There are not enough bookshelves in my house. We’ve spent more time and money buying and building bookshelves than we have on our children. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. If you come to my house, though, you’ll see books on tables, books sideways on top of books, stacks of books at my bedside. They don’t all fit, but I keep buying. And reading. If you need a recommendation, try one of these.  They are in no particular order, it is a far from complete list, and I will add to them as I am able.

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
This is the beautifully written story of a group of private school children in a very unique circumstance. The prose is lyrical and in striking contrast to the children’s destiny.

Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner
Stegner gives us a deeply quiet vision into the lives of four lifetime friends. Reading his work is pure inspiration. I’ve bought and given away so many copies of this wonderful book.

The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White
I carry this around. Swear. It’s a tiny little book (my version is a small paper version…I don’t recommend getting a hardback version as it’s harder to carry) that slips easily into purse or pocket. It helps me remember where to put the semi-colon, it’s helped with my middle-schooler’s homework, and it reminds me to write nicely.

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, by Thad Carhart
If you love pianos, music or Paris, this memoir is a lovely look into all three.  The author is an expatriate American living in Paris who happens on a small piano repair shop in his left bank neighborhood.  His efforts to gain entry into the shop are finally rewarded and he eventually becomes part of a group of local musicians and music lovers who use the shop as their gathering place.

Rashi’s Daughters, Book I Jocheved, Book II Miriam, Book III Rachel, by Maggie Anton
Maggie Anton has done a wonderful job researching life in Isaac ben Salomon’s (the man we know as Rashi) twelfth century France.  Rashi’s three daughters pray with tefillin and study Talmud, both practices not usually open to women.  They also fall in love, make wine, raise sheep, deliver babies, loan money, believe in demons and ghosts, disagree, hope, survive the first crusade, maybe even write commentary on the Talmud.  No one knows for sure.  And it’s all told beautifully.

note:  links are to my favorite local bookstore, Book Passage, and are not paid.