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24 Authors Share Their Favorite Books

Good writers know the secret to writing…they read. They read a lot. When I took writing classes in college, most of our time was spent reading and analyzing various novels and poems to help inspire a jolt of creative energy – and your favorite writers are no exception.

Below is a list of books well-loved by some of our most popular writers, both past and present. J.K. Rowling, Maya Angelou, Mark Twain, and many more share their top pick of favorite book. Do you share any favorites with these authors?

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24 Authors Share Their Favorite Books

Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
Favorite Book:  Calumet K, Henry Kitchell Webster
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A novel about the problems encountered in building a grain elevator in Chicago. It’s a refreshingly honest portrayal of labor unions and morality.

Ernest Hemmingway (A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea)
Favorite Book:  Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
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A story about a woman who has an affair and is given a choice between going into exile or remaining with her family and abiding by the rules of discretion.

Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking, Slouching Towards Bethlehem)
Favorite Book:  Victory, Joseph Conrad
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Axel Heyst, a dreamer and a restless drifter, decides to cut himself off from humanity on a remote island. When he rescues a young English girl, their relationship becomes a perceptive study on power and love.

Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine)
Favorite Book:  John Carter: Warlord of Mars, Edgar Rice Burrough
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John Carter is the greatest hero of two worlds! Marvel at these classic tales of danger and daring as Carter battles deadly opponents, warring civilizations and a host of Barsoomian beasts.

George R. R. Martin (A Game of Thrones)
Favorite Book:  The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
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You know the story…hobbits, rings, friendship, talking trees…

Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
Favorite Book:  And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
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First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island. Their host is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal. One by one they fall prey…and only the dead are above suspicion.

Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita)
Favorite Book:  Ulysses, James Joyce
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Ulysses stands as an inventive, multiple-point-of-view (there are eighteen) vision of daily events, personal attitudes, cultural and political sentiments, and observations of the human condition.

Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
Favorite Book:  King Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory
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In a time when there were damsels in distress to save, and mythical dragons to slay, King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table were there to render justice in the face of any danger. From the incredible wizardry of Merlin to the undeniable passion of Sir Lancelot, these tales of Arthur and his knights offer epic adventures with the supernatural, as well as timeless battles with our humanity.

Meg Wolitzer (The Interestings)
Favorite Book:  Old Filth, Jane Gardam
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An old man slips back into the past with ever mounting frequency and intensity, and on the tide of these vivid, lyrical musings, he approaches a reckoning with his own history. Not all the old filth, it seems, can be cleaned away.

Erik Larson (The Devil in the White City)
Favorite Book:  The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
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Sam Spade is hired by the fragrant Miss Wonderley to track down her sister, who has eloped with a louse called Floyd Thursby.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
Favorite Book:  Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser
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The tale of Carrie Meeber’s rise to stardom in the theatre and George Hurstwood’s slow decline captures the twin poles of exuberance and exhaustion in modern city life as never before.

Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot)
Favorite Book:  The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
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Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, a young boy leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. Insanity ensues.

R.L. Stine (Goosebumps series)
Favorite Book:  Dandelion Wine, Ray Bradbury
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A magical, timeless story about summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding.

J.K. Rowling (The Harry Potter series)
Favorite Book:  Emma, Jane Austen
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Nothing delights Emma more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.

Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings)
Favorite Book:  Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
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Following the lives of four sisters on a journey out of adolescence, Little Women explores the difficulties associated with gender roles in a Post-Civil War America.

Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer)
Favorite Book:  Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
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Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father.

John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men)
Favorite Book:  King Arthur, Sir Thomas Malory
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In a time when there were damsels in distress to save, and mythical dragons to slay, King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table were there to render justice in the face of any danger. From the incredible wizardry of Merlin to the undeniable passion of Sir Lancelot, these tales of Arthur and his knights offer epic adventures with the supernatural, as well as timeless battles with our humanity.

Cheryl Strayed (Wild)
Favorite Book:  The Dream of a Common Language, Adrienne Rich
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A powerful collection of poetry about power, sexuality, and violence against women.

