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…
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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531 Responses to Books I Love

  1. Sharol Phinney says:

    I love all my Gladys Taber books, and also books by Daphne Du Maurier, Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer, and from my childhood, A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy.
    And lest I forget, all the various books of yours that I’ve collected over the years.

  2. Mary Beckstrom says:

    Have you ever read the Mitford Series? The most wonderful stories of human life. Far more my most favorite and I love all the books in this series! I think there are about 7 or 8 books in the series. I have them all.

    • Elaine Tuohy says:

      Hi Susan! I have read a number of your favorites and wonder if you have ever read “The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter” mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert? It’s a wonderful series of books written from Miss Potter’s point of view, with her animal friends very involved in the plots. Not scary or ‘murdery’, just cozy and interesting! I love them! Start at the beginning with “The Tale of Hill Top Farm”. Happy reading!

    • Cyndi says:

      The Mitford series is the best. I adore each and everyone and the scriptures throughout made so many days more pleasant and hopeful.

  3. Betsy Yopp says:

    I love your beautiful hand lettered books ! I do not see any mention of the books by Georgette Heyer: not the murder mysteries but the Regency period ones. Just think of them as Jane Austin with a giant giggle! Beautiful writing and just plain fun: best fun to start with The Grand Sophy and Frederica. Love your list and your followers lists and have added a lot to my list from them.

    • maxine lesline says:

      Georgette Heyer ‘s books are Regency-true books.. well researched.. I just learned that her name is pronounced ‘Hare’… sigh. The inclusion here of Gladys Tabers writings makes me want to own some of her Stillmeadow books… soothing as recipe books… no villains.. no angst… just pillowcases blowing on the clothesline… the snowstorms… the dogs sprawled close to the fire… Jill’s bookkeeping sensibility.

  4. Dee says:

    I just finished “My Name is Lucy Barton” by Elizabeth Strout. It’s a magnificent book. I think you would like it! The author also wrote “Oive Kitteridge, and the Burgess Boys…..also great reads.
    P.S. I have all of your books & treasure them. Thank you.

  5. I have lots of favorites also but one of my favorites is your book about your trip to England. It sits on my shelf where I can see it and look at it. When I read that book I was going through a really rough time and reading your adventures took me away from that and got me through that terrible time in my life. Thank you so much. I love your books and have for many years😊

  6. Carolyn Blodgett says:

    I recently (two weeks ago) discovered your blog and am hooked. I too, am a life-long reader and recommend the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Charming, and mostly true, story of friendship between two and then later, three friends (Tib joined the group) that lasted a life time.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for your recommendations Carolyn — I think you’ll find many kindred spirits here in the comments! Nice to meet you!

    • Kathy says:

      I was so happy to read the mention of the Betsy-Tacy series of books. I, too, loved them as a young adult. In fact, my daughter also loved them and when she was getting married asked for a “Betsy-Tacy” wedding. So that is what we did. I’m reading Isle of Dreams and finding it hard to put down.

  7. Joan Barnes says:

    A Fine Romance kept me company today as I faced the anxiety of a medical procedure. Your words buoyed me along with a giggle here and a touch of wisdom there. Thank you for bringing me along on the Atlantic crossing with your prose and beautiful artwork. How reassuring to be returned to the nest and familiar comforts with more A Fine Romance to read!

    • sbranch says:

      I read to escape too, I’m thrilled it helped a little, because those things are always scary. Thank you Joan! Hope its all over and you have a wonderful day today!

  8. Elaine Tuohy says:

    Ooops! Don’t forget the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear and anything by Gene Stratton Porter!

  9. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend a book by Bill Bryson about his adventures traveling about England, “Notes from a Small Island.” He wrote it about 25 years ago, but it is laugh-out-loud funny and just plain wonderful.

  10. Beth Barnat says:

    I like a lot of books you like.
    “Heidi” is my all time favorite book.
    When I was little, I read it 10 times!
    I still have that book.


  11. Keli Garson says:

    What a wonderful selection of books! I’ve also enjoyed The Egg and I by Betty McDonald about her adventures on a chicken farm (I’m partial to chickens). And a fun newer read, Murder & Other Unnatural Disasters. I love everything Susan Branch from your cheery stickers to the oh-so-lovely books! Thanks so much!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you back Keli! I’ve never read the Egg and I, although I have it, I just haven’t gotten there yet . . . but I saw the movie, and it was charming!

  12. Cheryl from Bigfork says:

    I was wondering if you ever read books by Joan Walsh Anglund? She has written many poetry books for children, but they have an adult message as well. Her illustrations were always of children without mouths!

  13. Gail Brock ,Whittier, CA says:

    If you haven’t had a chance to read “The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” or “Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady” by Edith Holden, you might add these to your “to read” list.. lovely illustrations and writings about the English countryside.
    I have enjoyed your beautiful work for years…have all of your calendars and most of your books. Thanks for introducing me to FOGT. I am now enjoying Gladys Taber books.

