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By Kathy Pillatzki
Assistant Director
Henry County Library System

  Someone asked me recently what my favorite book is. Thatís like asking a parent to pick their favorite child. You love their individual qualities, but you love them the same amount.

  The question made me think, though, about those books that are really near to my heart. The ones I first read at an impressionable age, or that really spoke to me, or that Iíve read more than once. So here, in no particular order, are a few of the high points of my reading life:

  All Creatures Great and Small (and sequels) by James Herriot. I first read these when I was about 13. Herriotís funny and touching tales of the life of a country vet in 1930s and 40s England tapped right into my love for animals. His vivid descriptions and skillful portrayals of both his patients and their human owners are a window to another time and place.

  Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I think this was the first book  that made me cry. The tale of a boy and his dogs, packed with adventure, danger and hardship, but with undertones of family and the meaning of true devotion.  This is a childrenís novel that I first read around age ten, but I have reread it as an adult and was gratified to find that it stood the test of time.

  The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher. Really, anything by Rosamund Pilcher. She is equally skilled at both novels and short stories. Characterization is her strength: she gives her readers a clear picture of each characterís personality in remarkably few words. She also does something often seen in childrenís novels but rarely in those for adults. In her full-length works, she often reintroduces a main character from a previous book as a secondary character, just a glimpse to let the reader know how things ultimately turned out for the character after the close of the last book.

  Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan, winner of the 1986 Newbery Medal. This tale of a mail-order bride who leaves her home in Maine to join a widower and his two children at their prairie farm is rich in historical detail.  It is a layered, emotionally nuanced story, with fully developed characters and a very real sense of place. It is also just 58 pages long, slight even for a childrenís book, but MacLachlan is one of those rare writers who never wastes a single word, resulting in a book that packs a lot of punch for its size.

  The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. You donít need me to tell you what these are about; they are dear to me because I read every single word of all seven books aloud to my children.

  A Grief Observed, written by C.S. Lewis in the wake of his wifeís death. I was given a copy of this after the death of a young friend. If you need a book that is comforting in its realistic assessment of grief, skip all the pop psychology and go straight for this title. 

  This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my favorite books. For mysteries, I love Dick Francis and Mary Higgins Clark. I enjoy the poetry of Robert Frost and Edgar Alan Poe, the quirky sci-fi/fantasy of Terry Pratchett, and the young adult books of David Levithan and Neil Gaiman.

How about you? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or via our website about your favorite books and we may compile them for a future Times column!



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