What Book Do You Think the Whole World Should Read?

Of Books and Music

Thursday evening was my second choir practice in about twenty years. I raised an opera singer, and have been to a blue million choir or chorus concerts, but singing in a group has never been high on my list. Right now there are six women in the group, and one director. When the priest asked me if I wanted to join, I said I could only make a joyful noise, but that I’d be willing to try.

There’s something so peaceful about singing in a dimly lighted church in the evening. Even if the voices aren’t particularly loud or strong or skillful. Peace is precious. (Though as we learned–once again–last Sunday, peace and safety is not guaranteed in a house of worship.)When my daughter comes home for Thanksgiving, I’m going to have her help me practice. What a wonderful thing is it to learn a skill from someone so young.

I’ve been pondering a question: What is the one book you think everyone should read?

I thought carefully about many well-regarded classics, including the Bible, and Proust’s In Search of Lost Time* (previously translated as Remembrance of Things Past). Aristotle’s Poetics. I felt like I needed to come up with something deep and impressive. But as soon as I thought of The Velveteen Rabbit, I knew I was done.

What a perfect story of childhood, and love, and determination, or loss and pain and renewal. These things together help define us as humans. If the story is told as the journey of a beloved, comforting toy that comes alive, then all the better. Because we have all been children, and we are always learning–if we’re any good at all at living.

What book would you choose, and why?


Hope you have a fabulous weekend full of love and stories…


* Project Gutenberg only has Vol. I, Swann’s Way, available.

9 thoughts on “What Book Do You Think the Whole World Should Read?”

  1. Priscilla says:

    The Diary of Anne Frank, so we never forget.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      Love this.

  2. Cindy Gunnin says:

    I love your choice! Maybe The Giving Tree, because even though the boys takes horrible advantage of the tree, the tree gives it’s love freely with everything it has.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      Gosh, what a heartbreaking book–so moving that I broke out in hives whenever I read it with my kids.

  3. seacliffmom says:

    I love your choice and your rationale. My own brain wanted sinerhing big and deep as well and started skimming my bookshelves. I stoppe at “the Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien. It’s a first-hand account of the front lines of war told in the most beautiful, lyrical style, a look at our common humanity, and would cross cultural divides relatively well.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      This is a book I’ve been meaning to read forever. Pinckney has taught it often and I’ve heard so many good things. Going on my tbr list right now.

      Have you read All Quiet on the Western Front? Simply told yet devastating.

  4. skyecaitlin says:

    I used to be in choir, Laura! I hope it went well. I agree that the Bible is one book that many need to read ( I still read mine). I have never read Proust, and I admit that reluctantly; however, The Velveteen Rabbit is my penultimate children’s book, and I can still cry over that and the my own childhood memories and my son’s—-he also loved The Engine that Could. On a personal note, I am a big fan of certain cult favorites: Jane Eyre, The Fountainhead and Rebecca.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      I’m having a great time in choir, and we have a really good director who keeps things moving.

      We have so many of the same favorite books! #rebeccaforever

      1. skyecaitlin says:

        🙂 I am so glad you are enjoying choir; it’s the perfect time ( holidays) to participate.

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