Monday, August 13, 2007

The Book You Couldn't Let Go

I hope we’ve all had one. That book that implanted itself into your heart. The one that when you finished you just sat there holding it, wishing it hadn’t ended, still caught up in its emotion and afraid that if you move the feeling will go away. Although it’s been years since I’ve read it, one of those books for me was Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles. The ending left me feeling a myriad of emotions that I just couldn’t grab. I was happy and sad, heartbroken and yet uplifted. More than five years since its publication I still can’t shake this book.

So what was it for you? Was it a recent read or one from years ago that you just can’t shake? What was that book that found its way into your soul and left you thinking about it for days, months, and even years?



Katie Alender said...

Oho, here I go setting myself up for lots of snickering. But for me, it's "Atlas Shrugged". I read it every couple of years, and this year I listened to the audiobook. I could see the time remaining counting down and it made me really sad.

Yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh.

Jena said...

Mary Stwewart's Merlin trilogy - reading them made me decide to try 1st person POV in my work-in-progress...and I've never looked back.

Mary Stewart's books were my first experience with cross-genre writing - her books were sweet and romantic but still full of hard-edged suspense and danger - and sometimes even SF.

Worked for me. :)smye

Reid said...

No question, "The Godfather." As good of a movie it was, the book was still better.

Unfortunately, there was no "Godfather II" novel.

Fortunately, there was no "Godfather III" novel.

pomo housewife said...

Oooh, tough one. So many great books. But probably Brideshead Revisited. Oxford, city of aquatints... that book made me dream of another universe where working-class bumpkins like me belonged in the hallowed halls.

Angelle Haney Gullett said...

I'm going to out myself as a complete sci-fi geek here, but for a young me it was Frank Herbert's Dune. I still read the six original books about once a year, the way my friends read Jane Eyre and LOTR.

More recently, I've found that I can't shake the characters from Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. I wish I could spend still more pages with America Shaftoe and the rest, which is saying something about a book that's 900 or so pages already!

So, to second Katie above, yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh.

Anonymous said...

A couple already mentioned got me going, but another book that stands out for me was Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon.
I remember finding it in the new books in the library. Not quite romance, not quite science fiction, not quite full historical, not really fantasy. It was with the mainstream books. I doubt it would be published today, at least in the same fashion because it was so difficult to label.
It's brilliant. She went on to write the others, that were good, but I never re-read any of them save for Outlander, which I read at least four times.

Karen said...

Fools Fate, by Robin Hobb. Normally by the end of a trilogy I'm happy for the story to finish, but this was book three of the Tawny Man series, the last novel in what was effectively a trilogy of trilogies and I didn't want it to end.

Mark Terry said...

"Bag of Bones" by Stephen King

"To The Hilt" by Dick Francis

"The Deal" by Peter Lefcourt

I imagine there are others.

bob said...

Oooo Bag of Bones - a good one, I thought one of his most emotional books.

But I'd have to say The Time Traveler's Wife. I didn't read this when it first came out and was sort of turned off by all the hoopla but once I started it, my family couldn't reach me.

Anonymous said...

For me it's the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.

Anonymous said...

WHAT"S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? by Peter Hedges -- Just one of those surprise finds that really sucked me in. I'm still craving more books from Peter Hedges.

THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini -- One of those that totally lived up to the hype for me. Very affecting and I feel like I learned a lot. Gotta love when you're entertained and receive an education at the same time.

I'm reading A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS now, and I have a feeling I'll be adding that to my list as well...

Anonymous said...

Without a doubt, it was The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It was all about the characters. I loved them. I wanted to move next door and go to all their dinner parties.

These comments are making me add to my TBR pile. Books I have not read before--now I must read them! Good old word-of-mouth.

Anonymous said...

King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett. Blew me away. When I read the last page, I almost burst into tears because it was over.


Christa M. Miller said...

I hate to say it because this is kind of an "in" book, but THE ROAD did it for me (months before it became an Oprah read, thank you). For me it was the combination of the post-apocalyptic scenario, this father trying to keep his child alive, and the beautiful spare writing that forced me to slow down and savor every word rather than burn ahead to find out what happened. I need to reread it, but I'm almost afraid to - it had that much power!

Camille said...

Any of the books in the Lymond or Niccolo series, by Dorothy Dunnett.

Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks

Middlemarch, by George Eliot

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (I was young)

Fun topic!


truthteller said...

The Road. Maybe because the boy is about the same age as my son.

Precie said...

I completely agree about "The Time Traveler's Wife."

Not only did I find the love story compelling and heartwrenching, but I also felt the techniques and structure were innovative and thought-provoking.

I read it last year, and I still haven't let it go in my head.

kris said...

SHINING THROUGH, by Susan Isaacs.

AGAIN, Kathleen Gilles Seidel.

And - yeah - the last Harry Potter book. Because even though I just finished it, I know it's going to be one that lingers.

Anonymous said...

For me it was Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go". A devastating tale delivered with so much grace, so gentle and quiet, I have not been able to put the story aside. After someone borrowed my original copy I bought a second copy because I needed to keep it nearby.

K J Gillenwater said...

"Rebecca" by Daphne DuMaurier. I've never devoured a novel as quickly or voraciously as that one. And even when I got to the end of the book, I wished I had more to read. It's been a few years. I think I need to read it again...

Jolie Mathis said...

Wow! I had my list in my head as I read Jessica's post and now I see people have listed the same books! We are so in tune. :)

Bag of Bones, Stephen King
Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley

and Killing Me Softly, Nicci French

Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

I whipped through the sparse prose of Cormac McCarthy's The Road this weekend.

There was something about it which kept bouncing around in my head. Then I finally figured out why in a dream last night.

The Road is uncomfortably similar in plot and tone to one of my favorite books from my teen years, One Hundred Times to China by Lloyd Kropp.

Twenty-five years later, One Hundred Times to China is still very much part of my consciousness. (And subconscious, it would appear.)

Alli Sinclair said...

A SUITABLE BOY by Vikram Seth. A saga of love and betrayal set in India and told over a few generations. At the time it was printed (more than 10 years ago) it was the longest English language novel. I find Indian writers have a wonderful way of telling stories and tapping into the human psyche beautifully.
One of the reasons it was so memorable is because the book didn't end the way I wanted it to - I wanted to throw the book across the room in frustation, but was sad to see the characters out of my life. Truly a memorable book.

Anonymous said...

Angel of Repose by Wallace Stegner
Call of The Wild by Jack London
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Kate Douglas said...

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee--that one stayed with me forever. Another one is very old--my copy was printed in 1904--Freckles, by Gene Stratton-Porter. That book affects my writing even today with its themes of honor and integrity and the purity of love. I have a lot of contemporary favorites as well and will usually read a book twice. Once to find out what happens, the next time to savor the words. Just finished Robyn Carr's Virgin River series and actually read the first book three times because I couldn't put it away...and I found something new in the story each time I read it!

Maya Reynolds said...

Two for me--The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

I've re-read both more than a dozen times.

Merry Monteleone said...


If you liked The Godfather, read The Fotunate Pilgrim; easily Puzo's best work - and it would make my own 'can't let go' list.

I also loved:

To Kill a Mockingbird (and have read it multiple times since high school where it was first introduced)

and The Mists of Avalon.

I would add to the list:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (I devoured this book and started over the minute I finished it...)

The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers by Dumas

The Red Tent by Diamont (this one surprised me, the entire novel drips like poetry and was impossible to put down)

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison...

I could probably go on a lot longer if I gave it some thought - great discussion. I have The Time Traveler's Wife in my 'to be read' pile, I'll have to pick it up now.

Anonymous said...

From Bella Andre - Looks like I'm the only one so far to come in with a romance: I have read "Bet Me" by Jenny Crusie countless times. Honestly, I think it's brilliant for so many reasons, and I laugh aloud on nearly every page. Really, it's what inspires me to write a great, sexy, funny romance.
;-) Bella

Anonymous said...

The Hobbit. I remember staying up late--way past my parents--for the first time over a book and sobbing at the ending scene between Bilbo & Thorin.

Dickens' Great Expectations. Man, I really need to read that again.

Recently: Joshilyn Jackson's Between, Georgia

Anonymous said...

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Brilliant.


K J Gillenwater said...

Becky Levine, I will second "Great Expectations." This book was beyond brilliant. So moving, so sad, so true to life in many ways...loved it.

Dead Man Walking said...

