In Search of the Next Good Book

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Note: this was initially posted on one of my old, personal blogs, back on January 30, 2010.  There are some “current” event clues that may suggest so…  I stumbled across it recently, and thought the discussion worth re-hashing, as I am constantly in search of the Next Good Book.    I’d love to hear y’alls thoughts on great reads.  🙂

 What’cha Reading: In Search of the Next Good Book

The author of one of America’s most beloved books passed away this week.  May you rest in peace, Mr. Salinger.  Your spirit lives on in Holden Caulfield.  How many Americans even knew of this, save for a scarce reference on their friends Facebook pages?  Heck, how may people are familiar with him at all these days?  Sadly, not enough can make that claim…  Shame on us!

The Catcher in the Rye

I digress.  The passing of a true American icon, with no disrespect to the Brittany Murphies of the world (God rest your soul), made me reflect on the literature that has shaped my life, and how many of them left their mark on us.

I cannot begin to explain how much joy I still get from reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  Please do not confuse these with Disney’s Alice in Wonderland – although one of my favorite movies of all time, it is not literature.  The fact that Lewis Carroll broke out of the mold so long ago, refusing to create children’s stories designed to frighten, ultimately to have a moral, was pretty advanced for his time.  To create a story -heck! an entire world- for the sheer JOY of reading, and fantasy, is still inspiring to me today.  Thank you, Mr. Carroll, for helping me enter the wonderful world of children’s literature.


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To recreate the flashy scenes Fitzgerald painted in his novels would be priceless!  Oh!  How I can only imagine mingling with the guests at a fantastic Gatsby party, rubbing elbows with Dick Diver, or any other of his amazing characters.  Thank you, Mr. Fitzgerald, for bringing this time period to life for me!


…and then there’s Roald Dahl.  Oh!  Your words vividly dance around the pages, creating such splendid alternate universes, where the bad always get what’s coming to them, and the child with a good heart always prevails!  How I enjoyed sharing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with my students, allowing THEM to experience Dahl’s wit and charm before seeing the latest Hollywood rendition!  My love for dear ol’ Charlie, James, and Matilda grows with each reading.

Roald Dahl - 15 classics

Who could forget Mark Twain?  Ever witty, ol’ Clemens brings me back to a time in American history, and to a part of the country, to which I have never been.  The oft-forgotten Pudd’nhead Wilson LOADED with humor, also a super quick and easy read.  (Yep, my copy is getting pretty tattered from repeated readings, since the 9th grade…)  My hats off to you, Samuel — you are certainly one of my muses!


Then I push forward to more contemporary authors, such as Jennifer Weiner: again, witty, and depicting the average American woman.  Not the gorgeous girl living a super-charmed life, but the average girl living the average life (in perhaps above average sizes), and dealing with life in extraordinary confidence.  You, too, are another muse, Ms. Wiener.

I must even add some Oprah’s Book Club here, as I am guilty of buying in to some of her suggestions.  The Rapture of Canaan is still an all-time favorite, along with Stones from the River.  You know you’ve found your favorites when you read them multiple times, even though it’s been YEARS since I’ve picked either up, they still resonate with me 15+ years later!


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Then, my new favorite, Silas House!  Sweet, nostalgic Eli the Good brought me back to my own childhood, while also telling the tale of a young boy (a writer!) uncovering the layers of his family’s struggles with The War.  Vietnam, in this case.  Beautifully written, whimsical in nature, even with the heavy content.  Bless you, Mr. House — I cannot pick up your other works fast enough!


Just barely scratching the surface with all these wonderful examples of literature, however, I have to wonder how such stinkers can fall through the cracks and get published??  The author of The Lovely Bones wrote another novel, The Almost Moon.  And dear Alice Sebold, all I can say is pee-yew!  Perhaps I simply had a hard to settling in to a book based around an older woman who kills her mentally-ill mother.  Perhaps the timing of my reading said book was simply all wrong, me being a new mother and all.  Or perhaps the book just stunk…  Granted, I understand that authors are under tremendous pressure these days to churn out novel after novel.  But, at what price?  Must author’s adhering to deadlines and contracts lower the quality of modern day literature??  It’s abhorring!


There are very few times in my reading life that I have put a book down.  I almost did so with The Almost Moon.  I reasoned, however, that if I wanted to argue against it, it’s better to have read the entire novel, so as to know completely why it stunk.  I do not wish to waste my time on any more stinkers.  So I ask you, my fellow readers, what are you reading?  What do you recommend, and why?  If you had to choose a single-favorite author, who would it be and why?  Single-favorite book — why?

I greatly anticipate your responses.  Now, go and write!

P.S.  You can tell I pepper in a few children’s classics in to my everyday reading.  I’m a big fan of children’s lit, and find it valuable at any age.  Check out Amazon’s list of 100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime as well as 15 Books to Read with Your Kids, and great toddler action books – and WHY you should read aloud to your kids, at any age.


Keep on saving!  :o)

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**


  1. These are some great books! I’m always encouraging my readers to take time and read with their kids….some of my best memories growing up are just sitting with my mom reading!

    • Thank you Melissa! As someone who grew up around readers, and is raising her children to be readers, I -too- have fond memories of reading with my mom. 🙂

  2. Fantastic recommendations. We are reading a book on Davey Crockett right now.

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