I will always thank my mom for instilling in me a love of reading, from Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys to Sartre and Kant. At the risk of sounding kinda shallow, however, the books I’ve loved and turn back to time after time are not on the Sartre end of the reading scale. The first book I remember reading outside good old Nancy was a YA offering called When Sara Smiled (Kathleen Robinson). That book has stayed with me all these years because it had a smidgen of romance and was about a girl about my age, plus, it led into other growing up type books like Then Came November (Nan Gilbert) and Minnow Vail (Winifred Cover). But another reason Sara stayed with me is because of the contrast between the early 1960s and the cultural change that smashed into all of us just a few years later was so extreme. The teens in those books had problems, sure, but those problems paled in comparison to drugs, free love, and rebellion that went far beyond rock and roll.
Eventually books like When Sara Smiled led to my favorite book of all time, Doctor Zhivago (Boris Pasternak) that taught me through beautiful prose and imagery about another cultural revolution. Let’s face it. There are too many wonderful books to pick just one! 😉