Books I Love


rom my shelf of forever-loved books…I don’t keep every book I read because some of them don’t deserve it, but I make sure to keep the ones I love….they continue, sitting on my bookshelves, through osmosis, to fill my heart and mind with their brilliance, that’s why I keep them nearby. I need all the help I can get.

ooks I’ve read, old and new; loved, and am happy to recommend (in no particular order). As I read new, really good ones, I’ll add them to this list.  I’ve also joined Goodreads, which is a wonderful place to read reviews, and to get and make recommendations.


  • Gone with the Wind Margaret Mitchell
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
  • Anne Frank, Beyond the Diary Ruud van der Rol (Intro by Anna Quindlen)
  • West with the Night Beryl Markham
  • Heartburn Nora Ephron
  • Hawaii James Michener
  • Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
  • The World According to Garp John Irving
  • The Piano Jane Campion
  • Everything Barbara Pym has written, start with Excellent Womenpurse
  • Anything by Gladys Taber but most especially Best of Stillmeadow
  • A Good Man in Africa William Boydpurse
  • A Stranger in a Strange Land Robert A. Heinlein
  • Einstein’s Dreams Alan Lightmanpurse
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain Charles Neiderpurse
  • The Passion of Ayn Rand Barbara Brandon
  • Enchanted April Elizabeth von Arnimpurse
  • Elizabeth and Her German Garden Elizabeth von Arnim

  • The Help Kathryn Stockett
  • Charms for the Easy Life Kaye Gibbonspurse
  • To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee
  • A Short Guide To A Happy Life Anna Quindlenpurse
  • Schindler’s List Thomas Keneally
  • Abigail Adams Charles W. Akers
  • Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
  • Bridget Jones Diary Helen Fieldingpurse
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Source James Michener
  • Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand (pronounce her name ein)
  • The Accidental Tourist Anne Tyler
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • East of Eden John Steinbeck
  • A Woman of Independent Means Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
  • Love in the time of Cholera Gabriel
    Garcia Marquezpurse
  • Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
  • Little Women Louisa May Alcott
  • The Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldonpurse
  • Portrait of a Marriage Nigel Nicholsonpurse
  • The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Choprapurse
  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
  • The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
  • The Prince of Tides Pat Conroy
  • Postcards from the Edge Carrie Fisher
  • Marjorie Morningstar Herman Wouk
  • My Brilliant Career Miles Franklin
  • Stieg Larsson series starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Pillars of the Earth Ken Folletpurse
  • Pollyanna (of course) Eleanor H. Porter
  • A Year in Provence by Peter Maylepurse
  • A Fire in the Mind Joseph Campbell
  • Like Water for Chocolate Laura Esquivel
  • Roy Rogers, King of the Cowboys Georgia Morris
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Mortonpurse

Old books are fun to collect…

Some old children’s books
have wonderful drawings…
CHILDREN’S BOOKSAndrew Lang’s Fairy Books, starting in 1889
The Poky Little Puppy 1942
The Tale of Peter Rabbit 1902
The Country Child 1931
Tootle 1945
The Saggy Baggy Elephant 1947
Scuffy the Tugboat 1955
Pat the Bunny 1940
All-of-a-Kind Family 1951
Green Eggs and Ham 1957
The Cat in the Hat 1960
The Littlest Angel 1946
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish 1960
The Very Busy Spider 1985
Good Night Moon 1991

love old garden books, but if I could only have one, by far, this is the one! It’s called the “Western Garden Book” but the west includes Colorado and Lake Tahoe, snowy areas and deserts, coastal and inland…so limiting this book to the West is so unfair to everyone else in the USA! I have this book at my house in New England and in California; it has the best photos and descriptions; it’s a huge plant encyclopedia; everything is alphabetical; I give it 5 stars! Get it on Amazon… you will love it!

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591 Responses to Books I Love

  1. Lori says:

    Just finished reading the Help and can’t wait for the movie to come out this summer. By the way, perhaps you could include a list of favorite movies too?

  2. Laura Croyle says:

    I discovered a little old Gladys Taber gift book in a used bookstore last winter and lo and behold, not long afterwards, you featured her and her books in your Willard newsletter! That began my hunt to find more of her books and I hit paydirt at another used booktsore about 20 miles from my home. I almost bought them all! I love reading her books in bed at the end of the day. They are so relaxing and and make it easy to drift off to sleep. Thanks for recommending her!

  3. Oh Susan – I have a great suggestion for you. When I was small I found books of my mother’s. Josephine Lawrence wrote a series of Children’s book for preteen girls in the 1920’s. They are just lovely. My favorites are the Rosemary books, but Christine and The Berry Patch are pretty special, too. I still love to re-read them on a summer’s afternoon.

  4. Eileen Ciccone says:

    I’ve never known anyone else who knew of (and loved) the All-of-a-Kind Family series of books! How exciting to see that name on your list. I consider it a history lesson. And a wonderful read as well.

    • Pat Simon says:

      I am happy to say, as librarian, in my school library sits a copy of “All of a Kind Family”. My girls love it, the boys read it on the sneak (can’t be seen reading a “girl” book but they HAVE to know what it is all about), and I sit and read it sometimes when I need a bit of comfort.

      • sbranch says:

        I loved the penny candy and when coins were hidden to find during dusting. Happy to hear they still read it– they will remember their childhood someday and that old fashioned concept called “books.” 🙂

  5. Pat Mofjeld says:

    My best friend and I loved to read Butternut Wisdom in the Family Circle in the 1960’s. That is what inspired me to collect Gladys Tabor’s books back then. I have a shelf of her books and when I need an “escape”, I pull one down. The Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, and newer ones–the Miss Julia series by Anne B. Ross and the Mitford series by Jan Karon–also are wonderful reading!!! What would we do if we couldn’t read??? 🙂

  6. Jennifer says:

    I have brought my family to the Vineyard from Arizona this week primarily because of your cookbooks. Someone gave me Vineyard Season’s for my wedding in 1991 and I have been a fan ever since. Thank you – books can truly inspire. P.S your sugar cookie recipe (or should I say Miss Elaine’s) is everyone’s favorite.

  7. Diane Bennett says:

    Love All-of-a-kind family books and how about Betsy-Tacy books? As far as adult books, a new book set in England , is Major Pettigrew Takes a Stand. Has anyone read the books by D.E. Stevenson or Mabel Esther Allen from England? They are older but great reads.
    I have to tell my Gladys Taber story…my Finnish grandmother passed away when I was 12. I loved to visit with her, but never paid attention to her books-I thought they were mostly in Finnish. I was able to choose any of the books I wanted to keep and as a 12 year old was draw to the Stillmeadow books. I didn’t read them until I was older, but I was so glad I had chosen them at a young age.

    • Susan Adams says:

      How I loved the Betsy-Tacy books as an 8 year old. You cannot imagine my joy when they were republished in the 1990’s, just in time for me to read them to my daughter. We were twice blessed!

      • Wanda Styrsky says:

        One of my daughters has all the Betsy-Tacy books. We even made a summer trip from Texas to Minnesota just to see the houses where they lived! She is now 26 and a budding writer!

        • Cindy in South Carolina says:

          The Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace are my favorite books. They’ve been released in beautiful new covers so they should be widely available now. (They seem to be hard to find in libraries.) Be sure to read the books for older readers – the high school books, the European Tour book, the wedding book, and the non-Betsy books: Emily of Deep Valley and Carney’s House Party. Emily is considered to be MHL’s finest (although I’m partial to Betsy) so don’t miss it! Carney is a great old-fashioned romance. The younger books are illustrated by Lois Lenski and the others by the lovely Vera Neville. I re-read these books all the time!

