Writers Who Read: My Top Book Choices

Writer Virginia Woolf once said, “Read a thousand books and your words will flow like a river.” I’m an avid reader. Give me a book that I can get absorbed in and I’ll have it completed within a week. Like myself, the majority of writers at Forsyth Magazines are fans of reading and now, I’m giving you the inside scoop on what we are reading and our favorite books.

In a new monthly column, “Writers Who Read,” I’ll feature our team of writers’ picks on various topics and themes, such as mystery, biography, etc. For the inaugural column, I’m starting with my top book choices.

Favorite Classic: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I first read To Kill a Mockingbird in my ninth grade English Language Arts class and have loved the novel ever since. Published in 1960, the fictional classic describes the story of the Finch family in Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression. Six-year-old Jean Louise Finch, commonly known as Scout, lives with her older brother, Jem, and their widowed father and lawyer, Atticus. As Scout narrates the plot, other characters emerge, including the mysterious neighbor Boo, and Tom Robinson, an African-American man accused of raping a white woman. Tom is being defended by Atticus. To Kill a Mockingbirdtouches on multiple themes, such as racial inequality, racism, and tolerance. Atticus is the silent hero, who teaches the reader to never give up and that courage comes from within. His actions, of standing up for others, are ones everyone should follow. Every time I read this book, I am reminded that every person is a human being and should be treated equally, to never judge someone before meeting them, and to never destroy the beauty in the world around you. Because, after all “it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Favorite Mystery: Stillwatch by Mary Higgins Clark

This past summer, I became a fan of Mary Higgins Clark and her mystery novels. Within a month or so span of time, I read at least five of her books. Trust me, Clark’s attention-grabbing thrillers are ones you won’t be able to put down. Stillwatch, published in 1984,quickly became a front-runner in my reading list. Main character, Patricia Traymore, is an investigative journalist who moves to Washington, D.C., to do a television program on Senator Abigail Jennings. All bets in town are on Senator Jennings becoming the first female Vice-President. As Patricia begins to research the senator, she quickly discovers some startling facts that would harm the senator’s reputation. In addition, after moving into her childhood home, Patricia begins remembering details about her early years and the night her parents died. This book will keep you on edge with its many twists and turns. It is interesting seeing how all the characters’ stories are intertwined. Other Mary Higgins Clark suggestions: Nighttime is My Time and Two Little Girls in Blue.

Favorite Biography: The Gilded Leaf: Triumph, Tragedy, and Tobacco: Three Generations of the R.J. Reynolds Family and Fortune by Patrick Reynolds and Tom Shachtman

I love historical nonfiction and fiction literature. Add in a hometown connection and I’m hooked. Patrick Reynolds, grandson of tobacco tycoon R.J. Reynolds, gives a vivid account of his family’s life and their rise to fortune in The Gilded Leaf. He depicts the beginnings of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the building of Reynolda House, and the lives and scandals of the patriarch’s children and grandchildren. Also, Patrick Reynolds reflects on his journey to becoming an anti-smoking advocate. This novel is a must-read for locals. You’ll learn unknown facts about the family and the city of Winston-Salem. To this day, I still remember the book’s details about the relationship between R.J.R. and Bowman Gray, Sr., and the mysterious death of Smith Reynolds. After completing the book, follow-up with Kid Carolina: R.J. Reynolds Jr, a Tobacco Fortune and the Mysterious Death of a Southern Iconby Heidi Schnakenberg. Readers are given insider facts about the personal life of R.J.R.’s oldest son, R.J. Reynolds, Jr. and the perplexing circumstances surrounding his death.

Within the next several months, “Writers Who Read” will journey through the numerous genres of books. For October, I’m taking a look at what the writers are currently reading!


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