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’.
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.
The Books That Mattered prompted me to search for the list I started in 2006 titled ‘Personal Best Books’. The first book on the list was The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. In The Poisonwood Bible, a missionary family travels to Africa with preconceived ideas of the people they will find there, but find themselves transformed by the experience. I admire most of Kingsolver's writing, but consider that book her masterpiece.
I spent an enjoyable afternoon thinking of books I’ve loved. I know I’m forgetting some, but I currently have forty-seven books listed.
Join our monthly 4th Ward Cleaver book community. Tell us what book moved you, changed you, or made you pause over the elegance of a thought or beauty of a phrase.