          • Janet [in Rochester] says:

            Cindy: this 56-year old is SO glad to know she is not the only “chronologically-challenged” individual out there who still enjoys the Betsy-Tacy books. Happy reading! :>)

      • annie knapp says:

        And how about the Miss Read books…set in a darling English village….they are wonderful!

    • Dianne says:

      I loved Major Pettigrew Takes a Stand. May I suggest Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (I believe that is the correct title).

  8. Bernie Gardiner says:

    Hi, Everyone – I’m intrigued with all the good things I’ve heard about Gladys Taber and would love to know which book of hers you would suggest for me. I’m afraid I don’t know anything about her, other than what I’ve read on site, but would love some guidance before I go on line to Amazon. I live in England and so will have to order from America. Obviously, I want to make sure the one I buy is the one I’m going to love most of all. Cookery/country/home are my main interests. Can anyone help me make the right choice, please? With many thanks. Bernie

  9. CAROL OLIVER says:


  10. Joyce says:

    Have you ever read Elswyth Thane, Rosamunde Pilcher, Robert Nathan, Frances Mayes, Mary Kay Andrews, Curtiss Ann Matlock? Wonderful authors.

    • Eileen Ciccone says:

      “Under the Tuscan Sun” (Frances Mayes) in particular is a terrific book. Part memoir, part travel, part cookbook… Nothing like the movie!

    • Diane Bennett says:

      I love Rosamunde Pilcher!!
      I haven’t heard if anyone is familiar with D.E. Stevenson. They are such great books.

      • Tracy says:

        I love D. E. Stevenson! She is my very favorite author. When I need comfort, need to feel nurtured, I turn to Dorothy Emily. She makes me so happy! You can read them in any order, but I’d start with Bel Lamington, and then read Fletchers End, the sequel. The Mrs. Tim series is wonderful too. Those you probably should read in order. I have enjoyed every one of her books that I’ve read. Highly recommended!

      • annie knapp says:

        If you like Rosamunde Pilcher, try Catherine Alliott (my favorite is Rosie Meadows Regrets, and she has a new one coming out in March), or Rebecca Shaw (her village series is wonderful, similar to Jan Karon’s Mitford books, but set in England). Oh, and there’s Victoria Clayton, too (another British novelist) — you can find her books and all these others on Amazon.

  11. Laurie says:

    A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel is one of my very favorites. Hope you’ll enjoy it too!

  12. Vickie says:

    Susan…I just discovered your website and blog…so glad I did. Your book list has inspired me to relax and read more. Your artwork and books are so beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Peggy Cooper says:

    I am another Rosamunde Pilcher fan – especially loved “The Shell Seekers”. For newer books “The Help” and “Secret Life of Bees” are two that come to mind as favorites.

  14. Lesley Fleming says:

    Susan, if you like Pat Conroy, have you read Beach Music? It was wonderful! If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. 🙂 xo

  15. Mary Jomisko says:

    When Rosamunde Pilcher was mentioned I too thought of “The Shell Seekers” and how I had a hard time “getting into it” but once I did, I didn’t want it to end. Also glad someone mentioned “The Secret Life of Bees” Sue Monk Kidd. It’s a favorite. Also, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith. I try to encourage my grandchildren to read and one of them likes sitting up in my tree as a favorite reading spot. Thanks Susan for all that you share. I love to read anything in your handwriting and wish that there was a “Susan Branch” font.

    • Bobbie Ann Picard says:

      I loved “The Shell Seekers” and the movie, as well!!

    • judy young says:

      My favorite of Rosamunde Pilcher was “Winter Solstice”, enchanting!

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Mine too. I re-read it every winter. I’ve almost memorized it, lol. I believe it was her last book and in my opinion, her best. I have most of her books, bought one at a time in thrift stores. Her son Robin also writes and his books are good, too. My mom used to say you are never alone if you have a book to read.

  16. Laurie says:

    So pleased to have recently discovered your blog, but have enjoyed your cookbooks for years (as gifts from special friends and family.) Anyone who loves Gladys Taber (my mom was the original fan and I loved tracking down her Cape Cod house in Orleans), Anne of Green Gables, Rebecca, Marjorie Morningstar, A Year in Provence, All Creatures Great and Small, and Pollyanna is a “kindred spirit.” If you haven’t already read any of the “Miss Read” books (Fairacre and Thrush Green series) they are gentle, country, and so very British (and fun to listen to if you like audiobooks–CLAMS has several!) I’ll look forward to your blog any will keep my eye out for any of your book-signings on the Cape.

    • Chanda says:


      I know this is posted looooong after yours, but I had to say it….

      I also LOVE the Miss Read books!!! Some of my favorites are Mrs. Pringle and of course the bittersweet ones, Farewell to Fairacre and A Peaceful Retirement.


  17. Ann says:

    I spied The Country Child by Alison Uttley in your pile – she wrote a number of books of remeniscences of her childhood, my favourite being Ambush of Younger Days. You’d love them all Susan. In her biography she said she physically ached for her childhood home and family and reading about her happy life on the farm I totally understand it.

  18. Cheryll Dale says:

    I just found your site through the article in Where Women Create Aug. edition 2011. I was so enchanted by all of your pictures, whimsical sayings, quotes, and bio notes, that I wanted more. Truly delightful blog, and so happy I have found you. So many of the books listed I have not heard of, so I have some reading to do. Thank you so much.

  19. Dianne says:

    So pleased to see so many readers who are fond of Rosamunde Pilcher. I love her books, and I would find it difficult to name a favorite. I consider her books my friends, and I re-read some of them on an annual basis (just to visit with my friends again). Winter Solstice is , perhaps, one of my favorites. Although I must admit that I am still looking for my Oscar Blundell. Another favorite author is Joanna Trollope.

  20. Suzanne Feeney says:

    I am drowning in books! I can see how convenient e-books are but not have stacks of books around would make a home so sterile. I noticed The Forgotten Garden in one of your photos. I have just become aquainted with Kate Morton. What a lovely writer. She takes you along on her characters journeys and you can almost feel the breeze. My granddaughter has developed a great love for books and she has become a fan of the poetry of AA Milne. I gave her 2 books that had been my mothers and each spring she calls me and recites the poem “Daffadandillys”. Now she is reading my copy of The Wind in the Willows.
    What a joy to see young people reading. Your blog is my “first thing in the morning treat”, even before coffee! Thanks

  21. Kathy Thompson says:

    Susan…Have you ever read Gladys Taber’s “Conversations with Amber.” It’s sooooo sweet. One of my favorites. My copy is tattered and worn from many years worth of reading since I was a little girl. Her name is not as well known as it used to be. Thanks for introducing her to everyone!

  22. Linda Pintarell says:

    Just finished one of your favorite books – “Enchanted April” – then watched the movie the next night. What a treat!

    • Mary S. says:

      Just have to comment here – Enchanted April is one of my favorite books, and my very favorite movie!! It makes me happy to see others enjoying it!! Yay!

      • Laura says:

        Enchanted April is my second favorite movie ever…after Out of Africa. My favorite scene is when they finally get to San Salvatore, wake in the morning and open the shuttered french windows and gaze out upon the gardens overflowing with blossom, the sun and the heavenly sea….oh, sigh….

  23. Beverly says:

    Growing up, I so enjoyed many of the books on your list. All of Louisa May Alcott’s books were on my shelf, and I enjoyed “Little Men” just as much as “Little Women”. As an adult, I discovered Rosamund Pilcher and Maeve Binchy (“Circle of Friends”). I am so glad to have discovered your website and look forward to exploring so many great recommendations.

  24. Michele Cislo says:

    Love the book selections. How about Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindburgh? It is a woman’s anthem to me.

  25. Deb Hurst says:

    What wonderful book suggestions! I’ve read many of those mentioned and look forward to reading those I haven’t. Marjorie K. Rawlings is one of my favorites.
    Cross Creek Cookery is a classic (also an “old Florida” history lesson).
    Unforgettable! Susan, love your website! You’ve made my life so much better. I have all your books and hope you will write another one in the future.

    • Barbie Tabb, Wolverine Lk MI says:

      Marjorie Keenan Rawlings’ home in Florida is a museum! You can visit it, see her car, her typewriter, walk around her yard, and just invision the yearling walking out of the woods! It’s in Micanopy FL (or just outside it) and Micanopy is the place where they filmed the movie Cross Creek. (and also filmed Doc Hollywood 🙂 I’ve been there several times, very historic and lovely – graceful old town. When my father retired to FL I took him there since he lived only several miles away, after that he took all visiting guests who came to visit him.

  26. Betsy says:

    If you are blessed to find any Miss Read books do grab them. Some libraries still have them on the shelves. They are wonderful stories about little towns in England and the people who live there. My favorites are Village Christmas and The Christmas Mouse.

  27. Mary S. says:

    I must add my very favorite books and author. Very difficult to find, for some reason. Bess Streeter Aldrich. Her best books are: SONG OF YEARS; A LANTERN IN HER HAND; A WHITE BIRD FLYING (sequel to Lantern); SPRING CAME ON FOREVER; MISS BISHOP. Wonderful books, with rich characterizations. I read them over and over and over 🙂
    And Susan, you must read FALLING FOR A DANCER!!!
    Good source for old books:

    • Marcy says:

      Thanks for the old book site! I have all the Bess Streeter Aldrich books and love them. They are so innocent and sweet. I inherited them from my mother, who inherited them from her mother. When I turn the now thick pages I sense both of them sharing the books with me as I read. Along the same line, a book I read once a year is Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter. I want to live in that book!

      • Mary S. says:

        I have many of G.S. Porter’s books. I have KEEPER OF THE BEES but haven’t read it yet, and this really motivates me to do so!! So far, my favorite one is GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST. Thanks, Marcy!!

  28. Karen P says:

    I love many of the books that you’ve listed as your favs, too, Susan! Betsy, I just checked out the 2 Miss Read books that you listed as your favs….can’t wait to read them! But, I have to mention one of my favorite new authors, Sarah Addison Allen. I happened upon her first book, Garden Spells, because I was attracted by the book cover artwork (see, Susan, art is sooooo important, isn’t it!). Took the book home and have been hooked ever since on her books. Am currently reading her new book, The Peach Keeper. Her books have a little romance….a little mystery and intrigue….a little fantasy. They just keep you hooked and I always find it hard to put down then am sad when I’m done reading it because I realize I will have to wait until her next book is published! I found Susan Wittig Albert’s “The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter” books that way, too….was attracted to the cover (a little shallow of me, perhaps?). They’re wonderful stories, too. Sooooooo much good stuff to read…so little time!

  29. Pat Mofjeld says:

    I just “discovered” the Southern Sisters mysteries this summer. (There are 8 books in the series and you should read them in order if possible!) by Anne George. These stories are good mysteries but not bloody or gorey–fun and laugh-out-loud at the interactions of the two very different sisters. Just good summer reading…also, found there is a new sequel to The Outlanders called An Echo in the Bone by Diana Galbaldon…And one of my other favorite books is And The Ladies Of The Club by Santemeyer (sp?)…. 🙂

  30. Susan T says:

    Wow! I just found this site and I love it! I hear/feel kindred spirits…I am a lover of books also and it makes my happy to know others feel the same.

  31. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    I was going to suggest Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier but Laurie beat me to it! The movie is really wonderful too! Old black and white – wonderful! Love all the suggestions. Makes one want to go scouting in the book areas of antique stores!

  32. Nancy Farrell says:

    My husband and I retired to Cape Cod after teaching for many years. I wrote a letter to Susan Branch many years ago and sent her a picture of our children and our best friends’ children jumping on a trampoline. I mentioned how we always had a Susan Branch Brunch on Christmas morning. We also spent 14 summers at Martha’s Vineyard and many days passing by Susan’s house in Vineyard Haven. I recieved a wonderful response letter which I will cherish forever.
    Now I will respond about books. Geraldine Brooks, a local author, was at the Wequasset Inn in Harwich this summer and she has written some of my favorite books. Check out her latest called Caleb’s Crossing about a Native American who graduates from Harvard after being raised on Martha’s Vineyard. Her other books that I love are People Of The Book and Year Of Wonders.
    Nancy Farrell

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Nancy …. I think I’ve heard of Caleb’s Crossing . . . isn’t that more or less a true story?

      • Kelly J. says:

        Don’t forget March by Geraldine Brooks….it won the Pulitzer, and it’s a remarkable story about the father from Alcott’s Little Women that takes place during the same time frame as Little Women. A very well written insider’s take on the Civil War…..

  33. Karen P says:

    Just finished reading A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg which was recommended in one of the blogs by one of the “girlfriends” here. LOVED IT!!!! A wonderful, warm, heartfelt story that brings happy tears (and some sad) along the way. Thanks for recommending it (can’t find the blog so I’m not sure who it was!).

    • sbranch says:

      Me too, just finished it!

      • Marcy says:

        And Fanny Flagg’s Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven is wonderful. As a result of that book my neighbors and I started a “sunset club” because, as Fanny says, no two sunsets are ever the same….you need to take the time to see them all.

  34. HaileyK says:

    I have to tell you that as I scanned your favorites list my heart SkIPPED a beat when my eyes came to rest on Of Human Bondage!!! This is one of my all time favorite books I read it for the first time in 9th grade and fell in love! So few people these days seem to even know of it; but alas they that know of it most have not read it…It warmed my heart to see that you not only have read it but that it is on your favorites!! Here! Here! to favorite books that we can go back to time and time again!

  35. Esther says:

    I caught my breath when I saw “West into the Night” by Beryl Markham. A friend suggested I read it before taking a trip to Africa – it is one of his favorite books. At the Manyara Airstrip, we boarded a small, eight passenger plane. Entering from the back and squeezing our way single file and half stooped up to the front, my girlfriend and I were rewarded with front seats and a warm smile from our pilot, Rebecca. I commented, “You’re our modern-day Beryl Markham!” She beamed and replied, “You read the book?!”…Rebecca told us that we were in luck because the wildebeest had begun their migration just two days prior. As she flew, we could see the fog in Ngorongoro Crater and about 45 minutes later, she banked the plane and we got our first glimpse of the great migration in the distance. A circle over the Kogatende Airstrip, making certain it was clear of animals, then the bouncy landing and the start of our Serengeti adventure. I loved seeing this book on your list!

    • sbranch says:

      It is such a wonderful book, first book I felt compelled to get out a yellow highlighter, some of the words and phrases are too beautiful to ever forget. Your adventure sounds amazing.

  36. Katherine says:

    In case you didn’t know–because not many people do, Anne of Green Gables is a series containing 8 books and they’re all great!

  37. karen saunders says:

    I love books too. When I was a child I read all the time. My favorite thing was to walk barefooted to the library. (I just loved the smell of the books.) I want a store like Meg Ryan had in ‘You’ve got Mail’. My favorite book is ‘The Wizard of Oz.’

    • sbranch says:

      If you get that store, I will come shop there!

    • Mary S. says:

      Karen, I have always been that way, too! I LOVED the library when I was a young girl. I would ride my bike there every week and load up my basket. It was heaven to me, opening the door and seeing all those books to choose from. I’m still that way, except now I buy them all!!!

      • Karen P. -Wisconsin says:

        Same with me! Every Saturday with BFF….head downtown to the “dimestore” to by penny candy with our weekly allowance and then stock up with books for the week. Wonderful memories! I STILL love the library but, Mary, I’m like you….have to buy them all!!!! Love Amazon and….

      • Dianne says:

        I, too, love the library- and book stores. Does anyone else miss the card catalog and the card system? I used to love to scan the names on the to see if any of my friends had already read the book I was checking out. When Karen opens her bookstore, I, too, want to visit.

    • Karen P. -Wisconsin says:

      Oh, and Karen, if you get that quaint little store PLEASE let me come work there with you! Karen and Karen…..I love it!

  38. Regina says:

    Love books so much, always have. It all started with Nancy Drew way back when and I have a small collection of her books from the 1960’s early ’70’s which were the ones I read. It’s amazing how much pleasure my books give me. One of my favorite authors is Marjorie Holmes. Her writing is so descriptive and beautiful. One of my favorites is “At Christmas the Heart Goes Home.” My favorite chapter, which I’ve shared with my siblings, is Ms. Holmes talking about sitting around the Sears Roebuck catalog making her wish list. The anticipation waiting for that catalog to come in the mail was almost as exciting as Christmas Day! She has many books and can usually be found in used book stores. If you haven’t read her, put her next on your list.

  39. April O'Toole says:

    I love the range of your reading materials…. Thanks for the suggestions! I too love Rosamunde Pilcher, the Miss Read books, and all of Kate Morton. The best book of the summer was “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson. I loved everything about it….even the cover! I remember reading in one of your books how you liked to leave a little surprise in books that you loved reading for the next library patron…..a bookmark, a pressed flower, etc. That is such a small but wonderful way to spread kindness and joy to others. Thank you for all you do to make the world a happier place!

  40. Anne Rowe says:

    As a child in first grade, I read the most books of any student, and was gifted by my teacher with a book(what else!) called”Mugguns”, about a cat. I still own this book, dated 1946, and am amused that I mispelled my middle name on the flyleaf. perhaps that is why I became such a spelling demon all through school into present! I own many of the books on your lists, and enjoy Rosamond Pilcher, Anita Shreve, Maeve Binchy etc.. Christmases always brought gifts of books…I rec’d. The Bobbsey Twin series over many years, and my favorite in grade school was “Caddie woodlawn”. Seeing that you enjoy Mark Twain, I know you would enjoy The Diary of Adam and Eve, which I melieve he wrote as a gift to his wife. It is one of the funniest books I have ever read! You might add the movie,”84 Charingcross Road”to your list…all about books, of course. I still cry each time I watch it. Thanks so much for connecting all your girls on one site…it is MARVELOUS!

    • sbranch says:

      Love having everyone here!!! Thank you Anne!

    • Dianne says:

      I am so plwased to see you mention Caddie Woodlawn. It was a favorite of mine when I was growing up. In fact, I have re-read it twice as an adult. It is unfortunate that the book is not as well known today (or does not appear to be where I live). The message is just as important today, as it was when the book was published. Perhaps more so.

  41. Crystal says:

    How lovely to see some of my favorites on your list! I am a long-time fan of your work and treasure my much loved copies of all your books. It just isn’t a holiday at our house without spinach balls on the table! I definitely cast my vote for the Miss Read and Kate Morton books. Since you liked Peter Mayle, I thought I would suggest two other beautiful French-themed non-fiction books: “Words in a French Life” by Kristin Espinasse and “Paris to the Moon” by Adam Gopnick. Loved them both!

  42. sally baker says:

    Love the idea of a bookclub blog! I loved Charms for the Easy Life…Are you aware it has been made into a movie?

  43. sally baker says:

    me again…just thought of something of interest. I’m a Southern gal and have been to Cross Creek, home of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings several times. You really can feel her presence there. If you go, look for the kitty bed on the back porch and an old quilt in it. I gave the quilt because it was so ugly that none of my friends wanted it, but I knew the cat would appreciate it.
    I think it is wonderful how books can connect people…

  44. Laura says:

    I have read and loved the Elm Creek Quilters books by Jennifer Chiaverini. I have to confess to a slight obsession with old quilts. These books are easy reads and wonderful stories….especially the parts about the civil war and the role of quilts and the Underground Railroad.

  45. Laura says:

    And…Katrina Kennison’s Mitten Strings for God and An Ordinary Day….beautiful heartfelt books about motherhood…love them and keep them close by!

  46. Karen P. says:

    I picked up the most enchanting book today at a thrift store…”The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady” by Edith Holden. It’s a completely handwritten and watercolored diary of this woman who journal nature around her for a year…1906. Haven’t read it yet but it’s gorgeous. Reminds me a bit of your books, Susan, minus the recipes.

    • sbranch says:

      I have that book! But for some reason, I’ve never gotten around to actually reading it! 🙂 If you do, tell me how it is!

      • Karen P says:

        I think what I’m going to do, since it’s a diary, is start in January and read it as the days go by when I’m writing in my new “Days from the Heart of the Home” journal! It is such a sweet book. I read the first few entries…makes me want to take notice more of what is going on around me in nature….AND I went and ordered her other book “Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady” from Amazon last night!

        • Marcy says:

          I hope you’ll love your Days from the Heart of the Home daybook as much as I do. I have kept one every day since 1997. Now when I go into my study I see them all lined up on one shelf….a stretch of green memories. I can look up the first freeze of the year, or when I got my last tetnus shot. I can also go back and read the entries that include my mom and the fun things we did together now that I can’t have coffee with her at her kitchen table any more. This year I ordered enough to give one to my sister and one to each member of my book club.

  47. Diane says:

    Anyone who loves England will enjoy Susan Allen Toth’s books about her travels there. Joyce Dennys’s HENRIETTA books are a joy. Agatha Christie’s AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY is like visiting with my grandmother. The bookstores in London have Arnold Bennett in the “classics” section. Most people in this country have never heard of him!

  48. Connie Cazort says:

    Hello Susan,
    I just love your blog!
    Do you have a list of favorite films?
    Films that make you laugh?
    Thanks so much for all you share.

  49. Lorraine says:

    Hello Book Lovers,
    Susan, your list is fabulous! I see many favorites and some I have always wanted to read and some I never heard of, but now am going to read! Definitely waiting for your new book to pore over. It is interesting, fun and revealing to see a list of someone’s favorite books as a child and as an adult. I am so glad I “found” you many years ago, and am happy for those just discovering you now. I do have a suggestion for a series I find that is a lot of fun. They are the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich starting with “One for the Money”.They are not heartwarming, but definitely laugh out loud funny! Enjoy!
    May your New Year be filled with laughter, love, magic, abundance and books!

  50. Sherry Svoboda says:

    Susan I Love books just as you do especially vintage and antique Christmas books . I found a copy of “Once Upon A Christmas Time by George R Sims” @ma quaint book shop in Gloucestershire UK and was thrilled as a child in a candy store and to my amazement to see you own the very same book featured on your Christmas blog. I recently found a copy of “The Fireside book of Christmas Stories and Home for Christmas to add to my ever growing collection. Thank you for alway bringing a smile to face and for having this fabulous blog that I can visit everyday. Love your photos and just Love You. Your kitties are pretty
    wonderful too!

    • sbranch says:

      Thanks so much Sherry, so glad to have you here!

    • judy young says:

      Recently found an old Christmas children’s book, (a First Edition), entitled A Month of Christmases by Siddie Joe Johnson. It was printed in 1952! It is a story of children visiting their aunt and uncle in Fredericksburg, Texas. It is a hardback and sold for $2.50!! What a find!

  51. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Good Morning! I’ve just printed this wonderful list, thank you for taking the time to make it for us! I visited my favorite used book store last week, a nice young couple with young children & it was an amazing store (& they had a huge wonderful cat to pet while browsing!) – gone – closed – made me very sad! I’ll be looking for your fave books, elsewhere now, shucks! Have a great Monday! I get to go to lunch with the Bridgeless Bridge Babes & go see the “Iron Lady”! A great way to start the week!

  52. Kathryn Hemstead says:

    Oh I just love all of the books you’ve listed Susan. I’ve been a fan for so many years and now I have the pleasure of reading your blog and following you on facebook. Isn’t it fascinating how we love the old stuff and thrive with some of the new.

    I am very active on It’s a free website where I keep of list of all the books I have read, want to read, or recommendations. Anyone can join. I have listed all of your listed books in a folder called Susan Branch Recommendations and I’ve listed all of the books everyone has mentioned in the replies here in a folder called Susan Branch Friends. Once you have signed up just look me up and you can see them all and LOTS of other books as well.

    I also typed up your favorite movies into an excel file if anyone is interested. My husband and I are having fun going through the list and finding ones we’ve not seen and ordering from Netflix.

    You bring such joy to all of our lives. And those kitties, my oh my what fun. I have a black kittie, Gracie, and just love her to pieces.

    Thank you to all who have made comments here. I so love reading and love it when I find book titles I’ve never heard of but are recommended.

    It would be fun if we started a book a month for all of us to read together.

  53. Kelly J. says:

    Anna Quindlen is one of my all time favorite writers too! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her twice at book signings following lectures, and she was quite like the voice you hear in her writing; down-to-earth & oh so smart 🙂 She is publishing a memoir in April called Plenty of Candles, Lots of Cake…..I can’t wait!

    • sbranch says:

      I adore her.

      • Victoria Rankin says:

        I’m so glad I’m reading this. I have never read her novels but love her non-fiction that she reads herself on cd. Looking forward to the memoir!

        • Victoria Rankin says:

          Oops. Wanted to say one more thing. Have you ever read Lisa Scottoline’s memoirs? So down to earth and fun. She writes legal thrillers which I have never read because it’s just not a genre I’m interested in but she also writes a column in Philly and the memoirs are a compilation. One of them is called Why my third husband will be a dog and she also did one with her daughter (although I did not like the daughter’s contributions as much) called My nest isn’t empty, I just have more closet space. Very fun.

  54. lynne neal says:

    Dear Susan, if you love England and books , I am sure that you must have read the Lucy.m.Boston books, starting with the Children of Green Knowe, illustrated woodcuts by her son Peter. There are a few books in the series and you tube have the movie the Children of Green knowe by the BBC,
    Its about a house and ghosts and stories, also read about Lucy Bostons house that inspired these books it fascinating.

  55. Well Sweetie, I’m aghast at your list, its so stellar. I’m throwing one back at you. ‘Old Herbaceous’ by Reginald Arkell. (A look into the life of a gardener in the 19th century in novel form). I have a feeling you will fall right into the story.

  56. Vicki Rankin says:

    Hi. Just received my first Willard in my email. What a complete delight! I have since been clicking on your links and came upon this blog. I am a huge bookworm (work in a public library.) I have a couple of books I think you might like according to your romantic nature. You may have already read them but I didn’t find them on your list.
    1) I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (written in the 40’s, very romantic, a GREAT read, but not many people seem to know of it) and
    2) Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman (takes place in Martha’s Vineyard, great characters, magical).
    Those are just the ones off the top of my head. If you find you like them I will send you more.
    Well, thanks so much for sharing all this. I’ve always loved your drawings but was also noticing how great your photos are. May I ask what kind of camera you use?Even the pictures of butter in a bowl look unbelievably vivid!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh thank you so much! I’m familiar with both of those books, but haven’t read them yet. I have photos of the real Illumination Night in case you haven’t seen it and would like to. . . My camera is a Canon EOS and I have to say it does all the work. I honestly know about 5 things I can do with it (which is pitiful, but gets the job done to a certain extent!).

      • Victoria Rankin says:

        We did stay in Oak Bluffs a couple of summers ago, when my children were 7 and 9 I think, right on Ocean Park. We had a nice deck looking out to the bandstand/gazebo and saw the fireworks from our cottage and we did go over to the campground for Illumination night. We had a short walk just behind our cottage that took us to Circuit Ave for shopping and we passed by a cute little chapel where they’d have drum circles. It was the best! We rented a mini cooper for a day and drove around the island. And every day the whole week was sunny and glorious. We all refer to it as the most perfect vacation we have ever had.
        Thank you so much for replying so quickly!
        I also thought (if you like biographies at all) this past year there were a few I enjoyed on cd- Betty White’s and Dick Van Dyke’s. I just heard Betty White received a grammy for her book on Cd. I didn’t even know they awarded those!

  57. Gail Buss says:

    You might like to read the book entitled, “The Tea Rose” by Jennifer Donnelly. I just heard from the friend who recommended it and she told me it was her all time favorite and that it now has 2 sequels, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose in that order. I haven’t read them yet. Guess you are supposed to read The Tea Rose first. I really enjoyed it. No kindle for me……..I love the feel of holding the book and using my sweet bookmarks!

    Gail Buss, Beverly Hills, Florida

    • Dianne says:

      I have read all of Jennifer Donnelly’s books, including her books for young adults. She actually lives near me, and I was pleased to be able to meet her at a book signing two years ago. My favorite in the “Tea/ Rose” series is the third book- The Wild Rose. I loved the main character , Willa, and the problems she faced. Many reviewers, however, did not appear to like this book, as well as the others. It’s all a matter of taste, I guess. I, too, prefer holding a book in my hands, although I do have a Nook for travel.

  58. Joanie B from San Diego says:

    I never knew that you had a book list, silly me, I should have been looking at everything on your site, but I get stuck, gladly, on your blog. I saw many of my favorites listed here and some I have never heard of, hurrah for some new books. But now, instead of writing more, I am heading to my cozy bed to read Mother Mason, by Bess Streeter Aldrich, dated 1916.

    • Mary S. says:

      Joanie B. – I was pleased to see that you were reading MOTHER MASON. B. S. Aldrich is my favorite author! I hope you have read her other books: A LANTERN IN HER HAND; SPRING CAME ON FOREVER; MISS BISHOP; SONG OF YEARS. In my opinion, they are all better than MOTHER MASON, even tho’ I enjoyed that also. 🙂

  59. Read: The Cricket In Times Square…… it is the first book my son and I have fininshed and he looked at me and wanted to start it all over right then. It’s a Newberry Award winning book that is inspiring and even has a cat in the mix! REad it!!!! We read everything by the way- classics, new ones, you name it. This one was just adorable… and will inspire your art, I promise!

    Also read the more serious, yet comical at points: The River Y (why) Better than the movie and a gem I ran across years ago. It’s a fav.

  60. And some of MY most cherished quotes: “When to the flowers the Father gave their names, back came a little blue-eyed one; all timidly it came. “Dear God, the name Thou gavest me, alas I have forgot. Then looked the Father gently down and said: “Forget-Me-Not”. (There is a German version of this quote, but I like this one best as I learned it as a young girl in the Tetons!

    and…. “Writing is the ax that breaks the frozen sea within.” KAFKA

    And now for more hiking in the mountain favs…. “I remember the days were never long enough to say all the the things we wanted to say or to see all we wanted to see, nor to climb as high as we wanted to climb. We couldn’t hear all the songs the birds sang for us. We never saw all the flowers that were blooming for us, beyond another Alpine meadow full of blossoms,, a shady tree fringed with pink spirea- or a mountain side waving its deep blue forget-me-nots, to those who had strength to climb another day.” (I memorized these from the man, Fred Miller, who guided girls and boys on hiking trips and eventually just a group of our families in The Grand Tetons. He also is well known for saving several girls after lightning hit a tree outside a cave; it is called The Monument Hike, here on the Idaho side of the Tetons.

    Come visit!

    Lastly, this is the lullaby that Fred taught me (through my mother who learned it from him as she sang me to sleep as a girl and I sing to my boy even though he’s almost 9. Okay, not every night anymore!!)

    “Last night I looked out my window
    Just before I repeated my prayer
    The moon and her little star babies- were walking way up in the air!

    Did God make that little star baby cause the moon was so lonely up there?
    Yes! God made that little star baby Because the moon was so lonesome up there!”

    Have you heard this?? Only people from Driggs, or knew of this man seem to know the Star Baby song….

    One his headstone: “This I learned from the shadow of a tree, my influence will be felt where I can never be.”


  61. Karen P - Wisconsin says:

    Had to tell you that I just finished reading “The Enchanted April.” All I can say is, “What an enchanting book!” The character development is incredible. I laughed at the wittiness with which Elizabeth von Arnim portrays each of the women (and the men!). I love Lotty….what a sweetheart! And I wish I could find a place like San Salvatore and spend a whole month there! Thanks for suggesting it!

    • sbranch says:

      I so agree, incredible. She is a wonderful writer. I would have loved to have known her!!!

      • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

        Me too! Such a witty lady! My great-grandma was like that. I always thought when I was young, “I want to be a cool lady like her when I get old!” I love it when I can laugh when I’m reading a book! (Or cry….either is great!)

  62. Tina says:

    I know you’d love the books by Gene Stratton-Porter…my favorite is “Girl of the Limberlost”…..

  63. Janet says:

    I love some of your book choices and they match a lot of mine! I had to reply because you have reminded me of a book I absolutely adored, Marjorie Morningstar! I read it many years ago, and remember loving it. I am going to be trying to hunt down a copy now.
    I’d like to recommend a book to you now, an old one that I read about the same time as Marjorie Morningstar, it’s called Mothers and Daughters and it’s by Evan Hunter. I managed to get a copy from Amazon a few years ago and loved re-reading it.
    I’m enjoying nosing round your blog, very entertaining and pretty.
    Enjoy your holiday in England!

  64. Joan Lesmeister says:

    My GF gave me “The Enchanted April” for my birthday, with a bookplate with “Susan B” written on it – ha!!!! We loved the book, it was indeed enchanting and charming! Thank you for the suggestion! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      So glad you liked it, it’s timeless!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Yes – that’s one of the things we liked about it, & we’re looking for more of her writings! I wished I would have sticky noted pages of some of the sweet words – I couldn’t find the one quote in particular when I wrote earlier! I guess I’ll have to reread the book, then send you another note!!!! xo

      • Karen P - Wisconsin says:

        Susan, Joan’s comment about the bookplate got me thinking…..with all the booklovers that you have here, have you ever thought about designing some bookplates? Would LOVE that!!

  65. Marcia in Brazil says:

    I read Anna Quindlen’s “Short Guide to a Happy Life” today. I loved it! Thanks for recommending it, Susan. I downloaded and started reading, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake” right after I finished the first book. Mrs. Quindlen talks a lot about the importance of girlfriends, and it immediately reminded me of the wonderful “Girlfriends Forever.” Thanks for the sage advice! Enjoy England! <3

  66. Linda Kramer says:

    In addition to all the above I would add the wonderful books of British writer Elizabeth Goudge. Her most famous book was “Green Dolphin Street” but all of her books are amazing. Unfortunately they are mostly out of print (she wrote in the 40’s and 50’s. She fits in with all these wonderful writers.

  67. Marcia in Brazil says:

    I read Margot’s book this week, and, being the mermaid that I am, felt the call of the ocean. Thanks for recommending her book. It’s clever and full of wise advice. The colors are breathtaking. I really enjoyed it! Have a great weekend.

  68. Nibarian says:

    Just finished “The Forgotten Garden!” Loved it!

    Susan, if you’ve read “The Diary of Anne Frank” you NEED to read “Anne Frank’s Family” by Pressler. It answered so many of my questions!

    • sbranch says:

      There’s another one, I have it here, but where … it’s the something and Trails of Anne Frank, and gives the history of what happened afterwards, her dad and people that helped her . . . lots of photos. I’ll look for the one you mentioned, I have always loved her.

      • Nibarian says:

        “The Family of Anne Frank” tells about her extended family, especially the matriarch, her paternal grandmother Alice and her family. Anne comes from a long line of wonderful writers!

        In 2002 or so, her first cousin, Buddy Elias’s wife found a treasure trove of poems and correspondences from family, spanning decades before and after the war. She organized them and found a writer to put them into book form, with Buddy filling in the blanks.

        The book answered some questions I’ve had for a long time!
        Here’s a link to an interview with Buddy Elias and his wife, Gerti:

  69. Kareng says:

    No ‘Little House’ books? Love all of them!

  70. Kareng says:

    Anyone else like Nancy Drew? (i was a Nancy Drew nerd in another life :D)

  71. Shelia mcguckin says:

    If you like Jan Karons’ Mitford books, and you like mysterys, there is a series by Louise Penny about a small town called Three Pines. I had to buy them all! And Susan Wittig Albert wrote a series called Cottage Tales. They’re mysterys, and Beatrix Potter is the detective! There is also a series by Stephanie Barron about Jane Austin. I also like Gladys Taber and Miss Read. At our library thy have some of the Miss Read books that have been republished. When I was a child two of my favorites were. Granny’s Wonderful Chair. And Maidas’ Little Shop( don’t know the authors.)

  72. Heidi Carroll says:

    Hi Susan! I have read most of the books on your list, so I think we sorta have the same tast in reading and wanted to recommend an author to you.
    I recently read The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani which starts in the Italian Alps and then goes to Greenwich Village and ends up in Minnesota! Great book about Italians and shoemaking and love! I loved it so much I then read Lucia, Lucia by the same author about an italian girl in the 1950s in Greenwich Village who is seamstress for a big dept store in NY. Loved that so much, I just finished Very Valentine (by the same author of course) about another Italian girl in NY whose family has had a custom shoe business for a 100 years making beautiful custom wedding shoes. I am just starting the follow-up book to this one called Brava Valentine. The author’s descriptions are so wonderful in all her books so far, you wish you were Italian, lived in NY and made custom clothes or shoes.

    Just thought you may want to add these books to your “to read” list for the winter ahead! She also has a cute web site too,

    Happy Reading!

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds good!!! I wrote it down, thank you Heidi!

      • Linda Ziemer says:

        Some of my most favorite books are the “shoe books” by Noel Streatfeild. Ballet Shoes is probably by favorite. They were written for children but I received four of the books for Christmas last year and enjoyed reading them again.

        • judy young says:

          I still have my old tattered pink-covered paperback of Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. One of my favorite books of all time for sure.

    • Kathi Sanoba says:

      Love all of Trigianni’s books – I wish there were more!

  73. Peggy Springer says:

    I’m so glad to see that you’ve added “Woman of Independent Means” by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey to your favorites book list! (I like to think that you read it and loved it because of my suggestion?!) This book is one of my favorites! I buy extra copies when I find them to give to friends or strangers. I’m enjoying reading through your list and all of the comments by your other readers. I love the comment about ‘drowning in books’! I know I should be sorting and thinning out my book collect, but I don’t even know where to begin! I love each and every one and then some! I look forward to “Willard” and your blog! Keep them coming!

  74. Eileen says:

    Another book to add to this great list is “Evergreen” by Belva Plain

    • sbranch says:

      That sounds very familiar … what’s it about?

      • Eileen says:

        It’s the story of Anna, who comes to America from Poland as a young girl to find a better life….loves one man, marries another……….spans three generations of happiness and heartache……………just a great book—-i’ve read it numerous times……it’s well worn…………a great read if you ever happen across a copy…………..also, just love your blog,,,,a warm, comforting haven…..good for the heart (and soul)….many thanks for that!

  75. Julie says:


    Did you read Beverly Cleary’s books as a young girl? Each and every book is a treasure but Jean and Johnny, Fifteen, The Luckiest Girl, and Sister of the Bride are my favorites. As an adult I often reread them and I am instantly transported.

    Happy Reading!

    • sbranch says:

      Fifteen was my teen age handbook, I still have it. I couldn’t wait to be fifteen and have those adventures — after all I baby sat! So anything could happen! Beverly Cleary was born on the same day I was!

  76. Mary says:

    Loved the quote about a children’s story that is enjoyed only by children not being a good story.Some of my favorites to this day are children’s literature books.Also love Mitford,Elm Creek quilts,Miss Read.Gladys Tabor sounds familiar,and now I will definitely have to find the Stillmeadow one mentioned.

  77. KarenP (Wisconsin) says:

    Just finished reading Kate Morton’s latest, The Secret Keeper. Her books are mesmerizing! Couldn’t put it down! Another winner!

  78. Laura from England says:

    Firstly thank you so much for your blog which I first discovered when you went to the Emma Bridgewater factory (I am a big fan of Bridgewater!) and then followed as you toured the country.By the way I live very close to another of your favourites, Sissinghurst Gardens ,and we often take our dog for walks in the grounds there.
    On the subject of books, please give the Miss Read books a try if you haven’t already. My mum used to get them for her birthday every year as they were published each September near her birthday. Sadly I had to finish the collection as she died a few books before the end but I now have all of them – hers and mine – on an entire bookshelf. Miss Read herself, or Dora Saint as her real name was, died herself last year.
    Another series I enjoy and am currently reading through are the Elm Creek Quilt series by Jennifer Chiaverini – I’m on book 9 of about 20 so far!
    Thanks once again. Laura.

    • Laura from England says:

      By the way, have you come across Best in show:Knit your own cat book. It has instructions for knitting different breeds/colourings of cat figures – including black and white! I have knitted an Abyssinian as we have one called Tibby, as well as three dogs from the accompanying two knit your own dog books including a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel after ours called Charlie. I’m sure you would like it.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Laura! Have fun on those wonderful beautiful walks you are so privileged to have so close to where you live!

    • judy young says:

      On the subject of Emma Bridgewater, I spotted several of her mugs in an antique shop in Plano, Texas. They were all displayed in and on a basket. They even had the Baby George mug! Going for about $12 apiece. I could have bought them all.

  79. Julie says:

    After reading about Gladys Taber on your website, I made it a personal goal to read all of her books cover to cover this year. I opened my first one, Stillmeadow Sampler, began reading and my heart skipped a beat; pure delight! I can see hear and smell spring at Stillmeadow. I am leaning out her windows, inhaling the freshly mowed grass and taking in the countryside. Look at all of those little birdies scrambling for position at her feeders! It is heaven. (Hmmm, reminds me of another writer I adore) I had to put the book down and grab a tissue before I could continue reading on page 33, the part about a special day spent with her mother. She describes a beautiful spring day heavy with the scent of apple blossoms (I can smell them now). She is, I’m guessing, in her teens and helping her mother with the house cleaning. Her dad is away on a business trip when her mom decides to do something completely out of the ordinary. Gladys writes, “Mama and I left the washing undone, the kitchen unmopped and just went off on a picnic”…”we talked to each other as friends, not as mother and daughter. I told Mama my dreams and hopes and fears and she told me some of hers. It is a shining memory. Not all the housecleaning in the world would be worth losing that day. Mama was a quiet, wise woman with deep brown eyes and hair the color of a partridge wing.” So beautifully written. I have such deep admiration for the talent of Gladys Taber. What a gift she continues to be. And I have you to thank for it. Thank you Susan.

  80. Betsey says:

    I was wondering if you had ever read any of the Elizabeth Goudge books? They are all out of print, but you can get them on Alibris. She was a wonderful British author and her books are magical.
    A Scent of Water is one of my favorites along with The Bird in the Tree and Pilgrim’s Inn. She, Barbara Pym, Gladys Taber, and Miss Read are the jewels of my bookcase.

  81. Rosemary says:

    I want to thank you for recommending the author Kate Morton. I read “Distant Hours” and now am in the middle of “The Secret Keeper”.

  82. Mary says:

    Love this list and especially love the quote by CS Lewis

  83. KarenP (Wisconsin) says:

    I love coming back here again and again ( as you can see by my numerous comments!!) It’s always fun to see what our friends are reading and recommending! Thanks for starting this, dear Susan Branch! xo

  84. Dianne Metsger says:

    I just finished reading Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonse Falcones. The story is so beautiful and so powerful, although heart-wrenching at times. I did shed tears in many parts. This cathedral differs from others in that it was built for the people and not for the Church. The design is supposed to be simple, allowing for the play of light off of the Mediterraean to take “centerstage”. My greatest disappointment when I was in Barcelona was that I was unable to visit this cathedral. My time there was very brief, and I was unfortunately sick for much of it. In a way I feel as if I can visualize the play of light, if I close my eyes. I must return to Barcelona, however, if only to stand within the walls and hear the voices of those within the pages of the book. The stones were actually carried on the backs of the builders. Can you imagine?

    • sbranch says:

      I read Pillars of the Earth ~ also about the building of Cathedrals, which I find fascinating. Some of them took 300 years to finish, generations of families worked on them. That’s what I call “eyes on the prize!” They did that before electricity, made hundreds of soaring cathedrals with really simple tools ~ now that we could do it so much easier, we don’t. We are too much “instant gratification.” Blessings on the caretakers of this wonderful piece of human history. Loved your book review Dianne!

      • Dianne says:

        I have read Pillars of the Earth twice; I would also highly recommend the sequel. It is simply amazing that these wonderful cathedrals were built at a time when scientific knowledge was so limited. When I stand within a cathedral my mind and soul are just so overcome. It just amazes me that these magnificent structures were built stone by stone, with each one hand carved and often hand carried. You are correct when you say blessings on those who are attempting to shed light on this aspect of human history.

  85. Susan Olds says:

    Hello kindred spirits! For you romantic anglophiles, here are two excellent book sites for British literature- classic, vintage and cozy.
    The author of the 2nd blog, Simon, works at the Bodleian Library in Oxford and has a prodigious knowledge of vintage reads.
    Also, I highly recommend anything by Beverly Nichols- Merry Hall, Laughter on the Stairs, Garden Open Tomorrow and more. They were penned in the 1940s and Nichols has a wicked sense of humor, gently skewering his eccentric British neighbors and fellow gardeners. Thank you Susan for such a wonderful blog!

  86. Jenny Page says:

    I just finished reading I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes & Loretta Nyhan. I think, based on your book lists, that you will love it. Set in World War II, two war wives are connected as pen pals by a USO type organization. They become fast friends through letters/correspondence. The novel heralds the endurance, vitality, and sisterhood of women as they thrive against impossible odds, family, tragedy, triumphs. It’s a must read! Susan, I read your newsletter/blog entries as a breath of fresh air to my day. It’s about the only me-time I am allowed, and you are a part of it. I hope you enjoy the novel!


  87. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Susan,
    I was given your book a Fine Romance by a friend in Kansas. I’m in the UK and have just read your wonderful book in two sittings, it is a beautiful book and your trip was amazing, such fun and I’m so happy you love our little fairy tale country – It doesn’t drizzle all the time, the sun does appear sometimes, we do have some glorious days and then the country really is magical. I just hope you come back, explore, have many sunny days and write another inspiration book. Now I just need to get my husband travelling…
    Best wishes and thank you for such a beautiful web site and a lovely book – you’re a true inspiration – thank you!
    Warm regards

    • sbranch says:

      That is so nice to hear. It is a fairy tale country, rain or shine. We loved every moment of it and will be back soon. Thank you for taking the time to write, Elizabeth.

  88. Charlotte Klein says:

    Dear Susan

    I also love to read, actually my favorite pastime. After my Family of course! All novels by Alan Titchmarsh, and Jacqueline Winspear. Starting with her Maisie Dobbs. I have read Rosie 26 times, by Mr Titchmarsh.
    Immensely enjoy your book and movie lists.
    Thank you for all of your lovely ideas and stories.

  89. Susan! I was hoping to meet you at Remnants, but the lines were neverending 🙁 Another time, I hope (Barbara Saia is one of my dearest friends – maybe with her).
    I am inhaling your latest “A Fine Romance” – it is enchanting!!!
    I recently read a book that you must read, as well “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer. As a fellow Anglophile (and Francophile), I know you will LOVE the story and the history.
    Happy Day,
    Dianne Conner

  90. Susan:

    Enchanted April is my all time favorite movie.
    I have not read the book.
    You’re the only person I’ve heard of who even knows about this movie/book!


    • sbranch says:

      Read the book Joseph, it’s even better than the movie. Droll witty and then you fall in love with Elizabeth Von Arnim and you go read Elizabeth and Her German Garden.

  91. Joanna Peterson says:

    I have been a fan of your artwork and cookbooks for years. My daughter gave me 4 Gladys Taber books for Christmas (I have been a fan of hers for over 20 years). I used to have quite a collection of her books until we had a house fire. They have slowly been finding their way back to me, as it were. I found your site in looking up more info on GT and am so happy to hear there is a FOGT. I don’t know how I missed that all these years. Nobody ever seems to know who she is. What they are missing! I’m looking forward to talking with others who love her writing.

  92. Deborah Jesseman says:

    You should try the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace for an trip to the early 1900’s. She was from here, Mankato, MN, and her house has been nicely restored by the Betsy-Tacy Society. I am originally from MA and have family on the Vinyard. I am a library professor and thoroughly enjoyed “A Fine Romance”

  93. Heidi says:

    Happy New Year to you from Wet Wales (U.K) !
    New to your blog and I was just browsing when I came upon the books section…. I love books and wanted to pass on my number 1 book…. if you haven’t read it then it is a must read – “The Bronze Horseman” by Paullina Simons. Beautiful!
    Have a fabulous 2014
    Much love x

  94. Pauline Wyss says:

    I’m always drawn to favorite book lists. Many of your favorites are mine as well. I didn’t notice English author, Elizabeth Goudge’s books on your list. Someone wrote her thesis about Miss Goudge and titled it “Fairy Tales for Grown-ups:Love Gifts of Elizabeth Goudge. If you haven’t already, try “The Scent of Water”.
    Looking forward to reading “A Fine Romance”’s a treasure!!

  95. I love books and I find it difficult to get rid of any but the very worst. Even then I sometimes think I might try it again some day. However, time grows short and so now I must be more particular about who goes and who stays. I have books in every room of the house. I have bookshelves and stacks on floors, one room is a library. I can’t say I have read but a small portion of them but some day maybe I will have time to make the effort. Till then, I love to look at them.

    • sbranch says:

      Some second-hand bookstore is going to be thrilled to see you walk through the door one day!

    • Mary S. says:

      Janice, I’m the same way! I have 12 bookcases in my smallish house, all full of books! And I keep buying more! They are my weakness 🙁 And now my husband bought me a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas!!

  96. jennifer gay says:

    I absolutely adore “Four Midwestern Sisters’ Christmas Book” by Holly Burkhalter. A reminicence of Christmas traditions in the 50’s and 60’s and the deep love of family. I read this book every Christmas and a time or two throughout the year.

  97. Heartsdesire says:

    I’ve just finished reading a book by Elizabeth Jane Howard called The Light Years – the Cazalet Chronicles volume one. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Reminded me a bit of Downton Abbey. A large house and family with lots of servants. Takes place between 1937 and 1938, and there are four more books in the serious which I promptly went out and bought after finishing the first one. They were published in the early 1990s and have now been reissued.

  98. Ann Solomon says:

    Have you ever read “Irish Country Doctor” by Patrick Taylor? It’s delightful!

  99. Margie Smith says:

    Hi Susan,
    After looking at your pile of books, I think we are “kindred spirits.” If I had to pick a favorite author, I couldn’t, like books by many different authors. I work in a small rural library and I depend on people like you to suggest books for our readers. Many of the suggestions listed here are already on our shelves and loved my many. We don’t have any of your books, but would like to get some, they are just not on any of the book sellers we use. I am going to look up some of the authors mentioned here. I have your Willard book and love reading the past Willard letters. Also have read “A Fine Romance”. Many of the places your visited, were places I also have been. We share the same thoughts. Keep up with the many jobs you have and stay warm.

  100. CATHERINE says:


    • sbranch says:

      Yes, Catherine, You can get the blog emailed to you … there’s a place to sign up for it in the right hand column. The only thing is that when it’s mailed it doesn’t come with the MUSICA at the top of most of my posts. Which I think is part of the fun (if you’re not sure what I mean, scroll to the top of this post and click on the word MUSICA, then come back to the blog screen for reading — it’s background music!) — also, sometimes the videos I include don’t work when it’s emailed! I don’t know why. But here you are, you did a great job leaving a comment. We are inheritors of this world the way it comes to us, and should make the best of it … I am thrilled I can communicate with everyone this way. There is good in everything. But, I’m with you — real books in my little fat hands, I love them!

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