You might find it surprising that novels are on my list of favorite books. I have always believed that a great novelist understands more about the human condition than all the researchers put together.

I love Tolstoy, because he understands everything about human frailties, and still adores his characters—and us.

Marilynn Robinson writes the clearest prose I know and digs deep into the human experience without neglecting our spiritual side.

Robert J. Lifton’s studies of the holocaust and Hiroshima suggest that even under extreme conditions we can find the seeds of healing and transcendence.

C.S. Lewis is a clear and compassionate religious thinker and philosopher. He never turns away from the sorrow and pain. His honesty is a touchstone for me.

I love Sara Paretsky because I am a mystery reader and I can’t get enough of her writings about corruption and morality, told through the adventures of a crack woman investigator.

Favorite books on secrets:

The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout, beautiful family story with a secret at its heart.

Frank Pittman’s Private Lies, which sets the standard for psychology writing on the subject of secrets.

My other favorites are from psychology and neuroscience:

Descartes’ Error, because Damasio describes the role of narrative in identity.

Elliot Aronson and Carol Tavris’s Mistakes Were Made, but Not by Me, because it is the clearest exposition of cognitive dissonance, a key factor in secret keeping.

Making Contact, by Virginia Satir, because it sheds light on the dynamics of intimacy.

Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, because it gives us a handle on the irrational, an important factor in keeping secrets.