Favorite beginnings, endings, and the stuff between …

I love to read and I am always drawn to beautiful writing. Most every book has something good about it, something that I can remark about. Those that don’t, well, I generally don’t finish reading them. But that’s not often. Usually, like most savvy readers, I choose carefully, and once I get into a book, I’m usually glad to stay until the end.

I’m also a eclectic reader and will tackle just about any genre, although I’m not a great fan of fantasy, science fiction or horror. Actually, I’ll never read horror; I don’t invite nightmares.

Out of all the books I’ve read, some stand out—and like every enthusiastic reader, I love sharing my favorites. So here’s my own favorites list.

(Fair warning: I suspect I’ll revisit and modify this list regularly.)

Favorite openings

Change Me Into Zeus’ Daughter by Barbara Robinette Moss

In this beautifully written book, the author opens with children hovering around their mother as she prepares to eat poison.

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

Grandpa Tweedy has just been widowed and announces that he’s going to marry Miss Love, and scandal ensues.

Favorite endings

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I won’t tell you the ending, but it’s worth the read.

Favorite Creative Non-fiction

That’s a toughy and a toss up: Either The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson or Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (I need to think about this one some more.)

Favorite Children’s book

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Favorite inventive book

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (One of the cleverest books I’ve come across.)

Favorite book with delicious language

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I think this is the most perfectly crafted book I’ve ever read. It is simply beautiful.

Favorite non-fiction

Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson

Heartbreaking and illuminating

Those Angry Days by Lynne Olsen

Great primer on modern politics

Endurance by Alfred Lansing

Just one incredible story!

Favorite biography

Truman by David McCullough

Truman was a man to emulate.

John Adams by David McCullough

I never fully understood the American Revolution until I read this book.

Favorite classics

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

Based on a true event, this should be a must-read for every American boy.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A family story with heart and hope, as well as sadness

Favorite book by a Virginia author (other than my own)

Wish You Well by David Baldacci

A true portrait of the spirit of Southwestern Virginia

Favorite book on writing

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

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