10. The Velvet Room by Zilpha Snyder
When I was 7 and came to realize that my family and I were poor, it was very lucky that I chanced upon The Velvet Room at a school book sale for very cheap, like a quarter or something.
Bless this lady, because she helped me see through her book that I didn’t have to fantasize to escape my then-reality, but I had the agency and capacity to do what I could to create a different reality and build on it to move forward.
I lost the book at 9 when we moved house. Lo, these many years later, I found a copy of the 1966 edition of the book at a thrift shop, the same edition that I’d had as a child. I bought it, reread it, and it’s still terrific. I don’t intend to lose this copy!
Ms. Snyder just died rather recently, at 96. RIP, Zilpha, and thank you.
12. Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright
Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright is my favorite book of poetry. I have carried it with me like a bible and obsessed over its pages during the darkest periods of my life.
—Stephen A., via Facebook
15. Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox
I have lupus and reading Always Looking Up really helped me not feel sorry for myself and the scariness that is a chronic illness. Even though my disease and his are so different, it just makes me feel hopeful. Whenever I am flaring or really feeling crappy, I read this book.
28. The novels of John Green
John Green’s books got me through a deployment.