When I read Heidi by Johanna Spyri in second grade, I wasn’t the best of readers, and the book was a few notches above my reading level. But Heidi was separated from her grandfather, and so was I at the time, and it was that emotional connection that spurred me to finish it.

By high school I was reading the” bound for college” list of books, systematically crossing them off as I went. Henry James was a favorite, and Dostoyevsky. I often read in my room, seemingly being studious, but actually I was putting off doing my homework.

Later George Gurdjieff and science fiction were obsessions. As a young adult, I discovered Andre Norton, Ursula Le Guin, Robin McKinley, and the Hugo Award winners. A hiatus from escapist reading came while I was a children’s librarian and seldom read anything that wasn’t also part of my work life. When my sister, younger by 15 years, was given the Narnia books, she turned them over to me, saying she knew they were more my type of book than hers. I read them with zeal.

At some point a work friend told me I should try reading mysteries, so I picked up a Ruth Rendell with an interesting cover. Then it was as if I was back in high school, checking off every book of hers I could lay my hands on. I’ve done this with Arnaldur Indridason’s books as well.

Dog books appeal to me; I’ve even written a blog about them. My favorite was Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote. But watch what you post: Soon after, I got my Jiffy, an Alabama Walker Treeing Coonhound (I call her my girl). Books have done a great job at getting me through some pretty tough times but not as good a job as Jiffy. Just last night I was reading to her before bed. The book was A Man of His Own by Susan Wilson. I think she liked it.

Ask Margaret what to read

Margaret’s Recommendations