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 Mortonpurse

Old books are fun to collect…


Some old children’s books
have wonderful drawings…
FAMOUS OLD BESTSELLING
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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385 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,
    Barbara

  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.

    • Nancy Rawson says:

      I loved this book, too. The audio version is so delightful since the book is a series of letters. On the audio version, they are read by different voices. Really brings home the power of the written word.

      • Dianne says:

        Just noticed this earlier posting. I’ve read the book, but I’m anxious to hear the audio version. Sometimes I like to listen to a book when I’m driving late at night (I find I tend to “wander away” if I’m driving during the day and focusing on the other cars). One of my favorite audiobooks is Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Linbergh, read by Claudette Colbert.

  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.

      • Samantha says:

        I love Rosamunde Pilcher, too! I am so happy to meet other fans! September is one of my all time favorites, but so are Shell Seekers and Coming Home. If you are looking for another great read, try Emma Sinclair’s novel, Her Father’s House. It’s a great WWII saga. Happy reading!

        • Kathryn H says:

          Too funny, I looked up Emma Sinclair on Goodreads and found a racy romantic author. I did much better looking up Her Father’s House by Emma Sinclair….it looks like a great read!

    • Leigh Witherspoon says:

      That is one of my very favorites-a go to for me! Love the Shell Seekers too!! I was just about to tell Susan…

    • Dianne says:

      I, too, love Rosamunde Pilcher and have read most of her books many times. I just never tire of them. I don’t even know if I can name a favorite, as it might be September this year and Winter Solstice next. I loved Coming Home as well. She has several shorter books, as well as two collections of short stories. Are you familiar with them? If I had to name someone, that I’d love to share a cup of tea with, she would be near the top of the list. As would Susan, of course!

  18. Linda Raphoon says:

    Susan,
    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!

      • Penny says:

        Susan, reading through all these enthusiastic comments from FOSB, all of whom seem to share very similar tastes in books, it leads me to ask, would a Susan Branch Bookclub would be a good idea? Every month you could suggest a book that you will be reading in the weeks to come, and those who wish to join you (virtually!) can do so. (Everyone would be responsible for buying/borrowing their own copy of the book of course) Then at the end of the month, everyone can comment and discuss the book on your lovely blog. What do you think? X

        • sbranch says:

          I love it! I love bookclubs. But my problem is that I have to go and be places and maybe (and this would be very bad) I wouldn’t get the book read in time. It would be SO much fun though, I’ll keep thinking about it and see if I can add it somehow.

  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:

    Susan,
    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!

    Sara

  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

    • sbranch says:

      Good Reads is really wonderful … you’ll love it Sherrill!

      • Mamey Brown says:

        GOODREADS is WONDERFUL! I LOVE that website. Anyone here; feel free to friend request me. We all seem to have the same tastes. I would love to see all of your bookshelves!! That’s exciting to have SB recommend it…

    • Kathryn H says:

      Sherrill who are you on Goodreads? I’m Kathryn Bird Hemstead. We should start a Friends of Susan Branch club!!!!

  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.

  36. erica says:

    Susan,

    Part of my genetic makeup is finding things. Treasures. And, there are two pastimes/hobbies/addictions which I’ve had since as long as I can remember.
    Number one, poking my nose into little shops, namely Thrift shops. Number two, finding a treasure while poking. I recently discovered and purchased STILLMEADOW SEASONS, by Gladys Taber. (She is new to me, although introduced by you.)

    I am thrilled. Can you believe $2.99 and 20% off? Life is good. And about to get better. I also got a brand new Susan Branch calendar – 2014. Did YOU put them there??? You must’ve.

