Perino: Peggy Noonan's "The Time of Our Lives" is a treasure

I remember the moment twenty years ago when I was given a copy of "What I Saw at the Revolution" written by Peggy Noonan.

I'd just become a press secretary to a congressman from Colorado, having been pushed to apply for the job even though I felt I was too junior to handle such a position.A fellow Capitol Hill staffer, more senior than I, knew that I needed a little encouragement, and he thought I could find it in her book.

He was right.

I knew of Peggy Noonan from the Sunday shows, where she often appears to discuss politics and news of the day.

"The Time of Our Lives" is a book people will want to have on their shelves. They will want to be able to pick it up time and again, to remember that phrase she used, to read aloud something they loved.

I devour books, and started hers right away. I couldn't put it down.I dog eared every other page, underlined passages, and scribbled notes in the margins.

I loved how she had so graciously handled being one of the first women to work as a presidential speechwriter, how she wrote in the voice of my hero, President Ronald Reagan, and earned his confidence. I appreciated her open and honest voice -- it sounded like she was talking to me.

It was 1995 when I read Peggy's book -- the heady days of a new Republican congressional majority and we were intent on "getting things done!"

I knew I was a conservative, but I still toned down my political leanings as many young women do -- it certainly isn't a popular ideology for women in their 20s. But by reading Peggy's book, I realized that one can be a conservative and a woman at the same time. Who knew? From there, I came into my own.

I became a devoted Peggy fan and admired her from afar. Surprisingly, we never met, even when I worked at the White House in the press office.

I don't have that original copy of "What I Saw at the Revolution" any longer. In the tradition of helping others, I passed it on to another young Hill staffer. I like to imagine she got as much out of it as I did.

Fast forward to 2012. I was living in New York, working as a co-host of "The Five" on the Fox News Channel.

I got an opportunity to fill in for Gov. Mike Huckabee on one of his Saturday shows and was asked by the producers who I would like to have as a guest.

Peggy Noonan, of course.

To my surprise she was available and agreed.

I was thrilled and declared my admiration for her to everyone watching. She was touched, I was charmed.

We stayed in contact.

One hot evening in July 2014, Peggy joined me for dinner and I suggested she publish a collection of her work.

"Really?" she asked. Yes, really.

She had written beautifully and persuasively for 25 years, rattled the cages of many (including the Bush administration) and I knew people anxiously awaited their weekend Wall Street Journals so they could see what Peggy had to say.

A little more than a year later, "The Time of Our Lives," by Peggy Noonan, will be published on November 3, 2015 by Twelve.

It is a gem of a book, a treasure.

I've read it several times now, and each time I love it more.

The collection spans her entire career. Some columns I remember clearly; others are new to me.

Her sentences make me pause, set the book down, look out the window and sigh.

The introduction is an original essay that takes you into her mind and lets you walk around a while, picking up knick knacks, turning them over, looking at the art on the walls, scanning her book shelf of thoughts.

The way she describes the American culture she grew up in, how it "saved" her, and her worries for children today, is heartbreakingly and startlingly honest.

She puts into words the anxiety most Americans are feeling but can't quite explain.

"The Time of Our Lives" is a book that people will want to have on their shelves.

They will want to be able to pick it up time and again, to remember that phrase she used, to read aloud something they loved.

It will surprise some to find that Peggy often forecasts things to come -- see her prescient column about Usama bin Laden in December 2000 when Bill Clinton was giving one of his last speeches as president, and her columns about financial hubris years before the crash of 2008.

This book is also an incredible eye witness to so much and is a helpful reminder about how history plays the starring role in our present. With so much to consider in the 2016 election season, it's worth understanding how we got here.

In the last few years, Peggy and I have grown close. She even teases me now, which makes me laugh. That's the sign of a confident relationship.

We have some differences of opinion on the presidency of George W. Bush, though we don't talk about them much because we don't need to.

We meet eyes when we bump into a touchy subject, and communicate as only women can, respectful of the other's thoughts and realizing that there's probably a little truth to both of our views.

In her introduction she writes that when she's tough on people in her columns, she always hopes she's wrong.

For me as a daily commentator on the day’s news and our political leaders and candidates, I see what she did there. And I will try to do the same.

I am so pleased to be a part of the publication team that helped publish The Time of Our Lives."

Selfishly, I really wanted this book just for myself. But I know that so many people are going to love it as much as I do.

Congratulations, Peggy Noonan, aka Friend.