  14. Tammy B. says:

    Oh Susan, please tell me you have read 26 Fairmount Avenue series written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola!! All about his experiences at home and in school when he was a boy in the 30’s and 40’s. These charming chapter books are favorites at our house.

    • sbranch says:

      I haven’t! Isn’t that a children’s book? Children’s book for big people?

      • Tammy B. says:

        Yes, they are children’s chapter books, but I enjoy them and I am not a child. Haha.. It is a series of 8 books (I think). My kids used to get them every summer from the library, but they only had two. Thanks to Amazon, we own them all now. Super cute drawings and interesting books about life back then.

  15. Oh, Susan! After rereading Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams (my all-time favorite book!), I kept thinking of you as I read and listened to the audio book of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think you would also enjoy her wonderful short essays on finding the courage to live a creative life! I actually listened to Elizabeth reading passionately, while I followed along in the book, marking all of my favorite passages and quotes.

    The entire time I was listening to the author read Big Magic, I kept thinking just how wonderful it would be if we could one day add an audio version of Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams to our beloved SB book collections. It would be so amazing to follow along through your beautiful pages, with your soft voice reading to us from your heart!! Oh, my goodness!! It would also be lovely to listen to your words of inspiration as I work in my little ‘Paper Garden’ studio making cards, learning to watercolor, and scrapbooking. ♥

    Just planting a little ‘seed’ and hoping it might grow in the future… 🙂
    Love you,
    Dawn (in Illinois)

  16. Lana Bressler says:

    Thought of you this afternoon when the mailman delivered a package to my porch. It was “The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots” by Beatrix Potter. It’s lovely, I’m Happy Happy! By the way….have a wonderful trip, I’ll be following you xoxo

  17. Jan Roberts says:

    Love your book list!. Gladys Taber has been a treasured book friend for many, many years and always need to have one of her wonderful books close by. Gladys T. has helped me appreciate/survive winter in Minnesota just by reading her cozy chapters on wintertime. Another all time favorite book ,”A Child’s Christmas in Wales”..Dylan Thomas. It is charming!. We have a copy of the movie(tv).My husband and I watch this film every Christmas night as a reward for making it through the season with our minds still intact.:)
    Just ordered 3 of your wonderful calendars (2017) .Thank you!

  18. Carmen Major says:

    I, too love England and especially London. I have been there twice and love to read about England. Right now I am reading “Ernie Pyle in London”. It was in December 1940 during the Blitz and the terrible horrors the people of London endured. They were so strong and brave, and carried on with life. Ernie Pyle was amazed how courteous everyone was to him and others. It is indeed a fascinating read. Most highly recommend it.

    • sbranch says:

      The memories of the deprivation and horrors of the two world wars are still alive and well in Great Britain, and probably all of Europe. Nothing like having your homes and families bombed to keep awareness strong. It’s turned to a kind of beauty and honor though, and totally filled with forgiveness, sadness, pride, and remembrance. Thank you Carmen!

  19. Salina Fedrick says:

    Hi Susan, I am looking for a good book to read about Beatrix Potter. Can you recommend one for me? Thanks so much.

    • sbranch says:

      THIS is the one I read and loved the best… very complete, with details and well written. Linda Lear, the author, wrote another one called Beatrix Potter, A Life in Nature. I have NOT read it, but I would trust it because of this author, and because the first one I mentioned does not seem to be in print anymore.

  20. Suzette Shoulders says:

    HI, Susan! So many of us who follow your blog and love you are “book people”, just like YOU ! I didn’t see listed “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, which I love so much I re-read it… always a good sign with me and books! I have read ‘A Fine Romance” three times now, your other two memoirs twice each! : ) My favorite childhood book was ‘A Secret Garden” by F. H. Burnett. On my list of all-time amazingly wonderful books, ‘All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, an incredible book about WWII. Happy Christmas HUGS from Oregon, Suzette

  21. Karlene Bayok Edwards says:

    I love so many books that you do, especially old fashioned books about cottages and gardens. I thought you might like a book I read that was my mother’s: Pilgrim’s Inn written by Elizabeth Goudge. I still have her book and reread almost every year at Christmas time. It’s the middle book of a trilogy — but please read it first — about a family who lives in a small English village who comes to be healed by the very old home, originally a Pilgrim’s Inn, they move into. It’s a love story, a story about home and about gardens, and a story about family. Even the story of The Wind in the Willows plays a part in the healing. When I read it, it makes me feel the way I do when I read your books, too, Susan.

  22. Jan Cote says:

    I am home from teaching school today as it is a snow day in Canterbury, NH. I jus
    finished Isle of Dreams. IT WAS WONDERFUL! Thank you for sharing what seems to have been such an amazing journey for you. I read A Fine Romance first, followed by Fairy Tale Girl. I was amazed when I turned to the page in Ilse of Dreams to find the Canterbury Center Cemetery, your ancestor Abiel Foster’s grave and picture of our Town Hall. I grew up here and I have never left. I probably have walked by Abiel’s grave a hundred times. I JUST love the story of Holly Oak and how you made it yours! Do you still own it? I so admire your creativity, wit and charm. My husband and I have been married 30 years as well, congratulations to you and Joe. One of OUR first anniversaries, Michael bought me your first cookbook! And many ever since, plus an annual calendar.
    Keep up the GREAT WORK!
    – a BIG fan
    Jan C.

