50 Favorite Books
Hello! I want to introduce myself to you. My name is Debbie Barchi, and I am the director of Barrington Library. Like most librarians, I am a voracious reader, and I wanted to share some of my favorite books with you. You will see that my tastes vary from the serious to the silly, from well-known classics to unknown treasures. I hope that some of these books will catch your interest, hold your attention, and help you to discover some authors you might not have encountered before or to rediscover some you may have enjoyed in the past. All of these books are available at Barrington Public Library and most through other CLAN libraries. Please let me know if you enjoy this list. Happy Reading!
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
A gripping and thought-provoking Civil War story told from the point of view of a Southern deserter and
woman whose life is changed utterly by the war.
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Pym has been called a twentieth century Jane Austen, and she certainly has the Austen wit and wisdom.
Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
An American masterpiece about memory and relationships written in flawless, breathless prose.
The Grass Harp by Truman Capote
A gentle, endearing Southern tale, completely unlike the Capote of In Cold Blood.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Seldom have Southern race relations or family relations been so clearly described as seen through the eyes of Scout, the young narrator of this remarkable story.
Catherwood by Marly Youmans
Picture America in the very earliest days of white settlement, a young mother lost in the primeval woods with her baby, and the frightening outcome.
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
A perfect melding of romance, mystery, and American history in one unforgettable story set in the Pacific
Northwest just after WWII.
Rose by Martin Cruz Smith
Smith has outdone himself in this entrancing and mysterious story about a young woman struggling for her
identity in Victorian England.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
My very favorite Austen because it shows beautifully that love can find a second chance.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Dickens at his best while telling the story of a young boy whose wishes, unfortunately, come true.
The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
Dickens' first madcap book filled with bumblers, philanderers, snobby servants, and silly gentry in a series of
endlessly inventive misadventures.
Magwitch by Michael Noonan
An unusual and thought-provoking twist on Dickens' famous novel Great Expectations. This time the story is
told from the point of view of the convict.
House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
A serious, moving account of a young woman's struggle to keep up appearances in society at all costs.
My Antonia by Willa Cather
The best and most realistic account of the pioneer experience I have read, devoid of sentimentalism and brimming with honesty.
The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
Loaded with laughs and also with suspense, this story of a group of women quilters during the depression will
have you cheering at the end.
Imperial Purple by Gillian Bradshaw
A woman slave discovers a plot against a Roman Emperor but has no one to turn to in this gripping historical novel.
A Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley
A medieval woman longs to learn to read, an unheard of and scandalous desire that will expose her to grave
The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
What is the solution to a hundred year murder on an isolated New England island and how does it relate to a
modern woman's plight?
The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett
Tragedy haunts a Victorian expedition to the North Pole, but even greater trails await the survivors.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The quintessential Victorian novel of passion, mystery, and the power of love.
Rebecca by Daphne DeMaurier.
We share the narrator's fear and fascination with Rebecca, the dead wife whose tragic death still haunts all
who knew her.
Waxwork by Peter Lovesey
Is the cold, beautiful prisoner guilty of murdering her husband or is she a helpless victim of some evil
The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sara Orne Jewett
Read this little known American treasure and fall in love with the coast of Maine at the turn of the century and
with the odd and endearing characters who make their living by the sea.
The All of It by Jean Jeannette Haien
What is the secret so awful that when the Irish priest learns of it at the bedside of a dying man, he is
thunderstruck and totally unable to go on with his priestly duties?
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty
Even if you do not usually read westerns, you will be enthralled with this complex and shocking story of the
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Who is the mysterious, distressed woman, dressed always in white, who haunts the life of a young, unhappy
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Read this classic Sherlock Holmes adventure on a winter's night with the wind rattling the windows!
Courting Emma Howe by Margaret Robinson
Set in the late 1800s, this amusing story tells of the plight of a woman who cuts her strict home ties to marry, sight unseen, a man she has been corresponding with for years.
World's Fair by E. L. Doctorow
An intriguing coming of age story of a young American Jewish Boy whose growing awareness of the world and
of his place in it is in perfect counterpoint to the 1939 World's Fair in New York.
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
A mysterious woman and her young daughter set up a confectioner's shop right across from the church in a
small French village and soon have the townspeople divided in their loyalties during the Lenten season.
The Genesis Code by John Case.
A non-stop thriller in the "what if" category that will keep you on the edge of your seat and with an ending that
is sure to shock.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
For those who love gentle British tales with eccentric and loveable characters, this book is as delightful as a
tray of fresh baked scones and a hot cup of tea.
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield
Told in the cultured and amusing voice of an elegant, bemused, self-deprecating, totally British lady in the
Kill Fee by Barbara Paul
To my mind this unusual story has the most chilling last sentence of any mystery novel. But you have to read the whole novel before the last sentence has any impact.
Reindeer Moon by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Pre-history has never been presented so realistically or to such spell-binding effect as in this story of a young
woman's struggle to survive.
Stonekiller by Robert Janes
This book about the unlikely partnership between a French policeman and a German detective in occupied
France during World War II has the feeling of a classic foreign film.
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
This is one of my very favorite books as young Laura, growing up in poverty in rural England at the turn of the
century, recounts the many joys and mishaps of her childhood.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The best book about dealing with the inevitability of death, in a positive and life-affirming way.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
This novel, set in a medieval monastery, has a pervasive feeling of evil and unease that grows more intense,
page after page.
Gift From the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh
A beautiful collection of essays about women in different phases of their lives and relationships.
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Seldom have the miseries of childhood poverty been portrayed more touchingly or with such piquant dashes of
The Outermost House by Henry Beston
A personal odyssey as one man explores the secret natural world of the Cape Cod coast, in the 1920s before
its beauty was exploited. A classic of natural history writing.
No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
No ordinary people were Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt as this complex dual biography of the two famous
partners, focusing on the crucial years of WWII, reveals.
Longitude by Dava Sobel
There was a time when it was impossible for sailors to know exactly where they were while out at sea. The
problem was to discover how to compute longitude. The solution took centuries. The true story is utterly
Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs by Dave Barry
Yes, he's silly and sometimes obnoxious, but this book, especially for baby boomers, is an awful lot of fun!
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Almost single-handedly Dillard re-created the nature essay as fine and enduring literature. Personal musings
and perceptive observations blend seamlessly in this classic.
A Year In Provence by Peter Mayle
A warning: don't attempt to read this book without some food nearby. It will have you drooling like Pavlov's
dog with all the wonderful descriptions of French cooking!
Libby: The Alaskan Diaries & Letters of Elizabeth Beaman by Libby Beaman
A true life, heart-pounding story about the adventures of a naïve young bride as she travels with her husband
to the Alaskan territory, shortly after its purchase by the United States.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Even if you do not like Hemingway as a rule, you will be drawn into this memoir of Paris in the 1920s, the lost
generation, the mind of a young writer, and the close family life he eventually left behind.