Books that Made You Return to Them

In the "Books that Made You" series, we're taking a look at the books that made us who we are. For this edition of our "Books That Made You Series," we asked you what book made you return to them. After scrutinizing our highly scientific social media poll, we present to you this non-exhaustive list of books that lure us back time and again.



"Gilead by Marilynne Robinson is mine!" says Grub Director of Programs and Marketing Alison Murphy. "It is the book that I read when I am overwhelmed by the state of things (I read it right after the 2016 election). The reason why is probably summed up by my favorite quote from it –– 'There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient,' which reminds me to look to the small things when I am overwhelmed by the big, and to look for the humanity when I am overwhelmed by the abstract. There’s also a part where the main character quietly fixes his wife a grilled cheese sandwich so she won’t have to stop reading her book, which is my definition of love."


Carolyn Jackson, of the Boston Writers of Color group, returns to Sula by Toni Morrison. "I just finished my 3rd re-reading... She has extraordinary skill in describing and depicting human complexities and it makes me hungry to tackle them in my short stories."


There are two books Boston Writers of Color member Tori Weston reads over and over: James Baldwin's Another Country and Milan Kundera's  Unbearable Lightness of Being. "I first read these books when I was in college and as I’ve gotten older and wiser each time I read them I learn something or realize something I didn’t before. I feel like these two books really delve into love and desire. Baldwin and Kundera also have a particular way of weaving in social and political conflict and how it affects the characters."


"The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho," Beyazmin Jiminez of the Boston Writers of Color group recommends. "Just a reminder of what is possible. I've read it at different points in my life when I have felt stuck or without direction and it has always been a positive reminder."


Every few years, Blog Intern Sarah Sturman picks up Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein and one of the many Roald Dahl books on her shelf. "As a kid, these books are so fantastical and exciting, but as an adult, I see how important they are in a different sense. Dahl's attention to the emotional development of his characters and Silverstein's clever and curious language encourage readers of all ages to see the threads of compassion that run through their stories. Sometimes you just need a reminder that the world can be a wonderful place."






Missed our last post? Never fear! Check out the whole "Books that Made You" series here.

About the Author

As Editor of GrubWrites, GrubStreet's popular blog, Colwill serves the Grub community a daily dose of literary goodness. Book lovers can find reviews, news, recommendations, and conversations with exciting new authors to stay up to speed on all things lit. Writers, GrubWrites is your go-to spot for expert craft talk, thoughtful discussions on how writing is learned and taught, and essential publishing and publicity advice. Colwill is also a GrubStreet instructor and consultant specializing in the novel.


Colwill is Writer-in-Residence at Wellspring House, and a recipient of the work-study scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the Henry Blackwell Essay Prize. She was named a finalist for the 2019 Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize, and  her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53), Solstice Literary Magazine, The Conium Review, Poetry and Audience, and other places, and her essays have featured on Dead Darlings and elsewhere. She's served on the editorial team for Post Road magazine and The Conium Review and is currently Fiction Editor at Pangyrus magazine. A scholarship awardee for GrubStreet's Novel Incubator, after graduating from the program Colwill found representation for her first novel with literary agent Robert Guinsler of Sterling Lord Literistic. She was educated at Leeds University in England, where she received her BA hons in English Language and Literature (International), with stints at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Kansas State University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program, where she was awarded the Seaton Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. Most recently, Colwill completed a Master's degree in English Literature at Boston College, for which she was awarded a full scholarship. Hailing from Yorkshire, England, her life's mission is to introduce the word "sozzard" to the American vernacular. For a full list of publications, projects, and other services, including copy editing, please visit

See other articles by Colwill Brown
by Colwill Brown


Books & Reading


Community Reading

Rate this!

Currently unrated