Books I Love


rom my shelf of forever-loved books…I don’t keep every book I read because some of them don’t deserve it, but I make sure to keep the ones I love….they continue, sitting on my bookshelves, through osmosis, to fill my heart and mind with their brilliance, that’s why I keep them nearby. I need all the help I can get.

ooks I’ve read, old and new; loved, and am happy to recommend (in no particular order). As I read new, really good ones, I’ll add them to this list.  I’ve also joined Goodreads, which is a wonderful place to read reviews, and to get and make recommendations.


  • Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Anne Frank, Beyond the Diary Ruud van der Rol (Intro by Anna Quindlen)
  • West with the Night Beryl Markham
  • Heartburn Nora Ephron
  • Hawaii James Michener
  • Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
  • The World According to Garp John Irving
  • The Piano Jane Campion
  • Everything Barbara Pym has written, start with Excellent Womenpurse
  • Anything by Gladys Taber but most especially Best of Stillmeadow
  • A Good Man in Africa William Boydpurse
  • A Stranger in a Strange Land Robert A. Heinlein
  • Einstein’s Dreams Alan Lightmanpurse
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain Charles Neiderpurse
  • The Passion of Ayn Rand Barbara Brandon
  • Enchanted April Elizabeth von Arnimpurse
  • Elizabeth and Her German Garden Elizabeth von Arnim

  • The Help Kathryn Stockett
  • Charms for the Easy Life Kaye Gibbonspurse
  • To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
  • A Short Guide To A Happy Life Anna Quindlenpurse
  • Schindler’s List Thomas Keneally
  • Abigail Adams Charles W. Akers
  • Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
  • Bridget Jones Diary Helen Fieldingpurse
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Source James Michener
  • Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand (pronounce her name ein)
  • The Accidental Tourist Anne Tyler
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • East of Eden John Steinbeck
  • A Woman of Independent Means Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
  • Love in the time of Cholera Gabriel
    Garcia Marquezpurse
  • Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
  • Little Women Louisa May Alcott
  • The Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldonpurse
  • Portrait of a Marriage Nigel Nicholsonpurse
  • The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Choprapurse
  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
  • The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
  • The Prince of Tides Pat Conroy
  • Postcards from the Edge Carrie Fisher
  • Marjorie Morningstar Herman Wouk
  • My Brilliant Career Miles Franklin
  • Stieg Larsson series starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Pillars of the Earth Ken Folletpurse
  • Pollyanna (of course) Eleanor H. Porter
  • A Year in Provence by Peter Maylepurse
  • A Fire in the Mind Joseph Campbell
  • Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel
  • Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys Georgia Morris
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Old books are fun to collect…

Some old children’s books
have wonderful drawings…
CHILDREN’S BOOKSAndrew Lang’s Fairy Books, starting in 1889
The Poky Little Puppy 1942
The Tale of Peter Rabbit 1902
The Country Child 1931
Tootle 1945
The Saggy Baggy Elephant 1947
Scuffy the Tugboat 1955
Pat the Bunny 1940
All-of-a-Kind Family 1951
Green Eggs and Ham 1957
The Cat in the Hat 1960
The Littlest Angel 1946
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish 1960
The Very Busy Spider 1985
Good Night Moon 1991

love old garden books, but if I could only have one, by far, this is the one! It’s called the “Western Garden Book” but the west includes Colorado and Lake Tahoe, snowy areas and deserts, coastal and inland…so limiting this book to the West is so unfair to everyone else in the USA! I have this book at my house in New England and in California; it has the best photos and descriptions; it’s a huge plant encyclopedia; everything is alphabetical; I give it 5 stars! Get it on Amazon… you will love it!

