Saint Maybe, Anne Tyler
A novel about the sacrifice a young man feels he can’t avoid making to care for his brother’s orphaned children. This is what being a mother is. 337 pages.
A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle
An Englishman moves to Provence—lots of food and weather and cultural misunderstandings all wittily delivered. 207 pages.
The Work of Craft: An Inquiry into the Nature of Crafts and Craftsmanship, Carla Needleman
A potter writes about the life of making things in a way that teaches me. Lovely writing. Friendly voice. 160 pages.
Wise Child, Monica Furlong
Fantasy set in medieval Scotland. An abandoned girl is adopted by a wise woman and must decide whether to follow her quietly generous way of living or the glamorous life of her wicked mother. 228 pages.
Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
A novel about making choices. I love the poise of Wharton’s writing, and the underlying passion and intelligence. 270 pages.
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
Mrs. Ramsay redeems the world around her with her generous, fertile humanity. Incredible writing. 242 pages.
The Cancer Ward, Alexander Soltzenitshin translated from the Russian by Nicholas Bethell and David Burg
A novel about sickness and care and survival. A grand metaphor. 536 pages
My Journey to Lhasa, Alexandra David-Neel
Autobiography of a plucky little Frenchwoman who wanted to go to Tibet and did. Competent, kindly, metaphysical in a delightfully down-to-earth way. 310 pages.
A Visit to William Blake’s Inn, Nancy Willard
Poems for children in a style William Blake may well have enjoyed. 44 pages.
Twentieth Century Pleasures: Prose on Poetry, Robert Hass
A light shines from his writing, poetry or prose. 308 pages.
Nun’s Story, Kathleen Hulme
Still as good as when I read it in high school. Novel of Belgian girl who becomes a nun and a surgical nurse in Africa. 339 pages.