Books I’m Crazy Grateful For

Books are many writers’ closest friends. It’s one reason we feel so compelled to write them. With Thanksgiving soon upon us, I decided to share a few books I’m CRAZY grateful for. I’m not sure my life would be the same without them…

I first read A CRY IN THE NIGHT by Mary Higgins Clark during the fifth grade, mostly tucked away in my loft bed with a bowl of Doritos. 😉 As Jenny MacPartland was swept off her feet by a talented, mysterious artist, so was I. As she discovered horrifying truths that threatened her life, I felt my own life being threatened. Great books take us out of our lives and into others.’ This book taught me that. And nothing had captivated me in such a way before. It marked the beginning of a ‘real life’ love affair—with mysteries, thrillers and suspense.

If Jenny MacPartland had THE GIFT OF FEAR by Gaven de Becker, there wouldn’t have been a book. De Becker is the leading expert on instincts, survival and violent behavior. His book features people who could have died at the hands of attackers, but didn’t. And whether they realized it or not, their fear helped save them. When I sense that someone’s following me, I now turn to look rather than dart away. I look suspicious people in the eye, observe their appearance. I know what to scream if I need to. And I won’t step into an elevator with someone who gives me the creeps. I may never know how much THE GIFT OF FEAR has helped me, which is perfectly fine by me! I recommend it to EVERYONE, particularly women. It’s an empowering book you’ll want to read time and again.

Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY had me in tears on the elliptical when I first began reading it. A passerby said, “If it’s so bad, you can stop.” I would’ve laughed at the workout angst joke, but I was too intrigued by the words before me. At the time, I was at a crux in my relationship and career and had no clue what to do. The ARTIST’S WAY is one of those books that feels like it was written for you. “How did you know that?” I kept wanting to ask. And like DeBecker, Cameron’s insight helped me help myself and has stayed with me since. The ‘morning pages’ exercise, free-writing three pages promptly upon walking, revealed answers I’d been seeking.

“I have an agent, so now what do I do?” This question led me to Kristen Lamb’s, ARE YOU THERE, BLOG? IT’S ME, WRITER. The web is overloaded with information for people who want to write a book, represent themselves or seek agents. But once you have one…not so much. An author friend said to “just keep writing. The agent does the rest now.” That didn’t feel right. I plugged random words and phrases into and came upon the title that to this DAY makes me laugh. It says so much and in such a funny, fun-loving way…Much like the whole book. It changed the way I view social media and life as a writer in hugely positive ways. If you haven’t read it (or WE ARE NOT ALONE: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, also by Lamb), joined Kristen’s blog or the #MyWANA Twitter conversation, get out from under that rock! Er, I mean… It would be in your best interest to check them out. 😉
What books top your Crazy-Grateful-For list??? You know I love hearing from you. (A blessing I count often! ;))
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  1. Off the top of my head – I loved Water for Elephants (never saw the movie)
    The Other Bolyn Girl
    The Pillars of the Earth
    The Da Vinci Code
    Great post!

    • Terrific list, Susie. I tried but didn’t make it through the “Water for Elephants” movie… The poor elephant’s treatment broke my heart. The book, however, is awesome! Loved “Pillars of the Earth,” too… 🙂

  2. EllieAnn

     /  November 19, 2011

    Oh I loved The Artists Way, too. It was beautiful and taught me a lot about the creative process.

  3. Thanks for visiting, Ellie! I find all of Cameron’s books beautiful, but the AW is definitely my fave. 😉

  4. I’ve read all of yours, August, except the Gift of Fear (so now I’ll find and read it, too), and agree they’re all awesome. I can’t even tell you how many books I’ve read in my life, and it’s often hard to remember specific titles of those I loved and those that have stuck with me (whether I loved them or not). But “The House of Sand and Fog” is one. (The movie wasn’t so great, but the book is amazing.) At the time, I thought “The Shining” was the best example of character development in the western world. (Even the movie was good on that one.) Love, love, loved Travis McGee, the dude in John D. MacDonald’s “color” novels set in Florida. Too many books to list…to little white space here!

    • Ooh, I hope you do check “Gift of Fear” out. I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s just so fabulous. I haven’t read “The House of Sand and Fog,” but have heard great things. Adding to my (lengthy ;)) to-read list…

      No wonder you’re such a talented writer, Diane. Avid reading lends itself to that.

  5. Oh gosh, I went through a hardcore Mary Higgins Clark phase starting in junior high with “Moonlight Becomes You” (Her?). I think I read through every MHC book in the library, and the one you mentioned was one of the most chilling that I got my hands on.

    There are so many books that have stayed with me over the years. Tamora Pierce’s “Lioness Quartet” and “Wild Magic” series were my first forays into fantasy novels with strong female protags. David Eddings’s “Belgariad” and “Mallorean” series were another early entry into the world of epic fantasy. And I am grateful for scholarly books too, especially those by the black feminists that helped transform my understanding of the world around me and my own identity. Along those lines, Patricia Hill Collins’ “Black Feminist Thought” and Audre Lorde’s “Sister Outsider” come to mind.

    Wonderful post, August. I always love talking about books. 🙂

    • “Moonlight Becomes You,” if I recall right. 😉 Love that you’re a Mary Higgins Clark fan, too.

      I love what you said about books that helped transform your world and thinking… Books do that like nothing else! And all books authored by strong, poignant women are great reminders of how far we’ve come…and why.

