This month's topic is a tough one for me. I am an absolute book glutton. I read several books a week and the problem with reading as fast as I do is that I don't always remember the stories I've read. They begin to blur together after some time.
But there have been several that have made such a deep impact on me, I've never forgotten them. In fact, I re-read them when I feel sad. Here they are, in no particular order.
NATURAL BORN CHARMER by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
This novel is a rom-com with depth. It was the first novel I'd read by this author and was a book club selection at the time. It was part of a series but could stand alone. The opening scene features the drop-dead gorgeous quarterback of a football team driving a country road and spotting a headless beaver.
Not an actual beaver, mind you.
A person in a beaver costume, minus the head. And she is PISSED OFF. This is the meet-cute for Dean and Blue, the main characters in this hilarious story that soon proves it's far deeper than you think. Make no mistake, Blue and Dean's relationship is one of the funniest things I've ever read but there are additional love stories. Blue and Dean both suffer from abandonment issues and there are some achingly sweet reunions throughout the novel. There's also an element of 'finding yourself' that truly touched me. This book is so special to me that whenever I'm asked to pick a book, this is the one I say first because it's nearly perfect. Here's a review I wrote back in 2011.
THE BEST MAN by Kristan Higgins
This novel is first in a series with small town charm and characters all up in each other's business. The main characters in this story are Faith and Levi and though I first read this novel about 10 years ago, I still have the biggest crush on Levi Cooper. Their love story starts in school, when they're children, and extends all these years later when Levi busts up Faith's wedding to the town doctor.
There is one scene in this novel when Faith reveals her darkest secret guilt to Levi. No one knows it, not even her own family. You know how some romance novels feature a grand gesture? The hero rents out a billboard or perhaps a horse drawn carriage, things like that? Levi, the police chief, goes to work. He spends almost all night investigating what Faith revealed to him and then, in the middle of the night, knocks on her door to share what he learned. It is by far the most heartfelt and romantic scene I've ever read and there isn't a single flower, chocolate, horse-drawn carriage, or billboard in sight.
PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry
I was talking to my editor about what would later become my third novel, SOME BOYS, and explaining how I wanted to write the novel in dual points of view. She sent me a link to Pushing the Limits and I became a lifelong Katie McGarry fan before I finished the first chapter.
Katie writes deep, angsty, heartrending YA novels that gut me and then put me back together in ways like nobody else. This novel features Noah and the unfortunately named Echo, two lost souls dealing with heavy issues no teens their age should ever have to face. Their love story is nothing short of epic with each deciding to do something for the other that is so huge, so full of risk, I had to stop reading to get myself back under control just so I could see the page again. If you're familiar with O. Henry's Gift of the Magi, that's the level of epicness I mean and I can't tell you more without dropping major spoilers. This book is special.
Despite how completely wrecked I was reading this book, Katie finds ways to end her novels on hopeful and high notes that are like promises I can trust whenever I buy one of her books. I may have to hold on tight and close my eyes for a minute or two, but the end will be oh-so-sweet and worth the tears.
What books touched your heart? I'm always looking for new ones to read. Hit me up in the comments!