Ann Brashares took time out of her writing schedule to share her recommended reads with The Week, a mix of modern and not-so-modern classics:
In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (Modern Library, $96). A smarty-pants choice, I recognize, but it is a book like no other. Honestly, by the time you’ve read the whole thing, you’ve lost a lot of time yourself and your memory starts to play tricks of its own as you strain to recall the beginning. Parts of it are so brilliant you wonder, is it possible?
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster, $8). A few years ago I told my friend I hadn’t read Lonesome Dove yet and she said, “I am jealous of you.” After I read it I understood. It is 960 pages of pure pleasure. At the end you feel sadly cast back out into your lesser world. If you have not read Lonesome Dove, I am jealous of you.
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez (Vintage, $15). For the most part I don’t believe a literal word of it, but it is so voluptuous and blithe in its beauty I can’t get over it. It’s truer than true.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough (HarperCollins, $8). The first grown-up book I remember reading. I thought it was the most gorgeous, poetic, majestic thing. I probably read it 10 times between the ages of 12 and 14. I read it again recently to see how much it had changed. It hadn’t. Or maybe I haven’t.
The Gathering by Anne Enright (Grove/Atlantic, $14). The way she describes certain things—the brutality of middle marriage, the hopeless claims between adult siblings—feels so real and horrible and funny it almost hurts.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Little, Brown, $7). A few friends and I recently reread The Great Gatsby and Catcher, and held a cage match over dinner to determine the winner of the “most important American novel you read in high school” prize. They chose Gatsby and I chose Catcher. So maybe it lacks the breadth and formal elegance of Gatsby, but I seem to go for raw connection every time.
—Ann Brashares is the author of the beloved juvenile series that began with 2001’s The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. She has just published her second adult novel, My Name Is Memory, a love story that time-travels 1,200 years.