Every reader has an inventory of favorite books. At home, we have a special shelf for our memorable reads. Genre doesn’t matter. When a book touches a chord within you, it makes no difference if it’s a romance novel or a Nobel winner.
Frye Gaillard is writer-in-residence at the University of South Alabama and the author of more than twenty books. In 2012, New South Books published his homage to a life of reading titled The Books That Mattered. It’s a treasure that went immediately to that ‘favorites shelf’.
Mr. Gaillard divided the book into eleven essays and reviewed more than thirty books. He then made a masterful case for why each book is a worthy read.
Some titles are predictable in that they would be on everyone’s favorite list including To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn. Others are less well known. Mr. Gaillard states that the books featured in his essays are ‘not my estimate of the thirty best books ever written, but simply those that mattered most to me’.
I came away from this book with at least four authors, previously unknown to me, that I am eager to read. Secondly, the book spurred me to reread books that meant a great deal to me, starting with All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren.
As a young adult, All the King’s Men filled me with awe and changed the way I judged books. As Mr. Gaillard pointed out, Robert Penn Warren was a poet whose “subtle alliterations and internal rhymes, the waltz-like cadence of the paragraphs” were “like a stream tumbling gently over the rocks”. Mr. Gaillard’s book recalled the beauty of the language and the relevance today of a novel written in 1946. It’s on my reread list.