books you’d give as gifts…

by Toni McGee Causey

I am just now (as I write this late Saturday evening) back from vacation, and it’s the first vacation we’ve had in… um…. what year is this? Oh, wow. 2010? Okay, let’s just say a while, because I can’t really remember the last one that was an actual vacation where I set aside work the whole time. I’m not really a vacation-y type, because I’m kinda… and I know this will come as a complete shock to all of you… a control freak. I know, hard to imagine, huh? I hide it well. And I’m also maybe a little teeeeeeeeny tiny bit of a workaholic. You just passed out from shock, didn’t you? You poor dear, here’s the smelling salts. I’ll wait.

So, anyway, vacation. Whereupon I have utilized almost every known method of public transportation known to man, I think. Save ferries (although that was an option at one point). I’ve been on airplanes (4), trains (3), monorails (2), busses (1 billion), trams (6), shuttles (2), and, if we’re counting, conveyors (18 1/2)(don’t ask). In amongst all of those things were miles and miles and miles and MILES of walking. Or at least a couple of miles, I maybe exaggerate, but my feet would not agree with that.

My long way of saying: folks, I didn’t know you could fit this much exhaustion into one body. It’s a really great exhaustion, given that I got to see so much of my family at the same time. [Oh, trivia question answer here: the thing I learned from the nice Travelocity guy that sort of scared him when I asked, which I mentioned but did not explain on Facebook: yes, you can actually board a plane with an expired driver’s license but a valid concealed carry permit as a second form of identification. It took twenty minutes to explain that having the permit did not mean anyone was actually going to attempt to carry a weapon on the plane.] [Ironically, no, we were not selected for any pat-downs or scanner experiences, although I sort of figured when we showed our IDs, bells and whistles and “Hoooboys” and “Hot damn, we have live ones” would sort of go off all around us. We actually sailed through without waiting.]


I want to know what five books you would give as gifts, [no, I did not even try for a segue there, did I? EXHAUSTION], but if you would, I’d love it if you’d tell me one from each category below. You can stick with one genre or mix genres–you can list/explain more than one in any category if you’re having trouble narrowing it down. (I did.)

1) Favorite book that changed your perspective about something in your life (and if you can, what that was)

2) Favorite “great escape” book that took you completely away from your problems, worries, or exhaustion, and is probably one that you re-read

3) Most recent favorite absolutely-could-not-stop-reading-it book, the one that you stayed up until you were finished

4) Favorite book that you did not expect to love or enjoy, which ended up grabbing you anyway.

5) Just a favorite, no particular category. :D

Prizes: 5… as you could win one of FIVE $30USD gift certificates to an online bookstore of your choice. If you’re not a US resident, then an online bookstore that I can send you a gift certificate from is important–if you don’t have one, we’ll work out an alternate plan. DEADLINE: next Saturday, noon, US Central time. CHECK BACK NEXT SUNDAY FOR THE WINNERS.

The last time I posed these questions, I answered with [mostly] romance / action choices, because I can’t pick one all time favorite for each question–I can only do it by genre because I have too many favorites. I’m going to post this now and come back here in the morning when I’m slightly more coherent and answer these myself. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear your answers!

42 thoughts on “books you’d give as gifts…

  1. Karen in Ohio

    1) Wayne Dyer's "Your Erroneous Zones" taught me that my feelings are my own responsibility.

    2) Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander", and really, the entire series.

    3) "The Scent of Rain and Lightning" by Nancy Pickard,

    4) "A Field of Darkness", by Cornelia Read. Fabulous.

    5) "Innocents Abroad", by Mark Twain. I reread it at least once every 10 years.

    Glad you had a good vacation, Toni! Where did you go?

  2. JT Ellison

    Wow, Toni! So glad you got to have a little away time. You need a vacation from your vacation now, yeah?

    1. Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner – Gave me the tools to figure out how to get published
    2. The Harry Potter series and the Outlander series
    3. The Hunger Games Trilogy – read all three in two days, shirked responsibilities, declined dates, etc.
    4. Outlander. The Waldenbooks chick suggested it and I was skeptical, at best. Now one of my all-time faves.
    5. John Connolly's EVERY DEAD THING, which taught me mysteries could be literary.

  3. PK the Bookeemonster

    To give as gifts, eh? That's more difficult not knowing who the "giftee" is (man? woman? Age group? book lover or not? Book likes and dislikes?)…. I always try to give books as gifts even to the non-readers on the in-law side so I've made a science/art of this. 🙂

    1)Favorite book that changed your perspective about something in your life (and if you can, what that was)
    CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD Book 1 by Neale Donald Walsch. Reminded me of things I already knew in an easy conversational manner. A good way to get back in touch. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE is also good and she has a new one coming out called PEACE AND PLENTY: Finding Your Path to Financial Serenity which would be handy these days.

    2) Favorite “great escape” book that took you completely away from your problems, worries, or exhaustion, and is probably one that you re-read
    THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows (definitely a good, not overly-taxing to read, fun gift book)

    3) Most recent favorite absolutely-could-not-stop-reading-it book, the one that you stayed up until you were finished
    INDULGENCE IN DEATH by JD Robb, but that's just me.

    4) Favorite book that you did not expect to love or enjoy, which ended up grabbing you anyway.
    THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin, when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it all the time. Then I made my sister read it and she was the same way.

    5) Just a favorite, no particular category.
    A magazine subscription — the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. I think this year I'm giving my dad a subscription to the Alfred Hitchcock mystery mag. I 'd given him the one from the Bcon gift bag and the Ellery Queen one and he seemed to like reading shorts and preferred the Hitch to the Ellery.

  4. William Simon

    1. CAT OF MANY TAILS by Ellery Queen. One of my first lessons in mystery fiction as literature, and THE first where the detective did indeed suffer consequences from his own actions. Mind opening at the time.

    2. Anything by Ian Fleming. Cliched, perhaps, but true.

    3. SHAKEN by J.A. Konrath. The very first eBook I tried after getting an iPad, could not stop turning pages to see what happened.

    4. LORDS OF DISCIPLINE by Pat Conroy. I read it when it first came out, based on the sales rep's recommendation. Tried to go to bed three times that night, no luck, ended up reading until it was time to go to work.

    5. MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS by Agatha Christie. I've been known to bundle the movie and book together as a present. Classic stuff from Dame Agatha, the 1974 movie was one of the last of the Big Hollywood Spectacles.

  5. Kerry

    1) "And Ladies of the Club" changed how I feel about birth, death, and the nature of family and community.

    2) Too many! Um . . . "Frederica", by Georgette Heyer. I practically have it memorized, but it still delights and transports me every time.

    3) "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand."

    4) Wow – this is a cool category! I don't generally read books I don't expect to enjoy, but how about this – Eleanor Roosevelt, Vol 1, by Blanche Wiesen Cook. I read another (not very good) book about the Roosevelts, which made me want to read more about Eleanor. So I expected to get a lot out of this book, but find that it's wonderfully, wonderfully written and much more engaging than most biographies I've read.

    5) "The Lions of Al Rassan", by Guy Gavriel Kay. I re-read several of his books every year, but this one is my favorite book of all time (so far). It breaks my heart every time, but only after it fills it with joy.

  6. Kellee

    1. The Bible. 'Nuff said
    2. The Secret by Jude Devereau
    3. All the Bobby Faye books. I read them fast because I wanted to know what would happen next. Then I read them again, slower, so I could catch all the little details. And I'm not just writing this cause they're your books!
    4. The Kite Runner
    5. The Twilight books

  7. Hi Ho Remy

    #1: The Bible
    #2 James Lee Burke's "Dave Robicheaux" series.
    #3 Mary Higgins Clarks "The Shadow of Your Smile"
    #4 Sarah Strohmeyers "The Penny Pinchers Club"
    #5 Anne Rice "The Witching Hour"

  8. Shannon J.

    1) Favorite book that changed your perspective about something in your life (and if you can, what that was)
    PAY IT FORWARD by Catherine Ryan Hyde – by the time I reached the end I was sobbing and decided I led a very selfish life. This bbok changed the way I give to charities, it caused me to begin doing my own small "pay it forwards" and even just doing occasional good will things like paying for the lunch for the person behind me in the drive-thru or volunteeing my time for any number of service organizations. It has really made my life more complete and serene.

    2) Favorite “great escape” book that took you completely away from your problems, worries, or exhaustion, and is probably one that you re-read
    My two favorite suspense books of the past decade: SHUTTER ISLAND by Dennis Lehane (the ending made me go, "whoa!") and SHADOWMAN by Cody McFadyen (the first book I had read in a really long time that had me glancing at the window and doors to make sure they were secure.)

