HEART OF DARKNESS, By Joseph Conrad. This is the book that made me want to become a writer. Everything about it - the journey into the center of Africa, the story-within-a-story-within-a-story structure, the ambiguity of the ending - absolutely dazzled me.
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, By John Irving. Irving can get a little wacky, but this is him at his best. The book has so much heart as it explores the themes of redemption and forgiveness. (And for once there was a movie that did a book justice!)
BIRD by BIRD, By Anne Lamott. Still the best book on what it means to be a writer. And Lamott never loses her sense of humor, even when she's talking about the most Godawful parts of the process.
AVOCADO BABY, By John Birmingham. This was my children's favorite book when they were little. It's all about a baby who eats an avocado and becomes abnormally strong, the defender of his family and his neighborhood. I recently dug it out to read to my 2-year-old granddaughter, and let me tell you - the story holds up.
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THE HUNGER GAMES, By Suzanne Collins. I added this because I usually never like what other people like. I never finished a volume of the Harry Potter series, or got into Anne Rice like all my friends did back in the day, and I'm the only person I know who didn't like “The Help.” Don't even get me going on Gone Girl or 50 Shades of Grey. But this is a popular book that I gobbled up like candy and I think Collins deserves everyone of the seventy gazillion dollars she got for writing it.
KIM WRIGHT of Charlotte is the author of the novels “Love in Mid Air” and “The Unexpected Waltz,” and a third, “The Canterbury Sisters,” out next month. She is also an award-winning journalist and two time recipient of the Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Writing.