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What Books are on Your 'Must Read' List?

Updated on August 21, 2017
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

"To each his own." - Cicero

There is little in life that is more personal than a list of your favorite books.

Now, I could impress you with a list that includes Shakespeare, D. H. Lawrence, and Plato. Or I could give myself the appearance of someone with her finger on the pulse of the nation and include the latest works by Chaney, Rumsfeld and Rice. Or I could tell the truth.

Who is to say what books are the best? It's like high school literature when your teacher tells you that you misintrepted a famous poem. Hey! All you high school literature teachers out there! It is impossible to misinterpret a poem. It's a poem - by definition open to interpretation. What it said to me is what it said to me. I can't be wrong about an impression. So I don't have a master's in Brit Lit like you? That doesn't mean "The Raven" has to say to me what it says to you. That's the beauty of literature.

But I digress. A list of favorite books, the ones you read and re-read every couple of years, is as individual as a set of fingerprints. In a poetic vein, they are your literary fingerprints: unique to you and you alone. They are the books you pick up to read for the nth time when you are spending the night at the home of a friend or family member and you can't sleep. You go searching your temporary bedroom for something to read to lull you into your rest. You are trying to be quiet and not wake the entire house. You'll settle for anything you can find from a three-year-old issue of Sports Illustrated to the neighborhood newsletter, when "Eureka!" you stumble upon your cousin's shelf in the back of the closet full of his old freshman reading list. "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Grapes of Wrath," "Tale of Two Cities." It's like walking into a bar in a strange city and finding a table full of old friends.

So what's on my list? And why would I write a hub about it? Didn't I just say it's all about personal preference? And it's more than likely nobody will care one way or the other what works I mention?

My list is a telling fact. It will tell you more about why I write what I write than my resume would. And yours will tell me about you. I'm writing this Hub in hopes it elicits a response from those who read it. I will learn more about my followers by finding out what constitutes their list of favorites. And what is the first rule of marketing? Find out who your customers are, and go out and find people just like them.

Now, in my four years on Hub Pages, I've collected a wide variety of followers. A troubling assortment of social outcasts, for the most part. We seek our own. But I'm sure there is much more to each and every one of them than a rap sheet at their local police station. I'm attempting to learn those "telling facts" about these personalities. A list of their favorite reads is as good a way as any I know.

"Magic Hour" - Susan Isaacs

I saw this woman on "The Phil Donahue Show" years ago. The fact that I saw her on this old show tells you how long I've been a fan. He was interviewing the new and trending writers of the day. She was hilarious and charming. I wondered if I'd find that voice in her writing. I've read everything she's ever written because of that interview. I've liked two of her dozen or so books. "Magic Hour" is one of them. It's a mystery. I keep buying her books because I know in my heart she has another "Magic Hour" or "Shining Through" in her somewhere and one day, she'll write it. I'll be waiting when she does.

"The Great Gatsby" - F. Scott Fitzgerald

"I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life."

"Her voice is full of money. That was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it."

"I'm thirty. I'm five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor."

Need I say more? If I ever write a single sentence with that much in it - I'll die a happy woman. If only he'd written like this in his other works. If anyone can recommend one, I'm open to suggestion. I never got through anything else by him.

"Resistance" - Anita Shreve

Another writer whose every word I've read. I finished one of her books and threw it in the trash. I was so disappointed. But I'd read every word. You just want to hear her tell the story -even if you hate the ending. This book is my favorite of all her works. I don't expect her to write another one that comes close to it. It is an unusual telling of World War II in human terms.

"XXX" - Anything by Phillipa Gregory about the British monarchy. Because I don't know any better.

What are your top three?


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    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Ohhh, I'll have to check some of these out, Kathleen. Thanks for sharing your suggestions here.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Kingsolver - absolutely! Loved Prodigal Summer. Thanks for participating!

    • suziecat7 profile image


      6 years ago from Asheville, NC

      My favorite writers are Barbara Kingsolver, anything by Elizabeth Berg and Anne Tyler. Great Hub - rated up!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Danielle Steel and Bill Bryson are quite a combination. Don't think I know Jhumpa Lahiri. I'll take a look. Thanks for the comments and welcome to my hubs.

    • lex123 profile image


      6 years ago

      My favorite authors are Danielle Steel, Bill Bryson and Jhumpa Lahiri. For a rainy afternoon, any of their books will be a delight for me.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      phdast7: I have a soft spot in my heart for novelists who are largely unknown and greatly under-appreciated.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I can't possibly select my three favorites - way too difficult. OK, my favorite novel (based on the fact that I have read it five times over the past twenty years) is The Green Kingdom by Rachel Maddux, who is largely unknown and greatly under-appreciated; other novelists - John Le Carre', Martin Cruz Smith, Isaac Asimov. My other favorites tend to be prose writers, so in no particular order: Malcolm Gladwell, C.S. Lewis (the trilogy is worth re-reading every three years), David Brooks, Gary Wills, Carl Sagan, George some future date I will list my favorite historians. Narrowing the list is such a challenge and on a different day and in a different mood, my list might change. Favorite poet - Rainer Maria Rilke.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Barbsbitsnpieces - Thanks for sharing your favorites! I'll get them posted.

    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 

      7 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @Kathleen Cochran..."Gone With The Wind" tells us just about everything about the rise and fall of the South, and the cost of war and love and peace. I would also recommend "Those Who Love", by Irving Stone, and Grantland Rice's "The Tumult and the Shouting: My Life in Sport".

      Nice work on this Hub!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      When Sisterhood was on Amazon but wouldn't link. They didn't list The Swan Books, but I'll keep looking. And, hey, there is nothing wrong with historical romance. I love Phillipa Gregory - unashamedly. Besides, nobody can argue with Romance sales!

    • profile image

      Cathy Gore 

      7 years ago

      When Sisterhood Was in Flower by Florence King - do not read while in a public place as you will embarass your self by laughing out loud; The Proud Breed and the Swan Books by Celeste e Blaise - Yes they are classified as "historical romances", but I found as must history as romance. As a matter of fact - The Proud Breed was recommended to me by a man who was manly and romantic.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      The Autumn of the Patriarch - OK - WOW! I only read the first paragragh and I'm hooked! How writes like that? If the other books you recommended are as promising, this hub was totally worth writing. Thanks.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Cochran 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks for contributing. I found them on Amazon for others to enjoy!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal

      The books I have selected to read in a rainy afternoon are Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahari and Tantric Visions of Divine Feminine by David Kinsley.


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