Reading Matters

Kim Church’s five most memorable books

The Bible, where "the least of these" are lifted up.

A Room for Cathy, by Catherine Woolley is a 1956 Scholastic Book I read many years before I discovered Virginia Woolf. Cathy, determined to have a private space in her family’s tiny house, transforms a corner of the dank basement. She decorates with fabric scraps; she builds bookcases out of planks and concrete blocks -- ingenious! I thought (I was 8). Having no room of my own, I found sanctuaries elsewhere: on the roof, on a swing, in a makeshift tree house (more a platform than a house), in the way back of my mother’s station wagon, in my grandfather’s tool shed, in the woods, in the middle of an empty field.

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. Up until the conventional, disappointing ending (Jo gets married and gives up her writing), I loved the story, a celebration of sisterhood, love, ambition, imagination and feistiness.

A Patch of Blue, by Elizabeth Kata (published in 1961 and originally titled Be Ready with Bells and Drums). Our local librarian, thinking me too young at 11 for an interracial romance, refused to let me check out this novel. So I bought it with my own money, my first act of protest against censorship.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The book I’ve re-read most since childhood. From it I learned empathy, the importance of championing the underdog, and the staying power of a good story.

Kim Church of Raleigh is the author of the award-winning debut novel, "Byrd," a recent winner of the Crooks Corner Book Prize. "Byrd" is a semi-finalist for the Chautauqua Award, presented by the Chautauqua Institution of New York.  


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