The best books about someone fighting to overcome the legacy of their parents’ past

Why am I passionate about this?

From an early age, I was steeped in stories. My mother is a great storyteller and would tell vivid and exciting stories of her childhood, giving me a great sense of my own life as a part of the story of generations. We moved around a lot for my father’s job, which was sometimes disorientating and could lead to loneliness, and I took refuge in libraries and in writing stories of my own. By the time I left school, literature was my big love and mainstay, and I took a degree in English and later taught it in schools. Reading and writing stories has since become my life.


I wrote...

Astral Travel

By Elizabeth Baines,

Book cover of Astral Travel

What is my book about?

A novel in which a daughter tries to uncover the mysteries surrounding her now-dead father, a charismatic but troubled and even violent man, only to come up against deep secrets that she could never have guessed.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of All My Puny Sorrows

Elizabeth Baines Why did I love this book?

I was blown away by this book when I first read it, and it may be one of the best books I’ve ever read.

I laughed out loud at the wisecracking wit while tears actually dropped into my lap at the aching sadness as I read of the struggles of Yolande to stop her famous pianist sister Elfride from committing suicide and as she mines their strict Memonite past (including their father’s own suicide) for reasons for Elfride’s depression.

I kept gulping out hilarious bits to my partner while wiping my eyes and blowing my nose. I found it hard to put down to go and eat. When I finished it, I didn’t feel I’d read it; I felt I’d had a whole experience, and I set about recommending it to my reading group and all my friends.

By Miriam Toews,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked All My Puny Sorrows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the bestselling author of Women Talking, a "wrenchingly honest, darkly funny novel" (Entertainment Weekly).


Elf and Yoli are sisters. While on the surface Elfrieda's life is enviable (she's a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, and happily married) and Yolandi's a mess (she's divorced and broke, with two teenagers growing up too quickly), they are fiercely close-raised in a Mennonite household and sharing the hardship of Elf's desire to end her life. After Elf's latest attempt, Yoli must quickly determine how to keep her family from falling apart while facing a profound question: what do you do for a loved one…


Book cover of Austerlitz

Elizabeth Baines Why did I love this book?

I honestly felt my life had more meaning after I first read this book, as it touched on so much that was close to my heart.

I totally identified with the protagonist’s emotional journey: a childhood imbued with a sense of things lost and hidden, which, in adulthood, he tries to quell with erudition before the past erupts and he learns the truth of his tortured origins.

I found it really haunting and more in touch with the truth about the human condition than most books I’ve read. I’ve read it three times, once with my reading group, and I’m sure I’ll read it again. 

By W.G. Sebald,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Austerlitz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This tenth anniversary edition of W. G. Sebald’s celebrated masterpiece includes a new Introduction by acclaimed critic James Wood. Austerlitz is the story of a man’s search for the answer to his life’s central riddle. A small child when he comes to England on a Kindertransport in the summer of 1939, Jacques Austerlitz is told nothing of his real family by the Welsh Methodist minister and his wife who raise him. When he is a much older man, fleeting memories return to him, and obeying an instinct he only dimly understands, Austerlitz follows their trail back to the world he…


Book cover of The Gathering

Elizabeth Baines Why did I love this book?

I was engrossed by this beautifully written book about the way that things that happened in a previous generation can affect one’s happiness without one even knowing about them.

I totally identified with protagonist Veronica as she looks for clues as to why her brother committed suicide by imagining scenes from her parents’ past.

When I registered the subtle moment that was crucial to it all, everything fell into stark and terrible place, and it took my breath away. Both witty and sad, the book left a deep impression on me.

By Anne Enright,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Gathering as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Witty, original, inventive...utterly compelling' Daily Mail

Winner of the Man Booker Prize

The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother Liam. It wasn't the drink that killed him - although that certainly helped - it was what happened to him as a boy in his grandmother's house, in the winter of 1968.

The Gathering is a novel about love and disappointment, about thwarted lust and limitless desire, and how our fate is written in the body, not in the stars.

'It is clearly the product of a remarkable intelligence, combined…


Book cover of Amongst Women

Elizabeth Baines Why did I love this book?

I find so true this depiction of a family cruelly affected by their father’s grim past as an IRA commander, which has turned him into a strict, even cruel, disciplinarian.

I shuddered with empathy with the children and wife and rejoiced in the eventual escape of the sons he beat while still, in the end, feeling for him and his loss of their love.

I read it years ago, and it always stayed with me, so I recently recommended it to my reading group and read it again. I was no less moved.

By John McGahern,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Amongst Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Wuthering Heights

Elizabeth Baines Why did I love this book?

I read this book several times as a teenager. I loved it for the wild Cathy and the brooding Heathcliff, and, needless to say, I identified strongly with them. Ever since, it’s been part of my mental landscape.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find when I read it again all these years later that I saw it all in a different light. I saw that the behaviour of Cathy and Heathcliff, while I could still identify with it, had, in fact, been destructive, that they had visited a terrible legacy on the next generation, their children.

And suddenly the book seemed richer, deeper, and more complex, which made me love it even more.

By Emily Bronte,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Wuthering Heights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the great novels of the nineteenth century, Emily Bronte's haunting tale of passion and greed remains unsurpassed in its depiction of destructive love. Her tragically short life is brilliantly imagined in the major new movie, Emily, starring Emma Mackey in the title role.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition of Wuthering Heights features an afterword by David Pinching.

One wild, snowy night on the Yorkshire moors, a gentleman asks…


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Book cover of The Complete Eldercare Planner: Where to Start, Which Questions to Ask, and How to Find Help

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What is my book about?

Trusted for more than three decades by family caregivers and professionals alike, this comprehensive and reassuring caregiving guide offers the crucial information you need to look after your elders and plan for the future.

Being a caregiver for aging parents, close friends and family, and other elders in your life is an overwhelming experience, whether you are one who has stepped into this role without warning or one who is also contemplating their own care plan. Now in its fourth edition, The Complete Eldercare Planner will help you navigate today’s complex caregiving landscape while addressing your unique needs.

By Joy Loverde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Eldercare Planner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Trusted for more than three decades by family caregivers and professionals alike, this comprehensive and reassuring caregiving guide offers the crucial information you need to look after your elders and plan for the future.

“The most complete resource between two covers.”—Woman’s Day
 
Being a caregiver for aging parents, close friends and family, and other elders in your life is an overwhelming experience, whether you are one who has stepped into this role without warning or one who is also contemplating their own care plan. Now in its fourth edition, The Complete Eldercare Planner will help you navigate today’s complex caregiving…


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