The Book Savor series grew out of my love for good books, great friends, and interesting conversations about books.

This week Fabretto Foundation CFO Monica Drazba talks about the books she savors.

Shirley Jackson book cover1.Carmen Amato: What was the first book you read that marked the transition from reading kids’ books to grown-up fare?

Monica Drazba: We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson.  I read this disturbing book when I was in sixth grade or so.  I spent hours trying to figure out what it all meant.  It still scares me to this day.

2. CA: You are shipwrecked with a crate labeled “Books.” What 3 books do you hope are in it?


  • Modern Times, by Paul Johnson
  • The Rise of the West, by William H. McNeill
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

(I’ve been meaning to re-read the first two, and the last is my favorite novel –one that I re-read every couple of years.)

(plus I hope there are lots of good murder mysteries, more histories, and of course, nerdy sci-fi and fantasy books!)

3. CA: What book would you give as a housewarming gift and why?

MD:  The Egg and I by Betty McDonald: her story of setting up a household in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest is fun and witty and makes everyone feel better about their own new household travails.

4. CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?

 MD: Well, aside from Carmen Amato and a variety of Mexican dishes, it would probably be David McCullough or maybe Robert Caro. I’d serve up something simple (grilled tenderloin, roasted vegetables, pilaf), so I could spend my time outside of the kitchen listening to their anecdotes and insights on modern history.

5. CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

MD: “…., and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” — the last line from To Kill a Mockingbird.  My mother died when I was very young, and we were raised by my dad— a troop of tomboys (all sisters until my father remarried and my half-brother came along).  The ending always resonated with me and still does — parenting, love, and being there for your children.

Tell us about yourself in 3 sentences or less.


MD:  I moved to Latin America from my home state of California in 1980 with my husband and 9 month old daughter.  After 33 years, four countries, and three more children born and raised between Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Ecuador, books have been my most enduring friends.  I love entertaining my breathing friends in our home in Nicaragua, where we have lived for the last seventeen years and where I work for a non-profit promoting education and literacy among the rural poor.

More about this week’s guest: Monica is a force multiplier when it comes to her work with Fabretto, a foundation with a  mission “to empower underserved children and their families in Nicaragua to reach their full potential, improve their livelihoods, and take advantage of economic opportunity through education and nutrition.” Fabretto runs schools, vocational programs, craft cooperatives, and much more; all to raise living standards and give children a better future. You can read more about Fabretto at

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