5 Titles that Changed my Life: Sara Paretsky

Ok folks, you know the drill by now: each Wednesday, a talented soul offers up five titles that made an impact on them. This week, we are thrilled to have a lady that is not only an icon of the genre, but a total class act: MWA Grand Master Sara Paretsky.

1. In the Last Analysis by Amanda Cross/ Carol Heilbrun (1964)
A woman investigator solving her own problems and still having a delightful romance with a substantial man opened a world of possibility to me as a reader.


2. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners by James Joyce (1917)
Joyce was the first writer I read who took me beyond story into language, memory, and subtext. The laying bare of the human heart that happens behind the narratives in Dubliners is skillful and powerful. I recently reread Dubliners, and they still carry all of the power that they did when I first read them fifty years ago. What I can’t stand, was that Joyce was 26 at the time.


3. Freedom’s Daughters by Lynne Olson (2001)
This history of women in the civil rights movement is just one of thousands of efforts to restore women’s voices to the historical record. Suffice it to say that among the many heroic figures covered in this book are Jo Anne Robinson and Mary Fair Burkes, who organized the Montgomery bus boycott and persuaded a young and nervous Martin Luther King Jr. to open the Dexter Street baptist church for public meetings on the future of the boycott. They died in obscurity, and Dr. King himself never mentioned their pivotal role in the civil rights movement.


4. Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane (1967)
I love this album. I still love it. Of all the albums that helped fuel the Woodstock generation’s sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll parties, this, along with The Doors’ debut album, most evoke in me both the energy and the parties of my youth.


5. Some Like it Hot by Billy Wilder (1959)
This movie didn’t change my life, but I do think it’s my all-time favorite movie. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are so perfect in drag, and the final scene in the boat with Joe E. Brown always makes me laugh. And, of course, Marilyn Monroe as sugar, even though supposedly she was so drunk on set she could barely say her lines – but the same is also true for Burton and O’Toole in Beckett, which I also like.


Sara Paretsky is the author of sixteen books, including her renowned V. I. Warshawski novels. Her many awards include the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement from the British Crime Writers’ Association. She lives in Chicago. Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.