This week, we took time to reflect on books we've loved and been formed by. In our weekly “From the Editor’s Desk” column and in our newsletter, we asked Verily readers: “What is your favorite book, and what (or whom) do you like about it?”

Here is a selection of the reflections women shared with us (note: some reflections have been edited for clarity and brevity).

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“I love Middlemarch. It was difficult to get into at first, but that made it all the more rewarding when I did finish it. It reflected reality in that characters had both redeeming qualities and flaws. It highlighted how we so often misunderstand other people and even ourselves. Those misunderstandings can make life difficult, but we persevere nonetheless.”
– Ally, Columbia, South Carolina

“One of my favorite books is Crime and Punishment. The novel is a beautiful portrayal of how love can lead a fallen man back into the light of God's grace.”
– Elizabeth, Canaan, New Hampshire

Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. If you think you know Mark Twain, you will be astonished by this book. It departs radically from the rest of his work, and it is his best. We all know how the story of Joan of Arc goes, but Twain brings it to life and immerses you in fifteenth-century France in a way that few writers of fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction have matched. Joan herself comes to life as a full human being that is unapologetically deeply religious. Her story is told through the eyes of a childhood friend, and his narration brings out the strangeness of such a human being that was first deeply pious and obedient but tenaciously transgressive in seeking to live her calling. I finished the book for the first time weeping bitterly at the injustice of it all.”
– Kiara, New South Wales, Australia

Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is one of best heroines in literature.”
– Zoe, Lincoln, Nebraska

Orthodoxy, by G.K. Chesterton, because it explores the complexities of human life in such a beautiful way, resolving them all in God's providence.”
– Bridget, Shirley, Massachusetts

The Gifts of Imperfection. I like the fact that it says being vulnerable is a good thing and acknowledging your imperfection is the way of acceptance and strength.”
– Sakshi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Gentleman in Moscow—beautifully written piece of modern literature. The quips are insightful and profound, the storyline delightful, and the characters are people you want to follow around quietly, hoping their story never ends.”
– Claire, College Station, Texas

Jane Eyre—she’s a confident, virtuous woman who stands true to her morals and convictions despite the pressures around her and finds love so much greater because of it.”
– Christina, Denver, Colorado

The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson. Lisa is the leader every little girl needs to know! She cares for her family and solves the most challenging survival problems in a world where everyone older than 12 has died from a devastating disease.”
– Catherine, Marietta, Georgia

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace. She writes about the simple everyday task of the kitchen with such beauty.”
– Olivia, Saint Paul, Minnesota

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