The best books for those who know there’s no such thing as too many books

Who am I?

I've always loved reading to myself and others. I've been an English teacher for years. I love sharing good books and have the reputation of being a good resource, especially for moms with children. I’m happy to share everything from memoirs and history books to classics and children’s picture books. Walking through a library or a bookstore is a favorite activity, so finding not only new books but excellent books about books is always a treat. I love to understand what makes a book work well as a story, thus books that delve into the richness of a story through personal narrative or literary criticism have been favorites to keep on my shelves. 

I wrote...

Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children

By Leslie Bustard (editor), Carey Bustard (editor), Thea Rosenburg (editor)

Book cover of Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children

What is my book about?

Wild Things and Castles in the Sky: A Guide to Choosing the Best Books for Children gives the reader over 40 essays that examine specific types of children’s books and offer suggestions in each category. Among the topics covered are: imagination, faith, classic literature, middle school books, race, fantasy, contemporary children’s books, Shakespeare, art history, Newberry books, young adult novels, poetry, suffering, Latino books, and more. Curated and edited by Leslie and Carey Bustard with Théa Rosenburg (a mother-daughter team and a children’s books blogger), Wild Things and Castles in the Sky will encourage and envision parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends—to know the power of a good story and to share it with a child they love.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls

Why did I love this book?

Mitali Perkins is a winsome, thoughtful writer who easily draws the reader into her discussions of the timelessness of each classic book. This book is a blend of memoir, literary criticism, and moral formation. My favorite part of Steeped in Stories was her contagious love for each book. She reminded me why I loved them, and why I wanted my children to read them when they were younger. Not only does Mitali guide the reader through what makes these books classics in a good sense, she also helps us see them with discerning eyes so that instead of ditching old books for problematic parts, she helps us navigate them with young readers in mind. Steeped in Stories discusses The Hobbit, Heidi, Emily of Deep Valley, Little Women, and The Silver Chair

By Mitali Perkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Steeped in Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The stories we read as children shape us for the rest of our lives. But it is never too late to discover that transformative spark of hope that children's classics can ignite within us.

Award-winning children's author Mitali Perkins grew up steeped in stories—escaping into her books on the fire escape of a Flushing apartment building and, later, finding solace in them as she navigated between the cultures of her suburban California school and her Bengali heritage at home. Now Perkins invites us to explore the promise of seven timeless children's novels for adults living in uncertain times: stories that…

Book cover of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me

Why did I love this book?

One summer I took this book with me on vacation as one of my beach reads. I could not put it down. Dr. Prior shares her favorite books from childhood to adulthood and how each book influenced her. Because she is a college literature teacher, Karen knows how to share the ins and outs of a book—its plot as well as its literary elements and themes—while also intertwining her own life story as part of the discussion of the book. Since I love learning about themes, metaphors, and character development, reading these things was a treat for me. She discussed Charlotte’s Web, the poetry of Gerard Manly Hopkins and John Donne, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, and others. 

By Karen Swallow Prior,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A life of books. A life of soul. Professor Karen Swallow Prior poignantly and humorously weaves the two, until you can't tell one life from the other. Booked draws on classics like Great Expectations, delights such as Charlotte's Web, the poetry of Hopkins and Donne, and more. This thoughtful, straight-up memoir will be pure pleasure for book-lovers, teachers, and anyone who has struggled to find a way to articulate the inexpressible through a love of story.

Book cover of The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints

Why did I love this book?

I loved reading Jessica Hooten Wilson’s insights into the eight novels she recommends in her book. Jessica asks the age-old question “how do we become better people?” but then posits we need to enlarge the question to “how do we become holy people?” She also says we need to enlarge our imaginations in how we seek the answers. She examines the main characters of eight different modern books and what we can gain from them. Some of the books she recommends are Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin, Kristin Lavensdatter by Sigrid Unstead, That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis, Moses, Man of the Mountain by Zora Neale Hurston, and The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. I really enjoyed the deep dive into some books I already loved. 

By Jessica Hooten Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

How do we become better people? Initiatives such as New Year's resolutions, vision boards, thirty-day plans, and self-help books often fail to compel us to live differently. We settle for small goals--frugal spending, less yelling at the kids, more time at the gym--but we are called to something far greater. We are created to be holy.

Award-winning author Jessica Hooten Wilson explains that learning to hear the call of holiness requires cultivating a new imagination--one rooted in the act of reading. Learning to read with eyes attuned to the saints who populate great works of literature moves us toward holiness,…

Book cover of Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life

Why did I love this book?

This is the perfect book of books lists for me, as Sarah Clarkson is a kindred spirit but also more well-read than I am. I loved reading about her life of reading and her journey of discovering books. She loves many of the books I have loved, and because of this, I could then find books I had to discover. This is a cozy, happy read, with a list of books I was glad to agree with or search for at the local library. 

By Sarah Clarkson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When you hear a riveting story, does it thrill your heart and stir your soul? Do you hunger for truth and goodness? Do you secretly relate to Belle’s delight in the library in Beauty and the Beast?

If so, you may be on your way to being a book girl.

Books were always Sarah Clarkson’s delight. Raised in the company of the lively Anne of Green Gables, the brave Pevensie children of Narnia, and the wise Austen heroines, she discovered reading early on as a daily gift, a way of encountering the world in all its wonder. But what she…

Book cover of Take and Read: Spiritual Reading An Annotated List

Why did I love this book?

The words and life of Eugene Peterson have been important to my own spiritual formation, so finding a book that shares the books he read that formed him was a must. He recommends classic books, a wide variety of theologians and Bible scholars, poetry, and contemporary and mystery novels. Eugene Peterson had a large and generous heart and a deep-thinking mind, and finding out that I had read many of his favorites already was an encouragement. And looking for more of his recommendations has proved useful. 

By Eugene H. Peterson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Spiritual reading has fallen on bad times. Today, reading is largely a consumer activity, done for information that may fuel ambitions or careers -- and the faster the better. Take and Read represents Eugene H. Peterson's attempt to rekindle the activity of spiritual reading, reading that considers any book that comes to hand in a spiritual way, tuned to the Spirit, alert to intimations of God.

Take and Read provides an annotated list of the books that have stood the test of time and that, for Peterson, are spiritually formative in the Christian life. The books on this list range…

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