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294 Responses to Books I Love

  1. Barbara Conklin says:

    Susan, I just finished reading “Falling in Love with the English Countryside”. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed traveling vicariously with you and Joe to all the places I’ve always dreamed about. I’ve been enamored with anything English for many years and had the opportunity to visit once a few years ago. But being our week tour was mainly in and around London and only one day in the Cotswolds (which I could have cried about), I so loved reading in detail about the charming cottages and sheep dotted landscapes that you had the opportunity to see. I’m not sure I’ll ever get the chance to cross the pond again, but I’ll always have your wonderful book to sustain that need in me.
    By the way, I’m also a big Downton Abbey fan and I have always loved Gladys Taber’s books. But then who wouldn’t! I’ve printed out your list of favorite books. I recently retired and now have the time to read to my hearts delight. Thanks so much for sharing your passion to a new fan of yours!
    Warm regards,

  2. gail says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’d like to recommend a book that I discovered about a year ago and fell in love with. “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht. I was thrilled to see “Prince of Tides” on your list. It’s one of my favorites too, so disappointed with the movie version though.

    NH Gail :)

  3. Libby says:

    Just started reading Elizabeth and Her German Garden and have to say the first couple of pages are so beautiful, they made me cry. Such an amazing description of the beauty of spring in the garden. Made me want to be there. Thanks for recommending this book!

  4. Brenda Wilkinson says:

    Hello Susan from sunny New Zealand.

    I so love your book A Fine Romance’ and so far I have bought 4 copies to give to my special girlfriends.
    Have you read ‘Daddy Long Legs’ by Jean Webster. It is a favourite of mine.

    Best wishes

    Brenda Wilkinson

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t! Of course I’ve seen the movie several times, but not the book. I will check that out. Hello to sunny New Zealand! xoxo

      • Lisa Rose says:

        “Daddy Long Legs” by Jean Webster is very good but her “Dear Enemy” is one of my favorite books of all time! So well done and so much fun!

    • Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

      Don’t miss Dear Enemy, the sequel to Daddy Long Legs!

  5. Rosemary says:

    Hi Susan, I just finished “Excellent Women” by Barbara Pym. I LOVED it. Tonight I will start “Jane and Prudence”. Thanks for the recommendations.

  6. susan garrett says:

    We love many of the same books so I am recommending “Wait for Me”, the autobiography of Deborah, the Duchess of Devonshire. What a fascinating life!

  7. Linda says:

    I always take your favorite book list with me to the flea market hoping to find a treasure, today I found a sweet book and wonder if you’ve ever read it ” An Island Garden” by Celia Thaxter. Its a beautiful book and made me think of you…..

  8. Cheryl from Bigfork, MT says:

    Dear Susan,
    Just went through your list of favorite reads and thought you might want to read “Hollyhocks, Lambs and Other Passions”, by Dee Hardie. Mrs. Hardie wrote articles for “House Beautiful” magazine many years ago and has also penned two books about her Quaker home called Thornhill Farm, in Maryland. I’m not sure if the book is still in print, but I think you would love her style of writing and attention to detail, much like your writing. It has always been my “go to” book when I just want to cuddle up and read about a special woman and her love of home, garden and family. Enjoy the day! Cheryl from Bigfork

  9. Cheryl from Bigfork, MT says:

    Hi Again, Susan~
    I forgot to mention in my last blog, another terrific, fun read that is perfect for those of us who can’t get enough of Downton Abbey, especially now that the season is over :(( The book is called “While We Were Watching Downton Abbey”, (appropriately enough), by Wendy Wax. I can’t remember who recommended this to me, but it really was very enjoyable, great female characters and a clever story. You can read about it on Amazon (where else)?
    Cheryl from Bigfork

  10. Dorothy from Montana says:

    Hi Susan,
    I see we have read many of the same books. I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. I loved the different format and it carried the story well.

  11. Jamie Asper says:

    I love your book list. There are some that I have read and adore and many more that I have not read. I always enjoy finding out about great books. Have you ever read ~ ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan, ‘The Last September’ by Elizabeth Bowen, ‘Ayala’s Angel’ by Anthony Trollope, ‘The Kitchen Boy’ by Robert Alexander, ‘The Distaff Side’ by Elizabeth Palmer, ‘The Time Travelers Wife’ by Audrey Niffeneger, or anything by Kate Morton, her four novels are all simply brilliant. ‘Mansfield Park’ by Jane Austen, ‘On The Occasion of My Last Afternoon’ by Kaye Gibbons. Just a few favorites of mine! :) ~ Jamie

  12. Pam says:

    Susan, I am rereading Stillmeadow Calendar now, and Still Cove Journal is next. Such “feel good ” reading.

