WMBTSG Day Five (Make comments to this post to participate)

Welcome to day five of the annual Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. One lucky winner will walk away with 1001 Books for Every Mood by Hallie Ephron & Writer Mama Tote Bag.

1001 Books for Every Mood

For the voracious reader, 1001 Books for Every Mood is a guide to 1001 wonderful books–fiction and nonfiction, old and new, classic and iconoclastic–chosen to suit your every mood.

These 1001 great reads are sorted by the reader’s mood. Find the perfect book for when you’re in the mood for “a good laugh,” or “a good cry,” or “a wallow in the slough of despond,” for “a kick in the pants” or “a shot in the arm,” “a trip in the fast lane” or “a trip down memory lane”… and so on through more than 70 moods.

A short summary of each book gives the flavor for what lies between its covers. Icons highlight books of particular literary merit, as well as those that have been provocative, influential, inspirational, or just downright funny. Easy reads and page turners are highlighted, as are books that are challenging, kid friendly, or can be consumed in short sittings.

Think of it as mood therapy in a book and your personal guide to the outstanding funny, sad, thrilling, inspiring, mindbending…books of all time. With an introduction from a reader’s best friend, NPR’s Susan Stamberg.

Author Bio:

Hallie Ephron (www.hallieephron.com) is an avid reader, writer, and award-winning book reviewer. She grew up in a family rich with literary talent and in a house overflowing with books. Now she is the author of 1001 Books for Every Mood (Adams Media).

In the book’s introduction, Susan Stamberg of NPR says: “Hallie Ephron is like the best, friendliest, hippest librarian you ever met. Her taste is exquisite, her writing’s a hoot, she’s done her homework, and it’s very clear that she loves, loves, loves books.”

Hallie’s psychological suspense novel Never Tell a Lie comes out in January from Wm. Morrow/ HarperCollins. Ann Hood (“The Knitting Circle”) says “Never Tell a Lie should come with a warning label: You will not play with your children, cook your dinner, or go to sleep once you start reading Hallie Ephron’s debut novel! You will just keep reading, turning the pages with increasing speed as this suburban nightmare throws lies, plot twists, and suspense at you. When you read the final sentence, you will be exhausted, exhilarated, and awed by Ephron’s tale.”

Hallie teaches at writing workshops all across the country; her Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel was nominated for Edgar and Anthony awards.


Writer Mama Tote Bag from Writer Mama Stuff at Café Press for all of your books!

Original Writer Mama cover art by Claudean Wheeler, modified by Burton Haun.


Today’s question: What’s one of your favorite books and why? We would like to know. Please tell us in 50-200 words. [Re-worded to take some of the pressure off. But if you want to tell us about your “favorite book of all time,” go ahead.]

If this is your first post in the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

You may post your comments until midnight PST on September 5th.


35 Responses to “WMBTSG Day Five (Make comments to this post to participate)”

  1. 1 Wendy September 5, 2008 at 6:26 am

    The timing of your question is perfect. I’ve been packing up my home office/studio this week to move to a studio I will share with 7 other artists/writers. I unearthed my 1967 copy of Noel Streatfeild’s The Magic Summer(snagged at the annual library booksale for a couple of quarters) and it brought a flood of memories of the summer I found it on the shelves of the bookmobile. I was 9 and already a hungry reader. I gobbled up books that summer, but this captured my imagination. As I have reread it this week I see that so many of my choices, passions, dreams were born that summer as I hid from the summer heat in our basement apartment and read about four siblings left to fend for themselves in a rundown house in Ireland. I’ve also started a list of books that I read that were turning points for me or life rafts in times of crisis. I am in that phase of a women’s life where I am having 1001 moods, often in the same day and as one who has self-medicated with books for decades, I would find this book useful.

  2. 2 Tricia Grissom September 5, 2008 at 6:42 am

    That’s like asking which kid is my favorite! I can’t even choose within a specific genre like sci fi or mystery.

