I am not a prolific reader with lots and lots of books under my belt but I do belong to a Book Club and try to read a few books every year. Here are some of my favorites and why I like them. Check out the used books link here for some of these that might be out of print. http://www.fetchbook.info/
HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY by Richard Llewellyn—The story takes place in a Welsh coal mining village, about the turn of the century, as seen through the eyes of a child. It was written in 1940. My cover says "A beautiful story, told in words which have Welsh Music in them." I agree.
THE GIANT JOSHUA by Maurine Whipple. This book won the Utah author a national award when it was written in 1941. The late Eugene England of the BYU English Dept. said it is the most beautiful Mormon fiction ever written. I agree. The story is about polygamy and the settling of St. George. And although the book was nationally acclaimed my mother said the books were hard to come by in Utah in the 40’s. The church did not like it. They have since repented and it has been republished and sold in Deseret Book several times but because of the church rejection Maurine never wrote anything else...which is sad. This is a book that stays with you forever.
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith - This is a coming of age book set in the immigrant tenement housing in 1912 New York. Francie learns that "there had to be the dark and muddy waters so that the sun could have something to background its flashing glory." The book is charming and a testimony to the great opportunities of being an American even in poverty. While reading it I thought of my grandmother who was Francie’s age about this time.
IF A LION COULD TALK by Mildred Walker - Mark Ryegate is a Baptist minister who felt he had been called by God to teach the gospel to the Indians in the wilderness. The Introduction says this about him: "He is self-absorbed as only a man with a message can be; he is manipulative; he is in love with his oratorical powers." We watch as Mark is humbled in a unique way. It made me think of the difficulties of our own missionaries going into strange cultures and languages to teach the gospel. Another book by Mildred Walker Winter Wheat is also excellent.
THE WOMAN IN WHITE by Wilkie Collins - OK, You see I like Victorian stories. This is a great mystery. The BBC made a fun adaptation.
KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER - THE WREATH by Sigrid Undset – This is a Norwegian translation and the first of a trilogy. The Nunnally translation is a must. The culture is beautifully captured in a story that takes place in 14th century Norway. The introduction says this: "...Kristin’s greatest sin is not the fact that she succumbs to her sexual desires and yields to the amorous demands of her impetuous suitor before they are properly married. Of much greater import is Kristin’s decision to thwart her father’s wishes, to deny the traditions of her ancestors, and to defy the church; her worst sin is that of pride." This is young adult worthy.
THE FORSYDE SAGA by John Galsworthy – This is an epic story addressing the rich societies of Victorian England. Mike says if its old England I will like it, which is probably true. Masterpiece Theater did a wonderful adaptation.
PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger - I loved the family, their spirituality, the magic. This is reviewed on this blog in June of 2008.
THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM by A. J. Cronin - Francis Chisholm is a humble priest who wants to help others as a result of some personal tragedies. He is sent to China where he establishes a flourishing Catholic mission amid desperate poverty, civil war, plague, and the hostility of his superiors. The immensity of life’s problems causes Francis to question his faith and why he keeps trying. It was very thought provoking.
A TOWN LIKE ALICE by Nevil Shute - I often read books after watching the Masterpiece Theatre movie version. I loved the movie and the book. The story takes place during WWII and begins with the forced march of some British women who were living in Malasia based on a real experience. One of the young women in the march meets an Australian who she believes was killed by the Japanese because he stole a chicken for them. Parts of the story take place in Australia and Britain. It has some interesting twists. Young adult worthy.
ANYTHING BY CATHERINE COOKSON - This is escapist fluff. She is an English Author who lived until her late 90’s pumping out books till the end. I have read a lot of them. They are clean with no worries about sex but they do have a human violent element. Cookson writes about the poor rising above their class in the Newcastle part of England. The BBC has made 10-15 of her stories into movies and Cosmos video in Kaysville has them all. I have watched each one several times. Some of my favorite books: The Dwelling Place, The Banniman Legacy, The Black Velvet Gown, The Whip, The Tilly Totter duo, The Girl, and well, they are all fun.
THE GATHERING OF ZION the story of the Mormon trail by Wallace Stegner – I have heard that this was President Hinckley’s favorite book. A master storyteller and non-Mormon tells these wonderful pioneer stories. This book is void of doctrine--only great stories and people who lived them.
RADICAL SON by David Horowitz – If you ever wanted to know what happened on the radical left during the 60’s this is your book. Horowitz was there on the front lines and has remarkable insight into what went on. Maybe its because I grew up in this era but I found this book compelling.
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF PARLY P. PRATT – PPP was in the trenches from much of the beginning of the restoration. His writings have preserved the details of many events that might have been tragically forgotten. After I was half through the book I thought maybe I should have kept track of the number of miles he walked for the Lord’s work—it was thousands and a lot with bare feet. The new and enhanced edition has lots of pictures and notes by the compilers the Proctors. Nothing I have ever read has given me a better understanding of church history.
SURPRISED BY JOY The Shape of My Early Life, C. S. Lewis-- I love this quote: "You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifed even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all Entgland." This was the beginning of his Christian writing that I believe changed christianity.