Books ~ Ten on My MUST READ List ~

November 23, 2009 • Art & Books • Views: 1987

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a child. I have no idea how many books I’ve read. Sometimes certain books stay with us for a long time after we’ve read them. This list is in no way a ranking of the *Value* of these books. It is simply a list of ten books that have always returned to my thoughts. There are many more. For now – you get ten books I recommend and what they meant to me.

old books


Photobucket1) Fall On Your Knees: Ann-Marie MacDonald (1996, Vintage Canada)

There are very few things in life that we will look back on and say… “I was forever changed by it”. As is the case for most, my life altering experiences have arrived unexpectedly and for the most part – uninvited. I have read and been moved by many great books, relating to characters, understanding their motivations, cheering for the underdog, and every now and then gained valuable insight. However… Never have I turned the last page, closed a book, and knew in my soul that I was no longer the same person. Not until December 1997 when I experienced “Fall On your Knees”.

Photobucket2) The Bell Jar: Sylvia Plath (1963, Faber and Faber)

This is an excellent example of first person writing. I love the brutal honesty of the
main character’s thoughts. It’s a dark read, but not lacking wit. Plath has delivered an accurate account of mental illness. Having spent some time in the “Bell Jar” myself, I understood the character (Esther) and was comforted by her madness. I felt less alone in my own illness.

Photobucket3) The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (1980, Bantam)

Introduced to Shakespeare at age 14, I was in awe of the lyrical composition of his writing. It was the most complicated writing I had encountered at that point in my life; I was determined to decipher it. His words were inspirational for a young would-be writer.

Photobucket4) Edith Ann – my life, so far: as told to Jane Wagner (1994, Hyperion)

Hilarious! Makes me laugh every time I go back to it. Wagner’s humor translates from the page as well as it does from the screen, (she’s written for Lily Tomlin for decades), not an easy feat. If I’m having a bad day I flip to a random page and soak up some of Edith’s six-year-old musings about life… I always laugh.

Photobucket5) A Tree Grows In Brooklyn: Betty Smith(1943, Harper Perennial)

I read this book when I was thirteen. I felt a connection to the character Francie, having also been raised in poverty. This is an honest story about childhood, growing up, and family relationships. I was moved to tears and made to laugh. It is a story about truth and love.

Photobucket6) Virginia Woolf: Just read her damn-it!

When I read her work, both fiction and non-fiction, I am certain of two things:
1) I suck, how dare I continue to write.
2) I love words; I must never stop writing.

I’m well on my way to becoming the quintessential “tortured artist.”


Photobucket7) From The Kingdom Of Memory Reminiscences by: Elie Wiesel (1990, Summit Books)

Holocaust survivor/ Nobel Peace Prize winner Weisel’s collection of essays and speeches is incredibly uplifting. The book covers a range of topics; one of my favorites is the essay “Why I Write”. Wherein he says: “Why do I write? Perhaps in order not to go mad. Or, on the contrary, to touch the bottom of madness.” I read this book at age 21, each time I revisit I’m astounded by his wisdom. I learned a lot about what’s important in life from this man.

Photobucket Anything We Love Can Be Saved A Writers Activism: Alice Walker (1997, Ballantine)

Civil rights, feminism, families, politics, banned books: these are just some of the
topics covered in this collection of essays. Alice Walker inspires me in both her creative writing and her activism. This book is hopeful in that we all have the power to make a difference. Very inspiring!
(Also read: The Color Purple, The Temple Of My Familiar, and… hell, just read Alice Walker.)

Photobucket9) The Serpent and The Rainbow: Wade Davis (1985, Simon & Schuster)

Harvard scientist Davis journeyed into the secret societies of Haitian voodoo, and
zombies. His goal: to explain/prove the existence of human zombification. This book reads like a novel. The author dispels a lot of Hollywood myths about voodoo. I was both educated and entertained by this book.

Photobucket10) Power VS Force The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior: David R. Hawkins, M.D. (1995, Veritas Publishing)

Hawkins researched this book for twenty years. It’s a mind bender which often
reads like a textbook. It is the most interesting book I’ve read concerning science, religion, environment, human consciousness, and how everything is connected. It answers a lot of the
“Why?” questions about life. Not an easy read, but a powerful read.

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3 Responses to Books ~ Ten on My MUST READ List ~

  1. Brad says:

    Love what you said about, Virginia Woolf. I feel the same way, and I’m a boy. I think I may have to try Fall on Your Knees Now too.

  2. Sometimes authors use a novel or screenplay to support political or social beliefs; or to cry out for morality and ethical principles. This is no more clearly evident than with Holocaust books and films. Whenever we stand up to those who deny or minimize the Holocaust, or to those who support genocide we send a critical message to the world.

    We know from captured German war records that millions of innocent Jews were systematically exterminated by Nazi Germany – most in gas chambers. Despite this knowledge, Holocaust deniers ply their mendacious poison everywhere, especially with young people on the Internet. Holocaust books and films help to tell the true story of the Shoah, combating anti-Semitic historical revision. And, they protect vulnerable future generations from making the same mistakes.

    I wrote Jacob’s Courage to promote Holocaust education. This coming of age love story presents accurate scenes and situations of Jews in ghettos and concentration camps, with particular attention to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz. It examines a constellation of emotions during a time of incomprehensible brutality. A world that continues to allow genocide requires such ethical reminders and remediation.

    Many authors feel compelled to use their talent to promote moral causes. Holocaust books and movies carry that message globally, in an age when the world needs to learn that genocide is unacceptable. Such authors attempt to show the world that religious, racial, ethnic and gender persecution is wrong; and that tolerance is our progeny’s only hope.

    Viewing the Holocaust through the eyes of young lovers represents a unique and emotionally penetrating analysis of Jewish life during the Shoah. Called, “Gut wrenching and heart rending” Jacob’s Courage allows the reader to comprehend the terror experienced by Holocaust victims on a personal level. Yet, it also reveals the triumphant spirit of humankind and demonstrates how ordinary people can perform extraordinary acts of courage when the lives of loved ones are in danger.

    Charles Weinblatt
    Author, “Jacob’s Courage”

  3. Hi Brad,
    The awesome things about books is that they don’t care if you are a guy or girl – they speak to who they speak to 🙂 “The Kite Runner” is a brilliant book. I loved and related to the characters – and MOST of the major characters are boys & men. Thanks for your comment and stopping by 🙂


    Hi Charles,
    You’ve said so much – and all I can do is agree. I’ve checked out your site! Best of luck to you with your writing!


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