As an adult, I have been inspired and moved by many books both fiction and nonfiction. Some of my favorite fiction includes Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf" and "Siddharta." The first, about middle class alienation and its antidote, and the second, a poetic, readable introduction to Buddhism.
Another great German writer is Hans Fallada. His book, "Every Man Dies Alone," is an inspiring story of how an ordinary couple stands up to tyranny and pays the consequences. "Little Man What Now" is another great book about young love, poverty and lives of desperation. Something with which many of us can identify.
All the books by the Western writer Wallace Stegner are a great read about the intricacies of human relationships. My favorite is "Angle of Repose," about a young couple leaving their comfortable lives in the East to make their fortune out West. The story is about the changing relationship of the couple through romance, love, disillusionment, estrangement, and accommodation in old age.
One of the best historical fiction writers is Alison Weir. Her novel about Elizabeth I is a juicy but realistic rendition of the reign of the great queen of England in the 16th century. I am a Tudor dynasty junkie and read everything about that time period.
Another favorite is a biography by Mary S. Lovell about Bess of Hardwick. Born to a poor family, Bess of Hardwick is described on line as "the Alpha female of the Elizabethan age. Imagine a combination of Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and Julia Roberts -- with a bit of Tina Turner and Hillary Clinton thrown in -- and that about sums her up. Bess of Hardwick was a star."
This past year I have been inspired by Sonia Sotomayor's memoir "My Beloved World," which describes Sotomayor's rise from an improbable childhood to the Supreme Court. It's one of those books that makes you believe in the American dream. With enough luck, discipline and brains, anyone can reach the top of the heap.
Another good book about making it to the top is Susan Orleans' book "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend." From a scared puppy whose quarters had been shelled by German troops in World War I, Rin Tin Tin is rescued by an American GI and becomes one of the greatest of Hollywood stars.
If you can't make it to the top, just getting through life with your dignity intact is the theme of William Nicholson's "The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life," and Julian Barnes' "The Sense of an Ending." Both are a great read, which will make you question your perception of life, love and relationships.
I couldn't talk about favorite books without mentioning Shakespeare. At different times of my life, the plays have meant different things to me. You think you understand what Shakespeare is saying in his works. But then there comes a day, you read it or hear it again, and suddenly it has a whole new and more profound meaning.
Right now I am reading Piper Kerman's "Orange is the New Black." While the TV Series is very good, the book is at a totally different level, making you wonder what you would do in Kerman's situation and why, in the world, are these women in jail anyway? "Orange is the New Black" raises serious questions about our public policies about drugs and incarceration. It's a must read.
Pore, of Charleston, is a health care policy analyst.