Writers are readers. Since I read in French and English, I’m lucky to enjoy a variety of books and a diversity of writers. So many books have taken my breath away that it is impossible to select favorites. Once in a while, I change my list, adding new books that left me in awe. Below, just a few without any order of preference:
Notre Dame de Paris – Victor Hugo
L’Etranger – Albert Camus
Les Fleurs du Mal – Baudelaire
Germinal – Emile Zola (My favorite among the twenty novels from the series The Rougon-Macquart)
La Métamorphose – Frantz Kafka
We Were the Mulvaneys – Joyce Carol Oates (I’ve read every book she wrote but this one will remain my top favorite)
Every book written by Jumpha Lahiri, including her bilingual memoir In Other Words.
Drown – Junot Diaz
Blindness – Jose Saramago
The Neapolitan Novels (four volumes) – Elena Ferrante
Girls – Emma Cline
The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
Amy Blum – Lucky Us
The Liars’ Club – Mary Karr
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter – Sue Monk Kidd
Kinder than Solitude – Yiyun Li
The Round House – Louise Erdrich (Shadow Tag is a close favorite too)
Room – Emma Donoghue
Native Speaker – Chang rae Lee
Children and Young Adult Literature
A Single Shard – Linda Sue Park
Crispin – Avi
Worth – Alexandria LaFaye
The Book Thief – Mark Zusack
Feed – M.T. Anderson
Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
Everlost – Neal Shusterman
The Wednesday Wars – Gary Schmidt
Looking for Alaska – John Green
Sold – Patricia McCormick
Wonder – R J Palacio
Goodbye Stranger – Rebecca Stead
The Adoration of Jenna Fox – Mary Pearson
Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli
Rules – Cynthia Lord (And each of her middle grade novels, not only because they are all set in New England and mostly in Maine)
Please, Ignore Vera Dietz – A S King (She’s the best and also my favorite, so every single one of her novels is a chef d’oeuvre, but I love that Vera girl)
The Smell of Other People’s Houses – Bonnie Sue Hitchock
The Carnival at Bray – Jessie Ann Foley
Seeing Red – Kathryn Erskine
In the spring of 2016, my husband and I made a deal: he can pick any table for dinner when we travel, as long as there is an independent bookstore nearby. Over the last months, I’ve been so lucky. Some bookstores on the list below are old timers, still thriving after years in business, a little bit like classic books. Others are new comers and deserve a visit. In small towns, many of them offer a mix of used and new books. What’s common to these bookstores? Their uniqueness. Unique as is every book and every writer behind a book.
As I travel, the list, organized alphabetically per state, will evolve. Also, remember to check the local restaurants nearby. Not the chains.
In Berkeley, CA: The UC Berkeley famous university being located in the heart of town, bookstores abound here. Just three of them that I especially like. Mrs. Dalloway’s for children’s literature, Pegasus Books downtown and Moe’s Books.
In Clovis, CA: A Book Barn. Used and antiquarian, first editions. Big support to local authors. Set in the heart of the lovely historic downtown.
In Fresno, CA: Petunia’s Place is a small but packed with the best names in children and young adults’ literature bookstore. Also a few adult titles. Great support to local authors.
In La Jolla, CA: Warmick’s is one of the oldest bookstores in California and doesn’t need any publicity. Still. It’s a classic and a great stop away from touristic venues in San Diego.
In Pasadena, CA: Wroman’s Bookstore is so well-known that you cannot miss it as you walk along Colorado Boulevard. They even feature their local independently published authors.
In San Francisco, CA: Home to many bookstores, I only select two that I’m more familiar with. Green Apple Books on Clement Street carries old and new books. Beware, plan to spend hours there. And some money too. Book Passage because of its location on the water.
In Coral Gables, FL: Books and Books has three locations in south Florida. Coral Gables is a lively Miami neighborhood and the bookshop is extraordinary. Don’t miss the art room. Florida being Florida, they even carry wine on site, so you can get a glass and browse through the bookstore aisles afterwards.
In Brunswick, ME: At the gates of Bowdoin College, Gulf of Maine Books is an old timer in town. Alternative bookshop with few books for children it offers a large selection of books for adults in all genres.
In Hallowell, ME: Merrill’s Bookshop carries rare, used and scholarly books at the top of a brick building on the Kennebec River.
In Waterville, ME: Set in the hometown of Colby College, Children’s Book Cellar offers une large selection fof books from picture books to young adult novels. Packed like a real cellar.
In New York City, NY: Books of Wonder. A classic children’s bookstore. A must in the Big Apple.
In Lititz, PA: Aaron’s Books. A dream of a store for me, since they carry A S King’s signed books. If you buy from their website she’ll sign a copy for you. She’s a local and the booksellers are simply wonderful people.
In Charleston, SC: Blue Bicycle Books carries a selection of used, rare and local books. Set within walking distance of every interesting place to see in town.
In Rock Hill, SC: The Booknack is a huge store with new and used books. The booksellers know their stuff and it’s a great place to find that book you’ve always wanted to read.
In Roanake, VA: Too Many Books is located in the historic Grandin Village and offers a good selection of used books for all ages. Very nice bookseller who knows her books.
Organizations, websites, magazines, newsletters that help writers to keep up with the industry and their dreams:
Books about the craft of writing abound. Three of them have changed the way I read and write:
Reading like a Writer – Francine Prose
The First Five Pages – Noah Lukeman
Novel Metamorphosis – Darcy Pattison