  13. Yvonne Lutz says:

    Pride and Prejudice – my personal favorite!

  14. Mary Cramer says:

    I have read most of the books on your list! There are two good ones I would add one is called “These is my Words” by Nancy E. Turner which is my all time favorite book about a young girl on a wagon train in the Arizona territories. I also loved Water for Elephants and it stays on my bookshelf as well.

  15. Oh, I love your list — I see so many old favorites on it, and many more to go looking for. I am in the midst of a big project and shouldn’t be reading at all, but “Dream Lake” by Lisa Kleypas has kept me up way past bedtime this week. It is a lovely romance including handsome men, beautiful women, and a ghost! And I’m half way through “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Abreht mentioned in an earlier comment. Very thought-provoking. (And I’m on Goodreads, too!)

  16. Debi says:

    How can I print this list off? I want to check those I’ve read and seek the others. I too, have read many books suggested by you, from your blog or calendar. Reading Best of Stillmeadow right now.

  17. Paula Zajac says:

    Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher is a wonderful story about an English family during WWII. It is also among my top 10 favorite books.

    • sherrill says:

      Paula, I love Rosamunde Pilcher! I’ve read and reread her books. I finished The Shell Seekers not too long ago and am now on September. And, I just loved Coming Home! It was so nice to find someone else who enjoys her books,too.

  18. Linda Raphoon says:

    Poky Little Puppy was my favorite when I was a child, just seeing it on your list brought back visions of those wonderful illustrations. Met you in Hudson, Ohio at your book signing. Love all your works.

  19. Theresa Libby says:

    Susan, You have got to read The Book Thief! One of the best books I have read, and I have read many!

  20. Coco Vance says:

    I’d like to recommend “Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury. I try to read it every summer.

  21. Lillian Taylor says:

    Hello Susan, I did buy your book and loved it. I was impressed by the fact that you hand wrote it and your illustrations were so delightful.
    Many of your lists of books are my favorites also. I have always read and reread Gladys Taber. I read one fiction book by her years ago titled Mrs. Daffodil. I keep looking for an old copy of it but so far I have had no luck.
    I have all of Barbara Pym’s books and all of Jane Austin’s books. I love Good night moon, an old classic. Two books I would recommend are Daddy Longlegs, by Jean Webster, it’s delightful, and Plant Dreaming Deep, by May Sarton.

  22. Joan says:

    Hi Susan , Thanks for this & adding the quote by CS Lewis , ” We read to know we’re not alone .” Moments before reading that quote , I’d just chosen a book recommended by another poster on your FB page . I chose it because I could relate to the storyline . How wise was CS Lewis , and you for sharing his thoughts . Thank you .

  23. Connie says:

    Some of your favorite books are mine too. The Forgotten Garden is so good. I would like to suggest The Mitford Series by Jan Karon. There are 9 books in it, but all are so entertaining. Also anything by Adriana Trigiani. She describes life in Appalachia so well. Maya Angelou’s Now I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will make you cry. So will The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. I just finished Girl With the Pearl Earring. Vermeer’s story is amazing, but his model’s is much more interesting! Please, please, please read Sparkly Green Earrings and Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankel and A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson. They are two 40ish mom bloggers, but sooooo funny, nothing boring about them at all. I’m off to read Jane Eyre now! Thanks for all the great book suggestions.

  24. Hi Susan,
    I love all of your suggestions and the children’s books you mention bring back great memories from my childhood and my kids’ childhoods, especially Pokey Little Puppy and Tootle.
    I recently have been enjoying re-reading all of your books – Heart of Home, Vineyard Seasons and the Summer Book and was also able to find copies of your Autumn book and Christmas from the Heart of Home from an on-line used book dealer. I am waiting for The Girlfriends Book and just got the Book of Days in the mail today. I am tempted to just leave it as is and not write in it (I do have several years’ of written in Books of Days in my diary collection).
    The books are in excellent condition and I am very happy when they arrive since it is helping me fill out my Susan Branch book shelf.
    We downsized last year and I gave away many cookbooks from a large (200 or so books) collection. But I could not part with any of yours and find myself turning to them repeatedly for recipes, reflection and rejuvenation.
    Thanks so much for the great work you do!
    Nancye T. in Wells, ME

