Editor’s Note: Not only are we excited to read Martha’s book, Lilac Girls, as part of the HPB Book Club, we are thrilled to host her at our Dallas Flagship store for a talk and signing on Monday, March 13 at 7 p.m. Can’t make it that night for the discussion? Have no fear! We’ll broadcast the talk on Facebook Live. (So if you haven’t yet liked our Facebook page, now is the time to do so!)
Until then, to continue our Books Authors Read series, we asked Martha to share some of her favorite books. Enjoy!
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney – I still go back and soak in Stef Penney’s descriptions for sheer pleasure. Her depiction of Scottish woman Mrs. Ross and her discovery of Laurent Jammett is terrifying and perfect.
Good Times, Bad Times by James Kirkwood – I read this in high school and go back and reread it often. James Kirkwood was such a talented writer and, sadly, died too young. This story of a boarding school student, his best friend and their creepy headmaster still feels fresh and relevant.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – Brilliant fictional glimpse into the mysterious world of the geisha. My gateway drug to historical fiction.
Castles Burning: A Child’s Life in War by Magda Denes – Alexandra Shelley, a wonderful developmental editor, recommended this book about a young girl caught up in the Holocaust in Hungary. It’s a true account, a real page-turner.
Where the Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again by Kimberly Williams-Paisley –Kimberly Williams-Paisley brings a lovely voice to the story of her mother’s decline into dementia and paints a lovely portrait of her. It’s heartbreaking but helped me deal with my father’s struggle with stroke-related memory issues.
Stein on Writing by Sol Stein – I fell asleep many nights listening to Sol Stein’s books while I was writing Lilac Girls and felt like he was a wise teacher whose advice was practical and invaluable. I own shelves of “How to Write a Novel” books and this is one of my favorites. I have it in Audible, Kindle and hardcover and go running back to it often.
American Housewife by Helen Ellis – After writing a book about women who were experimented on at a horrific concentration camp, I needed something to cheer me up and Helen Ellis was just the ticket. I heard about the book on The Darien Library’s “Five Minutes with Jen” video series and laughed through the whole book.
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron – It was brave of William Styron to focus on a non-Jewish Polish survivor of a concentration camp and this was a tremendously controversial book at the time. It is so moving and gave me hope that the world would care about my own story of Catholic survivors.
The Cider House Rules by John Irving – Love John Irving and the emotion he makes readers feel. He created such real worlds with St. Cloud’s orphanage and the Maine orchard. Dr. Larch. (a favorite character name) Homer. Candy. Every character is so well-drawn. All time favorite line: “Goodnight you princes of Maine, kings of New England.”
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – I still think about this book. Alice Sebold gives the narrator Susie Salmon such a lovely, authentic voice, which makes the horror of it all so much more intense.
Emily is the Public Relations Manager at Half Price Books Corporate. You can follow her on Twitter @emilytbruce. Martha Hall Kelly, a native New Englander, is the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, Lilac Girls. You can follow her on Twitter at @marthahallkelly.