50 More Favorites
When I first put together the Fifty Favorites List, in my early weeks as director at Barrington Library, I never thought the list would prove to be so popular. Now more and more people are telling me that they’ve read and enjoyed the first fifty favorites and are asking me to compile another favorites list. I am very happy to oblige with more suggestions of books I have really enjoyed over the years. Some are new; some are old; some are enduring literary classics, and some are just fun to read. I hope you have as much enjoyment reading these books as I did. Let me know what you think! ~ Debbie Barchi
Atwood, Margaret: Alias Grace
Is Grace a brutal murderer, or an innocent victim? At the turn of the century, a young doctor, trying to master
the very new science of psychiatry struggles to discover the truth.
Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey
Austen’s gentle and witty spoof of the overblown and excitable Gothic novels so popular in the early
Bennett, Alan: The Clothes They Stood Up In
A stodgy couple return from a night at the opera to discover that every single item in the home has been
stolen. Their adjustment to this stunning situation makes for a very funny, sardonic story.
Capote, Truman: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
An eager young writer moves to New York and falls in love with the irrepressible Holly Golightly, a scatter-
brained young adventuress who seems bent on self destruction.
Carr, James Lloyd: A Month in the Country
Emotionally damaged after the horrors of WWI, a young artisan sets out to restore a long damaged church
fresco in a remote English village.
Carter, Forrest: The Education of Little Tree
Although there is some mystery and controversy surrounding the author, there can be no question that this
story of a young Native American boy seeking to understand the teachings of his people while struggling
against the prejudice all around him is a true plea for tolerance and love.
Chevalier, Tracy: The Girl With A Pearl Earring
A young girl becomes a servant in the house of the famous Dutch painter Vermeer who is attracted to her
beauty and intelligence and sets out to capture her elusive spirit on canvas.
Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone
When a priceless diamond disappears, a young heiress in Victorian England does all she can to disrupt the
investigation, fearful that the man she loves is somehow involved in the theft.
Craven, Margaret: I Heard the Owl Call My Name
Sent by his wise bishop to help the native people of an isolated community in British Columbia, a young
idealistic priest does not know his own days are numbered.
Dallas, Sandra: The Diary of Mattie Spencer
Mattie Spencer, newly married, must face the overwhelming, often life-threatening challenges of a pioneer
wife, as she crosses the forbidding prairies with her aloof and mysterious husband.
Dickens, Charles: David Copperfield
The most autobiographical of all Dickens’ novels as a young, gentle-hearted boy takes on the iniquities and
the opportunities that are continually thrust his way.
Doctorow, E.L.: Ragtime
The turn of the nineteenth century is examined without the usual sentimentality to reveal a time of great
social unrest, inequality, and personal tragedy, but also of vigor and hope.
Fitzgerald, Valarie: Zemindar
A young woman unwillingly sets out with her sister and brother-in-law to India at the middle 1800’s, a time of
great civil unrest, with bloody uprisings soon to follow.
Golden, Arthur: Memoirs of A Geisha
The inner feelings of a young girl learning the ancient art of the geisha are flawlessly conveyed in this story
that balances the inevitability of fate with the power of love.
LeCarre, John: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold
There is no glamour in this disturbing and cynical tale of a British agent who wants to get out of the espionage
business before it is too late.
LeFanu, J. Sheridan: Uncle Silas
A brooding atmosphere of evil pervades this entire novel as a young, extremely naïve orphan girl is slowly
drawn into a sinister plot to take her wealth and her life.
Lemarque, Erich Maria: All Quiet on the Western Front
This novel disturbed many when it was first released and still raises the disturbing question: who is the real
enemy when young men go to war?
Mantel, Hillary: Fludd
Is the mysterious, dark man who appears one stormy night in the unhappy village of Fetherhoughton really a
curate or a being with less earthly ties?
Pears, Ian: An Instance of the Fingerpost
Told from multiple points of view, this fascinating story, set in the 1660’s during the restoration of Charles II,
eventually reveals the truth of a young woman’s alleged involvement in witchcraft and murder.
Perez-Reverte, Atruro: Club Dumas
The hunt for a rare, possibly apocryphal manuscript by Dumas brings out the very worst kind of ruthlessness in
the world of rare book collectors.
Pym, Barbara: Jane and Prudence
An older woman and her former pupil from Oxford try their hands at matchmaking, with hilarious results.
Ray, Jeanne: Julie and Romeo
Two sixty-something lovers from rival family-owned businesses find the path to true love is littered with
enraged and vengeful family members in this delightful “retelling” of Shakespeare’s lusty tale.
Ross, Ann: Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind
Miss Julia has been a model wife in every way; but when she learns that her just-deceased husband has been
leading a double life, Miss Julia decides to take on the hypocrites in her sleepy little Southern town.
