William Mayne’s Pandora. Illustrated by Dietlind Blech. This is perhaps the most beautiful picture book I have read. The haunting bittersweet emotion of it makes me feel weepy every time I read it. A gem of a picture book. And it stars a black cat…it had me at hello.
Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting. This fairy tale is so subtly beautiful and yet so deeply philosophical that it is truly a masterpiece. Babbitt’s craft expertise is something to study if you are a writer.
Cornelia Funke’s Reckless. Lyrical and imaginative, this traditional YA fantasy is fun and romantic, with an emotional complexity that is very fresh.
Linda Sue Park’s A single Shard. This beautifully written and engaging story is deceptively simple in its prose.
Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn Dixie. (A great movie, too). This is a really fun book with strong voice and the characters are well conceptualized.
Cornelia Funke’s The Theif Lord. (Another great movie, funny how that happens when the script follows the book). Great characters, Venice, danger, what’s not to love?
Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay for Now. Emotional nuances are handled expertly. A great boy book.
Chris Lynch’s Freewill. This book is simply beautiful.
Donna Jo Napoli’s Zel, a wonderful retelling of Rapunzel, Ms. Napoli weaves an irresistible villain.
Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan
Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This study of human behavior is so wry, so funny, and so perfectly romantic, it’s no wonder it has been the centerpiece of classic literature for two centuries. I fell in love with Fitzwillaim Darcy when I was sixteen, and I have never strayed.
Thomas Hardy’s…anything. The king of juxtapositioning and making the reader cry for the most unlikable of protagonists. My favorites are Jude the Obscure for its humanity and logic; The Mayor of Casterbridge-only Hardy could make you cry for a protagonist who is such a total reprobate; The Hand of Ethelberta-if you want to study juxtapositioning, this is the craft book.
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Okay, difficult to follow and kind of crazy, but, then, so am I.
George Elliott’s Felix Holt. “…but none of our theories are quite large enough for all the disclosures of time, and to the end of men’s struggles a penalty will remain for those who sink from the ranks of the heroes into the crowd for whom the heroes fight and die.” What an amazing line. Romola-beautifully written and deeply thoughtful, Middlemarch-for its beauty in showing a quiet life well lived.
Anthony Trollope’s He Knew He Was Right. A powerful statment on the emotional manipulation and control people can exert over one another.
Emily Carr’s The Book of Small. This touching gem is both wise and completely surprising in it’s grace.
Charlotte Bronte’s Villette. Imagery, imagery, imagery.
For more titles that I recommend, check out my Goodreads page.