Books That Remain

– by Wendy Morley – 

livesgwIf you enjoy reading novels, you will find that a few are painful and plenty of them are enjoyable but easily forgotten. Some, however, are eternal. The characters become almost as real to you as your friends, the stories become part of your inner workings, and the events set in your memory almost as if they had happened to you.

Many books have remained within me, but two stand out. Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro, was the first book I had ever read where the author seemed to honestly understand the world I lived in, despite the fact that it took place many years before I lived in that world. A suitboySuitable Boy, by Vikram Seth, on the other hand, was far removed, except that the man who had been my husband for many years was Indian, and from my perspective it captured the collective Indian psyche extraordinarily well. In fact, I remember telling a friend of mine “if you want to understand Indians, read A Suitable Boy.” Meanwhile his girlfriend, who was of Indian descent, had been told by her grandmother: “If you want to understand India, read A Suitable Boy,” so I guess I was right.

Here are some more of what I like to call “Books That Remain,” from some people who like to read.

godsmallLynn Broughton: So many! But God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy, came at me again yesterday during a memorial. “And the air was full of Thoughts and Things to Say. But at times like these only the Small Things are ever said. The Big Things lurk unsaid inside.”



humansMichael J Ritchie: The Humans, by Matt Haig. It’s basically about an alien coming to Earth to integrate himself as a human, and how he discovers we’re actually not all that bad. Very moving and explains a lot about humanity from the position of an outsider.



whiteteethVinita Persaud: White Teeth, by Zadie Smith (Note: Another one of my own “Books that Remain”)




alchemistkevinAshley Goodfellow-Craig: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. The story was not only engaging but forced me to look at my life in the “big picture.”

We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver, because it was compelling, disturbing and very, very real.


oryxBrendan Reid: Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. I’ve never been more attached to a protagonist, even one as miserable as the one in this story. The universe itself is equal parts hilarious and terrifying, all the while being strangely plausible. I’ve probably read it about six times and it still gets me.



pillarsRachel Burton: Pillars Of The Earth, by Ken Follett. Historical drama with a Game of Thrones pace, with plot after twisting plot. Completely captivating beginning to end.




finebalanceKen Hood: A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry





perfumeIrina Souiki: Perfume, the Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind. The novel managed to bring scents to life through words, a feat that no other book has come close to. Enthralling story, original and daring. A must-read. The cinematographic adaptation was also very good, a rare occurrence.



theorendaRob Best: The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden. A tail of Native culture by a Native author. (early days of Jesuit interference).The authenticity in his writing is inspiring and enlightening.




poisonwoodprodigalsummercuttingstoneDebbie Morley: Anything by Barbara Kingsolver, especially Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer. Her writing is magnificent.

Another favorite is Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. This book combined the medical with the magical.

halfyellowsunwalktwomoonsKristy Sherry: Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech



threedayroadBrian Smart: Three Day Road, by Joseph Boyden. Great characters with haunting narrative.




bridenewfranceCarol Morley Lepine: Bride of New France, by Suzanne Desrocher. This gives an insight into early Canada from a woman’s perspective. Disturbing yet riveting.




bookofnegroesCynthia Husband: The Book of Negros, by Lawrence Hill (originally known in the US as Someone Knows My Name)




whiteoleanderthousandsunsdolores-claiborneAlyson Lamothe: White Oleander, by Janet Fitch (I have probably read itabout 15 times)

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

Dolores Claiborne, by Stephen King. I think I like novels with strong female protagonists!

killmockingbirdredtentLauren Banyar Reich: To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. Both worth re-reading at different life stages.




Of particular note because they were mentioned by multiple people: The Red Tent, The Poisonwood Bible, Three Day Road, The Orenda and A Fine Balance.

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