I think I'd cast my vote for SHADOWLAND by Peter Straub. After I realized there wasn't another page, I felt like my best friend moved away forever.

pomo housewife said...

Interesting to read the comments on 'The Road'. I just read it too, and it was gripping and the prose was brilliant, but the suffocating sense of impending doom made me read it far too fast, even though I knew I should be savoring it.

Alison Kent's 'The Sweetest Taboo' was among the first really steamy romance novels I read, with one scene in particular haunting me for a very long time.

Kim said...

"Island of the Blue Dolphin" By Scott O'Dell - I first read it when I was 8 and then re-read it so often it actually fell apart. It's still one of my favorites. Last year, I was in B&N with my daughter when I bought it for her as well. Hopefully she'll love it as much as I did.

"A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving - I've re-read this a dozen times and I still cry over it. An absolutely beautiful, wonderful story. I might have to go read it again! =)

Anonymous said...


by Marcus Zusack

All books since have paled in comparison

Anonymous said...

"Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte
"Watch the Wall, My Darling" by Jane Aiken Hodge
"Touch Not the Cat" by Mary Stewart

My copies of all of these books were purchased used some years ago. I reread them about once a year and then carefully replace them on my bookshelf.

A recent read that touched me was "Simply Love" by Mary Balogh...and I will always appreciate the teacher than made me read "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville.

Alyssa M.

JDuncan said...

My first love being fantasy, I'd have to say Martin's Fire and Ice Saga. For me it has defined what epic fantasy should be. As for a single book, Maia by Richard Adams. It's the only book I can recall offhand that I've read more than once, and for me that's saying something.


Elayne said...

The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelho is one of those books that left me feeling winded. Simply amazing.

Anonymous said...

"A Place To Call Home," by Deborah Smith.
I gave that book as Christmas presents the year it came out to about a dozen people. Everyone loved it. An amazing book. said...

I wish books like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn were still being published today. I love Peter Pan, too.

Anonymous said...

Katie A

No laughing here... 'Atlas Shrugged' I totally agree. I know some people bash it, but the story is the key. Great story, love the idea of self-reliance and accountability that's so lacking in some sectors these days. And some of the biographical info I've read on Ms. Rand sure shows how her Russian upbringing planted the seeds for the story. Gives one so much to ponder...

Anonymous said...

I loved reading through the various lists of beloved books. "Atlas Shrugged" was great, though I really loved "The Fountainhead." Also, "Dear & Glorious Physician" by Taylor Caldwell...

Here's my partial list:

At age nineteen, "Demian" by Herman Hesse.

Short story, "Mimsy Were The Borogroves" by Henry Kuttner.

"The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant

"One for the Money" by Janet Evanovich.

"Time Enough for Love" by Robert Heinlein.

"The Education of Oversoul 7" by Jane Roberts.

When I was a child: the complete Oz series by L. Frank Baum. "Magic by the Lake" (and all others) by Edward Eager.

To read is to dream while still awake... *smile*

Laurie Wood said...

For me it's "Lady of Hay" by Barbara Erskine, and her follow-up (not quite a sequel) "Kingdom of Shadows". I still haven't parted with either copy. I wish movies had been made from them, but a movie likely wouldn't do them justice. "They" just don't write books like those anymore!

MJFredrick said...

THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY by Karleen Koen. Finished the book, opened it to the beginning and started over.

Kate, I loved Virgin River, too! I haven't read the next two yet, though.

And yes, Kris, on Harry Potter!!!!

Unknown said...

Great topic; I resonate like a tuning fork with a few of these -- Bag of Bones, The Road, Shadowlands -- though with Straub, for me it was Ghost Story, what a delicious not-so-guilty guilty pleasure.

Books that still echo:

The Last Battle (last of the Narnia books); I was ten, and when it was over I cried for days.

East of Eden; didn't read this till I was near 50, took my breath away.

A Prayer for Owen Meany. To me, Irving's masterpiece.

American Pastoral. the first Roth I ever read, and it made me go read the rest.

The Dark Tower heptology, King's magnum opus.

And two books by Neil Gaiman: American Gods, and Stardust. I'm now 53, but the language of Stardust was such an absolute joy, when I read the last page, I cried, just like I did 43 years ago at the last page of The Last Battle.

It's like getting to the very last few minutes of Brahms' 3rd: it seems to echo inside for days, maybe forever ....