I decided that every once in a while, I will make purchase suggestions on books that I love. I do this with the women authors I interview already. Everyone of them writes GREAT books; that’s why I ask them for interviews! 🙂 My lists will vary, depending on genre, and this first list consists of literary books that I have LOVED and that everyone should read. If you have the time, and I know you do because you love to read, consider checking these books out:

I read this book in 2000 when it came out, and I instantly fell in love with Bernice McFadden. I even used her book to write a research paper on images of black characters in fiction. Ms. McFadden has FAILED to disappoint me as a reader with her other books, but I always come back to this one. You can’t read the first line or the first paragraph and not want to keep reading. It’s poetic, it’s lyical, it’s beautiful, but on top of all those things, there is a great story with lush, full developed characters. It’s a story that will break your heart, yet it will also make you appreciate friendship and life. A MUST READ.

I read this book when it first came out. I was 18, and I didn’t “get it.” A few years ago, I read it in my Contemporary Novel class, and it blew my face off. It’s CONSISTENTLY at the top of my must read every year pile. It’s not surprising that I love it, and that I love McFadden’s SUGAR; Morrison gave McFadden GLOWING reviews for her writing. What I love the most about this novel is that it goes beyond the time period of the story of the theme of slavery. It would be so easy to just point to that…and so wrong. This is a story about memory, about sacrifice, about family, about wishing and hoping, and sometimes about having those wishes and hopes fulfilled. This novel, like McFadden’s SUGAR, makes my heart SING, literally.

This is another book that I read in my Contemporary Novel class a few years back. At first, I wasn’t too appreciative of the work – some might call it slow, painfully slow, but after a second read, I began to appreciate the nuances of Shields’ writing. Newsday called the novel “A kind of family album made into a work of art,” and I would have to agree. It’s the painstaking examination of a woman’s life, by the woman herself, Daisy Stone Goodwill. The novel is the epitome of the “search of self” novel. The novel is bare. The novel is raw. The main character unflinchingly examines everything about her life, from birth to death, and in the end, it’s a life of a person you as reader learn to care about, to miss when the story ends.

Another book read in Contemp Novel (Thanks Neil for making us read some KILLER works!). O’Brien is one of my literary heroes. Prior to this novel, I hadn’t read a lot of men’s works – not sure why. When I read this, my world did in fact stop for a few seconds. Many may shy away from this novel because they’ll say, “Oh, it’s about Vietnam, it’s about war.” They would be hurting themselves in the end because this novel, or interrelated short stories as some call it, is much more than war (like Morrison’s BELOVED is more than slavery). If you love storytelling and the craft of storytelling, this is a must read. Not only do you care about the characters, but you care about the WORD, you care about the STYLE, you realize how important tight storytelling and the WORD and the STYLE go hand in hand in order to create, in my eyes, a literary masterpiece. Check it out.

I wrote about this book earlier in the year. It’s definitely on my top ten list of favorite books of all time. It has mystery, suspense, romance, fantasy entangled in lush language and a great background story of the importance of storytelling. After I read this book, I was beyond sad because I didn’t want to leave the characters or the world Zafon painted in the story. It’s, like O’Brien, one of those works that make you appreciate the art of storytelling and make you realize how important it is to make sure our world stays literate, stays in love with the written word. I remember telling a former a professor, the one that suggested I read it that, “This book is soooooooo delicious,” and I meant it. It’s a highly decadent treat – treat yourself to it.

Though this is last, it is by no means the least of this wonderful pack. Again, read in a Contemp Novel course, this book is WONDERFUL–and it’s not just because I’m a huge Virginia Woolf fan. The intricacy of weaving these stories together into one novel is astonishing, and I am just in awe of how Cunningham was so attuned to the female voice and mannerism in this work. Everything rang so true that I always seemed to forget that a man’s hand was at play here. It’s a novel, that on many sides, will break your heart into a million pieces; however, the artistry, the themes, the characters–will make you so glad you read the novel.

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