March is National Reading Month, so the staff at SLS Consulting decided to pick their favorite books and discuss why they love them so much.
As you can see below, every staff member has a book that has left a major impression on his or her life. Read on to see our picks and get inspired to pick up a new book! Do you have a favorite? Are any of these near and dear to your heart? Let us know on our Facebook page!
Susan – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
This series was the first I remember really reading for pleasure as a child and it kindled a lifelong sense of wonder and excitement for reading. I’ve read them by myself many times and I’ve also read them to my children. Reading is a way to escape from reality without really going anywhere. This series reminds us that the imagination is a beautiful thing and that if we believe, anything is possible. These books have many life lessons housed within their pages: unexpected acts of kindness, unusual friendships, loyalty, betrayal, fear, and love. I rarely read a book twice, but I have read these many times.
Kathleen – You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe
Wolfe is actually my favorite author of all time. I love all of his books and reread them occasionally. I can’t actually put into words why I loved You Can’t Go Home Again the first time that I read it, but I still enjoy going to Asheville, North Carolina. I love to read and read anything and everything, but I go back to Thomas Wolfe. I also love Thomas Hardy, Ayn Rand, and F. Scott Fitzerald. There are a few current writers that I enjoy but cannot choose one as a favorite.
Leticia – No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
I read it a while ago, but I remember loving this play because of the existentialist message at the end. I enjoyed Sartre’s exploration of what hell could be like in a non-traditional sense. It also made me think about how the dynamic of a group depends on the people in it. If it’s the right group of people, wonderful. If people aren’t compatible with each other, it’s only a matter of time before things start to become “interesting.”
Sara – Anything by Kurt Vonnegut
Vonnegut is by far one of my favorite authors. I love the way he blends dark humor and satire with the human condition, the evolution of structure and style throughout his works, and his quirky use of language. He employs imagination and cynicism like no one else. I admire the way he writes science fiction with an emphasis on humanistic qualities.
Scott – The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
In general, I like Hemingway’s writing. In The Old Man and the Sea, his visual descriptions paint a vivid picture that makes it very easy to envision each scene (all of his other books do this too). Story-wise, I can’t help but sympathize for the Old Man and root for him to bring in this beast of a marlin to put to rest all the talk around the harbor that he’s an unlucky, washed up old fisherman. It’s a tale of perseverance, and its somber yet hopeful tone throughout make it one of my favorite reads.
Frank – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (not to be confused with The Art of War)
In his book, Pressfield talks about breaking through mental resistance in order to reach your goals, get through difficult or challenging tasks, and, more importantly, getting through creative roadblocks for designers, writers, and other creatives.
Matthew – The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Most people know the gist of this classic piece of literature, but the complexities and real emotions that inform the large cast of characters make this far more than just a tale of revenge. Dumas deftly balances romance, tragedy, mystery, action, and even bits of comedy to turn what seems to at first be a grand adventure into a morality play. From a daring escape on an impenetrable island prison to the execution of Dantès’ grand plan, the reader is asked to weigh the true toll of revenge against the power of forgiveness.
Kaylen – Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
I don’t really understand why this book is my favorite out of everything I’ve read. It’s not one of those books that I can read over and over again, but it has stuck with me ever since high school. Dreamland is about a girl who loses herself to the expectations of her parents and her abusive boyfriend. She lets everyone control her life (how she dresses, what she does, which school to go to, etc.), but in the end, fights back and find her independence.
Ronnie – Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
I read this book around the time I went to Japan on a mission trip and it changed my perspective on really basic things I thought I knew growing up, like prayer and fasting. It helped make my faith practical and real at the same time. So it is definitely a big influence on how I think today.
Rebecca – To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Since before I could read I was dictating stories and have always been driven to express the distinct sensation of being alive. I have many shortcomings in my writing, the most glaring of which is my struggle to create solid plotlines. I’m swept up with getting the setting and emotion just right, and pages and pages go by. I look for the same thing when I read; I want to be transported into the experience of another’s life. In To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf displays this same focus in her writing, but at the level of a genius. The book set the bar for me. People say it has no action and little dialogue, but when I read it, I am there looking out at the lighthouse with the Ramsays. And I understand not only how it feels to stand at the water’s edge, but a bit more of what it is to be human.
Melissa – The Alienist by Caleb Carr
The book takes place at the turn of the century in New York and follows a group of people investigating a string of murders. The book touches on new procedures in the police field (fingerprinting), as well as historical figures (Theodore Roosevelt), and provides great detail of that period in time. This was recommended to me years ago by a co-worker and really sparked my interest in historical fiction, which lead me to read other great books, including Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and City of Light by Lauren Belfer.
Rachael – Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
It’s the kind of novel I can read over and over again and learn something new each time. I love how well Woolf accomplishes the stream of consciousness style of storytelling and the idea that you could learn so much about a person’s life based on what they think about over the course of a single day. It also helps that the story is set in London and you can get a real feel for the city – the traffic, Big Ben chiming the hours, everyone stopping to look when they think a Royal might be passing by.
Thomas – Open City by Teju Cole
The pacing of this novel is meditative, even meandering at times, and not much goes on in the way of plot, but I’ve never encountered prose that so accurately reflects how we explore the topographies of our minds. Our memories and thoughts create contours that we, either consciously or subconsciously, navigate, as one moves through a city, street by street, every defining experience a landmark that eventually fades with the passage of time.