Five Favorites is a new feature at the LA Books Examiner in which our favorite authors share and discuss their five favorite books within a category. In this edition, Kaylin McFarren, debut author and community leader, discusses her five favorite and most heartfelt books.
Five Favorite Heartfelt Books by Kaylin McFarren
1) The Help, Kathryn Stockett (Putnam, 2009)
This remarkable story takes place during the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, where black women raised white children but couldn’t be trusted with the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan returns from college and begins collecting stories from black maids who have been employed by the upper white echelon. The shocking stories these women share give Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Full of heart and history, this book will educate, infuriate and bring tears to the eyes of every person who reads it.
2) Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen (Algonquin, 2007)
Jacob Jankowski, a nursing home resident, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. As a young man, he learns his parents have been killed in a car crash while attending Cornell Veterinary School. With no source of income available, he drops out of school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus. There he falls in love with Marlena, one of the show’s star performers and although the romance is destined for disaster, the cast of characters in this story are guaranteed to capture your imagination.
3) Cider House Rules, John Irving (Modern Library, 1999)
This is by far my favorite John Irving novel. I was amazed at how he effortlessly broached topics like adoption, abortion, faithfulness, love and discrimination. It doesn’t matter whether you’re liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between. Irving will make you think while giving you a chance to question and refine some of your own views. This engaging story provokes and entertains, and leaves you longing for more.
4) Marley and Me, John Grogan (William Morrow, 2005)
When I was originally given this book as a gift, I thought it would be a cute tale that I could scan, put away, and forget. Was I wrong! I found myself immediately drawn into this great family drama which involves Marley, a sweet, affectionate Labrador puppy whose antics would drive the most patient dog lover nuts. Yet, as time passes, the obstacles encountered by Marley’s youthful exuberance fall to the wayside. He manages to integrate himself into a family of growing children and together they learn the importance of unconditional love.
5) Night, Elie Wiesel (Hill and Wang, 2006)
The word memorable is an understatement when it comes to this amazing story. In Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night, a scholarly teenager is wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust that ultimately consumed his family. His memories of the horrific death camps leave him questioning all aspects of his life including his closely-held faith. A shocking, revealing character study that will continue to amaze you for years to come.
Kaylin McFarren, a 2008 Golden Heart Finalist and recipient of ten national first place writing award, is a member of RWA, Rose City Romance Writers, and Willamette Writers. She received her AA in Literature at Highline Community College in Seattle, Washington, which originally sparked her passion for writing. While performing the responsibilities of a director for a nationally-acclaimed art gallery, Kaylin was appointed as one of nine art commissioners for the State of Oregon by Governor John Kitzhaber. She presently serves on numerous boards and, in her free time, enjoys giving back to the community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
Kaylin also intends to donate 100% of the proceeds generated from sales of Flaherty’s Crossing to the Cancer Research Center at Portland’s Providence Medical Center and is presently working on a romantic suspense series titled Severed Threads. Her debut novel – Flaherty’s Crossing is now available in both eBook and trade paperback formats. Direct-buy purchase links can be found on her author and book websites, www.kaylinmcfarren.com and www.flahertyscrossing.com, or at Amazon.com.
One final note: If you’re headed to Oregon this summer, check out ARTFUL GIVING, Saturday, July 24th, 3pm-6pm, The Riverview Restaurant & Gardens, 29311 SE Stark Street, Troutdale, OR 97060 – This event will feature some of the most appreciated elements in our lives – good friends, great food, fine wine, stunning visual art, inspiring literature, and amazing musical entertainment – in a beautiful, serene setting. In other words, a true celebration of life with all proceeds benefiting cancer research at Providence Medical Center. Kaylin will be on hand to sign copies of her latest release, Flaherty’s Crossing.