Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson. If you know us at all, then we’ve probably recommended this book, and not only this book but its two sequels as well. It’s an epistolary novel with an aging father and pastor (Ames) at the core. If you don’t love him and wish he belonged to you in some capacity by the end of the novel, then something is missing in your heart.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. This book is darkness and light painted on a sweeping human canvas. If you can perservere through the hundred pages of French civil war in the middle, then this book has the power to change you. Classics are often lauded for a reason.
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel. This book has been on my favorites list for so long that I almost don’t remember what I loved about it. When I try to remember the story I come up with words like redemption, grace, and compassion. This book is about hard lives handled with gentleness, and I really just loved it.
Family Happiness by Leo Tolstoy. Short stories are a beautiful thing! Tolstoy is going to gather all his Russian thoughtfulness and pack it into little novellas that will make you rethink marriage, family, and the good life in 100 pages or less.
The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett. I’ve read every novel Ann Patchett has published because of this book. This book overwhelmed me, on completing the last page, with the feeling that this was a new story and one that I’d never heard before. Some writers are language craftspeople and some are storytellers. Ann Patchett is the latter. [She has a new novel called Commonwealth coming out in September. I may have squealed with joy when adding it to my wishlist.]