Lola Jaye’s Top Book Picks
I’m often fascinated by what other writers read. Author Lola Jaye was kind enough to share her top reads . . .
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The writings of the inspiring Dr Angelou remind us of human resilience, and triumph over tragedy. And this autobiography will always occupy a special slot in my bookshelf – and my heart. There’s something just so undeniably beautiful about the prose and the raw emotion that sings from each page. As a writer, I read as a writer. But this book had the power to take me away from everything but the story, which was able to seamlessly transport me back in time to the moment of segregation in America and the accompanying brutality of that moment in history. It also forced me to witness this world through the eyes of a child – a skill I use in my own writing today.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
In the name of self-care, this book remained on my shelf for a good few years before I finally decided to read it. I needed to be in a certain place mentally to really take it on. And I’m so glad I waited. What a beautifully written, thought-provoking and moving piece of writing. Considering the subject matter of child murder, there were understandably some harrowing scenes, but I was reluctant for the book to end. I even found myself repeating certain sentences in my head, just because of the sheer beauty of their construction. I recall a particular scene involving the lead character coming face to face with an old family pet called Holiday who had died years before – and still, I can’t get away from how that imagery made me feel.
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
This book transported me into a world I had obviously never been a part of. From its wonderful descriptions of a geisha’s obi and kimono to the sense of time and place – every single page felt like part of a feast I wanted to devour slowly. I felt as if I was there, too, living and breathing the life of a Japanese geisha and not in my North London flat eating a bag of soggy chips! I saw the film version twice, which I really enjoyed. But nothing beats this beautiful book, which will stay in my mind forever.
Kaleidoscope by Danielle Steel
I first read this book as a teenager, but could not really stop thinking about it long after I had finished reading. The intense suffering of the main character and how her experience differed to that of her siblings was brilliantly illustrated and intrigued me so much, I read it again (something I rarely do) as an adult – the effect was the same. This incredible story of three sisters separated as children remained an intriguing premise and formed the basis of my novel Orphan Sisters.
A Day Late and a Dollar Short by Terri McMillan
This book deals with the rawness of a modern and somewhat dysfunctional family. I enjoy writing about such families because of the different nuances and layers I get to explore – something the writer does here, brilliantly. This book had a clever way of presenting the perspective of so many characters without confusing me. No spoilers here, but three quarters into the book, what happens to one of the main characters, Viola, shocked me to the core. Ms Terri McMillan had totally shattered the ‘secret writing rules’ that I thought were set in stone – but it worked. Spectacularly. Simply my favorite Terri Macmillan book so far.