Joyce Carol Oates (We Were the Mulvaneys, Blonde, The Gravediggers Daughter)
Favorite Book:  Crime and Punishment, Fydor Dostoyevsky
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Through the story of the brilliant but conflicted young Raskolnikov and the murder he commits, Fyodor Dostoevsky explores the theme of redemption through suffering.

Judy Blume (The Romona Quimby series)
Favorite Book:  American Pastoral, Philip Roth
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In American Pastoral, Philip Roth gives us a novel of unqualified greatness that is an elegy for all the twentieth century’s promises of prosperity, civic order, and domestic bliss.

Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle, Half Broke Horses)
Favorite Book:  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
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The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident.

Emma Donoghue (ROOM)
Favorite Book:  Far From the Tree, Andrew Solomon
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Solomon’s startling proposition in Far from the Tree is that being exceptional is at the core of the human condition—that difference is what unites us. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down’s syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, or multiple severe disabilities; with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, and who are transgender.

Paula McLain (The Paris Wife)
Favorite Book:  The Snow Child, Eowyn Ivey
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A couple living in Alaska build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone…but they glimpse a young blonde-haired girl running through the trees.

Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain)
Favorite Book:  The Music Room, Dennis McFarland
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In an incredible novel of devastating beauty, Martin Lambert must come to terms with the aftermath of his brother’s suicide. Replaying sad melodies of his affluent youth, Martin embarks on a poignant journey through his family’s haunted past.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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20 Spooky Thrillers to Read for Halloween

The leaves have already started changing colors in Chicago…which means I’M READY FOR HALLOWEEN.

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I love me a good spine-tingling spooky thriller on a blustery fall night…and while I could easily populate this list with Stephen King novels alone, I’ve gathered a few of my favorite books perfect for reading in the weekends leading up to All Hallows Eve…

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Best accompanied with a blanket and a BIG cup of hot apple cider (having a guard dog on hand probably isn’t a bad idea, either), these spooky thrillers are sure to get under your skin and just sit there, lurking, until they crawl into your dreams at night to play…

20 Spooky Thrillers to Read for Halloween

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
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The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
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Room, Emma Donoghue
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The Never List, Koethi Zan
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World War Z, Max Brooks
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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Seth Grahame-Smith
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Bird Box, Josh Malerman
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Haunted, Chuck Palahniuk
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The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
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The Road, Cormac McCarthy
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We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson
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The Boy Who Drew Monsters, Keith Donohue
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The Girl With All the Gifts, M.R. Carey
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Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
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The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares, Joyce Carol Oates
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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
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The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders, Anthony Flacco
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Booked to Die, John Dunning
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Nocturnes, John Connolly
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Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
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 Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Farm Anatomy Book Review

Call me crazy, but the thought of moving out into the country and owning a farm where I can grow my own produce and have a honey bee farm sounds like pure heaven.  I love the idea of living off the land and (slightly) off the grid, eating food you’ve grown yourself and having a job where you can get down and dirty working with your hands.

Realistic?  Maybe…but I’m not stupid.  I know farm life is hard work.  Your entire livelihood is dependent on the elements you can’t control….and there’s no calling in sick when work has to get done.  It requires expensive equipment, sometimes owning livestock, and apparently learning a whole new vocabulary of words I never even knew existed.

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In her beautifully illustrated book, Farm Anatomy, author Julia Rothman takes readers through various parts and pieces of country life, including layers of the soil, how to rotate your crops, how to make a barn (and what animals might come to occupy it), how to plow a field, how to grow seeds, how to make wine and spin yarn, as well as how to shear a sheep and identify the various cuts of pig, chicken, lamb, beef and rabbit.

The perfect book for budding farmers, Farm Anatomy aims to teach readers the bits and pieces that make a farm run, from reading the clouds to composting your waste.  Illustrated with amazing detail and filled with tons of tidbits about everything you’ve ever wanted to know about keeping bugs off your crops, this book is so fascinating and fun to read that you might even find yourself wanting to build a chicken coop in your own backyard.