    3) Most recent favorite absolutely-could-not-stop-reading-it book, the one that you stayed up until you were finished
    ROOM by Emma Donaghue

    4) Favorite book that you did not expect to love or enjoy, which ended up grabbing you anyway.
    THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE by Audrey Niffenegger. This book took two things I really don't like in my reading: time travel and mushy love stories and rolled them together. I started it with disdain…feeling like I HAD to read it for work purposes, and I fell completely in love with Henry & Claire and recommend it to everyone who asks what some of my favorite books have been.

    5) Just a favorite, no particular category.
    FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury – my favorite classic.
    UNZIPPED by Suzi Quatro – autobio by my favorite rocker chick

  9. Karen in Ohio

    Just realized I didn't explain why I didn't expect to enjoy Cornelia's book(s) as much as I have. I LOVE reading her blog posts, a lot of which focus on her family history. She has said so many times that her books are autobiographical in nature that I assumed–wrongly–that they would contain a lot of the same information.

    So the big surprise was that, while I remembered some of her backstory, it only enhanced what were very enjoyable reads, even without knowing any of the history. Now I want my book club to read them, too.

  10. Fran

    1. Perspective changer — THE GOOD SON by Michael Gruber. It made me think, really think, about other cultures in a compassionate way.

    2. Escape — THE CLOWNS OF GOD by Morris West. I re-read it every year. And in fact, it's about that time again. It's not escapism (JD Robb is my escapist go-to, but I don't re-read), but I can't not go back to it.

    3. Un-put-down-able — WINTER'S BONE by Daniel Woodrell. Oh my, the language. . .

    4. Unexpected — THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Just did not see how much I was going to love this one coming at me when I picked it up.

    5. Just because — The HARRY POTTER series. Because it really is that good.

    I deliberately didn't choose any books from 'Rati authors because there are only five questions and there was NO way I was gonna pick and choose amongst youse guys, whom I so very much adore.

    I'm glad you had a good vacation, Toni! I understand the exhaustion, though. I always maintained I'd need a vacation to rest up from my vacation, back when I took them.

  11. JD Rhoades

    Louise, I'm thinking Disney World. The monorail was the giveaway.

    1) Favorite book that changed your perspective about something in your life (and if you can, what that was)

    Harlan Ellison, AN EDGE IN MY VOICE. A lot of my worldview has been shaped by Ellison's combination of idealism, cynicism, and rage.

    2) Favorite “great escape” book that took you completely away from your problems, worries, or exhaustion, and is probably one that you re-read

    George R. R. Martin, A GAME OF THRONES

    3) Most recent favorite absolutely-could-not-stop-reading-it book, the one that you stayed up until you were finished

    Donald E. Westlake, KAHAWA.

    4) Favorite book that you did not expect to love or enjoy, which ended up grabbing you anyway.


    5) Just a favorite, no particular category.

    Elmore Leonard, OUT OF SIGHT.

  12. Annette

    0. Harry Potter, my favorite series and childrens books
    2. Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier, my all time favorite book
    3. The Great Santini by Pat Conroy, my favorite author
    4. The Help by Katheryn Stockett, my favorite recent book
    5. A Killer Plot by Jennifer Stanley, my favorite book of 2010

  13. JM Kelley

    I LOVE the tale of the concealed carry permit. I can only imagine the guy's face, lol! I'm glad you were able to achieve the happy post-family exhaustion. It can be a great feeling, even if you can't quite feel your toes anymore.

    My book list is:

    1) To Kill A Mockingbird-Because let's just say I have a very redneck family tree. I read the book when I was ridiculously young, and even though I didn't understand the themes on the first read, that story saved me from ever believing the same things that some of my ancestors and extended family felt were a-ok.

    2) Lonesome Dove-I'm not a reader of westerns, but the scope of this book just amazes me. The characters are so memorable. And it was one of my Dad's faves, so I always feel connected to him whenever I pick it up.

    3) Souvenir by Therese Fowler. I picked it up on impulse at a conference I attended and I have so much love for it. It made me weep, and I don't weep over books.

    4) The Time Machine. Another childhood read that was assigned at school and I was so prepared to hate it. But I was sucked in, and still reread it at least once a year.

    5) The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. A friend introduced me to SAA and I now have adoration for her as well.