    Erica xo

  37. Jennie Lou says:

    My husband and I were vacationing in Lynden, WA years ago, staying in a hotel inside a real windmill. Downstairs, an indoor canal runs beside a dear café and down in the basement, an antique shop beckoned. I grew up reading Gladys Taber’s writing in “ladies’ magazines” and was searching for her books. No sooner did I remind my beloved to keep a look out for GT than he smiled and told me to turn around. There, behind me, was an entire shelf of her books – from Stillmeadow to Still Cove to Spaniels to Cookbooks! Needless to say, they all came home with me. I was so pleased to find YOU when I Googled her, and to find one of my favorite artists a kindred spirit!

  38. Melanie says:

    I just finished “A Fine Romance”. I didn’t want it to end! My late husband was British and through him I fell in love with England but have never been able to visit. My favorite author is British – Miss Read (Dora Saint). She wrote books of English country villages – The Fairacre series and The Thrush Green series. Have you every read any of them. They are wonderful!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you so much Melanie! I did read some of the Thrush Green books. Lovely — I’m a little more partial to Barbara Pym — well maybe not more partial, but love her too.

  39. Trisha K says:

    I was just looking for a book suggestion, I am in need of a really good book. I noticed Diana Gabaldon on your list. I tried to look back at past comments so that I wasn’t repeating someone else, but I don’t see any mention. Did you know they are making the Outlander books into a tv series on the Starz Network? It will not be released until August, however. I usually do not like film adaptions of well loved books, but this looks interesting.

  40. Cathy MC in Vermont says:

    I love your book list (and everything else) I noticed Rebecca right away, I read and re-read as a teen (60s) and on occasion since…….also around 11 -12 Heidi, over and over. The Stillmeadow and Cape Cod books of Gladys Taber (just joined FOGT I thank you so much for info) as young mother in 70s and ever since (so comforting and inspiring like you. Miss Read (Dora Saint) I am on a mission to read all of her wonderful, sweet English Village books. I am currently reading Miss Read’s Storm in the Village and also a delightful mystery writer from Martha’s Vineyard, 13th generation Cynthia Riggs and her character; 92 years young Victoria Trumbull who solves those Island mysteries.

  41. Jodi says:

    I want to thank you Susan from the bottom of my heart for introducing me to the Outlander Series of books! I have read them all and am anxiously awaiting the newest and sadly last book in the series. If only allowed one book on a desert island I would take Outlander. I have re-read it and never get tired of it. Thanks again and Happy Summer!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, I’m so glad. I’m telling you, my girlfriend Elizabeth and I were reading it at the same time. We gossiped about it as if it was real, phone calls, emails, texts, and we had fake Scottish accents to go with it …. and that Jamie Boy (that’s what we called him), we were in LOVE. I almost hate to see the movie, because their Jamie Boy could never be as good as the one in our imaginations!! :-)

      • Penny says:

        Sorry, ladies, I saw him first! And what’s more, I know he’s in love with me too! And being from the Scottish Highlands I would have no problems understanding the ‘sweet nothings’ he would whisper in my ear, in Gaelic of course!

  42. Susan Cohen says:

    I love your book list. I’m currently immersed in book #8 of the Outlander series…hate for it to end!

  43. Carol O'Brocki says:

    Thank you for the list of great books!! I have to add my all-time favorite book. I read it EVERY SUMMER – “Fortune’s Rocks” by Anita Shreve. I love, love, love everything about this book.

  44. Gloria says:

    Susan, have you read 84 Charing Cross Road, sorry I don’t have the authors name handy. The movie is also very good. Just received my copy of Written in my Own Hearts Blood by Diana Gabaldon, all 881 pages!!! I’m going to try and save it for cold weather, if I can wait! Susanna Kearsley writes wonderful books about time travel in Scotland in The Winter Sea.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, books and England, two of my favorite things!

      • Carrie says:

        A weeper, “84 Charing Cross Road”, but a lovely one. Only learned in the past few weeks this is a REAL story! Oy vey!!