    • sbranch says:

      What a pretty place to live, Jan. Must be so gorgeous there right now. I was there in the fall, and the colors were amazing. Isn’t it fun to find your hometown in a book? I love that too. Like when we watch Jaws, and recognize all the places we know so well. Thank you so much Jan, I’m thrilled you enjoyed the books . . . say hello to Michael too!

  23. Jane C Halcomb says:

    Susan, some of my favorites you may have not read: Rumer Godden China Court and An Episode of Sparrows. Elizabeth Enright Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away Lake, written for young people but good reads, charming. The Alley by Eleanor Estes. Notes from a Small Island Bill Bryson. The Country of Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett.
    Isn’t it wonderful that there are so many books in this world?! I’m going to the library tomorrow to look for some of the ones on your list that I haven’t read.

    • sbranch says:

      Luv-lee list Jane . . . I’ve read some of them, The Country of Pointed Firs which I found in a used bookstore, and just recently actually the Bill Bryson book . . . thank you for adding them on.

  24. Judy says:

    If you haven’t discovered The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland, I can highly recommend it. It’s by Jim DeFede. Our book club raved about it and there is a new Broadway musical based on the same subject.

  25. Laura S. Alabama says:

    One of my all time favorites – Katherine by Anya Seton. Historical fiction. Katherine was the mistress who eventually married John of Gaunt (House of Plantagenet) Wonderful book. And, The Masters of Rome series by Colleen McCullough. I was left feeling bereft when I finished. My brother talked me into reading the first book of the Rome series…First Man of Rome, which I really didn’t want to. I did not think I would like it at all. Once I got into the 1st book…. couldn’t stop. If you liked Pillars of the Earth, you would prob like these also.

  26. Julianne Matsko says:

    Hi Susan & Girlfriends ! A new “must-read” is “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. I am a librarian and I can tell you that my coworkers and I are crazy about that book. I have recommended to Susan the following books which any Anglophile (I am one too) would LOVE: “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith and “Confidences of an English Gardener” and other books (hard to find though) by A. M. Dew-Smith. – Julie the Librarian

    • sbranch says:

      I LOVED, loved loved I Capture the Castle! I’ll look for the other two! Thank you dear librarian, YOU!

  27. Julianne Matsko says:

    Woops! I meant “Confidences of an Amateur Gardener “

  28. Abigail Susan Hegger says:

    Hi Susan, First i have to tell you that your cooking books got me through a lot of hot days in Saudi Arabia years ago when i longed for anything American. Thank you. I wanted to tell you that I just discovered the Flavia de Luce series about an 11-year-old sleuth written by a Canadian, Alan Bradley. The stories take place in a Mansion in England and are truly wonderful. A great find. Just a note: last year my fiance designed for me one of those “free libraries” at the top of my driveway from old barn wood. Thank you for all that you do.

  29. Dora Caetano says:

    You are wonderful! 🙂
    Thank you,

    Dora C.

  30. Sherill Anderson says:

    Dear Susan: I am sure you would enjoy “The Countryman” by H. E. Bates. It was published in the early 1940’s. He writes about the English countryside, gardening, architecture and the like. You might like to read it before you go on your trip to England. Your fan, Sherill Anderson. From Seattle WA where the wildfire smoke has cleared and we are enjoying a beautiful, cool, sunny day.

    • sbranch says:

      Love the sound of it, I’ll hunt for it at the old bookstores while we’re in England!

      • Sherill Anderson says:

        You can also buy it online, second hand. I go to “Out of Print Books” for mine. Quite convenient and inexpensive.

        • sbranch says:

          Yes, but those old bookstores are such a treat, sometimes I save special things like this just for the hunt. I looked on line and saw lots of used bookstores in England have it, so it will be a good surprise when I find it. Thank you for telling me about it!

  31. Brenda Crews says:

    I just discovered your site and am thrilled. I also recommend Elizabeth Goudge’s Elliot trilogy books. The previously mentioned “Pilgrim’s Inn” is the middle, but I would recommend all three: “The Bird in the Tree, Pilgrim’s Inn and The Heart of the Family.” It is a story of Lucilla, the matriarch of the Elliot family and a home, Dameroshey, on the southern English coast. Elizabeth Goudge is so precious to me that when I ordered her autobiography from England, ” The Joy of the Snow,” that I cried those horizontal tears you described when it arrived in the mail. Another of her books, “The Scent of Water” is wonderful also. Gladys Tabor is much the same. I discovered her when I was 25 years old. I am immediately going to read yours. So glad to have discovered this site.

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