My mother was a first grade teacher, so reading aloud to us was a given. I most vividly remember being read "The Secret Garden" by Francis Hodgson Burnett, and when I was oldenough I read it myself, as well as every other book by her that I could find. I loved whenteachers read to the class, and was carried away by "The Wind in the Willows", by KennethGrahame, and "Just So Stories" by Rudyard Kipling. I didn’t discover the Narnia Series until I read it to my own children, and we’ve read them over and over. As an adult, I still love fantasy tales, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Magicians" - a sort of much darker adult Narnia/Harry Potter tale by Lev Grossman, as well as "The Discovery of Witches" Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Harkness has a new book out now – "Time’s Convert" which I will read as soon as possible! "1Q84" by Haruki Murakami also has a fantastical bent to it that I quite enjoyed.
I adore contemporary fiction, especially novels that discuss characters with complicated relationships- I guess my first obsession was anything by Doris Lessing, especially "The Golden Notebook". The book" A Little Life" by Hanya Yanagihara heart breaking but so compelling -it hurts to read this, (so beware!) but it was also beautiful. More complicated characters- "Lila" by Marilynne Robinson, "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Horbach, "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer, "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay, "A Guide for the Perplexed" by Dara Horn, "The Nix" by Nathan Hill, and everything by Elizabeth Strout.
I am a lover of natural science, so real stories about nature and animals appeal to me, as well as novels that contain truths about nature. Everything I have read by Barbara Kingsolver including her latest- "Unsheltered" contains so much about natural science interwoven with compelling narratives. I felt the same way about "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert. "The Hungry Tide" by Amitav Ghosh takes place in the Sunderbans in India, very much in the news now due to extreme flooding. Because I am drawn to books about animals, I have unwittingly read many books by the same author- Sy Montgomery ("The Soul of an Octopus", "The Good Pig",- and on the counter now-"How to Be a Good Creature.")
As an artist, I also love books which have stories about art or as in "The Goldfinch", by Donna Tartt and "The World to Come" by Dara Horn, books that feature a particular painting in the storyline. Robin Black’s book "Life Drawing" features an artist as the main character. B.A. Shapiro books "The Art Forger" and "The Muralist" both had interesting historical and art aspects.