  14. toni mcgee causey

    Louise, Dusty got it in one. 🙂 First time for the 3 yr old granddaughter to see Mickey, Minnie, et. al. And it was hysterical, because she'd see one and point and say, "For ME?" with the most incredulous gobsmacked expression, like all of this was JUST for her. Especially when they gave her hugs. I swear, whoever it was dressed at Mickey the other day just made me want to go give them a huge thank you. She'd been dying to see him and we waited in line for about 40 minutes, and when she got there, he knelt down and opened his arms and she stepped into them and he hugged her and she beamed and the entire crowd said, "awwwww" at the same time. Made the entire trip worth it, right there.

    I am loving the lists.

    JM, I thought you'd like that one (the concealed carry). 🙂

  15. Eika

    1. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It's free as an e-book, courtesy of the author, but WOW. If you're not outraged by security measures already, this guarantees you will be, and in many ways it didn't go extreme ENOUGH; not even he imagined the airport pat-downs of today, and the things he did are being put into use now.

    2. You are forbidden from holding this against me. It's, uh… from a series. SLAPSHOTS: The Stars from Mars. I have no clue the writer. It's maybe 100 pages long, and has me laugh until I cry. EVERY TIME.

    3. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman. I almost wet myself because I couldn't put it down.

    4. A Clockwork Orange. You can guess why. Though the movie is TERRIBLE.

    5. Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce. While I'm a huge fan of most of her books (there's maybe three I won't reread and just one I didn't enjoy the first time through), that one really holds up. It features everything I loved about the previous three in that quartet, lots of perfect moments, something really worth rooting for, and every breather was followed by can't-put-it-down moments.

    Love everyone else's responses. The Hunger Games, Pay it Forward, and Harry Potter were all great, too.

  16. Larry Gasper

    1) Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block. As a kid growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan I had no contact with writers and this was the first book that showed me that writers were ordinary people, not gods that sat on some mountaintop with their books springing forth from their foreheads fully formed. It gave me hope that I could be a writer someday.
    2) Any of the Miles Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold.
    3) Hunger Games.
    4)Precious Blood by Jonathan Hayes. I'm not much on serial killer books, but I met Jonathan at Left Coast Crime and decided to give this a try. I'm glad I did. Excellent.
    5) The Green Ripper by John D. McDonald.

  17. billie

    Great post and comments – I keep coming back to read but I don't know how you all picked single titles or even series for the answers – I can't even begin to narrow down to one book for these categories!

    Toni, I'm glad you got a vacation. We manage to get them, but never all together b/c I won't leave my animals with anyone but family.

    This thread certainly makes me want to go on a book-buying binge!! 🙂

  18. Pari Noskin Taichert

    1) The Secret Garden — It was the first book I remember reading truly for pleasure

    2) I'll say it again, TURTLE MOON by Alice Hoffman

    3) THE DOOMSDAY BOOK by Connie Willis

    4) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE — I expected it to be a total snooze and enjoyed it tremendously. A happy surprise.

    5) WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? by Donald Westlake
    I love all the Dortmunder books, but this one still tickles my fancy every time I read it.

  19. kim

    LOL on the concealed carry permit story. OMG I need that laugh.

    1. changed perspective… Oddly enough it was One For The Money by Janet Evanovich. It kinda reminded me that all the things I have do not make my life full, they just make it full of things. I know, a strange bit to take away from that book.

    2. great escape … So not kissing up here, but it was Charmed and Dangerous. Giving all three Bobbie Faye books for Christmas.

    3. could-not-stop-reading … Hmm. Hard to narrow this one down. I tend to do that a lot. It's usually the steamy action romances that I have the hardest time putting down- like Killer Secrets by Lora Leigh- and those are not the books I generally gift. But Charmed and Dangerous falls into this category as well.

    4. unexpected … The whole Stephanie Plum series actually. I just started (and finished) it a few months back. I figured if my mother loved the books, they probably weren't my speed. I was wrong.

    5. just cuz … What the Lady Wants by Jennifer Crusie. It's a great romp. All the Charlie Fox novels. Huge fan here. Her Sexiest Mistake by Jill Shalvis. A sweet little story about finding love, dealing with family and putting everything in perspective. McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy. Great travelogue. Out by Natsuo Kirino. Dark, but intriguing.

  20. Sylvia

    Great questions!

    1) Favorite book that changed your perspective about something in your life: "Soul of a New Machine" by Tracy Kidder. I re-read it every so often and each time it wakes up a part of me that I'd been ignoring or didn't want to recognize. For me it inspires entrepreneurship at its core – not about making money but instead, make a difference through innovation and sheer determination.

