Good Books


I love to hear from friends who are not a part of my daily life. A while  ago, a friend called from another state, mostly to thank me for recommending a book I loved. My friend reads widely and she loved The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver just as well as I did. There is nothing better than a good historical novel unless it is hearing from a good friend.

I write a lot about the value of good friends but today, I am writing about the value of good books. Not the ones that contain valuable information but the stories that touch your heart, open your eyes and stay with you for years.

There were many times in my early life when I felt closer to books than to real people. Even now, when I have so many wonderful relationships with so many wonderful people, I treasure my reading time and the characters I find in my favorite novels.

I remember discovering the pleasure of historical fiction when I was in third grade as I read Hitty, Her First Hundred Years. Hitty was written in 1929 and it is the story of a wooden doll who was carved on a Yankee Clipper ship in the early 1800’s. She travels through many adventures, and she was my first heroine who went all the way to India. Like many great books, her story widened my world.

Another childhood favorite of mine was Adam of The Road, which was written by Elizabeth Janet Gray in 1943. Adam is an 11-year-old minstrel who wanders all over England during the Middle Ages. That one created a desire to know all about castles and such.

I still love books set in India and Medieval England. Now I read scads of historical romances novels set in those places, just for entertainment. My choices sometimes distress some of my friends and relatives because they think I should read more intellectual fiction. It is a free country and we all need light entertainment.

One of the most brilliant men I ever knew read lurid Science Fiction every night before he went to sleep. We used to tease him about his, “bug books”. I’m sorry I was such a snob in those days since I truly enjoy my “category” books now.

The Lacuna was a cut above a lot of my current reading and it was historical fiction but set in more recent times. It began in Mexico during the fascinating artistic explosion of the Thirties. The fictional hero interacted with Diego Rivera, Frieda Kahlo and Leon Trotsky. Then the hero moved on to wartime in the United States and ended in the McCarthy era. I’ve loved all of Kingsolver’s novels but the Lacuna was definitely the best. It was amazing and so beautifully written.

There are some great historical fiction writers out there right now who are both current and entertaining.  Allison Weir, and Phillipa Gregory are brilliant women who write about England’s history.  Jane Feather is officially a romance writer but her books are also enthralling. At least one great mystery writer uses historical settings – David Liss.

There are so many well known historical novels set all over the world, including E.M. Forester’s , Passage To India. Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities is mostly set in France. A little known favorite of mine, The Road To Wellville by T.C. Boyle, is about the rise of health food in the United States in the 1800’s. And don’t forget that all those Westerns are historical fiction. The list of entertaining historical fiction is endless.

I’ve shared some of my favorite titles and writers in the hope that you will consider novels – especially well written, well-researched historical novels – as a pleasant free time activity. There is great joy to be had by reading a great book. It’s all very well to drift through the bookstores and buy gadgets, calendars, kindles, and the latest political  “tell-all”.  It’s quite another thing to select books that provide hours of happy reading time.

Let me remind you that you can share some of your favorite titles by commenting on this blog. Why not give the rest of us a gift of your recommendations?


Ask Yourself

What were some of my favorite books as a child?

What are some of my favorite books now?


6 Comments on “Good Books”

  1. Nancy says:

    Jane I enjoyed this blog! I shall order LACUNA. I remember HITTY also THE SECRET GARDEN and a book called BABY ISLAND which was about a group of children,the oldest around 12 marooned on an island in the Pacific. I loved THE JUNGLE BOOKS as a child…went through the Nancy Drew ones, too. Of all the books I have read in recent years my favorite is SHANTARM by David Gregory – do you know it? Mostly true, set in Bombay when it was Bombay and a fascinating story of India life. told by a man who was an escaped convict and became a member of the Bombay Mafia…and also a paramedic in the slums….great story.

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Nancy, Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate them and I wish you would post them directly on the blog to make it look as if I have many readers which, I actually do now have 121 subscribers and I know many other people have mentioned to me that they were reading it. If you comment on the blog itself, other people can comment on your comment and that can be fun.

      Do you read many blogs? I read C. Carnes and M. Kaye and DMJones and not anyone else but I’ve now signed up for one I found on the which is about beating the blues. Great information there.

      Are you going to New Orleans? I’m not and I wish I could because it will certainly be historic. I do hope to get to Asilomar this summer. Love, Jane – Dr. Jane Claypool blog = Minister Emeritus & Founder of Center for Spiritual Living, Carlsbad CA Author of: Science of Mind Skills Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues New Thought, New Woman or 760.944.1168 Snail Mail to PO230638 / Encinitas, CA 92023 Have a nice life. You deserve the best!

  2. Kathy Janiszewski says:

    I loved the column on books! I am a lifelong reader and retired English teacher, and when you mentioned A Tale of Two Cities, I was thrilled. I loved it, and even some of my high school students did, too! Full of history, romance and drama.
    My childhood favorites were: The Boxcar Children, The Wind in the Willows, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, The Bobsey Twins, The Hardy Boys and on and on!
    Now I enjoy Kingsolver, too, as well as Jim Harrison, Elizabeth George, and Elizabeth Berg.
    My favorite book this year was a true account of a man in a Japanese prison camp for 7 years, who survived and went on to make speeches of his experiences all over the country. It is called Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This one was difficult reading because of the torture he endured, but the very fact that he endured “unbroken” is a testament to the human spirit.
    Thanks, Jane, for your wonderful ideas.

    • janeclaypool says:

      Hi Kathy,
      Thanks for your wonderful ideas as well.

      I had the opportunity to write one of the boxcar children books. I think it was published about 1982 and it was called Mystery On A Train. You probably know that I am the author of over 80 books for young people before I started writing metaphysical books and materials. My Boxcar book was published under the original author’s name. I also used Jane Claypool Miner for Scholastic etc. and Veronica Ladd for Simon & Schuster.

      Of course, the original authors of the old series like Boxcar and Nancy Drew are long gone. Someone inherits the rights and publishing companies hire other professionals to write under the names of the originators. Writing a Boxcar story was kind of fun and I still sometimes get royalties for the Boxcar Children book I wrote.

  3. jana carnes says:

    Jane, If you haven’t read Ahab’s Wife, it’s a must.
    Poisonwood Bible is another must.
    I’ll think on it.
    Also have you heard of the site called “Bookshelf”? Readers recommend books to one another. Great sharing.
    Always Love & Light

  4. Jenn says:

    Thanks for sending me on a trip down memory lane — lined with books I’ve read and enjoyed and ones that have changed my life. As a young girl, enjoyed the Little House on the Prarie books, there’ve been many favorites since then.
    — Jenn

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