Mary Bentley Houk's Favorite Books

shelved under Personal Favorites


Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

by Atul Gawande

Ann Klefstad from Duluth, MN says:

Atul Gawande writes accurately about the harrowing bliss of practicing medicine. My own dad was a surgeon/cowboy, but also a general practitioner/father confessor/voyeur. All of these things exact their cost and pay out their immense, often tainted, riches. Gawande does seem to understand the physician's privileged position between body and soul, praise and blame, life and death. It's a strange, glorious, harsh role; some of our best writers have occupied it, in one way or another — Keats, W. C. Williams. Gawande makes a serious contribution to the genre.


The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Danielle S. says:

I have read all four of these books too many times to count. While I typically read for the sheer enjoyment of reading, these books to have a message to impart. If you've only seen the movies or listened to the songs by Zeppelin (yes, Led Zeppelin), then you should definitely read these books.


Prodigal Summer

by Barbara Kingsolver

Melissa Daniel says:

My favorite author is Barbara Kingsolver, so it was difficult to decide which book I wanted to include on this list. Since this is a “Survival Guide,” I picked a great love story. Actually, I believe this novel contains at least three different love stories wrapped up together, as well as a bit of information on pesticides. Don’t let the insects and pesticides deter you; this book is full of passion and will warm your heart.

This book also appears on A Working Mom's Survival Guide


The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

Anne Charnock says:

The Road presents the ultimate post-apocalyptic nightmare. The pared-back writing style and staccato dialogue match the bleakness and brutality of the life in North America following an unspecified catastrophe. Was it a nuclear bomb? A meteor impact? We never find out. It's a father and son story: the son wants to trust other survivors they meet on the road, his father does not. Don't even consider reading this book at bedtime. At the time of reading, I thought: I hope no one ever makes a film of this (which, of course, they did). McCarthy, however, is generous in offering some hope of redemption, which might be picked up by some readers — those readers not desensitized by the preceding carnage.


Run with the Horsemen

by Ferrol Sams

Peter from Flashlight Worthy says:

This book, and the second in the trilogy, tell the story of a very, very bright boy growing up on a family farm in rural Georgia during the Great Depression.

While it started a little slow — I recall questioning the book for about 50 pages — it soon picked up and then held my attention straight through for all 1,000+ pages of the trilogy. As an added bonus, it's not only one of my favorite books of all time, it's also one of the funniest books I've ever read.