Even if you’re not ready to go full Charlotte’s Web and start butchering pigs and collecting eggs, Farm Anatomy is a great resource for just living a simpler, more homemade lifestyle.  There are amazing recipes for carrot cake, buckwheat pancakes, and dill pickles, as well as helpful guides for how to can tomatoes, make bread and cheese, and how to cut a full chicken.

A colorful, fun, and entertaining coffee table book you’ll actually WANT to read, Farm Anatomy breaks down farming into manageable pieces, dissecting everything from the parts of a milking machine to the anatomy of a pig.  With witty illustrations and easy-to-follow instructions, this book is bound to turn city dwellers into country mice, one seed at a time.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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14 Cozy Fall Must-Have’s for Book Lovers

Fall is the season for book lovers.  Brisk winds howling through the trees, a hot pot of tea bubbling on the stove, and a cozy blanket that smells like your grandma’s attic…it’s the dream for most bookworms – at least for me! – and I look forward to this time of year pretty much all the damn time.

There are few things that could add to a blustery fall day complete with a good book and a good cup of coffee, but these fall must-have’s might be worth trying!  So put another log on the fire and have fun shopping these 14 Fall Must-Have’s for Book Lovers!

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14 Cozy Fall Must-Have’s for Book Lovers

YES PLEASE.

The perfect bag for running to the library.

Cozy up by the fire with this Hamlet whisky glass.

Show off your favorite quotes with these text printed leggings.

Are you brimming with madness?  You will be if you don’t get this awesome Cheshire Cat-inspired cuff!

You’re not a book WORM, you’re a book DRAGON.

Cute coasters for your coffee, tea, whisky…you know, whatever warms your soul!

You know you belong in Ravenclaw if you’re reading this list…

Wear your love around your neck.

Set the mood with this amazing Shire candle.

Spooky wall art for Halloween…

Cozy socks for Wonderland…

A trinket bowl for all your little nick nacks.

Take a walk in the woods with this book print scarf.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Devil in the White City Book Review

Chicago, 1893.  The city was still rebuilding after the fire that left 100,000 homeless and destroyed most of the wooden buildings that peppered the downtown area.  In an attempt to draw more people and revenue to the city, Chicago grew as a national retail center and produced a crop of brand-name business tycoons, including Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman.  People began coming to the city to shop the best in (affordable) fashion and see the birth of a new type of architecture that would come to define and reinvent Chicago.

At the age of 26, a young man named Daniel Burnham joined the offices of Carter, Drake, and Wright, an architectural firm behind the Manierre Building, Lennox Building, Mercantile Library, New York Academy of Design, and Grant Park.  While there, he met a man named John Wellborn Root and, together, the two designed one of the first American skyscrapers: the Masonic Temple Building in Chicago.  Measuring 21 stories and 302 feet, the temple held claim as the tallest building of its time (but was ultimately torn down in 1939).

Right in the midst of their 15 minutes of fame for the Temple Building, Burnham and Root were asked to oversee design and construction of The World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, named so to celebrate the 400-year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ famous voyage.  The duo accepted the challenge, but when Root passed away suddenly, Burnham was left to create a new team, bringing on such visionaries as Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, and Louis Sullivan to help him turn then-desolate Jackson Park into an amazing world’s fairground.

It was a feat.  A HUGE feat.  Financial panic and an extremely tight timeframe caused major stress on the architects, not to mention the fact that Chicago had to compete with the most recent release of the Paris World’s Fair: The Eiffel Tower.  And brewing under all the commotion surrounding the fair, tucked away in a small area away from the hustle and bustle, a murderer by the name of H.H. Holmes was plotting a most gruesome rouge to take advantage of the fair’s most delicate and feminine fair-goers…

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And so begins Erik Larson’s book, Devil in the White City.  The true story of the fair that changed America, this book is a captivating account of the trials and tribulations that came with designing the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Besides being about the building of the fair, this book also explores the life of H.H. Holmes, a charming murderer masquerading as a doctor to woo and attract young women, then ultimately torturing and killing them.