    The one I do read over and over is Jane Eyre. Okay, Mr. Rochester is actually a real butthead, but Jane is awesome, fearless, and not afraid to marry the big gooberhead even though he’s way above her on the class ladder. When she finally stands up to him and admits her feelings…well it always gets to me. Plus there’s the crazy lady in the attic.

    It’s got mystery. It’s got danger. It’s got gothic atmosphere out the wazoo. How can you beat that?

  3. 3 Nancy Kopp September 5, 2008 at 7:16 am

    My all-time favorite book is Gone With The Wind. No doubt about it. I’ve read it three times–all in my younger years, and I’ve seen the movie at least three times. The story and characters remain etched in my brain and on my heart. Even now that I’m pushing seventy, I still thrill to the great adventure our Scarlett experienced pulling thousands of readers along. I sigh with the roamnce of the story, nothing like the romantic romps of today, but sizzling in its own time. And I thank Margaret Mitchell for teaching me so much about the Civil War period and the Reconstruction years. What a painless way to learn history. It’s been many years since I’ve read Gone With The Wind, so perhaps it’s time I put it on my winter reading list. Yep, I need to do that. It will be something to look forward to.

  4. 4 Jaymie September 5, 2008 at 7:36 am

    One of my favorite books of all time is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I love that it has layers – the story in itself is a fun adventure about a boy who is bored with life until he hops into his toy car and drives through the toy tollbooth he finds in his room and enters a new land. But there are a lot of “in-jokes” for older readers and grown ups – like the bee who spells everything and the missing sisters Rhyme and Reason, and the Island of Conclusions (you have to jump to get there).

    I love well-written books for kids that engage them in a story that just might teach them something along the way. And I love them even more when they can be enjoyed by a grown up and a child together.

  5. 5 Mary Jo C. September 5, 2008 at 7:45 am

    LOL! Tricia, you’re right! How can we pick just one? My favorites list would be pages long, but one of my favorites I read this year would have to be Kite Runner.

    Yes, it’s dark, but it’s real life. The characters are so true to their actions you never doubt why they are doing what they do. Even in that wintry alley at dusk…

    The settings, the smells, the sights, the sounds were all living inside me as I read this treasure!

    I cried and laughed with them and awed at the revelations. I love that this book made me think and that I needed a full week to let those thoughts settle before I picked up another book. I only hope to write something that touches others in this way.

  6. 6 anniegirl1138 September 5, 2008 at 7:57 am

    You know, I don’t have a favorite book anymore. When I was little I had several that I reread every year until I was almost through high school, but since then I can’t claim a single book or series that is my favorite above and beyond any other.

    When I was eight or nine, I read a book called Twin Spell (Double Spell is its UK title) by a Canadian author, Janet Lunn. Shortly after my first husband fell ill, I got it into my head to collect all my favorite childhood books for our daughter. I think the motivation stemmed from the fact that he had really nothing to leave behind for her in terms of memorabilia and his dementia was so severe at the time of his diagnosis, it was too late to write a letter or video tape him for her. I didn’t want to have nothing to leave of myself – just in case (it’s a morbid thought but one you have when you are about to become an only parent).

    So I tracked the book down and was surprised to discover that it was something of a collector’s item. I was thrilled to learn as well that the author was still alive and could be reached via her website.

    I received a lovely note back from her and I was as happy with it as I would have been as a little girl. It made me feel a bit like that little girl again which was kinda nice at the time.

    The book itself was about twins who were hunting down – literally – family ghosts. Ironically they were Canadians living in Ontario where my second husband was born and partly raised. Interesting, eh?

  7. 7 Lisa September 5, 2008 at 8:31 am

    This is a tough one because I have so many favorite books. But a favorite of mine right now would have to be One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus. The book is fiction but based on the premise that in the 1850’s the Cheyenne Indian Nation suggested that the U.S. government give the gift of one thousand white women as brides for their young men. Sounds bizarre and completely unheard of? My book club thought so when one of our group suggested it. But after reading it we were amazed with the depth, strength and emotion of the cast of women characters. It is a great read about the old American west.

