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As a young child, I had a very hard time going to school for a full day and being away from my mom.  Looking back now,  I realize that I had quite a few sensory issues.  These sensory issues could be more apparent to me since I am now an occupational therapist.  Anyways, I found my own outlets to deal with the anxiety including biting my nails, becoming overly prepared for any situation that may cause stress, walking around the apartment or house either wearing my fuzzy pink bathrobe or carrying a blanket around with me and most important of all these anxiety-reducing strategies…reading. 

Reading transports me into another world where my stressors do not exist.  It’s really lovely, right?  It’s like taking a pill but is so much more enjoyable!  So here are a list of my favorite books that have gotten me through the rough spots, helped shape my character and just made me feel happy!

#1. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

You may know L.M. Montgomery for her Anne of Green Gable’s series (which I also have read and love).  The Blue Castle features another head strong female narrator, Valency.  Valency is a spinster at the ripe age of 29 and receives a misplaced letter from her physician stating that she has a terminal illness.  She is determined to start really living her life and goes on some amazing adventures.  There are quite a few zany characters and an awesome plot twister.  She is a dreamer who finally makes the choice to make her dreams come true.

#2. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

This book is about a boy who leaves home to go live in a hallowed-out tree in the Catskill Mountains.  He fishes, hunts and gathers for food.  He whittles his own silverware.  Makes friends with the wildlife and is basically the coolest, independent little kid out there. 

#3. Laura Ingalls Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

These are all gems to be treasured.  However, my favorite of the series is The First Four Years in which Laura writes about the first years of her marriage.  She and her husband encounter every challenging situation a young couple could think of including a stillborn child, fire, horrible illness and drought on the farm.  Laura is such a strong female character and battles everything with a grace that I admire so much.

#4.  Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I don’t think I could possibly pick a favorite of these books.  I grew up in synchronized time with the Harry Potter cast of characters.  My 6th grade teacher read the first book to my class when it first came out and I was hooked.  Thinking of this series takes me back to all those sleepless summer nights at my family’s lake cottage because I just couldn’t put them down!

#5. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

If you are woman and have not read this book you need to go out right now and get it!  This book has shaped me in so many ways.  It once again features a strong female character in the form of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah.  This book is loosely based on the book of Genesis where Dinah is briefly mentioned.  Dinah goes through so many trials and yet ends up on top.  This book celebrates womanhood and openly discusses the griefs that women must bear which are applicable even in today’s culture.

#6. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

This book follows the mystical abilities of Claire Waverley and her troublesome family ties.  If you enjoy Practical Magic, you will love this book as well.  It is science fiction in all right ways for those of us who aren’t into trolls and fairies, but do like an occasional departure from every day normalcy. 

#7.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I love historical romances and this one is so well thought-out.  This book incorporates a bit of sci-fi magic as well, when the main character Claire Randall is transported back in time to 18th century Scotland where she meets the love of her life Jamie and makes a name for herself as a prominent healer.  This book has several sequels but I found some of them to be a bit dry.  This one is full of passion and powerful emotions while incorporating old world medicine and history.

#8.  The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Reading anything by Nicholas Sparks is really my guilty pleasure.  I don’t read to be impressed or to become introspective, I read because I enjoy the characters and fun (but somewhat predictable) plots.  I have read every book by this man, even the one about himself and his brother, but this continues to be my favorite.  What girl doesn’t love a romance fraught with drama and passion set in the 1940’s? 

#9. To See You Again by Betty Schimmel

This autobiography of Betty during World War II once again speaks to the romantic in me.  Betty is a young jewish girl who lives in Hungary during the war.  She loses her father and the love of her life, Richie, during her stay in the concentration camps.  Most of all, I admire her mother who shows no fear to her young children during this horrible time and manages to keep herself and her 3 children alive during a long stay in the concentration camps. 

#10.  The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Every young girl (and boy) needs to read this book.  It really brings life into perspective to read about this little girl who still struggles with every day problems while facing the possibility of  death on a daily basis.  Unlike Betty, Anne was not as fortunate to live out her life story.  It makes one thankful for all the many blessings and teaches one to believe in the best of others, no matter what.


P.S. Don’t forget to check out the fashion brackets at Great Lakes Prep and vote for your favorite brands!


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