        There was a true Marks & Co bookstore literally at 84 Charing Cross Road; I’ve asked about this in the past but was told it was a fictional story and there was never a Marks & Co; never took the proper time to research it myself – MISTAKE. I’ve walked that area many times over the years…

        Helene Hanff what a cracker. Recently, I inadvertently came upon the reading of the letters exchanged between Helene and Frank Doel on You Tube, read by Juliet Stevenson and John Nettles. If Juliet doesn’t sound every bit like Anne Bancroft then I loathe warm flaky scones with Devonshire clotted cream and heaps of strawberry jam.

        How I love the irreverence of Helene and the English reserve of Frank. They can say what they want about us Yanks but we are often loved across the pond for our candor and enthusiasm, which Helene certainly possessed in abundance and in the most endearing of ways.

        One of my All-time favorites. And you can bet your bottom dollar/pound, (NEVER Euro while I’m on English soil) the next time I’m in London I will be looking for that blue plaque at 84 Charing Cross Road.

        youtube.com/watch?v=V00EGyUHses
        84charingcrossroad.co.uk/
        freespace.virgin.net/angela.garry/Personal.htm

        “All my life I’ve wanted to see London. [...] I wanted to see London the way old people want to see home before they die.” Helene Hanff

        • sbranch says:

          I feel so much freer with my English friends to be myself because I know they already expect me to be a little too in your face personal, and jump up and down excited so I figure I can get away with it!

  45. Barbara J. Underwood says:

    I’m so glad to see The Forgotten Garden on your list. You might also enjoy The Rose Garden By Susanna Kearsley, and Stealing Heaven by Marian Meade.

  46. Debs OBrien says:

    This is so much a better list of reading material choices than some of those silly ‘have you read the books on this list’ quizzes doing the rounds on t’internet.

    Some on your list I even have in several copies each title {hard and paper back} and on my Kindle so I can carry my library with me when travelling light. Currently I am reading Anne of Green Gables, and I am Anne with an ‘e’ too :) that makes me very happy!

    May I ask, have you ever read “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri or “Pookie the Rabbit with Wings” by Ivy Wallace? Two of my personal childhood favourites, I have most of the Pookie books as first editions.

    Waving from Across the Pond in Wales Debs xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I’m Anne with an ‘e’ too! Yes, I read Heidi when I was a little girl, but not Pookie.

      • Simone says:

        I read Heidi when I was in the fifth grade and in the hospital with bronchial pheumonia. I remember loving that book. It goes down as one of my favorites.

    • Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

      Debs, your comment reminded me of a book I read quite some time ago called Biblioholism:the Literary Addiction. In it, the author admitted to having multiple copies of many books, hardback and paperback. I was so tickled, because I thought ” I do that TOO! ” It’s nice to see I’m not the only one that does that too!

  47. Gail says:

    I love Pat Conroy’s book Beach Music! Funny, sad, and charming along with some good old-fashioned Southern “crazy” to go along! I couldn’t put it down!

  48. Heidi Peyton says:

    Love your book list. Are you on Pinterest? I would love to “Pin” the list.

    Thank-You,
    Heidi

  49. Polly Fritts says:

    I am just beginning to read A Fine Romance for the second time. I read it about two weeks ago and actually carried it around with me so I didn’t have to stop reading. But, the bad thing is that I finished it. Oh well, I will begin again. I love your writing and especially your art. Thank you for the happiness you bring to my life and many others. You always make me smile.

  50. Simone says:

    Hi Susan, thank you for posting your wonderful book suggestions. I was thrilled to see Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follat on the list. I loved it. Our book discussion group recently read Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. It is a historical fiction about Robert Louis Stevenson. Nancy does an amazing amount of research and we learn quite a lot about his wife and her influence on Robert. Her first book was Loving Frank, another historical fiction about Frank Lloyd Wright. Her writing pulls you in, and gives a lot of insight of what life was like for a woman at the end of the 19th century.
    I love, love, love all your books and believe I have every one, especially A Fine Romance. Please never stop writing and drawing. You’re an inspiration to us all.

  51. Paul says:

    Thanks for sharing your favorite books list. I am always looking for the next great read. Two of my all time favorites are Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie. Have you read either?