  8. 8 Cheryl M September 5, 2008 at 8:35 am

    One of my favorite books is Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. It has a lot of different elements that draw me in each time I read it.

    For example, it is set on an island in the San Juans. I grew up near there so it brings back memories of my trips to the islands, but it also has the slightly different and exotic culture of living on an island.

    It is a mystery and I love mysteries. How did a local fisherman drown? That brings in the whole fishing culture which I know very little about.

    And, it is set right after WWII. One of the suspects is a Japanese-American man who was sent to a camp and lost his farm during the war. When I first read this book I had no idea that happened in the Pacific NW.

    And, there’s a love story in there. This book has everything. Really I should write about it on my blog about books – thanks for the inspiration!

  9. 9 marnini September 5, 2008 at 9:15 am

    I think one of my all time favorite books is The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom. I have always been fascinated with the after life and the purpose people serve in your life. People are meant to be in your life for specific reasons and that captivates me. Sometimes it’s the people that you think don’t matter that really do.

  10. 10 elizaj September 5, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I bless the day I joined ranks with those who’ve read GONE WITH THE WIND.

    There are so many books I truly treasure but GONE WITH THE WIND is an experience and truly a masterful piece of writing.

    An unmatched tale of the Old South, with exquisite attention to detail and character development that, once read, lives within you forever.

    Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949) was a literary genius and I owe her a huge debt of thanks.

    A little trivia – Scarlett O’Hara was originally named Pansy O’Hara and the title of the book was “Tomorrow Is Another Day” Imagine that! Thank God for editors. 🙂

  11. 11 Cara September 5, 2008 at 9:57 am

    What constitutes a favorite book? The one most read? The one that had the greatest impact on your life? Makes you happiest when you read it? Gives you comfort?

    By any criterion, I’d have to say that my favorite book of all times is Little Women. I first discovered it as a kid, and the fact that I still re-read it every few years and take something from it each time is what endears it to me. I think what I like most about it is the honest glimpse it gives into the lives of a large and loving family, complete with the jealousies, discontents, and up and downs that are part and parcel of life. I’ve always admired Louisa May Alcott for not trying to sugar coat life just for the sake of spinning a good tale.

    My favorite sister was Beth. Jo could be impetuous and frustrating, Amy just plain annoying, and Meg too dull for my liking, but Beth had just the right combination of spirit, and calm acceptance of a life. “The Valley of the Shadow” is the most poignant passage I know of in literature dealing with loss, grief, resignation, and ultimately, acceptance.

  12. 12 Angie Goodloe September 5, 2008 at 10:05 am

    I have many favorite books, but the one that stands out in my mind is Clan of the cave bear by Jena M Auel. I was about 11 when I read the book. Not only did it spark my interest in herbal medicine (what I practice now) it also inspired me to persevere through adversity and challenge.
    When I read the book for the first time I was struggling with becoming a woman, trusting myself, and to make matters worse I was being abused emotionally and physically by a family member. The main character in the book Ayla was also struggling with abuse by other members of her clan but managed to find her own way and trust her instincts. She retained here amazing spirit through all of her challenges. Through all of these trials she survived and thrived- her failures only made her stronger.
    This book was so inspirational during a time when my life could have taken a completely different path, let myself be beat down by others, and let low self esteem consume me. However, I persevered and never let go of my spirit, let my failures be life lessons, and turn my perceived weakness into strengths. Because of the book I tried new things I normally would have never considered such as competing in and winning the national weight lifting competition -when it was not popular for women to do so, going to school for massage even though I was penniless, and now attempting to publish some of my writing.
    I know that others may criticize my writing along the way, but I will not let that stop me from trying to be the best writer I can be (even with 2 babies in tow). It is like exercise training when you are trying to win a competition, it is a daily practice, but with each workout you become stronger and better- it also becomes easier with time. I hope that some of my writing will someday inspire others like Clan Of The Cave Bear inspired me at 11 years old.

