Sunday, February 25, 2024

Creating A Book List: Would You Share Some Favourites?

"That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover
that your longings are universal longings, that you're
not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong."

On this snowy afternoon, I'm thinking about making a book list. I enjoy reading book lists—whether they are created by publishing houses, the New York Times, the local bookstore, or fellow bibliophiles. I cast my eye down the lists to see what's making someone's chart. I feel the delight when I recognize titles and maybe have read one or two, but mostly I'm looking for new books that sound promising.

Last summer, I brought home Sarah Nisha Adams's novel called The Reading List (I mention it HERE). A delightful tale of an aging widower and a lonely teenage girl who form an unlikely friendship through books. It starts with a mysterious list found by someone at the library. . . 'one lonely folded scrap of paper sitting on the desk . . . the lettering is neat, looping, warm, inviting'. It read as follows:

Just in case you need it :

To Kill A Mockingbird


The Kite Runner

Life of Pi

Pride and Prejudice

Little Women


A Suitable Boy

Who made the list? Who left it at the library? And so begins this wonderful, heartwarming tale. I'm intrigued and have  now collected the eight books on the list—three I already owned, the others I needed to find and read for the first time. My plan is to read the books in the order given on the list and follow along as I reread Sarah's novel. I'll try to keep you posted.

Further, today I'm also interested in starting another book list—one with you, my blogging friends, in mind. If you are interested in joining in, this is what I'm looking for: favourite title(s) you enjoy in each of the following categories. They can be current favourites or books from long ago, fiction or nonfiction, current or classics, bestsellers or little known gems. Share your list in the comments section or on your own blog, whatever works for you.

I'll start:

1. A favourite (or two or three) from your childhood. Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Elephant's Child (Kipling), Little Women, Pollyanna, Nancy Drew series, The Secret Garden, Little House on the Prairie, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Little Engine that Could, Egermeier's Illustrated Bible Story Book, Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.  

2. A book you once read that you couldn't stop thinking about. I read Gone with the Wind when I was around eleven or twelve. I was so sad for Scarlett O'Hara when she became a very young widow and then had to act like an old woman—wearing horrid dark 'widow's weeds', no more pretty dresses, no more flirting with handsome young men, no dancing at parties. I was haunted at how awful she must have felt and still so young. Maybe it was one of my first experiences of feeling the pain of someone I met in a book. 

3. One book that shaped your life. Living A Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard. I came across this book back in the early 1990s. It grabbed my heart when I read how we could live our lives more beautifully. This book and the original Victoria magazines were a godsend - they fed something deep in my soul.

4. A book you couldn't put down. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister; A Time for Mercy by John Grisham; All the Devils are Here by Louise Penny; A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. 

5. A book that deepened your thinking. Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald; C.S. Lewis's writings; From the Father's Heart by Charles Slagle; Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen.

6. A book with a favourite heroine. Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott. I read this book decades ago and loved watching young Rose growing up in this coming of age story. She holds a tender place in my affection.

7. A book that creates a safe place when you need rest in your soul. Jan Karon's Father Tim novels set it Mitford. 

8. A book that lifts your spirits and makes you feel happy.  Susan Branch's memoirs, The Isle of Dreams and The Fairy Tale Girl.

9. Something you want to read but haven't got to it yet. 1984 by George Orwell and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

10. A book you like to read over and over. Every December, I pull out Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher.

11. A book you just finished and loved. Homecoming by Kate Morton.

12. A book you just started and already know you'll like it. Growing Pains by Emily Carr, an autobiography of one of Canada's well-known artists. 

"I love the solitude of reading. I love the
deep dive into someone else’s story, the
delicious ache of a last page."

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead,
Photo credit:
Top image by Ylanite from Pixabay


  1. Dear Brenda,
    You are the second person in the past week or two to recommend The Reading List. I've requested it from the library and look forward to reading it soon. You have me thinking about the various topics on your list today and I plan to compile a similar one and put it on my own blog later in the week. I also loved Rose from Rose in Bloom, but enjoyed the earlier book Eight Cousins more, I think. Many of your favourites are also mine, and there are others of yours that I intend to investigate.
    I'm off to do some thinking! Thank you for the prompt. Have a lovely Sunday evening.

