Margie’s Ten Favorite Books

So Gini Dietrich asked me what my ten most favorite books are. It seems like a super easy question, but that Gini, she has the devil on her shoulder. As it turns out, narrowing down all of my favorite books down to a list of 10 is pretty well nigh impossible.

Since I have a bit of the devil on my shoulder too, I found some super secrete loopholes that will allow me to answer this question successfully and frankly. So here we go.

1. Books by Civil War type now deceased women: The diaries of Mary Chesnut and Sarah Morgan are supremely interesting to me. Even though they sometimes can seem like jerks, I find these books to be like little time machines that take me back to a fascinating time in American History.

2. Books about the Civil War written by authors who may be living or deceased: The diary of Ulysses S. Grant was an outstanding read. As my mom says, it’s like sitting on your grandpa’s lap and hearing tales about the ole days. I would not advise reading Sherman’s book, by the way, because woah…the description of every blade of grass in 1820s California gets to be a bit much. Also great is Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson.

3. Books about Abraham Lincoln: If you haven’t read Team of Rivals by Dorris Kearns Goodwin you need to get on that. Historically, politically, sociologically, and psychologically, this book quite simply rocks. If you want a much more personal view of Abe and his wifey-poo, check out Mary, Wife of Lincoln, which was written by Katherine Helm (who happened to be Mary’s niece).

4. Other history type books: War Without Mercy by John Dower was an extremely eye opening book about how racism on the part of the Americans and of the Japanese made their battles particularly gruesome. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown is an important book to read but utterly heartbreaking – I could only read it in small doses. And of course, you can’t lose with any Howard Zinn book – You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train is one of my faves.

5. Guilty Pleasure Books: OK, I admit it. I read The DaVinci Code and I found it hard to put down. I mean, each chapter is like, 2 pages and it’s all written in 14 point font. Also on this list – The Testament¬† by John Grisham. I couldn’t put it down, but boy did the ending tick me off.

6. The book I hated to love: Infinite Jest is a nightmare if you’re OCD about reading footnotes. You have to read the footnotes, which sometimes go on for 5 pages, because they offer important information for what’s going on in the story at that point. This is not a book to read at the beach. Or if you’re in a good mood. Or if you’re in a bad mood.

7. Autobiographies: As you may know, I’ve been plugging through Mark Twain’s autobiography all summer, and it’s stinkin’ awesome. Anne Frank’s Diary is a must-read, even though it’s not an autobiography in the strictest sense of the word. Helen Keller’s autobiography is phenomenal. Frederick Douglass’s autobiography is eye opening.

8. Fiction: You can’t really beat the Lord of the Rings series unless you’re talking about The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was a great read. Catch-22, Farenheit 454, and 1984 are all as good as you hear they are (in my opinion). The Friday Night Knitter’s Club was also pretty good, but again, the ending really ticked me off.

9. Books from my childhood: There are a lot of books from my childhood that I would recommend to any parent these days.¬† The Little House books fed my love of history. Anne of Green Gables, the whole series, I found completely enchanting and wonderful. A Wrinkle in Time, Secret of Nimh, Tuck Everlasting, and The Bridge of Terabithia were all books that I read until the covers fell off. Even though I’m getting to be as old as the hills, these books still fill my heart with joy when I think about them.

10. Social Media/Business Type Books: OK, I know this is really what you’ve been waiting for. First, one you might not expect – a fantastic book called Ad Women, by Juliann Sivulka. Tracing the evolution of women in the marketing world in parallel with how marketing has changed over the years was a riveting read for me…for some reason. The Chaos Scenario by Bob Garfield, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith, The Now Revolution by Amber Naslund and Jay Baer, The Referral Engine by John Jantsch, and The Fifth Estate by Geoff Livingston all are superior books that shaped a great deal of the knowledge I claim to have about the online world.¬† Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki was a pretty darned good read too.

I’m going to go one step beyond this list and tell you some books that are on my “must read list.”

– The Shelby Foote trilogy on The Civil War. It’s a sin of gigantic proportions that I haven’t read these yet. Like woah.

– Every book about Abraham Lincoln that I haven’t read yet (this keeps expanding)

– Lou Imbriano’s book, Ric Dragon’s book, and all of the other books you folks are cooking up

– Atlas Shrugged – I feel like I need to read this just because. Same holds true for War and Peace. I know, I’ve heard the stories.

So now it’s your turn to play. You wouldn’t let Gini *just* torture me, would ya?:)

Image by Svilen Milev.

Andrea Donahue
Andrea Donahue

I like how you solved what should be a universal dilemma...10 favorite books...come on! lol

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - Tasha Tudor illustrated
The Raj Quartet - Paul Scott (and I'm already up to 5)
China Court - Rumer Godden (my mother's favorite book)
An Episode of Sparrows - Rumer Godden
Thomas Costain's histories of the Plantagenets
A Distant Mirror - Barbara Tuchman
all the Nancy Drews - yup, I admit it!
everything by Charles Dickens
anything about Henry VIII or Elizabeth I
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
The Drowned and the Saved - Primo Levi

I am going to try to read the Dorris Kearns Goodwin Lincoln, because she is such a treasure.
It's always nice to have lists like these from which to grab recommendations!

