For my birthday this year, I encouraged people to send me a letter. You know, the kind with actually postage on them. :) I didn’t specify any topic or length, just something from you to me. I got quite a few amazing responses including a list of book recommendations from my high school AP English teacher, Mrs. Goodwin. Since I’m all about sharing book recommendations, here is her list for your pleasure.
Mrs. Amy Goodwin’s top 38 book recommendations in honor of Danny Burbol’s 38th birthday.
- The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Jeff Daniel introduced me to this fantasy series. I love the rich, complex characters and have read and listened (Audible) to the whole series multiple times.
- The Hobbit + Fellowship of the Ring trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
I have always adored fantasy, especially when I need to escape from reality. This was one that started it all for me.
- A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
One of the kindest books I have read in a long time.
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Teaches the power of human connection and forgiveness in modern, multicultural terms.
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Sometimes, people need to look beneath the surface to see the true good / bad in others. Good lesson for our modern society.
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Yet another novel where child-like innocence uncovers adult atrocities. Lovely southern novel.
- Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
You know I love the Bard! All his plays show human emotion better than any writer of his time. This has always been one of my favorite comedies.
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This is a lovely historical fiction based in France during WWII. I loved the compassion in the characters –I am using it and #3 with my AP class this year.
- Hamlet by William Shakespeare
My favorite of the tragedies! Perhaps it is because of the passive aggressiveness of Hamlet and the comedic elements of lesser characters.
- The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
I adore the relationships that Tan develops in her works. This one is set in Japan.
- The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw
This nonfiction work focuses on the lives, works, and deeds of those during WWII. Very inspirational reading.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
It is remarkable how a “children’s” tale can have such allegorical overtones.
- The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
This was a masterful story telling. I enjoyed the characters and messages even as an adult read (Better than movies…)
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Ah, opera in the form of a novel. Love the writer’s craft. Based on historical over-taking of an embassy in South America (also going to use this in AP).
- The Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Another science fiction fantasy series.I first read this when I heard Sanderson would be finishing The Wheel of Time for Robert Jordan after he died –I actually cried –and I had to decide if he was worthy of such a task / honor. I loved this series so much. I read every book he ever wrote AND fan-girled at a book festival when he signed my copy and took a picture with me!
- A Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki
Story of the Japanese internment camps in the US during WWII. It always amazes me how ignorance makes people behave.
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
If #14 is opera in writing, this is jazy. Have been using it for AP for years and still a powerful book about how people treat others.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series by Stieg Larsson
Sometimes, I love a good, gritty action series… and sometimes, I read them more than once…
- Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Back to fantasy, but this one tells the story through the female characters, giving it a great feminine twist. Love a good retelling…
- Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
This young adult book was one I could not put down. Set during WWII, it follows 4 characters as they try to escape the Russian advance. A different perspective from the time period.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
I adore this story, just adore it. If you don’t read it, watch the 6-part BBC version …hm… I think I need to binge on that this week before school starts in 2 weeks.
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Another feminist coming of age novel. [can’t read handwriting] can learn a thing or two from it.
- The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
This one is based on the US rowing team (nonfiction) in the Berlin Olympics in 1936, a fascinating, captivating story.
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
Loved this non-fiction account of the native Americans plight. [can’t read handwriting]
- The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry
Like #18, I like a good action story and this was the first to introduce Cotton Malone. Love this character and I have read all of Berry’s books.
- Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Have always loved fairy tales and this one is a fantastic, modern retelling of Wizard of Oz.
- All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg
- Ava’s Man by Rick Bragg
- The Prince of Frogtown by Rick Bragg
Rick Bragg is my Favorite non-fiction wirter. He has a magic in his words. He writes of his own family experiences and growing up poor in the South.
- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
Another story of compassion and caring for others… and there is a teacher!
- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
If you need advice on how to live life and what to live for, read this.
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Just another powerful novel about human relationships –again, like #4, set in Afghanistan.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Yet another from a time period I love studying –Beautiful characters.
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Dark, journey story but good final message of hope in the end.
- The Princess Bride by William Goldmon
By now, you should have figured I love fairy tales and fantasy. Love (always have) this story –a great cult movie, too…
- Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Another play, but a lovely story about transformation and finding the gem within.
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I had to read this in high school and did not appreciated it. As an adult, I see it in a whole new light.
- 1984 by George Orwell
Diplopia at its best –the year I graduated high school. Fantasy then, reality now. Kind of scary.
Thank you Mrs. Amy Goodwin for taking the time to put together such a wonderful list and sharing your passion for books with me.
I’m working on a response list of my own top 38 books at age 38. :)