Philanthropist Lynda Resnick is the marketing guru behind Fiji Water and POM Wonderful. Her new book on branding, Rubies in the Orchard, was co-authored by The Week’s Francis Wilkinson.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (Dover, $1.50). Karma on a sled. Wharton’s tale is a riveting page-turner. I first read it in high school. It taught me that fate has a nasty sense of humor—and that you shouldn’t fool around with your cousin’s husband.

‘Swann in Love’ by Marcel Proust. This section of Swann’s Way (Penguin, $16) was my introduction to Proust, encountered while I was recovering from back surgery. Despite being a little out there on medication, I was mesmerized by the Swann in Love audio CD (read by Neville Jason). It started my love affair with the author, and with madeleines.

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice (Ballantine, $15). Long before Stephenie Meyers’ Twilight series, Rice’s 1976 novel made vampires sensual and desirable. I was so thoroughly frightened by some of the passages, I had to stop and switch on every light in the house. I’ve been trying to meet a vampire ever since.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (Norton, $18). Everything you need to know about the evolution of society, told in the most charming and engaging style.
Emma (or anything) by Jane Austen (Bantam, $5). I’ve read Austen’s books over and over again. They’re the purest form of the language, the most delicious stories with the dearest characters. Austen is to writing what Raphael is to painting. Her language is imbued with the divine. 

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (Mariner, $14). Lahiri’s language is so fluid and poetic that this novel flies by; writing this exquisitely is the perfection to which every writer should aspire. I hadn’t visited India before I read the book but did soon after, and I fell in love with the people through the author’s writing.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (Back Bay, $15). I got this book on tape to occupy me during six hours of dental work. It was so funny, the office thought I was overdosing on laughing gas. Other patients asked, “Give me what whatever she had.”