I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. You can’t go wrong with this classic, which is set in a castle in England. Perhaps there could have been a ghost, but I didn’t mind its absence. I fell in love with the main character and wouldn’t mind being more like her. Anyone can read this book, but it would probably fit best for the romantic young (or older) woman. That would be me.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I loved this series as a kid. We didn’t have nearly as many books back then as kids do now so I cherished these stories dearly. Having my own magical wardrobe would have been a dream come true for little me. Though I’m not sure I would’ve fetched my brother and sisters after finding Narnia. I’d have gone on my own. Very selfish of me, I suppose.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. I started this trilogy early one rainy day, when I was just a wee teen, and couldn’t put the books down. What a world Tolkien created! The movies are great, too.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Same thing. Loved it. I’ve always wanted to be a hobbit so I could live in the ground in a cozy little place. I could do without the big, hairy feet, though.
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. This is the first book of a great series, and I read it a long time ago. Sometimes I think I like the title best of all.
Castle Dor by Arthur Quiller-Couch and Daphne Du Maurier. Ms. Du Maurier finished this book, started by Mr. Quiller-Couch who died before he could complete the story. I love everything about this story. I could read it again and again. I also like pretty much anything written by Daphne Du Maurier (she wrote Rebecca).
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I discovered this book when I was in a mood (i.e., a bad one), at about age 12. In fact, I was feeling a lot like the main character when the story begins. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for my 12-year-old self. I still dream of someday finding my own secret garden. Maybe I’ll build one.
Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle. I don’t think I could find a better book about a girl and a ghost and an old house and England. Of course, I love everything to do with England (although I’ve never been) so this book really pulled me in. I also just loved the story.
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. This story has the most wonderful flow to it. However, the rest of Mr. Connolly’s works (that I’ve seen, anyway) have a very different flavor. I hope he writes more like this one. It’s a kind of fairytale, but a great adventure, too, and very well written.
The Watcher in the Woods by Florence Engel Randall. I haven’t read this book in a long time, but I just remember it being one of my favorites. I like spooky stuff, and this, as I recall, is spooky.
The Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling. I really liked this entire series. I thought book 7 was a little long, but otherwise I think Rowling did a great service to young readers everywhere, and to us old adults, too.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. You can’t go wrong with Madeline L’Engle. This book was made into a movie, but I kinda thought the movie spoiled the story. Much better as a read, in my humble opinion.
A Wind in the Door by Madeline L’Engle. This is the second book in the Time quartet. Also a good story.
The Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card. My brother gave me this book a long while back and I devoured it in one sitting. I have yet to read the rest of the series, however, because I couldn’t find them in the library and I had no money to buy books at the time, either. Maybe I should track the other books down now and finish the series. But then, I’ve always liked the idea of a seventh son of a seventh son. Maybe someone will do a story about a seventh daughter someday (or maybe someone already has!).
The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough. I adore the main character in this book. She reminds me of myself. I guess that means I adore me. Actually, I was a lot like her in the beginning and am striving to be more like how she becomes at the end.
The Miss Read Books by D.J. Saint. I am currently reading this wonderful series of books set in a small English village called Fairacre. I love the humor, the daily life of Miss Read, who is a ‘spinster’ school teacher, and all the other great characters. Dora Jessie Saint said she was inspired by Jane Austen, and that comes through in all the wonderful ‘turns of phrases’ she uses. If you are looking to improve your writing, be inspired as a teacher, or simply to relax and enjoy another time, I highly recommend reading this series.
La Casa de los Espiritus by Isabel Allende. My favorite part of this book was how Allende wove the spiritual world with the ‘real’ world so that there was no division between the two, which is common in latino culture. Very unique story. This is the Spanish version, but I believe there is an English version, as well.
Gothic Romances (especially from the 60s and 70s) by Dorothy Eden, Daphne du Maurier, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Susan Howatch, Phyllis Whitney, Joan Aiken, etc. It’s hard to beat the romance, atmosphere, and dark brooding heroes of gothic romances. Maybe that’s why I write them myself, with a paranormal twist thrown in.
Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Emma by Jane Austen. The turn of phrase, the romance, the history, the characters…what’s not to like about Jane Austen’s books? I admit, I love them in movie form, too. Sometimes more (but don’t tell anyone).