For writer Ellen Gilchrist, the best books awaken the soul, disturb the sleep, and inspire thrilling dreams.
Great and startling books have taught and changed me, have made me wish for nobility and dream of changing the world. They have solaced me when I was young and in love, made me laugh at myself for needing solace, and helped me grow old without noticing I had. To choose six out of the hundreds of books that have had their way with me is difficult, but I will try. To be on the list, the book will have to be one that shook me awake and taught me something I would not have learned in any other way, or else a book so beautiful and seductive that when I finished it I immediately went back to page one and started reading it again. I read the first two on this list at least three times before I moved on to other fields.
Ellen Gilchrist is the author of 21 books, including The Cabal and Other Stories, Victory over Japan and In the Land of Dreamy Dreams.
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From the August 2002 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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