The other day, someone asked me to tell them my all time favorite book..the best book that I have ever read.
And then I just laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more.
But no….really, that’s not possible for someone who loves to read as much as I do. That’s like asking me to pick a favorite out of my three children. And as all mothers know…that answer can change depending on what mood I’m in, what day it is, and who is driving me the most crazy at any one particular moment. I kid, I kid…I’d never actually pick a favorite child (most days).
So, after I had a good laugh…that person then asked me to narrow it down to my top 5 favorite books of all time and that’s not really any easier. So, I settled for a list of 10 books that can all be considered my favorite…and all for different reasons. It took me a little bit to complete the list of 10…some titles I rattled off right away and others took a little more consideration and thought. It’s kind of a big deal…telling someone your favorite all time books, right???
So, after much consideration…here is the list of my top 10 books (in no particular order):
1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Historical fiction is likely my favorite and most read genre…and The Book Thief is a prime example of why. Liesel is such a fantastic main character who shows such strength, courage and determination in the face of Nazi control during WW2. I read this book a handful of years ago and upon finishing, immediately knew it would be one of my all time favorites.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – So, I know this one is probably a tad cliche to be added to my list. After all….pretty much everyone has it listed as their favorite book. I’ve now read it twice…once as a teenager and once again just recently and I think it’s a book I actually got more out of reading as an adult. I always loved Scout…who doesn’t, right? But, reading this book as an adult…I feel I was able to fully appreciate the brilliance and gentle strength that is Atticus Finch. I definitely wanted to include at least 1 classic in this list and while there are others I really love (Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies), this is one I’ve reread most recently so it wins.
3. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – Obviously. Right?!?! This is probably one of those books that I don’t even have to think about mentioning when someone asks for my favorites…A Game of Thrones is a given. If you’ve followed this blog, you are probably more than aware of my love & obsession for the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series. I’ve finished every currently published book in the series and I’m slowly working my way through it a second time. They are all phenomenal…so technically, I’d like to add the entire series, here….but the first book is what started it all for me. The funny thing is, it’s so far outside of my normal genre of choice or my normal comfort zone of books I typically go for….but GRRM is such a fantastic writer and story builder, I couldn’t help but fall head over heels in love with the entire world of Westeros.
4. Night Road by Kristin Hannah – This is one of those books that took a little more consideration to be added to my list. I recommend this book to a lot of people because it is such a tragic and beautiful story. I love books that make me FEEL….whether it be anger, sadness, happiness or whatever. If a book evokes a strong emotional response from me, it’s usually a favorite. Night Road is a book that I read after not reading for a significant period of time (due to being elbow deep in toddlers & babies) and feeling like I was in sort of a reading slump. I cried my eyes out….like, get a giant box of tissues ready, cry. I could feel for each and every character and understand their heartache and their perspective.
5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – This is another one that I don’t even have to consider adding….AND, another one that most people have on their ‘favorites’ list too. There’s a definite reason for that….remember when I talked about feels?? Yeah, this one! Plus, it also has an interesting historical aspect that I really appreciated reading about. One of the many things I love about historical fiction, is that you get a first hand insight into a time or a culture that is different than what you currently know. The Kite Runner is a popular book that most people have now read already…but just in case you haven’t…read it!
6. The Shining by Stephen King – And…another book that I don’t even have to think twice about adding to my favorites list. Stephen King is one of my all time favorite authors…and while I haven’t read anywhere near all his work, I’ve read quite a lot of it. There’s very little that he’s written that I don’t love…however, The Shining is my absolute favorite book he’s written! It’s one that I’ve read more than once and one that never fails to scare the shit out of me every single time I read it. Mr. King is a masterful storyteller and he works some seriously creepy magic with this masterpiece.
7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – I had a hard time picking one specific Jodi Picoult novel for this list because she has quite a few that I consider ‘favorites’ of mine. My Sister’s Keeper is likely the one that tops my favorite of hers though. It’s another book that had me crying my eyes out at an uncontrollable rate. I read this book years ago on an airplane and was likely making a fool of myself in front of my fellow passengers for my tears while reading, but I couldn’t help it. My Sister’s Keeper is such a great story about a very hard and real family struggle and one that I think everyone should read.
8. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – This was another easy add to my list and yes…another Historical Fiction. Between Shades of Gray is a WW2 story about Stalin’s invasion of Lithuania. Septeys’ father and uncle were Lithuanian refugees during that time…the personal investment she has in this period of history shows in her beautiful writing. There is such raw emotion mixed with just enough historical information to make one fantastic novel. Between Shades of Gray is Septys’ first of three novels and they are ALL excellent…I highly recommend all three but this one is my favorite!
9. The Help – by Kathryn Stockett – Yet another no question-easy add for me. I first read this book shortly after it was initially published and loved it immediately! It’s one of the few books that gave me a full range of strong emotions. There were times I was literally laughing out loud, others that I was crying my eyes out, and times that I was so angry that I wanted to hurt something. It’s another historical fiction, but instead of the typical ww2 time period…this book takes place in the South during the Civil Rights era. So good! There is a movie made after this book that I know a lot of people have seen, but in typical fashion…the book is SO MUCH BETTER! I think I’ve now read this book a total of three times and it’s one I can see myself rereading every few years just so I can revisit some of my favorite literary people.
10. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – This book is my most recent addition to my list because I just read it for the first time early this year. In the week that I spent reading this book, I could not stop thinking about the characters in the story….in fact, they stuck with me long after finishing. A Little Life probably gave me the biggest Book Hangover I’ve ever had. Yanagihara wrote such deep, complicated and real characters that you feel they are actual people you know in your life. It’s a very sad and even depressing book at times, but it’s soooo worth the read! If you can handle dark and heavy subject matter handled (child abuse, drug addiction, physical abuse, etc), it’s so worth the journey! It’s honest and authentic and it’s such an important book.
Phew! That was hard! This list is by no means permanent…I reserve the right to change it or add to it at any point in time, but this is where I sit today 😉
So…what do you think of my list? Have you read any these and also love them (or hate them)? I’d love to hear your opinions and also hear some of your all time favorite books!