    2) Favorite “great escape” book that took you completely away from your problems, worries, or exhaustion, and is probably one that you re-read: I rarely re-read a book… and I do mean rarely. However, the exception for me has been the Harry Potter series. I know how they each end but can still find myself weaving through the books, feeling the anxiety and shutting out the world.

    3) Most recent favorite absolutely-could-not-stop-reading-it book, the one that you stayed up until you were finished: You said recent so… Tess Geristen's "Ice Cold" I was up until well past 2am to finish it.

    4) Favorite book that you did not expect to love or enjoy, which ended up grabbing you anyway: Finding Nouf. I didn't expect to like it but was on vacation without a book and a friend loaned it to me. I skipped a dinner and stayed up all night to finish it.

    5) Just a favorite, no particular category: Don't make me choose! That is quite unfair. I had to throw a tennis ball at the bookcase to pick and the winner is… the Alafair section (Cornelia and Zoe where on either side so it must have been a magnetic force).

  21. Allison Brennan

    1) The Gospels in the Bible. This might sound sappy, but I recently had to re-read parts to help my kids with an essay and the verse (don't remember which, but I'm Catholic and we don't have to memorize chapter and verse) is when Jesus said there are really only two commandments, to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. It just puts life in perspective, at least my life.

    In writing, the book that changed my perceptions about writing itself and rekindled my love for writing was re-reading ON WRITING by Stephen King. I'd read it awhile ago, then listened on audio book, then re-read it when I was down about writing in general. I think it was the reaffirmation of writing with the door closed and editing with the windows open, or whatever he said. That first, you write for yourself. Then, you edit and send to your trusted readers. But ultimately, whatever their advice, it's your name on the book and you have to be happy with the final story, and take the lumps if there are any. For me, I had to make some changes I didn't want to make to a book and it really hurt and killed my creativity for awhile. Now I have more courage to trust my instincts.

    2) I rarely re-read books. THE STAND is one of the few. I don't know that it's a great escape book. I recently re-read FAHRENHEIT 451 and didn't mean to, LOL. Meaning, I was editing my daughter's essay last year and couldn't remember something, so picked up the book and next thing you know, I had re-read the whole thing and was reminded how much I love that book.

    3) Recent all-nighter, can't put down book: LOVE YOU MORE by Lisa Gardner. Yes, I had an ARC. Neener neener.

    4) I can't think of anything, because I don't read books I don't think I would like. I'm boring that way 🙂 Hmm, maybe VELOCITY by Dean Koontz. Several people said it was awful, but I'd already bought it and ended up being riveted. That was a couple years ago.

    5) Just any favorite? I can't pick 🙂 Some of the books on my all-time fave list that I heartily recommend to people who haven't read the author before: VANISH by Tess Gerritsen; MISERY by Stephen King; THE FIRST VICTIM by Ridley Pearson; DEAD WRONG by Mariah Stewart; THE WATCHMAN by Robert Crais; WELCOME TO TEMPTATION by Jennifer Crusie; WATCHERS by Dean Koontz; HIGH NOON by Nora Roberts; MAGGIE NEEDS AN ALIBI by Kasey Michaels. These are mostly books I recommend as "first books" for people wanting a new author.

  22. Dudley Forster

    Sounds like a great vacation. Taking young children to Disneyland/world is the best. First time we took ours was when they were 4 and 6. So whose concealed carry permit was it? Don’t tell me someone issued you one.

    1) For me, the most life changing books are nonfiction. Two come to mind immediately TOUCHED WITH FIRE by Kay Redfield Jamison and King’s ON WRITING. As for fiction, where do I start, GO DOG GO? But for an easy answer, I’ll go with the immediately relevant. H.G. Well’s THE TIME MACHINE and Verne’s TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA for inspiring my interest in Steampunk. My NaNo novel is dystopian Steampunk. (BTW I hit 50K yesterday)


    3) SOULLESS by Gail Carriger, It is a Victorian Romance, Comedy of Manners, Mystery, & Steampunk. Set in an 1890s London, were vampires, werewolves and ghosts have a place in society, including the nobility, Alexia Tarabotti is different. She is a preternatural, she has no soul. The book is worth reading just for the character of Lord Akeldama, a very fashion conscious gay vampire.