  6. great list- if I didn’t have a fever I’m sure I could come up with some of my own- I do have to say Interview with a Vampire is the first paranormal I read.

    • Aw… I hope you feel lots better soon, Alica!

      I remember enjoying “Interview w/a Vampire” (the movie) years back… Seems we all have a special book that points us toward our writing genre.

  7. Wow, August, great post. I have to check out “The Artist’s Way”. I’ve seen people cry on the elliptical, but not because of a book : ) Thanks for the list.

  8. What a fabulous idea! I just ordered The Artist’s Way last week after reading about it on another blog and I will promptly order ~ The Gift of Fear for me and my daughter. What a great book to have since being attacked is one of my biggest fears in life.

    You KNOW I’ve got Kristen’s books (even brought ‘Are you there blog’ with me to Vegas this weekend). And I read Mary Higgins Clark years ago and love all her books.

    So much fun to read about what you love to read.

  9. Sweet of you to stop by between slot machines, Tameri! (Kidding! Though I do hope you win BIG. ;)) Aren’t planes great places to read??

    I suspect you’ll love both books—ultra empowering in different ways…and full of great lessons to share with your daughter. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

  10. I absolutely love this post! What a great idea, one I’d been meaning to do for awhile myself and hadn’t gotten around to. Thanks for the reminder! I’ll be sharing my own books I’m grateful for soon too.

    And August, I think that’s awesome you put down The Gift of Fear. You know I never thought of it to stare at someone you think may be following you. But that probably is a really smart move to get a profile and sense of their intent/character. I should really check that one out.

    P.S. My version of A Cry in the Night would be The Thornbirds. *swoon*

    • Glad you enjoyed! And *swoon* is so fitting of our break-through books… 😉

      I hope you do check “The Gift of Fear” out… I’ll keep an eye out for your ‘grateful for’ book list!

  11. What a great blog idea and an interesting way to better understand your followers. Our choices all say something about our true self.
    My choices:
    1. To Kill A Mockingbird – We had to read it before entering our freshman year of high school. I went from reading nothing but sports related books to reading the “good stuff.” I will never forget the feelings I had as I entered a new world with Harper Lee.
    2. The Outsiders – I’m still amazed how well SE Hinton summed up our lives at the time.
    3. On the Road – A book that opened my eyes to a very different world. Dean Moriarty had something in him that I always wanted.

    • So true, Tim. I wonder if anyone’s done a study… 😉 “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorites as well. Wonderful that it served as a gateway into a new literary world for you.

  12. That’s a good list. Right now I’m grateful for Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber because the story has drawn me in & I can’t put it down. I also loved Isabel Allende’s Island Beneath the Sea. It made me feel like I had actually been to Haiti & New Orleans. So maybe I’m just grateful for amazing female writers!

  13. mgmillerbooks

     /  November 20, 2011

    Lonesome Dove, The Brothers Karamazov…and Valley of the Dolls. Because sometimes you just want trash. lol. Great post, August!

  14. Wow, we must be twins separated at birth. I loved Mary Higgins Clark when I was younger. I also LOVE the Gavin de Becker book and of course The Artist’s Way since I’m doing it right now. And how could we not love dear Kristen’s book?

    • We do sorta look a like! And you know what they say about great minds…;) Honored to share book preferences with you, Julie! Hope you’re having the best weekend, enjoying fantastic books.

  15. I love the artist’s way, too. Julia has lived the kind of life I’d be jealous of.

  16. Sorry to say I haven’t read any on your list 😦

    I grew up reading anything by Arthur C Clarke and HG Wells. One way or another they made me think there was more than my little town out there. Brave New World and The Three Musketeers are another couple of my favorites. These days Lee Child is one of my favorites.

    I used to read a lot on planes, too. The number of books I half finished because I left them in the seatback!


    • Oops! It was late last night when I wrote that 🙂 I have read Kristen’s books, of course. Don’t tell her or I’ll become a washed up ninja then dies a horrible death from an embarrassing infection by the third page of her next book!


      • Ha… No worries, Nigel. You always find a way to make us laugh, even erroneously! I met Lee Child at a conference in San Francisco. Super nice guy and a talented, prolific writer. Love the fact that different books influence us. (PS Secret’s safe w/me!)

  17. lynnkelleyauthor

     /  November 20, 2011

    I agree that both of Kristen Lamb’s books have changed my life. And I’m so thankful I found out about WANA and am now part of the twibe. And The Gift of Fear is an excellent book and I recommend it to everyone also.

  18. I loooove the Artist’s Way. Totally changed my life. I give it as a gift whenever the occasion arises. Great list of books!

  19. I’d have to say Holly Lisle’s Create a Character Clinic. It totally took my writing to the next level. Then there was the Harlequin Intrigue I read probably 15 years ago that I was barely able to finish, that made me realize, “Hey I can do better than that!” I don’t remember author or title, but I started writing soon after!

  20. Catherine Johnson

     /  November 21, 2011

    I loved The Artist’s Way too and of course We Are Not Alone. Both of those you could read over and over they are so good and fresh.

    My favourite reads are The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund and The River by Patricia Wastvedt (similar to The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – which is also awesome)

  21. So true, Catherine! Both books hit us differently, depending on when we read (or reread) them, too. All talented authors on your list. 🙂

  22. robpixaday

     /  January 8, 2012

    Thank you for sharing!

    My all-time fav for the past 50 years is Alice in Wonderland followed close behind by <i.Flatland (it’s a tiny book)

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