Fred @
Fred @

Awesome book recommendations. It's funny, after I read your recommendation of James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, I was going to recommend that you read Shelby Foote's trilogy. But, you beat me to it!

For those of you who don't want to read 3,000 pages about the Civil War, read Shelby Foote's Stars in their Courses about the Battle of Gettysburg. I am obsessed by the battle of Gettysburg. I grew up close to Gettysburg, and I typically visit the battlefield at least once a year.

Thanks for the great list of books,

Renee DeCoskey
Renee DeCoskey


If you liked On The Road, I recommend Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson, who dated Jack Kerouac for a while. The book is her memoir on being a woman during the beat movement (and, implicitly, her relationship with Kerouac).

Chris Eh Young
Chris Eh Young

Ok, so I don't really read fiction but here is my list.

Essential business reading.

The E-Myth by Michael Gerber
Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port
The Entrepreneur Equation by Carol Roth (Who i interviewed last week and was nervous about)


Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (almost 100 years old and still as relevant as ever. Also the 1 must read on this list)
Secrets Of The Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker (Brash and in your face but honest)
The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

Unmarketing by Scott Stratten
Rules For Renegades by Christine Comaford
The Answer by John Assaraf
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people by Stephen Covey

There are so many more I would add here but those are my top 10.

Nicole Fende
Nicole Fende

Fascinating what everyone picks. Margie you need to meet my husband's uncle, I think you are the only other person I know who has / is reading soooo much history.

I've got to chime in here and be sure the Sci-Fi & Mystery contingent is represented

1. Honor Harrington series by David Weber
2. Vatta's War (Series) by Elizabeth Moon
3. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon is a close second)
4. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
5. Anything by Agatha Christie

1. Chaos Theory Tamed by Garnett Williams
2. The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker
3. Black Holes, Wormholes and TIme Machines by Jim Al-Khalil
4. Right Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee
5. The Entrepreneur Equation by Carol Roth

That was hard! Some women collect shoes, I collect books.


Ric Dragon
Ric Dragon

Aw, Margie! Thanks so much for that - makes my day. And as I'm nose-to-the-grindstone all day, as I have every day since receiving the publisher's offer, it's especially appreciated. I also owe you a big thanks, not only for including me amongst your legion of turnips, but because you led me to the world of tweet chats. #love & #respect - Ric

Steven Pofcher
Steven Pofcher

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is a great read. Each book is longer than the previous and weigh mre than a brick, but the books are hard to put down.
Towards the end of each book, I started reading slowly so tht they would not end.
Kinda Sci-Fi, histrical novels.

Nancy Davis
Nancy Davis

Since we were discussing this - I think I can pull ten titles that are favorites for me - tell me if you read any of these

1. A Prayer For Owen Meany - John Irving - my favorite book of all time. Gorgeous writing
2. The Shining - Stephen King - scariest book I ever read. I slept with all the lights on that night
3. Dracula - Bram Stoker - Classic. I read this the first time when my Dad was having surgery ( I was 12) I as a morbid kid huh?
4. Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe - I found Poe around the same time. Are you noticing a trend? In high school one of my poems got compared to "The Tell Tale Heart" boy was I excited about that!
5. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseni - just pure awesome from start to finish. Impossible to put down
6. Moonwalk - the Biography of Michael Jackson -What a tragic life he had Read that and he does not seem so strange anymore
7. Enchantment - Guy Kawasaki - a great book not just for business and social media, but for life as well
8. The Firm - John Grisham - I love this book because I love the impending sense of doom that consumes you as you read it. The Chamber is good too.
9. The Law of Attraction - I know. An Atheist putting something like this on the list? What I think about manifests in my life, good and bad. That is a fact.
10. Poke the Box - Seth Godin - Simple, short and actionable. So simple even a caveman can do it. His thoughts re simple, but not easy.

So there it is! The Nancy D top 10 list! Are you amazed? Impressed? Scared?

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

I demand a redo! This isn't a loophole. This is cheating! This is your 10 favorite genres. Not your 10 favorite books.

Redo! Redo! Redo!

And yes, you do need to read Atlas Shrugged. Stat.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

You rock, Ric. I can't promise I could say that ten times fast, but it's true nonetheless :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Yes! I read the first one. It was definitely hard to put down but I haven't gotten any of the other books in the series yet.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Color me impressed!

I was not a big fan of Poke the Box but it has stuck with me. I can't believe I forgot to list Entrepreneur Equation on here. Ugh.

Poe is definitely a great read, but not before bedtime. I learned that the hard way.

I just read Twisted River - that was another great book, although there were parts of it that were kind of annoying.

Darn it Nancy, you've made me think of a ton of books I missed putting on here :D

Gini Dietrich
Gini Dietrich

VERY good! Minus the Steven King, I like your taste!

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

And so it began - who knew that a list of some of my favorite books would end up being my most controversial post ever? heehe :)


"Atlas Shrugged" - isn't the story spoiled in the title?
Good topic.
framed as "top ten books you must read or would recommend" you can't get away with recommending a genre...

Gloria Wilson
Gloria Wilson

Do not redo the 10 most favorite books. It truly shows how much you love to read and what you love to read without committing to a list of ten. Just write another blog about the books in your life. Maybe this one should be 10 favorite categories.