The Little Review

The following are my personal recommendations for books you can order directly from You can read my Amazon "About Me" page here or my Listmania lists here.

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Books That Changed My Life

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, which I first read when I was nine and is still the one book I could not live without on a desert island, as it helped create the foundation of my sense of spirituality and the interconnectedness of the universe.

Richard Bach's Illusions, first read when I was in elementary school, which taught me to open a book to seek answers to life's questions and which made me realize that my religion did not have to be precisely the one handed down to me.

Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, the book that initiated many women of my generation into the religion of the Goddess and the study of Wicca; it's also one of the most entertaining retellings of the Arthurian myths.

John Milton's Paradise Lost, which both made me realize that I wanted to be an English major and gave me insight into why I tend to root for Satan.

Sharon Olds' The Dead and the Living, poetry about love, life, family, and what it means to be a woman, discovered when I was a junior in college wavering between Renaissance and modern literature and between various feminist paths.

Pattiann Rogers' Firekeeper, a gorgeous collection of poetry about nature, love, and the human spirit, which taught me about poetry as spiritual song.

Truly Excellent Novels

A.S. Byatt's Possession, a wonderful book about poetry, love, and the academics who pursue them.

Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, the most incredibly complex secret history ever assembled, twisting and turning like a puzzle to a shattering conclusion that's even more extraordinary than The Name of the Rose.

Janette Turner Hospital's The Last Magician, a bleak and beautiful novel about youthful torment and the extraordinary power of memory. Hospital's out-of-print novel Charades is also extraordinary, the tale of a Scheherazade-type character looking for her heritage.

Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams, a beautiful, heartrending novel about time and space.

Michael Malone's Handling Sin, a hilarious, moving, extraordinary adventure that reminds us that deep down we're all part of the same cockamamie family.

Theodore Roszak's Flicker, a Foucault's Pendulum-type secret history of the Cathars as well as the best novel about film I've ever read.

Richard Zimler's The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, a stunning mystery of faith and secrets set during a horrific massacre during the Inquisition.


Books Your Kids Must Read

Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising trilogy, my introduction (beyond the musical Camelot) to Arthurian myth, a wonderful tale of history and destiny told through the eyes of young people.

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet & Many Waters, which along with the above-mentioned A Wrinkle In Time did as much to shape my values, my spiritual leanings and what interest I had in science as anything I learned in school or Hebrew school.

C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, which are not only a thoroughly engrossing read, but will prepare you to enter the deeper world of allegory in The Faerie Queene, Paradise Lost and other masterpieces.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, which really do bring a sense of magic even to the most skeptical readers, and have provided a common language for a generation of kids who will hopefully be more open to paganism as well as magic.

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, which may be a little too fashionable right now, but if your kids read them young enough, they will spend the rest of their lives noticing how everything from Star Wars to Harry Potter borrows from Tolkien.

Books To Which I Am Connected

Donawerth and Kolmerten's Utopian and Science Fiction By Women: Worlds of Difference, an academic anthology where you can read my essay on Octavia Butler.

Paul Green's From the Streets of Brooklyn to the War in Europe, the true story of my great uncle and our family.

Samuel Schoenbaum's Shakespeare's Lives, an excellent biography/historical context/critical analysis, which I copy-edited while in grad school.

Samuel Schoenbaum's William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life, an award-winning biography that I also worked on in grad school.

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