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.

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About the Author

Colwill is an instructor and manuscript consultant at GrubStreet, an associate editor at Bat City Review, and an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating a scholarship awardee of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, Colwill found representation for her first novel, Before We Tear Our Selves Apart, with Robert Guinsler of Sterling Lord Literistic, which is currently on submission to publishing houses. She is the recipient of the Wellspring House Emerging Writer Fellowship, the Henry Blackwell Essay Prize, and a Crawley-Garwood Research Grant, and has received fellowships and support from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The University of Texas at Austin, Boston College, Kansas State University, the Anderson Center for Disciplinary Studies, and GrubStreet. She was a finalist for the 2019 Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize, the 2019 Reynolds Price Award, the 2019 Far Horizons Fiction Award, the 2019 Disquiet International Literary Prize, and the 2019 Lit Fest Emerging Writer Fellowship. Colwill’s fiction is forthcoming in Granta and is anthologized in Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53). She has served on the editorial team for Post Road magazine, The Conium Review,  Solstice Literary Magazine, and Pangyrus magazine. Colwill is a founding member of the  Back Porch Collective, a Boston-based group of writers. With members connected to Cuba, India, Albania, Atlanta, Bosnia, Miami, Jamaica, and the UK, they bonded over a common passion for global narratives and literature’s potential to create empathy and understanding across all geographical, political, and cultural borders. Hailing from Yorkshire, in the north of England, Colwill is determined to introduce the word “sozzard” to the American vernacular. For a full list of publications, projects, and services, please visit

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