  13. 13 Annette S September 5, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I have a handful of favorites, but I think I’ll mention The Brothers K by David James Duncan, mostly because it surprised me so much.

    It was selected by my book group one year, and my first thought was “A book about 4 brothers and minor league baseball? What a yawn.” However, it turned out to be one of the most moving books about resilience that I’ve ever read. That, and Duncan does an amazing job of capturing a time (Vietnam War era in the U.S.) and place (small-town life in the Pacific NW.) In fact I gave a copy to my father-in-law as a gift since he served in Vietnam, and it moved him so much that he passed it on to several of his military buddies.

    I think that’s the hallmark of great fiction, that it gets at the heart of truth without needing to be factual.

  14. 14 Jenny September 5, 2008 at 10:59 am

    I could give many, but since this challenge is to mention ONE of my favorites, I offer you: Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris.

    This is a story about life for 3 partially-orphaned children during the Nazi occupation of their small French village during WWII.

    It is written through the eyes of a 9-year-old girl and resonates with incredible detail, description, emotion and humanity. Food, as in many of Ms. Harris’ books, plays a large and often surprising, role. I get lost inside the world that Ms. Harris imagines and am fascinated by each character she creates in this book.

    The book offers not only tragedy but redemption and also has a very cinematic quality. For any writer, whether you aspire to writing fiction or not, it is a wonderful lesson in how to immerse your readers in your world by using our best weapon: wonderful, beautiful and moving words.

    I’ve read it about 5 times and I’m sure I’ll read it again. I highly recommend it to anyone. For those who liked “Chocolat,” this is darker in tone, but very good.

  15. 15 krysk September 5, 2008 at 11:16 am

    My favorite book (at the moment) is Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I enjoyed it so much for two reasons – the first is that it was one of those books that I knew nothing about – I thought it looked interesting and picked it up – so it was a very pleasant surprise – plus, it was full of twisty, turny plot stuff – that I am completley in awe of – as I sometimes have difficulty in writing a story that goes from point A to point B. I loved that it kept me guessing right until the end, and was that flowy, almost poetic kind of writing like Gabriel Garcia Marquez – the kind of words and phrases that just ooze off your tongue…

  16. 16 cookerycontent September 5, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    One of my favorite books looks like a beat-up old paperback discard. It’s tattered and faded but I give my vintage “Roget’s Thesaurus” rock star parking on my desk. It’s worn but still worthy.
    –Mary Ann

  17. 17 Meryl K. Evans September 5, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    When I hear this question, I almost always answer “On Writing Well by William K. Zinsser.” It stuck with me the longest and helped me improve my writing. It’s also the book that contained a sample of travel writing that gripped me — something that had never happened before reading it.

  18. 18 Kristin September 5, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Favorite book? Where to begin…

    I fell in love with “One Hundred Years of Solitude” years ago. Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses poetic language and beautiful imagery to capture place and time. I’m drawn to his stories when I want great literature.

    My guilty pleasure is any Nora Roberts book – always an entertaining quick read. My young adult favorites are “Tuck Everlasting” and “The Giver”, whereas “Red Dragon” and “Silence of the Lambs” appeals to my darker side. “Bridges of Madison County” had me weeping into the night. Shouldn’t we all have favorite books for our different reading moods?

    And of course my children afford me the perfect excuse to buy truckloads of children’s books. The brilliant simplicity of a well-written picture book is amazing. To weave a compelling story that appeals to both adult and child in fewer than 25 pages!?!?! I’m in awe.

  19. 19 Sarah September 5, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    I, like most of the above people, have way too many favorites to pick one. So my current favorite – though I am going to nominate it for ‘all-time-favorite’ – is ‘Same Kind of Different As Me’. It’s a true story, an amazing story, and a beautiful perspective on human nature. The sub-title reads, “a modern-day slave, an international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together.” It’s a tough read for me, personally, because it brings out all of our pre-suppositions about folks living in poverty and/or homeless. I have come to the conclusion that it should be required reading for all humans. Amazing.

