When Kim came up with the suggestion to do an entry on our five all-time favorite books, I knew it was going to be a struggle for me. I’ve never in my life been able to come up with favorites. Everything, every favorite I have, depends entirely on my mood. From my favorite snack to my favorite friend, it all depends what I need that day, and that goes no differently for my favorite book. Sometimes I want to settle in with a nice, slow classic, one with characters I’ve known for years, and other times I want something to zip through and keep me at the edge of my seat or remind me why love is so wonderful.
But, in an effort to give Kim’s request my all I’ve come up with a list of those books that have stuck with me over the years and/or those I’ve read over and over. I’ve excluded any I’ve ever represented or edited for obvious reasons. So here they are in no particular order, a list of only five of my favorite books, a little about why I love them and how each book might play into what I’m looking for as an agent:
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. I really love almost anything Edith Wharton writes. As someone who has lived in both New York City and Newport, RI, I’m fascinated by what these places must have been like at the turn of the century. Most importantly, though, Edith Wharton writes about women I can truly relate to and writes in a way that makes me feel the same pain and joys as they do. As an agent, I think I’m always looking for books that make me feel the same way The House of Mirth makes me feel, a little like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. A book that makes me feel so much I have to just sit and rest after that last page is turned.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Who doesn’t love this book? I’ve read it over and over and as a child I knew I wanted to be Jo. I was a tomboy who loved nothing more than telling stories. I love the strength of all the Little Women, and when I describe looking for books with strong female protagonists I think of these characters and how each of them had their own strengths, and of course their own weaknesses.
Small Vices by Robert B. Parker. I always tease my husband that Spenser is the one man I’d leave him for. I love the pacing of these books and the snappy dialogue. Unfortunately, snappy dialogue alone doesn’t sell a book anymore, but if I could find a mystery/suspense series with a new and exciting hook and the dialogue of Spenser I know I’d have a winner.
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. As a business owner and a literary agent I find this book to be chock-full of amazing information and guidance. It’s an interesting and entertaining read and really helps me think outside the box. And it’s prescriptive nonfiction—my favorite kind.
The Foster’s Market Cookbook by Sarah Foster. Okay, this says nothing about what I represent since I don’t handle cookbooks, but everything about the type of food I like to eat (and about my favorite hobby). From her Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille to the Chocolate Whopper cookies you can’t fail with this book.