    1. Now I have to go find Eight Cousins because I don't remember ever reading it. I'm certain you will enjoy The Reading List - it's a gentle and lovely read. I especially love how the books wrap around the story... or does the story wraps around the books?? Thanks, Lorrie, and have fun with your own lists.

  2. Brenda, how lovely to see one of your posts waiting for me. So many of your books are my books too, I should be accused of 'copying' if I made a list! But...the one I haven't read is The Reading List, and I will try to get hold of a copy. Maybe Kindle will have one available. Did you read The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister? It went hand in hand with the one you have listed.

    1. PS, I now have The Reading List on my Kindle!

    2. Hi Barbara, I do hope you'll enjoy The Reading List. And yes, I did read Erica's newer book 'The Lost Art of Mixing' - I enjoyed it but Essential Ingredients grabbed more of my heart.

  3. Brenda, this post has created such excitement to write one of my own for my blog. Visions of my favorite books are dancing in my head. :) The Reading List was a wonderful read, and one I would read again. I love your idea of reading the book list along with it this time. Your personal list contains many of my own favorites. Have you read The Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport? It is an all-time favorite and reminds me of the kind of book you've listed.

    1. Happy that makes me, Karen. I found it hard to select only one or two titles - I have dozens I could choose from in those categories. I have not read or even heard of Marcia Davenport's 'The Valley of Decision'. I shall search it out. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Each category could have so many entries, but I've chosen one or two for each, the first ones that popped into my head. :)
    1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; The Yearling by Margaret Rawley
    2. Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
    3. Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi; The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer
    4. Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge
    5. The Power of Knitting by Loretta Napoleoni; The Power of Place by Winifred Gallagher
    6. Jo March of Little Women
    7. Brother Cadfael series by Ellis Peters
    8. Almost any story by D.E. Stevenson
    9. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby van Pelt; On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
    10. Recipes for a Sacred Life by Rivvy Neshama
    11. God's Hotel by Victoria Sweet; West with Giraffes by Linda Rutlegde
    12. Praise Jerusalem by August Trobaugh

    1. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful list. Thank you! Many of the books you list are favourites of mine too; there are a few you mention I'm not familiar with and I'm adding them to my reading list. If you see this note, let me know who wrote this 'anonymous' list.

    2. I do usually try to comment with my name, but somehow missed this time--I was so excited to make a book list:)

  5. Oooh, I'll have to see if I can borrow the Reading List from my library.

    One of my favourite childhood books is "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume. My grandfather gave me a copy of the book. I think he selected it for me because the title character shared my name and he thought it was a religious book. It wasn't until years later that I found out that the book was banned in some corners because it tackled puberty!

    1. P.S. Guess I'm fortunate that my parents let me read whatever I wanted when I was a kid. I guess I turned out okay. LOL.

    2. Hi Margie, I recently bought that book by Judy Blume. I think there was an highlight anniversary of its publication - I heard an interview with her and so I decided to read it. I was already older when her books came out so I never them read back then. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Ahhh . . . so interesting to consider these favorites and to see what others say! For lack of time, I will pick just a few to answer, but I hope to pop back in to see more.

    1. Many of your favorites were also mine. Heidi is my very favorite childhood book, but I also loved The Tale of Peter Rabbit and the Little Golden Book edition of R. L. Stevenson's Child's Garden of Verses with illustrations by Eloise Wilkin. (My heart is warming with happy memories just thinking of these . . . )

    3. A book that shaped my life is The Way Home by Mary Pride which influenced the way I lived my life as a Christian woman. (The book that shaped my life the most is the Bible, although I hardly consider it just "a book.")

    6. A book with a favorite (real life) heroine is The Hiding Place.

    And my paintbrush is calling. We are pushing to finish a big painting project here in the house before warm weather arrives and yard work begins in earnest.

