A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Photo: Philip Friedman/Studio D

2 of 5
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
528 pages; Harper Perennial Modern Classics
"Francie is very much the reader-as-heroine," Weiner says of the character at the center of Smith's classic 1943 novel about an Irish-American family in Brooklyn. "Toward the beginning, she's out on the fire escape of her apartment building and she's got her library books and her mints and her glass of water, and I remember how vividly those images described her life, and how Smith shows that reading was what saved her."
— As told to Sara Nelson