Thursday, May 10, 2007

I have many favorite books, but the first time I got this type of question I was embarrassed when I heard other replies. The real question was what were the first books that influenced you. Influence meaning changed your perception of the world. My friends and fellow writers were all mentioning books they read as children, Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, Harriett the Spy, Pippi Longstocking. I never even knew those were books. They were movies. I never heard of Nancy Drew until the television series came on. Laura Engalls was not part of my circle of influence. I read a series of young adult books by Rosamund du Jardin and I read biographies.

The first book that changed my perception of the world was The Stand by Stephen King. It’s a horror tale and you may be gasping in horror as you read this, but from that book I understood that all of us, me included, would have to take a stand on whatever we believe is right in this world. Life presents us with challenges and we were obligated, to ourselves if no one else, to do what we believe and to stand by that decision. So when I think of favorite book, The Stand is on the top of the list.

I cut my teeth on reading romance novels. Emilie Loring, who wrote books set in the 1940’s (contemporary times for her) and had already died by the time I discovered her, was the first author I read and loved. I wished I’d saved her books. They were full of the concerns that people in the northeastern seaboard had about Germans invading the U.S. during World War II. They also had what I came to know years after I began writing as the “feisty” heroine. Her heroines were no wilting flowers. They were strong and spoke their minds, even to the hero, especially to the hero. They were the women of the ‘90’s back in the ‘40’s.

Sandra Brown became a favorite later on and she continues to be on my automatic buy list. I’ve never been disappointed by her. Having her roots in series romance and then single title, she moved to writing thrillers and suspense with romantic elements. The plot twists of these larger books only added to my enjoyment. Charade, Exclusive, and Envy remain all time favorites, although anything she’s written is a favorite.

Dean Koontz, for me, is an author to study. If you read his books in the order he wrote them, you’ll find each one is better than the one before. I want to be like him when I grow up. Favorites are hard to choose because the last one is the best one. I especially like the Christopher Snow novels, Fear Nothing and Seize the Night. At the end of Seize the Night, I was convinced there would be a third book called Torpedo Alley. The ending was set up for a third book in the series, but so far he hasn’t written it and I have not written him requesting it. The Key to Midnight is high on my list of favorites. For Dean Koontz, I’m a collector. I keep all his books, in any pseudonym he’s used, even his children’s book and a book on writing. And, a little known fact to his legends of thriller/horror fans, he wrote romances at one time for Harlequin.

The first African American romance author I read was Sandra Kitt, Adam and Eva. She was the forerunner for an entire list of favorites. Donna Hill’s, Rooms of the Heart. Eboni Snoe’s The Ties That Bind. Francis Ray’s Any Rich Man Will Do. Felicia Mason’s For the Love of You.
I can’t forget Jill Jones, whose first book Emilie’s Secret spawned a genre of its own. Jill hasn’t written that many books, but her back list pumps a wallop in enjoyment of reading.

Like one other author said, the list of favorites can change from day to day. These are some of those I love. I hope you do too.

Shirley Hailstock


Gram said...

Thank you for mentioning Emilie Loring. I read her when I was young and may even have a few of her books packed away in the attic. I haven't seen her mentioned in years.

Carol said...

There are so many good authors and books that it is hard to pick a favorite of either. My first romance was Gone With The Wind. I would have to pick that book as one the best romances I've ever read. Nora's books are great. I've never read one of hers that I didn't like.

Shirley Hailstock said...


You are so welcome. Emilie Loring is still one of my favorites. I can remember the plots to some of her books, but not the titles. I have a friend who can probably do that. She and I used to talk about Emilie for hours.

Shirley Hailstock said...


I could recite dialogue from Gone with the Wind. The movie was true to the book in that way, even though they left out things (like Scarlett's other children).

Scarlett was a strong woman, not apt to allow anything to prevent her from surviving. I like to think my heroes and heroines are the same way, even though their means are a lot more acceptable.

As I seem to build a house or describe one in everyone of my books, I truly wanted to live at Twelve Oaks. I was diasppointed to discover it was never a completed building. I used to think it was David O. Selznik's studio front, but later found out it wasn't.

Thanks for posting and come back again.


Reen said...

My mom was a Emily Loring fan too, along with Agatha Christie.

foxyllady said...

I can remember reading Nancy Drew and watch the Little House on the Paririe when it was on. Have read some of Sandra Brown books and enjoyed them very much. I started out reading Grace Livingston Hill and love to read Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan. To many out there to list.

Carol said...


I've always felt, too, that they did a good job of following the book when they made the movie. You don't see that too much anymore. I also love the movie. I don't know how many times I've watched it!

deseng said...

Oh Gone With The Wind is a favorite of mine also! The movie might be long but I can watch it over and over and never tire of it.

There are so many good romance books out there that it is really hard to choose just one as an all time favorite!