One of the most overlooked New Year’s resolutions is to read more.

“The reason, I think, to read classics and books hailed as classics is to see the world through another's eyes, time period, and societal norms,” said Coffee County Manchester Public Library Director Pauline Vaughn.

“All books share universal themes associated with their genre, and it is interesting to see that people experience the same things that we experience today. It's interesting to see how far we have come and how far we still need to go,” she said.

The first title that comes to Vaughn’s mind is (1)“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. “It tops the list of Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels,” she said.

Added to her list is

(2)“Beloved” by Toni Morrison

(3) The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon,

(4)“The Proud Breed,” by Celeste De Blasis,

and (5)“It,” (6)“Pet Sematary,” and (7)“The Stand” by Stephen King


Youth Services Librarian Courtney Mercurio recommends (8)“Tyrannosaurus Rex vs. Edna, the Very First Chicken,” by Douglas Rees aa wonderful children's book for both kids and adults.

“I've read it at least five times and laughed every time,” she said.



(9) “Straight on Till Morning” is the newest book in The Twisted Tales series; a collection of Young Adult books where the authors have changed the telling of stories like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid to be a bit different than what we are used to.

“Straight on Till Morning” releases Feb. 4 and the tag line is "What if Wendy first traveled to Neverland . . . with Captain Hook?"

(10) “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is the prequel to the hit series The Hunger Games. It takes place 64 years earlier on the morning of the reaping of the 10th hunger games in Panem.

“If you read the (11) ‘Hunger Games,’ you won't want to miss this next book by Suzanne Collins. Expected publication date is May 2020,” Mercurio said.

Don’t be intimidated by “highbrow” classics, Mercurio advises. 

“I don't believe in forcing yourself to read a book just because it's a classic, or because 'everyone is reading it,' ” she said.

“As an English major, I read a ton of great books from various genres. I read a few classics that I loved, like (12) ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ I also struggled through some classics that I hate deeply, like The Catcher in the Rye and anything written by Ernest Hemingway."

Mercurio said that ‘all works should be read because the reader has a genuine interest in the story or subject. I do, however, believe in having an open mind when it comes to reading. You don't have to agree with a book or author to enjoy reading it. Sometimes reading about someone else's perspective can be interesting.”

She said be adventurous, read something you wouldn't normally read. It may just lead you to whole new world of literature.

“Reading different books is just like eating new foods; how do you know you don't like it if you don't try it?” she said.

Manchester Times Managing Editor Elena Cawley, an avid print and audiobook reader said that her current top pic is (13) “Mere Christianity,”  by C.S. Lewis. She said that the readily relatable work addresses many of her personal questions of the divine.

Cawley’s audiobook favorites include WWII historical fiction (14) “Nightingale,” written by Kristin Hannah, Tera Westover’s memoir (15) “Educated” and (16) “Where the Crow dads Sing” by Delia Owens, about Kyla’s growing up in the marshes of North Carolina. 

One of my latest finds is (17) “Jet Girl: My Life in War, Peace, and the Cockpit of the Navy's Most Lethal Aircraft, the F/A-18 Super Hornet,” by Caroline Johnson Jet Girl. It’s an in depth look not only at naval aviation, but being female in an all-boys fighter jock culture.   

My personal book list resolution is to find and finish the James Patterson-published young adult novel (18) “Stalking Jack the Ripper” by Kerri Maniscalco. It is one of those books that I started reading with no renewals left and had to return, only to find myself lost in that section of the library.  

 My go-to fun book is (19) “The Monkey's Raincoat,” by Robert Crais L.A. a fast-paced, witty neo-noir detective mystery that starts the Elvis Cole series.

And finally, for true crime fans is the original, definitive work on the Manson Family murders (20) Helter Skelter, by the late Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. Bugliosi is  at times disputed on his retelling of the Manson case, but he literally wrote the book on one of America’s most notorious criminals. 

Poignant or funny, books capture what it is to be human. Resolve to read more this year.

“The human condition is fraught with highs and lows and it is somehow comforting to know that everyone has had those, be it the past, present or future,” Vaughn said.

“Happy Reading,” she added.


John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

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