The two storylines exist independent of each other until the opening of the World’s Fair.  The massive draw of the exposition was all the motivation Holmes needed to construct his own hotel on the fairgrounds, for women only of course, where he could set up his own murderous torture dungeon, brimming right under the hype of the Columbian Exposition.

Told with amazing detail and captivating language, Devil in the White City brings the Chicago World’s Fair to life.  It puts you right in the heat of the action, takes you into the brainstorming room with Burnham’s team…into the hotel with H.H. Holmes, and into the streets of the fair that, from then on, defined architectural design.

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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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21 Books to Read for a Good Ugly Cry

Sometimes we just need a good, healthy ugly cry.

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Sure, you can listen to Tom Waits or Taylor Swift and cry one out…or pop in The Family Stone or Titanic if you’re feeling blue…but for us bookworms, the list of books practically guaranteed to stimulate an ugly cry is often too long to even consider…

The thing about books is that you spend SO MUCH TIME with these characters.  A sad movie is over and done in a couple hours…but for some of us, a sad book may take months to complete…so it really is an emotional roller coaster to finish some of these stories!

I love a good ugly cry…and I give big props to books that can bring me to tears.  While some of these were more tear-jerking than others, they are all worthy of a read if you’re feeling like you need to open the floodgates a little bit.

books to read for a good ugly cry

21 Books to Read for a Good Ugly Cry

One Day
David Nicholls

A relationship is brought to life over the course of 20 years. Snapshots are revealed on the same day – July 15th – of each year, and as Dex and Em face fights, laughter, tears, and missed opportunities, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.

We Were Liars
E. Lockhart

A group of friends spends a beautiful summer on a private island, laughing, swimming, as socialites do. But when an accident causes a secret to be released, everything changes. This book is slow to start, but the end made it worth it for me.

My Sister’s Keeper
Jodi Picoult

What would you do for the people you love? When Anna is forced to sacrifice her health for the safety of her sister, Kate, questions about life and morality are raised. A provocative novel that raises important ethical issues, this story is about the struggle for survival…at all costs.

Night
Elie Wiesel

Perhaps the most brilliant and heart-breaking book in the Holocaust canon of literature, Night should be required reading for every human being. Honest, eye-opening, and terrifying at times, this memoir puts readers right into the middle of the chaos.

Bottomless Belly Button
Dash Shaw

This graphic novel tells the story of a family that comes together for one weekend, only to discover that the reason for the gathering is that mom and dad are getting divorced. A story for the times, this novel is so truthful, raw, and honest.

The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

After Susie Salmon is murdered, she tries to help her family solve the mysteries surrounding her death. Told from Susie’s perspective as she watches the aftermath of her murder unfold from Heaven, this story raises interesting questions about the afterlife, and what that means for those who must continue on surviving.

The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This timeless tale tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe. Through a collection of extraordinary encounters and discoveries, we learn, along with the Prince, how wonderful and sad life can be.

A Monster Calls
Patrick Ness

Oh man…if you’re only gonna read one book on this list for the ultimate ugly cry, it should be this one. One of the most truthful and beautiful portrayals of what it’s like to loose a loved one to a sickness, this story will utterly wreck you.

Tuesdays with Morrie
Mitch Albom

After Mitch Albom reconnects with his college professor, Morrie Schwartz, at the end of Morrie’s life, a beautiful friendship develops that turns into a collection of final lessons on how to live. You know how this one ends, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

The Year of Magical Thinking
Joan Didion

This memoir explores important questions about life as a widow, a wife, and a mom. When author Joan Didion suddenly looses her husband at the dinner table, she embarks on a journey of anger, healing, and understanding that’s all too familiar if you’ve ever lost a loved one.

The Road
Cormac McCarthy

After the human race is basically obliterated after an unsubscribed apocalypse of some kind, a father and his son must fight for survival in a world that is nearly void of life. This is a quick, but powerful read.

Daytripper
Fabio Moon

How would our lives be different if we waited in the longer line in the grocery store? If we really ended up with our soul mate? If we got our dream job? This graphic novel explores the question that forever plagues the human race: what if? Truly inspiring and bittersweet, this book was one I found myself reading again immediately after finishing it the first time.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
Garth Stein

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny story about family, love, loyalty, and hope, this book is beautifully crafted and is a captivating look at all the wonders and absurdities of human life…as only a dog could tell it.

