tim o’brien

Question of the Month: Favorites

by Susan Henderson on February 4, 2013

What are some of your favorite books of all time? And what is it about those books that you love?

For me, my absolute favorites include Albert Camus’ The Plague, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, William Maxwell’s They Came Like Swallows, James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain ( I couldn’t find the right size cover for that one so picked another I love), Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and yes, A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh.

I love these books for big and small reasons–for the dark journey or circumstances that brings the hero’s heart into conflict with itself, for the glimpses of light and dark in the world, for the experience of fully inhabiting both delicate and hardened minds, and for the poetry of individual sentences. (Okay, there’s nothing really so dark about Winnie the Pooh, but it’s some of the most amazing writing I know.)

Besides my all-time favorites, I also have a voracious appetite for gothic stories with Byronic characters facing big moral dilemmas: Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Dracula, and pretty much every Shirley Jackson story. Which leads me to the book I’m working on right now. My first novel was the one I needed to write. This time, I’m trying to write the novel I’ve always wanted to read.


A quick interlude… here are my kids (on keys and guitar) and their two best friends playing jazz over the weekend. It was such a great show, and it’s such a great friendship to watch.

I’m grateful to all who blogged about my book this past month: Girlfriends Book ClubCure for CrankinessCure, part 2A Design So VastJocosa’s Bookshelf,Daisy’s Book JournalStorybook Careers, and my books, my life.

Okay, enough from me. Let’s hear about some of your all-time favorites!