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Crime novelist Patricia Cornwell’s 40 books have collectively sold more than 100 million copies. Her latest, "Unnatural Death," is a Kay Scarpetta novel that finds the medical examiner in rural Virginia investigating the mauling death of two campers.
'Uncle Tom’s Cabin' by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
Stowe is an ancestor of mine, and I read this book very early on. I continue to be struck by her graphic descriptions of slavery at its cruel est; it’s no wonder the story had such a profound impact on the public. I feel that Harriet and I write about the same thing only very differently: the abuse of power. Buy it here.
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'The Inner Game of Tennis' by Timothy Gallwey (1974)
I used to carry this book with me to tennis tournaments, and all sorts of places, when I was in my teens. It reminded me of the importance of focusing: to watch the ball so carefully that you see the seams coming toward you. I try to do that with the essential things in my life, and most of all my writing. Buy it here.
The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway (1986)
Published 25 years after Hemingway’s death, The Garden of Eden is one of my favorites of his novels. I read it several times a year. I love the way he describes a writer’s life. I can feel the places Hemingway takes us as his semi-autobiographical character sits before his window, overlooking the sea and opens his notebook to write about Africa. Buy it here.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988)
Simply one of the finest thrillers ever written. It influenced me considerably; when I was writing Postmortem, my first crime novel about medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, I studied the way Harris told his story and most of all his descriptions. I still read it now and then today. Buy it here.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)
I love this magical, influential children’s story — the first of Baum’s 14 Oz novels —and most of all that it’s an endless source of metaphor. Buy it here.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (1964)
This delicious memoir describes Hemingway’s journey as a novelist while dishing on all sorts of luminaries that he knew along the way, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound. It is indeed a feast, told sparingly and unforgettably. Buy it here.
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