Sophie Kinsella, author of the best-selling ''Shopaholic'' series and this year's ''Can You Keep a Secret?,'' recommends E.M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady.
This is a gem of the 1930s with one of the most endearing, funny characters in British literature. The heroine is a country lady with two children, a husband -- mostly asleep behind The Times -- and a staff she's secretly afraid of: One of her biggest dreads in life is having to speak to Cook. The book portrays a long-gone world, but many of the heroine's concerns are those of any modern woman: new clothes, her bank account (where does it all go?), and a husband who just doesn't understand. She's a fabulous forerunner to today's comic heroines, and her witty, self-deprecating commentary always makes me smile.