I am an avid reader, and during the summer months, when I have no free time in the studio, I turn to books for comfort. As a child growing up, they were my means of escape, and I probably use them in the same way today. A library card is free, so as far as escapism goes, it is one of the best means available.

While I was sitting at the pool the other day, unable to read because the teenagers from the community had descended en masse and were blaring heavy metal music, I decided to start a list of my favorite books. I generally keep lists of books that other people find interesting as I’m always looking for a good read. I like to think that all books are magical and enchanting, but the sad truth is that there is a lot of bad fiction out there.

Although this list is numbered, I couldn’t begin to prioritize them. Many I’ve read in the last couple of years, but Tess has been on my list since childhood.

1 -The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

2 – Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

3 – The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audry Niffenegger

4 – Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

5 – The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

6 – The Secret History by Donna Tartt

7 – Harry Potter (all of them) by J. K. Rowling

8 – The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien

9 – The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

10 – The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

11 – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

12 – The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

13 – Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

14 – Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

15 – Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Although all of these will probably not suit everyone’s taste, they represent what I enjoy — and so this may find some other soul looking for a place to rest.

Oh — and by the way — I oftentimes read all of the books that an author has written — although you will find that no author made my list twice (with the exception of the Harry Potter & Lord of the Rings books which — as a series — must all be read). Some authors, in fact, seem to only have one good book in them — others are able to write well many times, but only once greatly.