By Melanie Dobson, author of Memories of Glass
When I was a girl, my favorite destination was the bookmobile. Every week I’d pedal my bike across Ohio’s countryside and load up my basket with the stories of Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, and the Boxcar Children. These friends and I would travel the world together and solve the most fascinating mysteries from my secret reading space. A good book, I discovered, could transport me to another time and place and teach me how to resolve problems, encourage others, and take healthy risks on my bumpy journey to becoming an adult. And every book I read ignited a passion inside me to write my own stories.
God has used an entire library to mold and shape my mind over the years, but five books have been placed permanently on my heart-shelf:
Emily Climbs by L. M. Montgomery
When I read this novel as a twelve-year-old, I knew exactly what I wanted to be if I ever managed to grow up. Just like Emily, I seemed to find myself within my writing, and through the pages of this book, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. Later I learned that Emily Climbs was based on Lucy Montgomery’s own journey to becoming a writer. God used her story to inspire me to pursue my own dreams.
The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner
The biggest fear for writers is often the process of writing. We love to pour words on paper, but we’re also terrified to let others read them. As a beginning writer, I was afraid that my stories weren’t good enough, and this fear of failure, the fear of losing my dream, used to paralyze me. I read Lerner’s book before receiving my first fiction contract, and it prompted me to keep writing. As an editor, Lerner talks honestly about a writer’s fears, and she gives practical tools and encouragement for beginning writers so we don’t quit. It was exactly the urging I needed to keep pouring out words and taking the great risk of letting others read them.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
When I read this beautifully written time-slip novel, something shifted inside me. I knew this was exactly what I wanted to write—a novel that wove together past and present stories with a heart-quaking conclusion that surprised and changed me. Sarah’s quest will never leave me as her journey now helps frame each of my time-slip books.
The Bible (by an assortment of God-inspired authors)
When I was in my twenties, it occurred to me that God uses the stories in the pages of His Word to communicate truth and wisdom and life. Every parable challenges and teaches readers in a different way because we are all on a unique journey with Him. As the Master Storyteller paints a vivid picture of good and evil with His stories, I pray that I’ll be faithful with the gifts He has given me and follow His lead with every story that I write.
Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt
Following Jesus is not always easy and it’s certainly not comfortable. David Platt reminds us in this comfort-shaking book that Jesus asks His followers to give up everything for the Lord, and in return, He beautifully restores our hearts and our minds. God used this book to challenge my husband and me to separate our faith and desires from the “American dream” and seek fulfillment, identity, and purpose solely in Him. Because of this, both Jon and I began to fully pursue the dreams that God had given us as we sought first—and prayerfully continue to seek—His radical Kingdom.
Melanie Dobson, author of Memories of Glass
Reminiscent of Diane Ackerman’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, this stunning novel draws from true accounts to shine a light on a period of Holland’s darkest history and bravest heroes.
1942. As war rips through the heart of Holland, childhood friends Josie van Rees and Eliese Linden partner with a few daring citizens to rescue Eliese’s son and hundreds of other Jewish children who await deportation in a converted theater in Amsterdam. But amid their resistance work, Josie and Eliese’s dangerous secrets could derail their friendship and their entire mission. When the enemy finds these women, only one will escape.
Seventy-five years later, Ava Drake begins to suspect that her great-grandfather William Kingston was not the World War II hero he claimed to be. Her work as director of the prestigious Kingston Family Foundation leads her to Landon West’s Ugandan coffee plantation, and Ava and Landon soon discover a connection between their families. As Landon’s great-grandmother shares the broken pieces of her story, Ava must confront the greatest loss in her own life—and powerful members of the Kingston family who will do anything to keep the truth buried.
Illuminating the story and strength of these women, award-winning author Melanie Dobson transports readers through time and place, from World War II Holland to contemporary Uganda, in this rich and inspiring novel.