  20. 20 Celestial Goldfish September 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    That’s a difficult question. I would have to say that one of my favorite books in recent years is “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. It has a unique premise in following a man with a genetic dilemma of falling through time. He encounters his wife at various ages, and their love story is intense and beautiful, even when his wife is still a child. The ending made me sob and haunted me for weeks.

    One of my favorites reads this year was “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell. I like intense books with a touch of sci-fi (like my own novel).

  21. 21 Katrina September 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    The book I most often pick up to re-read is ‘The Doomsday Book’ by Connie Willis. I read across all genres but have a fondness for historical fiction, and this book about a female historian from the future visiting a plague-stricken village is one of my favorites. About once a year (which is just long enough for my aged mind to forget many details) I get the itch to read it and I’m never disappointed.

  22. 22 PeggyD. September 5, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    I’d have to agree with Angie Goodloe and say ‘The Clan of the Cave Bear.’ And for many of the same reasons. I read it in High School when I was 16 or 17, but the strength of Ayla (the main character) stuck with me, inspired me and touched my life. I loved the escape into a world so different and yet I could relate to the characters so well that I felt with them, the universal emotions were there.

  23. 23 Elizabeth M. September 5, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I really love the book “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See. It follows the life of a young girl from childhood into womanhood and it takes place during the period of footbinding in ancient China. It’s an emotional and often uncomfortably detailed account of the steps taken to create what was considered the epitome of feminine beauty at that time. Every girl was expected to follow the rituals and none of them questioned it though they did fear it. It’s a brilliant novel and a beautifully written novel. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

  24. 24 Evelyn M. September 5, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    What’s one of your favorite books and why?

    Secret Garden came to mind, then Girl of the Limberlost, but no, it is Twig that I must share with you! Twig, written by Elizabeth Orton Jones in the late 1930s or early 1940s, describes a little girl named Twig who lived a quiet existence in 4-story building in a big city. When Twig found an empty tomato can in her apartment’s courtyard and set it upside down beside a dandelion, the tomato can looked like the perfect home for a fairy. As Twig waited for the fairy, so began a special day for Twig. As a little girl, 8 or 9 years old, this delightful story created magical images in my mind as I imagined myself there with Twig. I really wanted to be there with Twig! A few years ago, when this book was reissued, I had to buy a copy. Surely a grandchild will find joy and magic in it as I did just a “few” years ago!

  25. 25 Judy September 5, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    I too have to agree with some of you. I loved Shadow of the Wind, Snow Falling on Cedars, and The Time Traveler’s Wife. – Also the Magnificent Ambersons, Pride and Prejudice, Eat, Pray, Love, The Historian, any of Robert Ludlum’s books (I have them all), There are Mountains to Climb, The Birth of Venus, The Red Tent, Terry Goodkind’s series…they are all very “rich” in their unique ways.

  26. 26 Kisatrtle September 5, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    My favorite book is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I read this book as part of a group discussion and was so glad I did. It is described as what the bible would read like if written by women. In all my life I’ve never found the stories of the old testiment so fascinating.

  27. 27 Julie P September 5, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Like so many other responses, its difficult to select just one favorite book. Perhaps that’s why the the author of today’s prize included 1001… I’m guessing they’re all favorites!

    An avid reader, I’m rarely without a stack of books on my nightstand. I find my friends regularly asking me for a recommendation. And just as regularly, I’m asking them if they’ve read The Red Tent.

    Anita Diamant’s historical novel of biblical times inspired me to include a new genre in my reading rotation: Historical Fiction. Her story brought the past to the present, making a modern 30-something-er reader feel as if Dinah was a peer, one you might share a Starbucks hour. The story also changed my understanding of the religion of my ancestors, and opened my mind to a different, more feminine, view of Biblical times.

    If you haven’t read The Red Tent, please add it to your nightstand stack.

