7 Books to Savor

by | Aug 7, 2015 | Books, Writing


“I’m an author too,” she says with a smile after we introduce ourselves.

While I am speaking from the stage about Sabbath to a group of clergy spouses, Susanna’s eyebrows arch, her body leans forward as she listens to what I’m saying. She’s taking notes; the kind of person you want in each seat of your audience.

But it wasn’t until we sat in a circle with plates of salad on our laps during a break that she tells me about her book, published with Simon and Schuster.

She opens vistas on the shores of a familiar landscape in my heart and we can’t stop ourselves from wading into the warm waters of books; our thoughts swimming with details about the writing life.

We float for a while on the need for support in the inevitable solitary nature of becoming authors.





Weeks later, at her generous invitation we meet at Osterley House and Gardens (because we both love gardening too) for a picnic lunch, a walk and conversation about her next book proposal. A conversation that surprises us both because it’s easy, as if we’ve always been girlfriends though grown up on different continents.

This is the magic of books isn’t it? With each page read in a story, our lives become entangled with the beauty of our humanity and you look forward to the moment you meet again to savor the next chapter.

I left Susanna’s house holding her book in my hands and the story of the way it was birthed written on my heart. An early moment in our journey to London I won’t soon forget.

A book that is now one I reach for daily on the top of my reading stack. And when we find a book we love? You know you want to share it, right?


We were careful about not packing too many books to bring on the crate when we moved to London. Still, you will find a treasure trove of bindings from favorite authors on all three floors of our house. On shelves, bedside tables, lying on the floor of the family room next to a comfy chair and piled high on my writing desk.

Normally, I read several books from different genres at once like a tapas meal; savoring each voice and content in small doses. Do you do that?

Books are for parts of your day like pairing food on your plate. Light-hearted and amusing books for breakfast, spiritual inspiration for a quiet time, memoir for tea-time during a writing break. Page turners are for after the dishes are washed and luxuriating on Sabbath.

My stacks are a smorgasbord of authors encompassing vintage classic, memoir, spiritual inspiration, best-selling fiction and something that challenges me to think differently. Here are the titles:

A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie, Updated and Revised by Susanna Wright – These daily prayers for morning and evening gifted to me by Susanna are infusing my prayer life in ways I didn’t expect. I can hardly move on to the next day’s prayer because every page is inspired and rich. If you long to energize a tired quiet time, I highly recommend it.

Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines – This memoir is her debut book and it is stunning, like all of the things she writes. I found Amber’s blog a few years ago and her poetic way with prose never ceases to inspire me to be better at crafting sentences. This is a raw, honest account of a woman’s brokenness and redemption. So vulnerable, she makes me want to live free and brave like that too.

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro – Books on writing inspire my thinking and creativity in a way that is different than reading fiction. Highlights throughout, it is inspiration for a new writing group I’m leading this autumn.

House at Riverton by Kate Morton – I’ve read every one of her books except this one, her first, and it doesn’t disappoint. Kate has such a way of keeping you away from all house work to find out what will happen next. And then she will surprise you with the ending. Every. Time. Her next book, Lake House, is available in October. I have an alert on my phone.

A Room of One’s Own and A Writer’s Diary both by Virginia Woolf – Dani Shapiro (above) mentions A Writer’s Diary as being a book she returns to often for inspiration so I downloaded the sample on my Kindle. When my friend Dea was here in London, I took her to my favorite bookstore, Persephone, and they had both of these titles. So, she bought them for me as a gift. Because friendship, shopping and books for people who are passionate about words.

Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy – I started this a while ago and then got distracted until the movie came out recently. There is a reason why books are referred to as vintage classics. The word imagery sticks to your memory and returns again years later in conversations, new places visited; in prayers for others when you least expect it. Brilliant, as they say here repeatedly – about everything.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – I’m savoring this one because I’m the only extrovert in a house with three introverts. Need I say more?

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – I finished this book a while ago but I couldn’t do a list without telling you how much I love this book, given to me by my friend Elizabeth. He is a master at building layers of plot and crowds of character; writing scenes in a way that haunts. A writer’s writer for sure.


What are some of the books you are reading that you love and want to give away to friends and family members? Let’s share what we are reading in the comments.


