These books are amazing. Hands down, no question, amazing. This is far from a comprehensive list of my favorites. If I tried to list them all…well, we’d all be better served if I just linked you to the library. I do have more listed on my Goodreads page, but honestly, I have such a hard time keeping up with it that it’s not comprehensive either. I’m slowing working on adding books, though.
My taste in books is like a school cafeteria on a Friday: a little bit of everything thrown in together. Except cafeteria food was nasty and my literary taste is excellent, if I do say so myself (and I do). Poor analogies aside, if you haven’t read these books (first of all, what’s wrong with you?) then stop what you’re doing, start at the beginning of the list, and read them all. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, just go read. I’ve linked to IndieBound (except for one that is only available on Amazon) where you can purchase these great titles. Support your local/indie bookstores!
So this is a smattering of my favorites, what are some of yours?
“And Then There Were None“, Agatha Christie. This is the book that opened my eyes and awakened my soul to the true wonders of reading. I’ve always been a reader, but I didn’t fall head over heels until this book. I read it every couple years, and each time is just as good as the last.
“A Time to Kill“, John Grisham. There are so many Grisham books I could put on this list, but I think this is his best.
“Lisey’s Story“, Stephen King. Just like with Grisham, I could just list all of King’s books. This one, however, spoke to me personally more than any other. Where do writers get their ideas? Read and find out.
“The Pigman“, Paul Zindel. I read this book so many times as a kid it’s not funny. It grabbed me from the start and has never let go.
“The Princess Bride“, William Goldman. A teacher and good family friend recommended this book. I hadn’t seen the movie yet (spoiler, the book is better). I think Westley was one of my first book crushes. As you wish.
“Dorkman“, Pearce and Story. In the interest of honesty, a friend of mine wrote this, but that’s not why it’s listed. It’s such a heartbreaking story of middle school struggle and what it means to be kind.
“The Chronicles of Narnia,” C.S. Lewis.I gobbled these up as a kid, then read them again as an adult and fell in love with them all over. The writing is stellar and the story is amazing.
“Lord of the Flies,” William Golding. I was both enthralled and terrified of this book as a kid. I also totally had a book crush on Ralph.
“1984,” George Orwell. Speaking of terrified, holy crap. I read this when I was like nine or ten and I was convinced I was being watched. Seriously, I thought my parents had a camera in my ceiling (their room was above mine) and could see everything I did a la the Thought Police and were going to report me. (I was a weird kid).
“The Silence of the Lambs,” Thomas Harris. I actually saw this movie first. My dad told me the book was better. Not believing him–that is a seriously awesome movie–I read this at like age twelve. The book is definitely better. It’s also really cool to read the series chronologically. Hannibal Rising, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal.
“The Complete Stories of Edgar Allen Poe,” Edgar Allen Poe. I’ve never been much for poetry, but Poe is a writer after my dark, twisted little heart. His short stories drew me in first. (To this day I call it “The Cask of the Armadillo” just for funsies).
“A Clockwork Orange,” Anthony Burgess. Okay, this was a little hard to get into at first. Burgess makes up his own slang language and it’s like, what? Give it a chance, though. Get past the first couple chapters and you’ll pick it up, then you won’t be able to put it down, my drogues.
“Next,” Michael Crichton. It was also pretty hard picking a favorite Crichton book. I love the way he drops little facts into his stories, especially this one. Warning: it might make you a little paranoid about the future, too.
“Inheritance Cyle,” Christopher Paolini (Eragon, Eldest, Brisngr, Inheritance). Okay, I know a lot of people don’t think much of these books or of Paolini, but put anything you’ve heard aside and give them a chance. I’m not much of a fantasy reader, but Eragon completely captivated me. (Full disclosure: the last two books run a little long for me, but they’re worth reading to finish the series).
“The Metamorphosis,” Franz Kafka. I promise this isn’t on the list to make me sound like a book snob. I truly love this. Being quite the introvert, Samsa’s isolation in this story made me want to go out and socialize. (I soon got over it).
“Crime and Punishment,” Fyodor Dostoevsky. Another one that (a) may make me sound like a book snob, and (b) is hard to get into at first because of all the Russian names. It’s also another story of isolation that spoke to my introvert heart. I related to Raskolnikov more than I liked to admit. It’s a lot like “The Tell-Tale Heart” when you get right down to it.
“The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns,” Robert Burns. Yes, I said I’m not much for poetry, and I’m not, but I do adore some Robert Burns. Maybe it’s my Scottish heritage, I don’t know, but I do know these poems are timeless, beautiful, and not near as appreciated as they should be.
“Harry Potter,” J.K. Rowling. Does this need explanation? If this has to be recommended to you, then stop what you’re doing right now and read these. Don’t watch the movies–they leave so much out–read the books. I’ll admit, when they came out, I didn’t get the hype. Then an aunt bought the first three for my brother for Christmas, and he bet me he could read them faster than I could. (It’s worth mentioning he was about twelve and I was almost twenty-two). Obviously, I won. I read the first three in three days and was hooked for life.
“Ender’s Game,” Orson Scott Card. Put whatever you think about Card’s personal politics aside and read this. If you don’t want to support him by buying it, check it out of the library. Really. It’s so good, it made me want to stop being a writer, because I will never write anything as amazing as this book.
“A Wrinkle in Time,” Madeleine L’Engle (read the whole series, “A Wind in the Door,” “A Swiftly Tilting Planet,” “Many Waters,” and “An Acceptable Time”). Meg Murray is the first book character I remember relating to on a deep level. These books are short, but they pack a powerful punch.
“Gone Girl,” Gillian Flynn. I started reading this and thought “okay, it’s just another murder mystery.” Then wham! Trust me on this one.
“Stardust,” Neil Gaiman. So, this is not a kid’s book like I thought when I picked it up. Regardless, it’s totally enchanting.
“Eleanor and Park,” Rainbow Rowell. Meg Murray might have been the first character I truly related to, but Eleanor Douglas is the most recent. This book is SO SO good, and real, and awkward. Just read it.
“The Spectacular Now,” Tim Tharp. As I was reading, I kept thinking “I know this guy.” I went to school with guys just like Sutter. This is real and heartbreaking and so accurate to life.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” Stephen Chbosky. You want heartbreaking? Read this. As a perpetual wallflower, the title alone grabbed my attention, then the narrator, Charlie, clutched my heart. People call this a modern day “Catcher in the Rye.” I call it a fantastic book.