★ Desert Island Reads: Blue Ridge Literacy’s Sara Geres

What books would you choose if you could read just five, desert-island-style, over and over and over again? That’s the question BOOK CITY ★ Roanoke contributor Ashley Wilson Fellers will ask local writers, booksellers and literacy advocates in the a fresh series, Desert Island Reads.

In this installment, Ashley checks in with Sara Geres, program director at Blue Ridge Literacy, a Roanoke nonprofit that helps adult learners achieve life goals through one-on-one English tutoring, ESOL and citizenship classes.


A Hollins University grad and a Peace Corps alum, Sara has had plenty of opportunities to encounter a diverse set of books.  Here’s what she has to say about her top five:

When I was preparing for the Peace Corps in ’08, of course I had limited luggage space, but I knew that I would want to bring a few books. It turns out that all of the other volunteers had the same idea, so the library in the Peace Corps main office in Vanuatu had the best books!  Here are my favorites:


  1. Small Wonder  by Barbara Kingsolver … or really, anything by Barbara Kingsolver. I love how she writes about the intertwining of humans and nature.


2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett … A classic! I have the 1963 copy my mother read as a child. I first read it in fifth grade, and this is when I got interested in gardening.


3.  The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle … A book that makes it easy to read short excerpts, and that reminds me to be grateful for each moment.

97803933239554. The Fact of a Doorframe by Adrienne Rich … Every time I read poetry, something new stands out based on what is happening in my life at that time.


5. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi … The first graphic novel I ever read. Persepolis introduced me to the genre of graphic non-fiction, a powerful alternative format for storytelling.

★ Learn more about Sara and Blue Ridge Literacy at blueridgeliteracy.org.

★ Interested in submitting your Desert Island Reads? Contact Ashley Wilson Fellers below:

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