Characters, Fiction, Novel, Read, Voice, Writing

Books that haunt you

I don’t know why, but lately I’ve felt the urge to re-read Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I have three books I’m reading right now, and many others in the queue, but I’m haunted by Empire Falls. I enjoyed the book the first time around, but I wouldn’t have ranked it as one of my all-time favorites, and yet now I’m compelled to read it again. Something new must wait for me within the pages.

I don’t claim to be widely or well-read in the classics, classics-to-be, or even recent best sellers. To be honest, I can’t always tell you how books find their way onto my to-be-read list. Perhaps the booklist fairy adds them according to my previous reads … sort of like Netflix recommending movies to me. Some automatic entries are books by favorite authors … a new Anne Tyler due out the end of this year, YAY! And I do jot down names of books that friends suggest, or I see while reading blogs, or hear mentioned in writers’ groups, but many of these I never finish. Reading tastes are personal. The book has to resonate with me.

I’m not in school, I don’t review books, nor do I have time to waste, so I only read what appeals to me … what speaks to me.

And sometimes a character’s voice echoes back years later, prompting me to restart the dialogue. Among the voices that speak to me most loudly, but in no particular order, are:

  • Celie’s in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple
  • Scout’s in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Maggie’s in Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons
  • Mason’s in Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist
  • Ivy’s in Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies
  • Eleanor’s in Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House
  • Sayward’s in Conrad Richter’s trilogy, The Trees, The Fields , The Town
  • Julie’s in Robert Morgan’s Gap Creek
  • Ninah’s in Sheri Reynold’s Rapture of Canaan (and probably Kenny’s in her newest The Sweet In-Between)

NOW … won’t you please share with me your list of books that haunt you?  Maybe you’ll help me discover a new favorite.

17 thoughts on “Books that haunt you”

  1. I was waiting for a new post…but you’re still getting hits on this one, so it makes sense that you’ll leave it up for a while…plus…you’re probably hard at work writing…

    I have an off topic question…is the artwork in your beautiful banner yours?


    1. Sorry to disappoint, Karen, it was critique group week and I was hosting, which meant I absolutely had to do some housework. Now, I’m trying to think of something to write for my next blog post.

      No, my banner is not my artwork. I’m primarily a portrait artist … and I do see a woman’s head in that banner. But I have a bare bathroom wall just begging for something splashed with color, so who knows?


  2. the Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is the most recent awesomely haunting book I’ve read. I know I’ll keep posting as I think of them. Oh, and The Lost Choice by Andy Andrews. the Green Mile by Stephen King.

    To Kill a Mockingbird will always stand out as haunting since I read it as a child and the mood has stayed with me.

    There have been books so good that I would have a period of depression afterwards that I finished.


    1. I’m embarrassed to say I’ve not yet read Poisonwood Bible, though I do now own a copy, so it’s in the stack to be read. Don’t know Lost Choice, but until the last few years, I kept up with King.

      Do you mean you were depressed because you didn’t want the book to end? I’ve read books where I deliberately rationed out the last couple chapters for that reason.


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