    5) You have to be kidding. Favorite list of authors would be a lot shorter. But I will go with more recent reads, The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Seems you either love them or hate them. I just love Lisbeth Salander

    FYI For those of you who have Kindles or Nooks you can get OUTLANDER with bonus content for free. I'm not sure how long the promotion will last but it is still available today.

  23. Laura

    Great questions! Really made me stop and think about what I read…
    1) Book that changed my perspective was "Without You" by Anthony Rapp. It made me realise life was too short not to do what I passionate about – and the only person stopping me from pursuing my dreams was me. Incredible memoir.
    2) Great escape book : The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. It's kind of like Gossip Girl, but set in 19th Century Manhattan with Lords and Ladies and the scandals are incredbile! Not to mention I find the whole class system fascinating and the dresses are fabulous. I'd call this my favourite escape book because it takes me to a different time period and lets my imagination run wild (those dresses, they are amazing.) I forget everything reading these.
    3) Most recent favourite could not put it down. "Harvest" – Tess Gerritsen. This book had everything. Loved it.
    4) Favourite book you did not expect to enjoy "Day of the Triffids" John Wyndham. I'm not a big science-fiction reader (let's be honest I tend to steer clear of this genre) but I ate this book up. And became slightly obsessed with Triffids for about a month…
    5) Just a favourite no category – Oh I'm going to be a complete dag and say Sweet Valley High – Francine Pascal. If it wasn't for those books when I was younger I would not be the avid reader I am today… Not to mention they're a blast to reread. (And have a snicker that I once took all of this so seriously!) :p
    Have a great week Toni!

  24. Dudley Forster

    Laura – I loved THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS. There are a lot of allusions and homages to both the book and the movie. There are walking carnivorous plants in World of Warcraft that were put in the game as an homage to the triffids. They are also mentioned in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." I really wanted a pet triffid after I read the book, unless, of course, I were to go blind.

  25. Val

    This was actually a really hard task, I read so many books it was hard to narrow down my choices. But for better or worse here they are.

    1. Changed my Perspective: The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. The main character, Richard, always did the right thing no matter how hard it was. That ideal spoke to me and made me take a look at myself. It was very enlightening.

    2. Great Escape: The Novels of the Fading Lands by C. L. Wilson. The world she created was fantastic. I often thought I want to go there.

    3. Most Recent Fav: "The Iron Duke" by Meljean Brook. This was my first venture into steam punk, and I fell in love.

    4. Fav Did not Expect: "A Darkness Forged in Fire" by Chris Evans. This was an impluse buy that I put off reading for a long time, just wasn't sure it was going to be any good. However, after reading it I was anxious for the next book in the series and purchased it right away.

    5. Just Fav: I really tried to narrow this down to one book. I knew the author was Shelly Laurenston because I just love the humor. They are fun lighthearted reads for me, and sometimes that is just what I need.

  26. Mary

    So hard to pick favorites, but here are some . . .
    1) Favorite book that changed your perspective about something in your life (and if you can, what that was)
    _To Kill a Mockingbird_ such examples of courage and family love.

    2) Favorite “great escape” book that took you completely away from your problems, worries, or exhaustion, and is probably one that you re-read
    _Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone_, actually the whole series, but that was the one that caught me and made me almost sorry I'm a Muggle.

    3) Most recent favorite absolutely-could-not-stop-reading-it book, the one that you stayed up until you were finished
    _Uplifting Murder_ I know when I read Elaine Viets' books, I know not to plan to do anything else.

    4) Favorite book that you did not expect to love or enjoy, which ended up grabbing you anyway.
    _Mockingbird_ I didn't expect to be able to handle a book about Asperger's and school shootings, but I'm caught!

    5) Just a favorite, no particular category. _Gone with the Wind_ is one of the few I've read more than once.

  27. Dao

    1) Changed my perspective: "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. I highly recommend anybody who wants to become a professor to read this book. Professor Pausch (RIP) helped me to restore my belief that not all people in academia are venomous. There is humanity out there. I was in a very dark place in my life and that book alone made me want to be a better person. It also makes me believe that one day I can be a good professor to my student the way Professor Pausch was to his.

    2) Favorite “great escape” book: I read and reread the "Harry Potter" series over and over again. J.K Rowling created the wizard world so perfectly that every time I read, I still find something new.