    1. Cheryl, thank you for this lovely list. I'm not familiar with Mary Pride's book so I'll search it out - I like the title "The Way Home". And, oh yes, Corrie ten Boom in "The Hiding Place" truly gave us a beautiful real life hero. Her story was so impactful. Thanks so much for taking a few minutes to leave a note. Happy Painting.

  7. I hope it's not too late to join this party! I've been thinking and thinking about this, and here is my list:
    1. Favorites: Little Women, JRR Tolkien, the Narnia series by CS Lewis, and "The Country of the Pointed Firs" by Sarah Orne Jewett.
    2. Thinker: "The Dollmaker" by Harriet Arnow
    3. Shaper: "Christy" by Catherine Marshall
    4. Put down: "Shantaram" and "Mountain Shadow" by Gregory David Roberts
    5. Thinker: Elizabeth Goudge Trilogy - "Pilgrims Inn", "Heart of the Family" and "Birds in the Tree"
    6. Anne of Green Gables
    7. Safe place: anything by Miss Read
    8. Spirit lifter: D.E. Stevenson's "Miss Buncle" books
    9. To read: "Poems of Christina Rosetti"
    10. Rereads: "And Ladies of the Club" by Helen Hooven Santmeyer; "Mrs. Mike" by Benedict and Nancy Freeman; and anything by Wendell Berry
    11. Loved: Laurie Lee's trilogy: "Cider with Rosie", "As I Walked out one Midsummer Morning" and"A Moment of War"
    12. Just started: "The Road from Coorain" by Jill Ker Conway

    1. Never too late, Lisa. So glad you shared your delightful reading list with us. Some titles are so familiar but you've mentioned a few I've never read, e.g., The Dollmaker, the Gregory David Roberts books, Laurie Lee's trilogy, and The Road from Coorain. So my reading list grows, thanks to you.

  8. Brenda, I found this post through Lorrie of Fabric Paper Thread. Your mention of Alexandra Stoddard rang a bell….I believe I must have read that book years ago when we lived in Austin and I had the library there with its vast array of volumes. Our little library here in Lampasas has a newer book by Stoddard that I’ve reserved. I am eager to see what it has to say now. And you mentioned the old Victoria magazines!!!! I still have a few issues squirreled away. I devoured each issue with the gorgeous photographs, the book references, even makeup suggestions. It was such a lovely magazine….and I’ve found nothing like it nowadays. I intend to follow your blog. Is there a way to get it via email? Carol in Texas

    1. Carol, thank you so much for stopping in. Enjoyed your note very much. We must be kindred spirits to share our love of Alexandra's writings and those lovely old Victoria magazines. Alas, when Blogger removed their 'follow by email' gadget, I never did do anything to replace it. I post weekly, usually around the weekend... Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. I hope you will pop in when you can. Thanks again. :)


  9. Book Lists
    1. A favorite (or 2 or 3) from your childhood
    The Little House books (all of them)
    The Louisa May Alcott books (all of them)
    The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace

    2. A book you read once but couldn’t stop thinking about
    See books in #3.

    3. A book that shaped your life
    Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
    Today Matters by John Maxwell
    Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez & Vicky Robin

    4. A book you couldn’t put down

    5. A book with a favorite heroine

    6. A book that creates a safe place
    All of the Miss Read books. I go to Caxley or Thrush Green or to Fairacre to have tea with Miss Clare.

    7. A book that lifts your spirits and makes you feel happy

    8. A book you like to read over and over
    I have read the Miss Read books countless times.

    9. A book you just finished and loved
    Tom Lake by Ann Pachett

    10. A book you just started and know you’re going to like
    The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama

    1. What a wonderful list you've shared. (I wish you would have left your name, too.). I love your #3 list - Richard Foster, John Maxwell, and that book you mention by Joe Dominguez & Vicky Robin were so helpful in my life. I have Michelle's book on my 'to read' pile. Thank you so much for stopping by.


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo