The Brandons and Cheerfulness Breaks In, Angela Thirkell.
Novels. There are more than a score of these comic chronicles of Barsetshire, an imaginary county in England. My favorites are set before WWII. 368 and 188 pages.
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy.
Novel. Each re-reading delivers fresh delights. A book for a good long summer read and I wouldn’t cut any part of it. Also Anna Karenina—even better now than when I read it in high school. These are easy reads, never mind how long they are. Living, breathing characters and accessible plots. It's probably about time for me to re-read this again . . . and again . . . 1472 and 976 pages.
Colour in the Winter Garden, Graham Stuart Thomas.
Non-fiction. A notable British gardener who writes as beautifully as his gardens must grow. You don’t need pictures to see the plants he describes. 256 pages.
Home Economics, Wendell Berry
Essays about how to live on the earth. I’ve loved this book from the moment I found it in the university bookstore and spent an afternoon reading it on the stairway in the humanities building. And I love it now. 192 pages
Colcorton, Edith Pope.
A forgotten novel about race and the meaning of house, set in the early 20th century South. Images of this book—hunting in the storm, walking from the broken veranda into the overgrown garden—still stay in my mind. 330 pages.
Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson.
A novel set in northern Idaho about the nature of home. Truly magical writing. A hauntingly evocative book. 219 pages
Moby Dick, Herman Melville.
Immense prose-poem about the nature of reality? Allegory of the new American nation? Adventure tale about hunting whale? Which is it? This book has shaped the way I think about my nation. An essential text for me. 704 pages.
The Neverending Story, Michael Ende.
Deep and believable children’s fantasy. 384 pages.
The Railway Children, E. Nesbit.
Children’s novel. Nesbit wrote wonderful fantastical literature for children in the early 1900’s. This is one of my favorites. My girls like Wet Magic and The Enchanted Castle. 288 pages.
The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease.
A great argument for reading aloud and an even better list of great books to start a personal children’s library. 432 pages.
beloved picture books:
Nancy Hoberman, A House is the House for Me, Seven Silly Eaters
Charlotte Zolotow, Mr. Rabbit & the Lovely Present, I Like Being Little, When I Have a Little Girl
Else Minarik, all the Little Bear books (and Signourey Weaver’s lovely tape reading these)
Russell Hoban, all the Frances books( Glynis Jones’ audio recording is a delight!)
Mem Fox, Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Partridge, Koala Lou I do Love You, Whoever You Are
Roy Gerrard, The Favershams, Rosie and the Rustlers, Sir Cedric
Mercer Mayer, East of the Sun & West of the Moon, Beauty & the Beast, Liza Lou & the Yeller Belly Swamp
Kevin Henkes, Lily and the Purple Plastic Purse, Julian the Baby of the World
Caralyn Buehner, Fanny’s Dream (a gem about true happily ever afters!)
Robert Munsch, The Paperbag Princess
Joanne Oppenheim, Have You Seen Trees?
Eugene Trivizas, The Three Little Wolves and the Big, Bad Pig
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax (my favorite as a child), also Mr. Brown Can Moo, and ABC
Tomie de Paola, The Clown of God, Strega Nona
Margaret Wise Brown, The Color Kittens, Pussy Willow, The Important Book, The Quiet Book, Mister Dog, The Sailor Dog, Home for a Bunny, The Little Island
poetry anthologies for children:
Come Hither, collected by Walter de la Mare
My Kind of Verse, compiled by John Smith
The Wind and the Rain, edited by John Hollander and Harold Bloom
All the Silver Pennies, edited by Blanche Jennings Thompson
This Same Sky: a collection of Poems from around the World, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye