Five Books Everyone Should Read: Holly’s Picks

Posted January 18, 2015 by Holly in Features | 3 Comments

Five Books Everyone Should Read is a new feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.

5 Books Project

I knew going into this that picking 5 books was going to be hard, but I didn’t realize how difficult until I started doing it. I kept finding just “one more” I wanted to add to my list, until it numbered close to a hundred. Since this is “Five Books” everyone should read and not “One Hundred Books”, I started culling them down. Though I’m posting these five as recommended reads, I want you to know I’m doing it under extreme duress (even if it’s self-imposed). In no particular order:

1. Heart of Fire by Linda Howard. I wanted to include a book by Howard in this list, because she was so influential in my early romance reading. She’s a master at writing emotionally compelling stories with strong characters. I chose HoF because of Jillian, the heroine. Though I love Ben, the hero, like whoa,  Jillian made the book. She’s strong-minded, sarcastic, and not afraid to stand up for herself or the things she believes in. From the beginning her relationship with Ben was antagonistic. She wasn’t willing to give him an inch and it completely baffled him. He fully expected her to fall right into his arms, and when she didn’t he had no idea how to act. The Amazon setting and the search for a missing civilization were just icing on the cake. This is a book that reminded me that there are strong women in the world, at a time I needed a boost.

2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  When thinking about GWTW, I know most people think of that iconic parting shot by Rhett Butler, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” I admit Rhett and Scarlett, their relationship and their separate personal journeys are compelling. But this is so much more than an epic romance novel. This is a tale of loss, love and, more than anything, survival. For those who have seen the movie but avoided the book, I suggest you pick it up. I think you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to fall into, and how rich the text is.


3. Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs. For years I’d been hearing about Briggs, but I kept putting off reading her until Jane of Dear Author recommended I try Alpha and Omega, a prequel novella to Cry Wolf, to get a taste of the series. Short stories are difficult, since so much as to be packed into so little space. I went into it with low exceptions and was completely blown away. Yes, the story is short, but it packs a wallop. The development of the relationship is sweet and definitely made me smile, but it was Anna’s determination to survive – her unbroken spirit despite years of abuse – that really compelled me.

4. The In Death series by J.D. Robb. You can buy the first five books in one volume, so this isn’t really cheating (okay, it is, but give me a break..this is hard). I love this series for so many reasons, but none more than Eve Dallas, the main character. She’s fierce, independent and totally kickass. I want to be her when I grow up. Each book follows one of her cases, which all tend to be really fabulous as far as the mystery/suspense goes. The personal relationships develop slowly, but it’s so easy to fall in love with the cast of secondary characters. Roarke, of course, but also Feeney, Peabody, McNab, etc. Even more, the world is fabulous. The series begins in the late 2050’s and is really just an advanced modern-day world. There are cars that can fly and off-planet travel, but the majority of the changes are things that can easily be imagined 50 years from now. The politics of the world are particularly interesting, and definitely make me think.

5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This post-apocalyptic novel is not easy. The barren landscape, stark existence and pitfalls of traveling in a world where life has ended and survival is almost impossible ensure a dark tone. The struggle for survival is secondary, however, to the sometimes brutal look at human nature. This is a novel that made me think, and forced me to ask myself some tough questions. As a parent, the idea of raising a child in a world where civilization has ended and the worst of humanity is evident, is hard enough to swallow. To do it well, to allow your child to have faith and hope in a place where neither exist, would be nearly impossible. Though this isn’t a warm, fuzzy read, it really stayed with me.


I really want to keep adding novels, but I promised to stop at 5.

Have you read any of these? Which books would you like to add?

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3 responses to “Five Books Everyone Should Read: Holly’s Picks

  1. I agree with the Linda Howard book – loved it . . any of her older backlist before Mr Perfect is great 😀

    May have to check out Patricia Briggs . . as long as it is not first person – can’t get on with that!

    • Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series is first person, but the Alpha and Omega series is 3rd. I think you’ll really like it. The novella is a good place to start. It’ll give you a taste for the couple and the writing.

  2. Heart of Fire was such a great book. I LOVE it. The In Death series is one of the series that just didn’t interest me. I read the first book and then tried to read the second one and I never finished it but it’s such a popular series so I’m sure it’s all me.

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