Thanks so much to Reader Karen Kozian for sharing her thoughts on reading and favorite books. You will find what she has to say interesting and insightful. Relax, sit back, and listen to Karen’s wisdom.

From Karen:
I have been a lover of reading for at least 72 of my 79 years.
After having said that, I must admit to having a poor memory. My style of reading is, if a book fascinates me, to lose myself in the story, losing track of time and place. I am sad to reach the end of a book, to know that I no longer have the characters as companions. I must have a book to read at all times and so I am immediately on to my next book. I believe that the speed with which I race through books and am on to my next is the reason for my faulty memory. It comforts me to believe this.

When someone asks me what my favorite books are, I recall only a few. From childhood, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene stay fondly in my memory. Later in life Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, One Thousand White Women: the Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus, Time and Again by Jack Finney and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak live on.

Because of preparing this piece for Paulette Lein’s blog, I am asking myself, for the first time, why these books stay in my memory while others do not. Without boring Paulette’s readers, I’ll try to answer that question briefly

The Secret Garden captured my admiration for Mary Lennox, an orphan who overcomes her loss and her loneliness and helps a boy regain his health through sharing her sense of adventure with him. I guess in my imagination, I wanted to be like Mary. I reread The Secret Garden a couple of years ago, and believe the writing stands the test of time.

A Nancy Drew Mystery was always one of my Christmas gifts. I would read my new book the day after Christmas while eating my favorite sweet, a box of mints covered in chocolate. I told this to my daughter-in-law, Anne, who asked me about a favorite childhood tradition. Ever since, she presents me with a book and a box of mints at Christmas, which I treasure.

The Pillars of the Earth captured my interest from the first to the last words of the novel. Ken Follett brought the 12th century to life for me and let me live for a time, not long enough, in feudal England. It is filled with fascinating characters and intrigue. I want to reread it as I write this.

One Thousand White Women weaved a tale of pioneer American women who were involved in a government program called “Brides for Indians”. They were to intermarry Cheyenne Indians in the hopes they could help the Indians become part of the white man’s world. May Dodd’s journals captured my imagination and took me along on her wild journey.

Time and Again is a science fiction book. If you asked me for a genre I don’t care for I would have answered science fiction. However, once again, I would have been wrong. I fell in love with the possibility of going back in time to 1882 New York. New York is a favorite city of mine and to visit it as it was in the 1800’s is a treat. Jack Finney wove a wonderful story encapsulating this magical trip.

Markus Zusak used words that were like notes in a symphony in The Book Thief. He painted such perfect pictures of human behavior. One example is a description of a character watching a Nazi parade: “Hans Hubermann wore a face with the shades pulled down”. Can’t you just visualize this?

I think these books stayed in my memory because they immersed me in lives dramatically different from my own and gave me characters to miss.

Note from Paulette: I loved listening to Karen about her love for books. Readers may feel free to comment with some of your favorites. I know I loved being reminded of some of my favorite books. For me, I think it may be time to reread One Thousand White Women. What about you?

Thanks again Karen, for so generously sharing with us some of the books you love and the reasons why you love them!


  1. Bonne

    I totally relate to your experiences with books. You have such a special way of expressing yourself.The Secret Garden and Nancy Drew mysteries were among my favorites also…what a special daughter-in-law. she listened and became so thoughtful.
    My experience with One Thousand White Women is that I thought it was a true story and was devastated when I finished reading it and realized it was fiction!!!!!
    I have also felt that immersing myself in a book has provided me with new friends.
    Thank you for your reflections and now I must read Time and Againg….

  2. Bernadette Mainzer

    I enjoyed Karen’s view on the books she chose. I also loved Pillars of the Earth, so much so that I read it twice. A lengthy book, but loved how they made the stellar cathedrals of the medieval age. After visiting Paris, Prague & towns in Germany, it brought back to me the book and how these master craftsmen had such perils to overcome to build these mammoth structures. I share Karen’s lack of precise memory of each book I read – many because I read them so fast and want to get to the end, but then am sad when it its over. Speaking of science-fiction, Karen, I like this genre and am reading the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Very good,so far.

  3. Judith

    The Secret Garden and The Book Thief remain among my favorites as well … I think The Secret Garden because Mary was not the perfect child and her home situation was far from perfect … I could relate 🙂 and, oh, The Book Thief! The imagery and use of color .. so much said in so few words … disappointed that Markus Zusak has not published another book since them 🙁


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