    3) Most recent favorite: "Under the Dome" by Stephen King. This book is heavy. It probably weighs 5 lbs and I do have a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome. This book made my right hand feel worse but since it was a good read and I am a fan of Stephen King, I could not put it down.

    4) Favorite book that you did not expect to love or enjoy: "Marley and Me" by John Grogan. When I bought it, I thought it was one of those stupid animal book but by the end, I found myself bawling like a child. I did my ugly cry over a dog in a book, y'all! Luckily, I was alone so I could cry as much as I want. I probably used half a box of Kleenex that day and somewhere in that book, there are some tear stains. (By the way, please don't watch the DVD. It is so wrong in so many ways!)

    5) Just a favorite, no particular category: "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Shatterfield. I did not believe I was a book snob until I read this book. The writing is so beautiful to the point of lyrical. I am still appalled at the twist at the very end. This book has constantly in my top-five list for a long time and if I had some cloud like Oprah, everybody would have received this book as a Christmas gift.

  28. Barbie

    Fun, a new list, let's try this…

    1) Favorite book that changed your perspective about something in your life (and if you can, what that was).
    Blindsighted, by Karin Slaughter.

    2) Favorite “great escape” book that took you completely away from your problems, worries, or exhaustion, and is probably one that you re-read.
    First You Run, by Roxanne St. Claire

    3) Most recent favorite absolutely-could-not-stop-reading-it book, the one that you stayed up until you were finished.
    A Hellion in Her Bed, by Sabrina Jeffries.

    4) Favorite book that you did not expect to love or enjoy, which ended up grabbing you anyway.
    You Belong To Me, by Mary Higgins Clark

    5) Just a favorite, no particular category.
    Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying

  29. Debbie

    1. Favourite book/changed perspective:
    Screwtape Letters-CS Lewis. Just made me ask, where am I going wrong? How can I avoid the traps?

    2. Favorite “great escape” book/one that you re-read.
    The Lord Of The Rings-JRR Tolkien. And despite the rereads, I’m stillafraid of the Nazgul. I would like this song played at my funeral (yes, there’s a connection):

    3. could-not-stop-reading-it book, the one that you stayed up until you were finished.
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-JK Rowling. Yes I dressed up and went downtown TO for the book release party, was first to get my book (only ‘cause I’m blind and it was an audio version-blind has a perk now and then!), began reading immediately and booked a day off work in advance just to finish.
    Crossing The Line-Stephen Jay Schwartz. Cheating I know, ‘cause it’s a short story!

    4. Did not expect to love or enjoy, which ended up grabbing you anyway.
    Wuthering Heights-Emily Brontë. Heathcliff is just such a piece of work and I expected redemption.

    5. Just a favorite, no particular category.
    Villette-Charlotte Brontë. M. Paul Emanuel, another piece of work, but mmm, I didn’t see this one coming and boy, did I fall for him!
    Les Miserables-Victor Hugo. Expresses truths with such profundity and I don’t think I’ve ever been more frightened for characters or cried more. The approach to the barricade filled me with apprehension and complete dread. I could barely move forward and couldn’t stop. This book left me disturbed by it’s content in a good way but it’s haunting.
    I still cry listening to this:

  30. Sierra

    Since I did several categories last time, I'll do romance this time. 😉

    1) "This Heart of Mine" by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It was one of the first romance books I read, and it was what got me hooked.

    2) Way too many, but I'll go with "Bobbie Faye's Very (Very, Very, Very) Bad Day" by Toni McGee Causey. I got it as an ARC ages ago (before the titles changed) and I've read it until it's falling apart.

    3) "Maybe This Time" by Jennifer Crusie. I stayed up reading it until 2 or 3 in the morning, and woke up with my face pressed to the pages a few hours later.

    4) "A Dance Through Time" by Lynn Kurland. I was iffy when it came to the idea of a time travel romance, but this hit every note that I needed at the time. I still go back and read it often.

    5) Okay, they're not romance, but "Trickster's Choice" and "Trickster's Queen" by Tamora Pierce are some of the most amazing YA fantasy I've ever read. Actually, they're some of the most amazing fantasy I've read, regardless of age group. If I'm going to pick something with a romanctic spin, "Fairy Godmother" by Mercedes Lackey is a permanent favorite – romance and fairy tales, with great dashes of humor.

  31. kit

    I don't think I qualify….I wouldn't give a book as a gift…unless I knew it was one the reciever really really wanted.Here's why….book selection is a very personal choice in my opinion. And just because I like a book doesn't mean someone else would like those same books…there are, however many I would recommend to people for various reasons, or authors I believe they should read.

