Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk

Photo: Lara Robby/Studio D

5 of 5
Marjorie Morningstar
584 pages; Back Bay Books
This 1955 classic weeper "was one of my mother's favorite books. It's such a beautiful, tragic story. Marjorie is so full of gusto and romance." A young girl from a conservative family, Morningstar dreams of being an actress but ultimately trades her ambition, and a passionate love affair, for a conventional suburban life. Johansson  remembers a scene that involved kissing under the lilacs and notes: "Lilacs have always been my mom's favorite flower, I think perhaps because of this book."
— As told to Karen Holt