Schlee, Anne: Rhine Journey
A slow-moving, seductively simple story of an English spinster who longs for a life of her own as she travels
with her husband, sister-in-law, and lovely young niece on a journey through Prussia in the mid-1800’s.
Shea, Suzanne Strempek: Selling the Lite of Heaven
Newly jilted and utterly humiliated, a young Polish-American girl tries to sell her engagement ring, only to
discover a rich and promising world among the people who want to buy it.
Skarmeta, Antonio: The Postman. (Il Postino)
A shy, sensitive postman takes lessons from the famous poet Pablo Neruda on the art of attracting a beautiful
Smith, Betty: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Innocence slowly gives way to unwelcome knowledge as young Francie Nolan comes of age in this classic,
tenderly written story.
Spark, Muriel: A Far Cry From Kensington
London in the fifties, still recovering from the war, as a boarding house full of people strive to make the best
of their lives, in a neighborhood that has seen better days.
Stegner, Wallace: Angle of Repose
An elderly historian, confined to a wheelchair, sets out to uncover the incredible life of his grandparents, and especially of his elegant and beautiful grandmother, as they met the challenges of the unexplored, inhospitable West.
Thompson, Flora: Still Glides the Stream
An older woman returns to the tiny village of her youth, and recalls the passage of her days, the simple love of
her family, and the triumphs and tragedies of her friends.
Tobin, Betsy: The Bone House
A first class historical mystery, set in the middle ages, as a young woman takes it upon herself to investigate
the sudden death of the town’s most popular prostitute, found at the bottom of a muddy ravine.
Todd, Charles. A Test of Wills
The first of an extraordinary detective series featuring a British Inspector, newly returned from the trenches
of WWI, who is haunted by the death of his comrades and especially by the death of one young Scottish
Twain, Mark. The Diaries of Adam and Eve
The old, familiar story gets a piquant twist as one of America’s greatest writers uses his customary wit and
unexpected tenderness to reveal the “inside story” of Adam and Eve.
Tyler, Anne. The Accidental Tourist
Brimming with Tyler’s usual quirky cast of characters and laugh aloud situations, this novel follows the
fortunes of a conservative travel writer who decides to start an unlikely affair with a woman very definitely
Vickers, Sally. Miss Garnet’s Angel
Miss Garnet, a repressed, retired school teacher, comes into unexpected wealth, and discovers remarkable
beauty in the enchanting city of Venice and even more remarkably, within herself.
Vine, Barbara. The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy
A famous writer keeps the secret of his past life from his wife and children, but upon his death, the shocking
story of his youth is slowly uncovered.
Wharton, Edith. The Age of Innocence
Caught up in the strictures of his upper class life, a sensitive man must decide whether to defy convention, or
settle down and marry suitably.
Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays With Morrie
One of the finest books about appreciating every moment of life, while accepting the inevitability of death,
this true story of a dying man and his former student is sad but always life affirming.
Fraser, Antonia. The Weaker Vessel
An intriguing look at the day-to-day lives of wives, widows, courtesans, actresses, and heiresses in the
Hillenbrand, Laura. Seabiscuit: An American Legend
Heart pounding accounts of real-life races interspersed with insightful biographies of the men who trained,
rode, and loved one of America’s greatest racehorses.
Levoy, Gregg. Callings
How do we recognize a true calling in ourselves and what do we do to follow that calling in an authentic and
Maxtone-Graham, John. Safe Return Doubtful
The excitement, danger, and the frequent brushes with brutal death encountered by the many brave explorers
racing to reach the North and South Poles in the nineteenth century.
Philbrick, Nat. In the Heart of the Sea
The real life, thrilling story of the Nantucket whaling ship stove by a whale, that served as an inspiration for
Herman Melville in the writing of his classic novel Moby Dick.
Salzman, Mark. Iron and Silk
A young man, gifted in the martial arts and in writing, ventures to China in the 1970’s and becomes
enthralled with the people and their lives and beliefs.
Sarton, May. Journal of a Solitude
The famous poet finds both peace and loneliness in her solitary life and strives to distill some bit of beauty
and meaning from each slowly evolving day.
Stewart, Elinore Pruitt. The Letters of a Woman Homesteader
A wonderful sense of immediacy and courage comes through these lively letters as a young widower sets out
to make an independent life for herself on the harsh prairie.
Uleland, Brenda. If You Want To Write
Brash, bold, and totally unconventional in her approach to writing, Brenda Uleland was considered to be the
finest writing teacher of her time by many, including her friend and colleague Carl Sandberg.
Winchester, Simon. The Professor and the Madman
The compilation of the highly revered Oxford English Dictionary was a staggering task, and a great deal of the
work was done, astonishingly, by an institutionalized murderer.