Books Books Books!!

For those of you who weren’t able to come to my church a couple weeks ago and attend the little class I taught on literature (ummm, I think that’s just about all of my readers, actually), I now give you the notes and book list!! The first half of the class was taught by another woman, Debbie, and it was all about children’s literature. She talked a lot about instilling a love of reading in young children and brought along a number of books from different age levels. She also sent out a book list, which I’ll include in another post.

For my part, I wanted to talk to two main groups of people: 1) Those who do not consider themselves readers, but perhaps would like to be and don’t really know how to get started; and 2) Those who are readers but are either stuck in a rut or just want some new books to read. So, here are the notes from my class, and my list of books and authors to follow. Keep in mind these are just the notes. Of course we talked a bit about each point (I hear I’m very funny) and this just gives you the main point. I hope this helps some of you.

Tips to Get You Reading

1. Don’t jump into big, classic books. Even people who love Jane Austen have difficulty reading her novels. Start with something lighter.
2. Do try a variety of genres. There is something out there for everyone: mystery, romance, adventure, true life, memoirs, fantasy, science fiction…
3. Read Young Adult. They don’t always deal with high school age kids. They have everything that a “regular” adult novel has and they tend to be more clean.
4. Read what is popular. There is a reason certain novels spend weeks at the top of a best seller list.
5. Don’t quit! Sometimes it takes a few chapters to really get hooked on a book. Give it more than 30 pages (some people recommend 50 to 100 pages) However…
6. Don’t be afraid to quit if you don’t like it! Sometimes after you have been plugging through a book it just feels like you are wasting your time. You don’t want to waste your time reading a book you’re going to regret. Also, if the material makes you uncomfortable, quit reading and don’t feel guilty about it.

Places To Look For New Books

1. Best sellers lists. You can find these in newspapers or in libraries. If it’s at the top of a best seller list, there’s a reason for it: people like it and are buying it! So go ahead and try it.
2. Goodreads. This website connects you with friends and strangers, has book lists, book reviews, book clubs… it’s an endless source! There are other book websites, too. is like goodreads. Facebook has an application called “Visual Bookshelf”. has book reviews, author interviews, and a weekly book giveaway. is kind of an anonymous book share community from around the world.
3. Movies. 99.9% of the time the book is SO much better than the movie!! If you liked the movie, I can almost guarantee you are going to love the book.
4. Join a book club. You will often be asked to read a book you might not have picked up otherwise. Also, the other members of your book club will have books you can borrow and always have suggestions for something good to read.
5. Judge a book by its cover. The cover art, the font, the title is all put on the book a certain way for a certain reason: to attract certain readers! If you like the look of a book, you may just like the story.

Now, as a reminder on this book list: These are MY favorite books and MY must-reads. I didn’t include some books that may be considered a “must-read” by other people because either I didn’t read it or I didn’t like it. (And that’s why I have a “My Friends’ Favorites” on the list. You guys may recognize these books and authors.) Here’s the list:

I Think Everyone Should Read These At Least Once (Sariah’s Favorites)
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis #
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams #
Memoirs of A Geisha – Arthur Golden
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
The Princess Bride – William Goldman
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Night – Elie Wiesel *+#
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortensen*+#
The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield#
The Joy Luck Club – Amy Tan
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins #
Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
Man’s Search For Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl * +
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert A. Heinlein
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Kim Edwards
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society –Mary Ann Shaffer #
These Is My Words – Nancy E. Turner #
The Scarlet Pimpernel – Emmuska Orczy

*non fiction
# Read this. Read this now.

My Favorite YA Books
Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
Twilight Series – Stephenie Meyer
The Goose Girl – Shannon Hale #
The Hunger Game – Suzanne Collins
Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell
Bridge to Terebithia – Katherine Patterson
Tuck Everlasting – Natalie Babbitt
The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
The Secret Garden – Francis Hodgson Burnett
The Witch of Blackbird Pond – Elizabeth George Speare
Book of a Thousand Days – Shannon Hale
Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast – Robin McKinley

Chick Lit
Confessions of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella
Bridget Jones’ Diary – Helen Fielding
The Undomestic Goddess – Sophie Kinsella
Size 12 Is Not Fat – Meg Cabot
Austenland – Shannon Hale
The Actor and the Housewife – Shannon Hale
My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult
Circle of Friends – Maeve Binchey
Tara Road – Maeve Binchey

My Friends’ Highly Recommended Books
Water For Elephants – Sarah Gruen
A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson *
The Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd
One For the Money (series) – Janet Evanovich
Anything by Lorna Landvik
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell *

The Forgotten Garden: A Novel – Kate Morton
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Eragon (series) – Christopher Paolini
A Blistered Kind of Love – Angela Ballard *+
The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls +
To Kill A Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Jack Ryan series – Tom Clancy
Little House on the Prarie (series) – Laura Ingles Wilder
Drina Ballerina (series) – Jean Estoril
Prisoner of Tehran – Marina Nemat +
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – Alan Bradley
Peace Like a River – Leif Enger
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffengger
Where The Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (series) – Lewis Carroll
Anne of Green Gables (series) – L.M. Montgomery
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith

* non fiction
+ memoir

My Friends’ Highly Recommended Authors
Janet Evanovitch
Lorna Landvik
Victoria Holt
Catherine Crookson
Jan Karon
Michael Connelly
Jeffery Deaver
James Patterson
Dean Koontz
Steven King
Jane Austen
Mary Stewart
Helen McInnes
David Eddings
Terry Brooks
Terry Pratchett
Mary Higgins Clark
Joanne Fluke
John Grisham
Shannon Hale
Maeve Binchey
Anita Stansfield
Katherine Kurtz
Michelle Bell

5 responses to “Books Books Books!!

  1. I don’t exactly know what I was expecting from your book list, but I got such an ego boost knowing that I’ve read so many of the books on your lists!

    I really liked your suggestions, you are spot on. I’m going to keep this short so I don’t ramble and sound like …

    Anyway, what I really want to say is how glad I am that you are my friend. I am so proud that I have such smart, well-read, inquisitive, and thought-provoking friends. I see so much in you to which I aspire. Thanks.

    Now go read “The Poisonwood Bible”.

  2. Thanks Sariah! The boys and I are all going to put together a book list for the summer. I didn’t know where to start. Now I think I do! Thanks!

  3. This is great!!! I could never put together a list like this, and I LOVE to read!! I’ve read more than I thought I would have. I find myself, living in the area I do, reading LDS authors, simply because I can count on not have language and suggestive stuff. If you want to add a list of those I might be able to help. I’ve also recently read “The Bride of the MacHugh” by Jan Speas. LOVED IT! And it’s not LDS! 🙂
    I will come back to this post often!

  4. I’m happy to say I’ve read 21 of the books on your favorites list! And I’m pretty sure I recommended at least one of them! Yay for me!

    I had a huge long comment, full of suggestions, on your post way back when you were asking for help with this, and then my computer crashed and I was so frustrated I never wrote it again. So sorry I didn’t offer any help! But I like what you’ve come up with, and will be making a list for when I go to the library again (which will be as soon as I figure out which of our cards has the lowest fine and pay the minimum on that.)

    Also, can I say how happy I am that Bridge to Terabithia is on your list? Vicki’s going to start reading that at school in the next week or so, and I can’t wait!

    And I agree with Zen Mama up there: you really need to go read The Poisonwood Bible right now!

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