The best books in first person that tell it like it is

Who am I?

Long before presenting my writing, or for that matter, becoming a writer, I have loved the spotlight of the oral storyteller. I have told stories at gatherings for children and adults, layering the content to fit every age. Every spoken story I tell comes from bits of my own life situations, and therefore, first person view has been the only effective tool I have had. Really, that is the only way I see the world. So, when I tell a story about someone besides me, I simply jump into their shoes and become that character. 


I wrote...

The Various Stages of a Garden Well-Kept

By Robert R. Davis,

Book cover of The Various Stages of a Garden Well-Kept

What is my book about?

Loosely based on true events, this is a multi-generational tale about relationships and family. In 1920 Irini Gaspari, a young Greek woman, leaves behind all that she holds dear and emigrates to America, bound for an arranged marriage to a man she has never met. After tragedy strikes, little Marieta finds her own path into womanhood in the changing world of the 1950s and 1960s. Jumping forward to 2010, in Akron, Ohio two brothers, Herman and Richard seem to have in common an awkward relationship with love. In their own, de-romanticized ways, they are looking for ‘the one.’ The lives of these characters are interwoven through Frieda Kahlo: an introspective and enigmatic calico cat who drifts between reality and the spiritual world, connecting the generations of characters.

The books I picked & why

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The Poisonwood Bible

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Book cover of The Poisonwood Bible

Why this book?

This, above any other book, has influenced my writing. Kingsolver’s use of various voices throughout the book—each voice within their own chaptertell one epic story of growing up. I love the way the author can switch the styles of speaking and thinking from one character to the next. I feel I am listening to many people trying to explain one story, each with a separate outlook.

The Poisonwood Bible

By Barbara Kingsolver,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Poisonwood Bible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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An international bestseller and a modern classic, this suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and their remarkable reconstruction has been read, adored and shared by millions around the world.

'Breathtaking.' Sunday Times
'Exquisite.' The Times
'Beautiful.' Independent
'Powerful.' New York Times

This story is told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959.

They carry with them everything they believe they will…


To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee,

Book cover of To Kill a Mockingbird

Why this book?

A classic. Lee takes us on a journey through the eyes of a young Scout Finch. Looking through the eyes of a child into the worlds of both children and adults gives a peek into the flickering change from child to adult. I feel it is a special talent for an adult to move back into her child’s mind to paint the world and create an adventure. 

To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked To Kill a Mockingbird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel - a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped…


The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein,

Book cover of The Art of Racing in the Rain

Why this book?

Why must we tell a story from a person’s point of view? Done effectively, an animal’s view is refreshing and even innocent in the telling. Stein does a beautiful job of speaking as a dog without falling into a child’s book. Enzo the dog takes us into a philosophic realm of existence that manages to open the reader’s mind. 

The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Art of Racing in the Rain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a major motion picture, this heart-warming and inspirational tale follows Enzo, a loyal family dog, tells the story of his human family, how they nearly fell apart, and what he did to bring them back together.

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: he thinks and feels in nearly human ways. He has educated himself by watching extensive television, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo realizes that racing is a metaphor: that by applying the techniques a driver would apply on…


Life of Pi

By Yann Martel,

Book cover of Life of Pi

Why this book?

Again, I chose a book that is given in the first-person point of view. Rather than using a variety of first persons to tell a story, Martel takes the main character, Pi, and uses him in back-and-forth narrations from various ages – young and in the moment, and older, looking back. As well, he uses Pi as a general narrator overall in the storytelling. This gives the illusion that perhaps the other characters are not so important, or rather they are not the point of the story. 

Life of Pi

By Yann Martel,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Life of Pi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger, Richard Parker, for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his…


Water for Elephants

By Sara Gruen,

Book cover of Water for Elephants

Why this book?

The main character, Jacob Jankowski narrates this story keeping me glued to the pages as he describes the characters that surround him. Gruen artfully uses Jacob in his younger days and his older days to tell the story of the old-time circus. She is able to give multi-dimensions to the other characters through the eyes of the narrator without having to switch over to a third-person point of view. It has been years since I have read this, but I feel like I remember each character's personality as if they too were telling the story. Almost like I was there too.

Water for Elephants

By Sara Gruen,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Water for Elephants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NOW A FILM STARRING REESE WITHERSPOON AND ROBERT PATTINSON

'Great story, loads of fun; hard to put down.' STEPHEN KING

The Great Depression, 1929.
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and utterly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, grifters, and misfits in the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth: a second-rate travelling circus struggling to survive by making one-night stands in town after endless town. Jacob, a veterinary student now unable to finish his degree, is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. He…


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