  28. 28 Laura September 5, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    I read this question this morning, and it is only now that I attempt to answer. How do I choose just one book? Reading is my addiction. Had you asked which series is my favorite, then the “Dragon Riders of Pern” would be it. But to pick just one book. Wow. Just one.

    The book I find myself reading over and over, the one I read past Nora Roberts, Laura Ingalls, Susan Cooper, C.S. Lewis, The Bard, even Anne McCaffrey for, is an old friend, “The Secret Garden”. I still love to lose myself in those words. The story, not only of discovering a hidden garden, but of a girl discovering who she is, and whom she can become, enraptures me even now.

  29. 29 Theresa N September 5, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    My favorite at this moment in time is An Embarrasment of Riches by Gerald Hansen, I just finished reading. Described as a dark family comedy I wanted to finish it all at one time as if it were a chocolate ice cream cone. I laughed, shooked my head, couldn’t believe what my eyes were reading and read some more. The story takes place in Derry, Ireland with authentic dialect about the Flood family.

  30. 30 Jenni September 5, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    I am currently re-reading Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, her collection of short stories that won the Pulitzer. The stories, for the most part, explore the Indian immigrant experience in the U.S. They are spare, heartbreaking and universal in their appeal mainly because the angst, fear and injustice in the lives of the characters are familiar to anyone, immigrant or not. I find myself going back to the characters again and again and wondering what happened to them after the storyline ended. My husband and I are discussing them one by one. He’s a non-fiction kind of guy, but these are speaking to him as well.

  31. 31 karen September 5, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    How can such a short question be so hard? Of my many, many favorites on my shelf right now is actually Babara Kingsolver’s Prodigal summer. The reason I can justify is that it is comfortable. When nothing else seems to fit the bill, I can flip anywhere in the book and her rich, familiar characters just keep on keepin’ on. I am going to re-read this post for sure and take some reading list notes!

  32. 32 Amie H September 5, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    The pages still smell like my favorite used book store. A torn scrap of pink notepaper peeks up somewhere halfway through. There is an unidentifiable stain on the cover. This could describe most of my favorite books but this copy happens to be “The Alphabet of Grace” by Frederick Buechner. I have reread this book many times. I love the range of emotions and experiences evoked by a simple ordinary day. The poetry and humor and the fact that I can pick it up and select any page and find my way back to listening more closely to the beautiful language of life that surrounds me.

  33. 33 Abbey September 5, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Oh, do I have to choose just one? I was an English literature major and love my books!

    One of my favorite books of all time is Their Eyes Were Watching God. I could read it over and over again. I love, love, love the love story between Janie and Tea Cake. I love the language. I love Janie’s strength and resiliency – although she’s fictional, her characteristics encourage me!

  34. 34 Rosemary Lombard September 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    A nonfiction book that endures in my list of favorites is NEXT OF KIN: WHAT CHIMPANZEES HAVE TAUGHT ME ABOUT WHO WE ARE, by Roger Fouts. Roger, applying to be a graduate assistant working with chimpanzee Washoe, the first signing chimp, is forcefully selected by Washoe herself as she throws herself into his arms. Roger and his wife, Debbie, love, study, and protect Washoe and other signing chimps throughout their careers, finally escaping from an academic hell to establish an extraordinary research center for the chimps at Central Washington University.

    When baby chimp Loulis is introduced into the colony, human signing stops, and matriarch Washoe, adoptive mother, teaches Loulis sign language. The book reads like a novel but relates work of great importance for who chimps are, can be, and—yes—who, in relation to them, we are.

    I followed the life of Washoe for years and last winter joined a teary-eyed crowd in a tent near the research center for Washoe’s memorial service. Roger, now gray, carries his grandchild, not Washoe.

    The Foutses have been models of love and dedication for my own animal communication research, but I note by reader reviews that many others love the book, too.

  1. 1 WMBTSG Day Five: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 6, 2008 at 8:19 pm
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