  25. Penny says:

    Hi Susan,
    Wonderful to read your list of favourite books. I too love many of them, and will quickly tell you my (very tenuous!) link to the ‘Outlander’ series by Diana Gabalden. There is a lady called Cathy, who advises Diana on the gaelic language for her books, and she is the sister in law of one of the girls in my book group. Coincedentally she also used to sing in my parents’ hotel in North Uist (Western Isles, Scotland) in the 1980′s, before she emigrated to Canada. Through these connections, I was incredibly fortunate and received a personally signed copy from Diana Gabalden of the most recently published book in the series. What a thrill that was! I am waiting with baited breath for the next in the series. Also, I hope you don’t mind, but I have put a link to your website on the sidebar of my blog, as I love your site so much. I hope that is ok?
    With very best wishes to you and Joe, from Penny

    • sbranch says:

      That IS a thrill! A book signed by Diana Gabalden! Lucky you. And yes, thank you for that connection, very sweet of you!

  26. Karencg says:

    I have been reading books on our past presidents. I was reading a book about Lincoln. They kept referring his melancholia from his younger years. I made a point to find books on his younger years. When I found a couple of books on Lincolns youth, teens and 20′s. Set aside the first book, read the younger years and am amazed that he ever made it to 20.
    I was told by a boss to know what happens in the past to plan for the future.

    • sbranch says:

      So true. Lincoln. What a man. Now you need to go to the Lincoln Library where they have reconstructed the cabin he grew up in.

  27. Shirley Graham says:

    More people should read & we hope our bookstores are not a thing if the past. There is really nothing more comforting than browsing in the books and magazines! Especially on a rainy day!

  28. Sharon Avinger says:

    If you have not read any of the books by Miss Reed (real name Dora Saint), you must! The Fairacre books are about an English school mistress who lives in an English village. The characters and everyday village life goings-on are wonderful. She also has a group of Thrush Green books, again set in an English village. Google her name and you will find a list of her books. Highly recommended! I have read mine over and over again and get such pleasure from them. I’m also a Gladys Taber lover and have most of her books and have read them ALL!

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Two of my favorites are Velveteen Rabbit and The Giving Tree.

  30. Sara says:

    Hey, Susan, I’m in the midst of reading The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. I can’t believe no one ever told me to read them until you did! Oh to write like Susan Wittig Albert! They were written as much for adults as children, maybe more so.

    I have at least a half dozen of your suggestions waiting for me to read. “Never, no never be without a good book to read” is my reading motto!


  31. Kathi Sanoba says:

    Hopefully I have not missed a post about this in this large list, but, since you mention Anne of Green Gables as a favorite – have you read the entire series? There are about 8 books that take Anne forward past WW1 when her children are grown. Love them all! I also love anything by Miss Read – the Fairacre series and the Thrush Green series. Bought them all because they are disappearing from our library system – guess I was the only one taking them out LOL!

  32. Gail says:

    If you enjoy Pat Conroy, you will LOVE “Beach Music!” For light reading, Diane Mott Davidson’s early Goldy catering series!

  33. sherrill says:

    Has anyone joined Good Reads since reading Susan’s post here? I have and think it will be quite nice. By the way, I’m listening to the soundtrack of Enchanted April. It is so lovely!! Thankyou, Susan, for your blogs!!
    Sherrill from Connecticut

  34. Judy Johnson Parkman says:

    I have just added so many books to my list of ‘good reads’. Thanks so much for all the fine recommendations……..I am sure I will end up with many of them being on my list of favorites, too!

  35. Marian Yeckinevich says:

    Hi, Susan,
    You are such an inspiration in all areas of my life and am so happy that I found you on the internet after all of this time. I have loved your books for years and just finished reading a “A Fine Romance” and cannot wait for your next book. It makes me smile everytime I see you have written a new blog. I see by your book list that we like the same authors. Life is Good.

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