Here’s something as obvious as the nose on your face: I love words. Seriously, I love — ADORE! — words and writing and reading because as soon as a person learns to communicate they can take on the world around them. They are armed with the power to move, share, inspire and even destroy whatever they choose.
One of my favourite quotes on this matter comes from poet, Emily Dickinson. She says “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
Recently I had the very lucky task of introducing one of my favourite authors, Pip Williams, to the stage as the keynote speaker for Somerset Storyfest on the Gold Coast. I was asked to make the introduction personal and I was a little afraid… you see, Pip’s book, The Dictionary of Lost Words, was the book that got me out of a writing funk following a series of rejections. It was so beautifully composed and crafted about words that were disregarded (not even given a place in the first edition of the Oxford Dictionary) because they came from female voices or those of a ‘lesser class’. The story was a triumph for women and language. It made me want to write something great. Now, it holds a very special place in my heart along with several other books that moved me so much that their characters lived with me like ghosts for a few days after reading.
Here are the novels that will always be tiny treasures on my bookshelf. Please feel free to share your special books with me too.
Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My summary: Loved, loved, loved this book and I can’t wait for the movie to come out (produced by Reese Witherspoon).
It’s a coming of age story that circles around a modern day murder. The “Marsh Girl” is the prime suspect, having grown up on the outskirts of a community where she is rejected and pitied, until two young men fall in love with her…
My reaction: I believe my mouth literally hung open when I finished reading it! What an ending! And now, if anyone ever asks me for a book recommendation I will ask if they’ve read this first, before going through the rest of my list.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
My summary: When a young girl is subjected to a violent childhood and loses her mother in a house fire, she is raised by an aunt on a flower farm. There she discovers the native Australian blooms have a way of communicating her feelings to the other hurt women who reside on the farm.
The story spans twenty years and is filled with secrets, passion, and beauty. It’s a truly emotional read.
My reaction: I hugged the book. Yes, literally hugged it to my chest because it is such a treasure. I also met Holly Ringland at one of her launch events and I will never part with my signed copy!
Secrets My Father Kept by Rachel Givney
My summary: Hold on to your seats while reading this one because it will take you on an intense ride.
Set in Poland in 1939 just as Hitler’s army edges towards the country we meet a determined woman who falls in love with a Jewish man. Her father wants to do all he can to keep his daughter safe… including holding onto a secret about his wife who disappeared fifteen years ago. If discovered, the secret could have a huge impact on their lives and the community they live in.
My reaction: Wow, just wow. Even now a year or so after finishing this book I am amazed by the twists and turns this book contains.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My summary: This is a story about finding true love and a Hollywood star’s struggle to live her truth.
It will have you aching and wishing that Evelyn could just be who she wants to be. A great story that takes you from an actress wanting to make it, to the wise woman who reflects back knowing fame cost her more than she anticipated.
My reaction: Had to immediately call my friend who recommended it to me and release ALL my thoughts about it.
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
My summary: I’ve already share a bit about it, so last but not least this book is an absolute must read.
It’s another coming of age story about a young girl who grows up in the Scriptorium where the first edition of the Oxford Dictionary is being written. She soon discovers that not all words are equal, and so too the voices that speak them. So, she starts her own dictionary and discovers a world so different to her own.
A book filled with stunning research about how the dictionary came to be and the emergence of the Suffragettes in the UK.
My reaction: Silently thanked Pip Williams before I had the chance to meet her for writing such a gorgeous story.