  32. Kate

    1. The Bible has certainly changed my life.

    2. The Ruins by Scott Smith. Not your typical vacation destination.

    3. I could not stop reading Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King. I must bow down to my master; everything he writes is fantastic.

    4. Fragile by Lisa Unger is usually not by style, but the writing is fresh and the characters originally created.

    5. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson continues to be one of my all time favorites, even though the first few chapters very graphically chronicle a burn victim's initial, painful recovery. This novel contains many stories within the greater story that somehow connect up and each story is a treat.

  33. Woodstock

    1) – JOURNEY by Robert and Suzanne Massie. Their oldest son and first child was born in the mid 1950's, with hemophilia. At the time, this condition was a sentence of life long crippling injuries to joints. The book, particlarly the chapters written by Mrs Massie, taught me skills in living with a situation which cannot be changed. I still read parts of it once a month or so.
    2) – a "great escape" A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS by Amos Oz. Growing up in Israel, and learning an independent and honest view of the troubles in that part of the world.
    3) – FREEDOM by Jonathan Franzen I wish I knew how he can create characters I really don't like very much but cannot help caring about.
    4) – CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E B White. A book discussion group choice, which I read only for the sake of the discussion. Why I waited so long to read it is a very good question. I also listened to the audio, narrated by White himself, and it is delightful.
    5) – SEARCHING FOR TAMSEN DONNER by Gabrielle Burton. A marvelous combination of memoir, biography, history, adventure, and a whole lot more. Burton's book is more than deserving of a wider reputation.

  34. Donna Kuyper

    1) Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers. It covers so much, it's hard not to be changed by it.

    2) Koontz’s Watchers. It always transports me.

    3) The honest answer is James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing. I think you were looking for fiction here, but this is the one that I needed recently and I just ate it up.
    Okay, the fiction books before that would be the Hunger Games Trilogy by Collins.

    4) The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. This is a book that fits into no category. But imagine a story with a shark-shaped monster of paper and words that eats its way into your imagination.

    5) Liked seeing someone else list The Ruins by Scott . It is my choice for best book that was turned into the worst-ever, god-awful, horrid movie.

  35. Tracy Nicol

    1) To Kill a Mockingbird – I read this when I was young. It taught me compassion and to look beneath the surface where people are concerned – not to judge them simply by their appearance or status in life.

    2) The Mitford Series by Jan Karon – It would be difficult for me to pick one book, but I love this series. These are really "feel good" books. The books in this series never fail to lift my mood and give me a warm cozy feeling.

    3) Fever Dream, by Preston & Child

    4) Lifelines, by CJ Lyons

    5) Les Miserables – It's a classic that I'll always love and reread.

  36. Tracy Nicol

    (Earlier post was by Marilyn Nicol –

    1) The Diary of Anne Frank – I think this book made a lot of people look at the world and their lives in a different way after reading it. I was probably about Anne's age when I read it. I could relate to the normal adolescent female feelings she was going through, but at the same time was horrified by her situation and in awe of how much hope Anne had for her future. I have read it many times, and certainly will again.

    2) The Harry Potter books, and no, I cannot pick just one! I find it easy to escape into so many books I read. But, the Harry Potter series actually is another world, and it is so three dimensional and realistic. Well, I don't mean logically realistic, but, you feel like the world is real and that you are in it while you are reading. I have read the books many times and will always return to them again and again.

    3) The Immortals – J.T. Ellison

    4) Duma Key – Stephen King – I resisted Stephen King's books for years. I thought I would despise them and that they would not be my type of reading at all. I finally decided to give him a try when, Duma Key, was released, and I loved it. It completely consumed me and I could not put it down. I was astonished to have such a positive reaction, but it completely changed my views about Stephen King.

    5) Memoirs of a Geisha – This was nearly impossible to narrow down to one book! I would probably give you a different answer tomorrow. But, I do truly love this book, and I believe it is the best example ever of how well an author of one sex can write so believably as the other.

  37. Thorne

    1) Eat Right 4 Your Type (helped me move towards eating correctly!)

    2) From Potter's Field by Patricia Cornwell (the book which got me into Crime Fiction)

    3) The Race by Richard North Patterson

    4) The Great Gatsby

    5) Kisscut by Karin Slaughter


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