  52. Mary Hobart says:

    “Street of a Thousand Blossoms” is a wonderful book. Great story.

  53. Mamey Brown says:

    I love many of the same books listed here, but there are quite a few I’ve never read. I’m trying to print out the list, but copy and paste will not work. Anybody have any other suggestions?? I finished A Fine Romance and it was sooooooooooo good!! I felt like I was there with you, and your paintings are such a delight!! Thank You so much for sharing your experience with us. Especially since I’m mostly an armchair traveler!!

  54. Shannon Stevenson says:

    May I recommend my favorite book ever, Mandy, by Julie Edwards (yes, that’s Julie Andrews from Sound of Music). It’s a children’s book but it’s beefy enough to require a few hours on a rainy afternoon. Lovely, lovely, lovely. 4.9 stars from 182 reviewers on amazon. It’s about a young orphan girl who climbs over the big estate wall behind the orphanage. She finds an abandoned cottage and decides to care for it as her own. Adore this book!

  55. Donna Barulich says:

    Hi Susan,
    I have read ( some over and over) so many books on your list…now I know why I have been following you since ” Heart of the Home”. Kindred reader!
    Have you read ” The Cat that went to Heaven” by Elizabeth Coatsworth? It is a children’s book, but really so much more…my mom read it to me when I was five and I never forgot the lessons it taught ( and I am 60!) For kitty lovers, it is very special.
    Thank you for all the joy throughout the years!

  56. Marie says:

    Susan,
    Read “A Fine Romance” and yep totally fell in love with the English Countryside! And even though I had read Peter Rabbit as a child I had not read to many of the other Beatrix Potter books, so I went to the library to borrow a copy of her book so I could visit them again and really look at the art work, when what should happen to me but I stumbled upon the Cottage Tales! My local library didn’t have books 1 and 2 of the series so I began with #3 The Tale of Hawthorne House and I am thoroughly enjoying it! I asked the library to get Hilltop Farm and I just picked it up the other day. Thanks for taking me on that little trip with you to England, Oh and I had also borrowed it from the library and wanted to immediately start reading it again but alas! someone else was waiting for it so it had to go back. I hope they are at this very moment enjoying that wonderful journey! I am totally a fan of Anne of Greene Gables, I own all the books and the movies, and I’m sure that Megan Follows is the incarnation of Anne and Lucy would approve of her very much. I have made a list of books that I must check out next.

  57. Marie says:

    May I also suggest author Joan Medlicott, The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love, and the whole Ladies of Covington Series.

  58. Nancy Jumper says:

    Have you read the Mitford series by Jan Karon? Delightful books!

  59. Kathryn H says:

    The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear is a beautifully written series that takes place after World War I in England. The Miss Buncle series by D.E. Stevenson is also great fun to read.

  60. Mary Ann W. says:

    I love the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I am on page 687 of the newest one “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.” It just came out. Have you gotten it yet?

  61. Karen Adams says:

    Love your list. Lots of favorites of mine, too. My latest favorite is The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. A beautiful love story that is not in the Harlequin
    realm.

  62. Mamey Brown says:

    Hi Susan. Will you update this list on a regular basis??

  63. Helen Nelson-Hougland says:

    I think it’s one of the most difficult things to list: favorite books. But you did a fine job! Please consider reading another author: Jeannette Walls. She is an amazing story teller and has led an amazing life. Sorta like you, as a matter of fact! ; )

