Top Debut Novels – What Are Your First Book Favorites



Good Reads’ Listopia of Great Debut Novels

  1. J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  2. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
  3. J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit
  4. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner
  5. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
  6. Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility
  7. J.D.Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
  8. Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife
  9. Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Guide #1)
  10. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight (Twilight, #1)

 Interesting to note how far down the list you go before finding Stephen King, Ernest Hemmingway and Toni Morrison, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Big Sleep and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

To see their list of Top 50 First books:

The Kansas City Library liked these five first novels:

  • Somewhere Off The Coast of Maine, by Ann Hood
  • Blue Italian, by Rita Cirest
  • And My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You, by Kathi Goldmark
  • Relative Danger, by Charles Benoit
  • One Thousand White Women, by Jim Fergus

For brief descriptions, see:

What are your favorite first books?



At Least Once A Year – Emprise


National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado

I was dabbling in stock options and real estate about the time my flight crossed the Rockies.  After landing at Grand Junction, I stepped into the iced, April air and checked the terrain, which was bleak, except for the rock fortress sculpting the southern horizon.  Turns out those majestic, cinnabar and honey-colored cliffs were formed by miles and miles of faulting of the Earth’s crust and fracturing of the Colorado Plateau.  Wow!

When I described my investigatory intent to locals, they gazed toward that magnificent expanse as though reminding themselves, “Oh yeah, that is over there.”  The next day, I drove to the National Park Service entrance, ascended and was enthralled by the steep-walled canyons and sandstone monoliths chiseled by two billion years of erosion.  And my daughter was right when she counseled, “Keep your eyes on the road, Ma.  Don’t be looking at the scenery while the car’s moving.”  Rim (of the) Rock Drive has no guardrails.

Back at the Village Inn –  Do those folks know how to make pies, or what?  And why isn’t that restaurant chain on my side of the continent? –  as I gushed about Grand Junction’s geological treasure to kindly, heard-it-all-before locals, I realized that perhaps, maybe and most definitely, I’d react the same way to newcomers rhapsodizing about the verdant hills and glittering rivers and bountiful array of trees that western Pennsylvanians have seen and seen and don’t much see after a while.

As investments go, the chance at enrichment through new discoveries is a great, growth risk.  Finding fantastic pie is a delightful bonus!  And the return lets home be rediscovered.

A Quick View of Rim Rock Drive:

Village Inn pies:

Visit Sandra’s Art Galleries @

Throw Off The BowLines!


Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.  So, throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.
Mark Twain

While hiking over Pittsburgh’s Seventh Street Bridge one blustery afternoon, ice fields extended for miles on both sides of me, like weighted wings.  I was frosted and did feel twenty years down the road from pretty much everything.  I was struggling against the frigid wind that blew across the open channel when a beast-fierce buzz roared up from the river, thrashing the air and rattling me.

When I looked over the rail, the river remained slabs of geometric, concrete-gray patterns until a tiny boat emerged, crunch-crackle-carving a trail as it zipped west.  Amazed by the little boat’s energy and inspired by its drive, I forgot the cold’s grip. I followed the small craft, then flew beyond, out over the Ohio River, that feeds the Mississippi that flows into the Gulf of Mexico and on to the Atlantic Ocean toward the Panama Canal and then, and then … .

To see complete EZine (including Wonder Words & special sale of uplifting and healing roses);  click here or cut and paste into browser:

Journeys That ReConnect


Visiting The Horseshoe Curve

At the engineering marvel called the Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania, two deep valleys were filled and many died while carving a rail passage over the Alleghenies, freeing people from the slow canal boat and hazardous portage climbs and descents and from the rough roads through the forests.

A funicular or inclined-plane cable car now carries tourists to the tracks where trains glide down or huff up 122 feet in half a mile. Up there, the view of vast hills and sky is magnificent. Once a day, the silver east and a westbound Amtraks round the Horseshoe and passengers can see both ends of the train as it rotates 220 degrees.

Meanwhile, the funicular lowers one cable car while the other rises, with the single track becoming two so that the vehicles can complete their journeys. Sometimes, we must also split into different paths, diverging from a course shared by our outer and inner lives. How marvelous when material experiences combine again with the heart and soul, keeping us on our truest track.

Peace and quiet, that’s all we need. Just a special time and place to reconnect again.

Adventure – Whatever you are ready for


U.S. Route 30 is Pennsylvania’s portion of the United States’ first coast-to-coast road for cars.  The Lincoln Highway starts in Times Square, New York City and ends in Lincoln Park, San Francisco.  Carl G. Fisher launched the notion in 1912, back when the Brush Roadsters, Mighty Michigans and Bailey Electrics puttered about on modified buggy wheels.

As I traveled the Lincoln Highway in 2007, I marveled at the bleak forests framing telephone lines, fallow cornfields, withered meadows, snowy mountains and sky.  There, between Bedford and Somerset, I took a deep breath because …

In The Power of Myth interviews, Joseph Campbell said, “The adventure that he [the hero] is ready for is the one that he gets.”  That day, I wondered, What lies ahead for me?  What good is mystery?  None, I suspected, in the there-and-then moment.  Perhaps plenty in the vast and timeless universe.  Adventure awaited. I kept going.