The Book Thief
Markus Zusak

Set during WWII, this groundbreaking novel tells the story of a girl, Liesel Meminger, and her love of books. Narrated by Death himself, this story raises interesting questions about why and how we die, using the background of the war to better highlight how all walks of life continue to run from the same enemy.

The Last Lecture
Randy Pausch

After his fatal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, professor Randy Pausch gives his class one last lecture before retiring to spend the rest of his life with his family. This one is a heart-wrencher. Filled with inspiring and motivational quotes, this little book packs a powerful punch.

Love You Forever
Robert Munsch

A short children’s story about a mother and son, this book is probably on the shelf of children all over the US. The deeper message of aging and the circle of life make this book a must for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Revolutionary Road
Richard Yates

I’ve realized that this book is on a lot of book lists that I do, but it’s just that good. As we watch a seemingly perfect marriage fall apart at the seams, it becomes clear that relationships are a lot different to those on the inside, and sometimes what we see is NOT what you get.

Red Hook Road
Ayelet Waldman

This one hit me in a very unexpected way. As a newly married couple drives to their reception, they become victims of a deadly car crash. The families awaiting their arrival are left to pick up the pieces, and go from planning a wedding to planning a funeral.  Now they must learn to work together to honor the wishes of the now deceased bride and groom.

Bridge to Terabithia
Katherine Paterson

OMG. I’m sure we all read this as pre-teens, yes? The ultimate he/she friendship story, this book tells the tale of Jess and Leslie, two friends who create a magical kingdom together where they reign as king and queen, that is until a tragic accident changes everything. OMG WITH THE TISSUES.

To Dance with the White Dog
Terry Kay

This was the first book that ever made me cry!  When Sam Peek’s wife passes away, his children worry that he won’t be able to take care of himself; however, when a mysterious white dog appears, Sam wonders if it’s the spirit of his wife returning to him.

Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck

A beautiful story about friendship, this classic book hits ya right in the gut. Two outsiders work together to find their place in a society that wants nothing to do with them. A story that has birthed a Broadway play and not one, but THREE acclaimed films, this book is great for a good, classic cry.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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15 Great Quotes by Edith Wharton

Shakespeare wasn’t the only wordsmith ahead of his time. Dive into classics like Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, and almost anything by Virginia Woolf and you’ll find wit and sarcasm that challenged the status quo.

Perhaps one of the most prolific of these writers was Edith Wharton. A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer, Wharton was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928, and 1930 (GURL POWER!).  Her insider’s view of America’s privileged classes was the inspiration she needed to write humorous and insightful novels about social and psychological insight.

Her most famous novel, The Age of Innocence, won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1921, making her the first woman to win the award. A novel about the morals of 1800’s society, The Age of Innocence challenges views on love and passion. TAOI was one of 15 novels Wharton wrote in her lifetime, in addition to seven novellas, 85 short stories and a large collection of poetry and essays.

On August 11, 1937, Wharton died of a stroke in her home in Paris. As a genuine woman of words, Wharton has left us with a large collection of brilliant thoughts, only some of which are listed below. To celebrate this powerful woman of literature, here are 15 great quotes by the wonderful Edith Wharton.

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15 Great Quotes by Edith Wharton

“Ah, good conversation – there’s nothing like it, is there? The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing.”

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“There is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person, however dear and beloved, but an expansion, an interpretation, of one’s self…the very meaning of one’s soul.”

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“In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways.”

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“The real marriage of true minds is for any two people to possess a sense of humor or irony pitched in exactly the same key, so that their joint glances on any subject cross like interarching searchlights.”

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“Half the trouble in life is caused by pretending there isn’t any.”

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“I want somehow to get away with you into a world where…we shall be simply two human beings who love each other, who are the whole of life to each other; and nothing else on earth will matter.”

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“In every heart there should be one grief that is like a well in the desert.”

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“True originality consists not in a new manner, but in a new vision.”

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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