  64. Annie Littlewolf of Littlewolf Studio in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia says:

    Hi Susan,
    A little known book, but definitely belongs on everyone’s shelf, is “Greenwillow” by B.J. Chute. It has been reprinted, I believe, although the copies I have are ones I have found at old book stores (lucky me!!). GoodReads gives it big thumbs up! It is a timeless tale and always a winner. For some reason it has been deemed a children’s book, though I don’t think agree with that designation! (needless to say!) Everyone please RUSH out and get this book and if you do, I imagine this list will be quiet as you all will be enchanted for a while as you slip into the wonderful lull of peace as you read about Rev. Birdsong and The Meander and Dorrie and Gideon and Micah and Mrs. Likewise and her pansy-faced kittens. Charming? Yes! Need I mention gooseberry tarts? Sounds pretty good, hmm? Yes, you can buy gooseberry jam – had to order it from England and I used a cream cheese pastry and miniature muffin pans for mine – delicious! Please have fun!
    and — you’re welcome!
    Annie :-)

    • sbranch says:

      Oh, I read that as a child, wonderful story! Seems strange that Beatrix Joy Chute isn’t profiled in Wikipedia.

      • Annie Littlewolf of Littlewolf Studio in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia says:

        I agree! I just love Greenwillow! I know that I read it so many times, imaging Martha, Gideon, Dorie and all the characters – not really realizing that the author never ACTUALLY physically describes them! She left it to our imaginations to fill in their physical descriptions! Such a great idea! That way, Greenwillow and the characters can be anywhere and anybody! I know I pictured Dorie as a maybe 15 year-old girl, slender, with long brown hair, but…..in actuality, the author never tells us what she looked like! I love that! The story is so sweet! I love Micah! Such a chatterer!
        I love your work as both an artist and a writer, and your outlook on life! Looking for the good, the positive….there is so much negative and ugly. Why not seek the light? I too, learned my artistic leanings later in life. I am also an artist and a writer, a quilter, a cook, and a grandma (yikes! – how did I get so old so fast?). Well, I’m getting ready to make a wild rice salad with sweet potato cubes, dried cranberries, green onions and chopped toasted pecans! Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

  65. Kathy Lee says:

    Susan, My granddaughter is fourteen and loves to paint with water colors, she has been drawing and keeping journals since she was three. Can you recommend a good book that would make a good Christmas gift for her that would help her? Her water colors prints remind me of Beatrix potters works. Thank You in advance. I love your blog and have been
    reading it for years…..Kathy…You can reply in email if thats more convenient for you.

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe a biography of Beatrix Potter, who kept her own diary in code and overcame many obstacles to do what she did would be inspiring for your granddaughter? Heroes these days are harder to come by but they can be a really big help.

  66. Mary Ward says:

    Greetings and love to my new found friend…..I accidentally found ‘A Fine Romance’ on Amazon, and ordered it as soon as I saw it was about England. Thanks for taking me with, it was lovely, I spent several weeks in Cornwall touring gardens in the spring this year. I try to visit some place in England every 2 years.

    I was actually replying because of your reference to Elizabeth Armin’s, My German Garden in your book. I had never heard of her, she is wonderful and almost as funny as Three Men in A Boat by Jerome K Jerome. Currently reading through all her books.

    Thanks for a lovely time and a new read….

    Mary

  67. Annie says:

    Oh, you mustn’t forget Tasha Tudor! Another great artist/writer – not only for children, but for adults. She can tuck a tiny chipmunk into a the lower swirl of a letter “S”! She loves Welsh Corgi’s and kitties and they adorn her artwork. She really lives the way she paints – check her out on Wikipedia. I would love to visit her home. I hope you put her on your Books I Love list! Maybe it is already there and I missed it.
    Annie

    • sbranch says:

      Which book is your favorite? I love Tasha Tudor’s art . . . I did a page dedicated to her in one of my recent wall calendars, I painted a Corgi and quoted her.

  68. Christie says:

    Dear Susan, “A Fine Romance” is a wonderful journey, and my favorite birthday gift this year. Now that I’ve met you through your book and on your blog, and see that many of the books you love are favorites of mine as well, I want to share back with two of my favorites: “We Took to the Woods” by Louise Dickinson Rich (1942), and “Children of the New Forest” by Captain (Frederick) Marryat (1847). Thank you for sharing so many of your favorite things.

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