Amy Brenneman's Bookshelf
By E.B. White
This was the first novel I ever read by myself. My parents said if I finished it, I could get White's other stories, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. I read them all, but Charlotte's Web is the one that still blows me away. As a kid, I would visit Southend Farm, the home of an old family friend in Connecticut. Charlotte the spider is a lot like this family friend of ours—clever, interesting, really brilliant. Somehow the two got mixed up in my brain—Wilbur's farm, Southend Farm—and the novel became completely real to me. I love how it celebrates creativity and the way Charlotte uses her intelligence to save Wilbur. I liked it so much, I named my daughter, in part, after Charlotte.