – even my beach-read loving self couldn’t get through them), some really are amazing, complex tales that will be read for generations hereon-out (Harry Potter, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).

      There was a recent list of “100 greatest books of all time” – one of many similar lists but this particular one was viral on Facebook – and two or three of the Harry Potter books were included. There was a major backlash in the comments saying “how dare Harry Potter makes this list”, but had Harry Potter come out 20 + years ago, I don’t doubt that it would be held to the same regard as oh, I don’t know…what other fantasy book series come to mind? Kidding, of course I mean Lord of the Rings.

      But, I believe, and have seen first hand in some of my “too cool” friends (love them, but you know the type) that the stigma of being a pop culture obsession leads them to believe that the material isn’t smart enough for them. Which, using LOTR parallel, is hypocritical.

      Even so, for all the Twilights and 50 Shades of Greys (which I haven’t read) out there, there are a million more people READING BOOKS!

  6. You kinda cheated. I KNOW you have 10 favorites yourself. I also loved Sarah’s Key (thanks Abbie) and I’m re-reading The Great Gatsby right now. I wouldn’t put it in my top 10, but it’s very good. Super simple writing with amazing attention to detail and storytelling.

  7. Andrea Meyer says:

    So, I will admit to cheating here. Some years ago there was a list going around Facebook and I wrote this. I also have enjoyed books since childhood and I left those early ones on…quite a few did not find a spot here yet, which surprised me. Tuesdays with Morrie was so touching, as was The Last Lecture. Maybe too serious for summer thoughts?

    1. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
    2. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
    3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
    4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
    5. Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
    6. Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
    7. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
    8. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
    9. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    10. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
    11. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
    12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    13. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
    14. Harry Potter by JK Rowling
    15. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch


    • Stephanie Lough says:

      This sounds like a list of books all people should read before adulthood – so many good, simple life lessons in these classics!

  8. Andrea — great list, but will disagree with #10, Nickel and Dimed. HATED IT! I still remember reading Are You There G-d — all the girls were reading it and giggling. Wonder how many of us that read that book also read the 50 Shades books :). Thanks for commenting.

  9. I always love hearing about what you are reading, Abbie. Makes me want to find more time for great books. I know this will surprise you, but I have a suggestion, too. Try something by Jim Harrison. Can’t go wrong with True North or Dalva. Kinda a guy’s writer, but really interesting. In fact, I need to pick up something he’s done in recent years myself…. or one of the other books on your list or in the comments. Happy reading!

  10. Barb Maack says:

    Really enjoying this, Abbie! Some great suggestions I’ll pass on to my book group, too…

    I’m compelled to toss in a few of my non-fiction favorites:

    “Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour” by Lynne Olson”

    The Trunk Murderess: Winnie Ruth Judd” by Jana Bommersbach

    “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer (about an ill-fated Mt. Everest climb)

    “The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe (a slice of 60s)

    “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” by Hunter Thompson (well, it’s one man’s reality)…

    “The Papers and the Papers” by Sanford Unger (about the legal and political battle over the Pentagon Papers)

    …And, when you’re short on time and need a laugh, absolutely anything Fran Lebowitz commits to print….”Social Studies,” “Metropolitan Life,” “The Fran Lebowitz Reader”…

    For fiction, I adored “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout — a little collection of stories that Olive threads together.

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