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  1. Veronica

    Oh my, those gardens are flowers are so lovely. Do you happen to know the name of that breathtakingly beautiful deep red flower? A poppy?

    I’m currently reading “in Celebration of Simplicity” by Penelope Wilcock and “Wild in the Hollow.” I read Thomas Hardy’s “Far from the Madding Crowd” decades ago and loved it. And “All the Light We Cannot See” was so hauntingly beautiful, I was sad when I finished reading it. I have a stack of books beginning to form, but reading brings such joy that I can look right past the visual clutter. 🙂
    Happy Reading!

    • Shelly Miller

      I don’t know the name of it Veronica but I do know it is a poppy. I couldn’t resist capturing it. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your list. Looks like we have similar taste in books as well. xxx

  2. Kim Murden

    I came to your blog when researching sabbath a few days ago and I’m totally hooked. Especially today – it’s a keeper when the writer is reading the books that you love.

    • Shelly Miller

      Kim, so lovely to meet you here and thanks for introducing yourself! I couldn’t agree more about books bringing people together. Whenever I meet someone who enjoys the same books I love, I know it is the beginning of a friendship that will go beyond the surface.

  3. Lisa Easterling

    Every time I read one of your blog posts I am reminded of how much alike we are. I have a nightstand filled with a variety of books. Every time I try to trim down the stack, it takes only a day or two to be right back to the same height.

    You will almost always see one or more books by Natalie Goldberg in the stack. Julia Cameron is another author I can’t be without. Ann Voskamp captured my heart with One Thousand Gifts, and so far I have bought six copies to give away to loved ones. I am currently reading Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines and Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg. Like you, I am always reading several books at once.

    I am taking five college classes at a time, so in just over a week I will be overwhelmed with textbooks and homework again. I will continue to do my best to find time for reading those books that feed my soul, and to journal my heart as often as possible. Time permitting, I might even write an occasional blog post. It could happen. 🙂

    Love you dearly.

    • Shelly Miller

      Lisa!! I haven’t heard from you in so long here. It’s lovely to see you in the comments. Thanks for stopping by, what a treat. I love Julia’s Right to Write, one of my favs and Ann’s 1000 Gifts is one I return to over and over again. I’ve read all of Margaret’s books as well. I love each one, not just because she is a dear friend but because the way she writes is transformational.

  4. Lisa

    Oh yes, we’re sisters of the same reader’s cloth! Devoured Doerr’s book and Cain’s in a matter of days, so good! You got me started on Morton’s books ~~and, have not read Hardy but was enthralled by the new movie with the same title; gorgeous British backdrop and still a timely story.

    • Shelly Miller

      It won’t surprise you to know that most of the books that are my favorites have an English backdrop. *wink* Glad to know we share a similar taste in books Lisa!

  5. Leah

    I always appreciate a well-thought out book recommendation list.
    I love Kate Morton as well; thanks for the heads up on her new book in October! I also read Susan Cain’s Quiet book, it brought a lot of clarity for me. However, I am learning to not rely too heavily on my “types” no matter how accurate, as a way to process and proceed in my mind, because all labels limit. I just finished book #7 in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. They need no introduction of course, but I have been reading them in order in spurts for the last three summers. Almost always outside. Reading them as an adult has been a wonderful experience. The end of book 7, The Last Battle, made me cry, its description of the new earth and heaven and Christ was so beautiful. I also just finished Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman, and really, really enjoyed it. It made me think and laugh. Despite its controversy I feel it has a very accurate Biblical message about following our conscience, which comes from a perfect God, not good people or causes, because they all will somehow miss the mark.
    Definitely going to put some of your titles on my goodreads, “to read” list.

  6. Nancy Ruegg

    I recently read Kate Morton’s “Secret Keeper.” Excellent. I’ll have to reserve “House of Riverton.” I, too, often read several books at a time. The current pile includes “Visions of His Glory” by Anne Graham Lotz, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, “Building Great Sentences,” by Brooks Landon, and “Maizie Dobbs” by Jacqueline Winspear. I’m going to put your recommendations on my list, as well as those mentioned by previous commenters. Very useful, indeed!

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