Do you have any idea how hard it was to compile this list? I love books. I LOVE BOOKS. I have dozens and dozens of dearly loved titles on my shelves and sometimes I run my fingers over the spines, take out a random one and hug it, or sit back and admire all the colorful titles lined up in a row. I don’t have to just read books in order for them to make me happy (though that’s a huge part of it). By the very nature of a book being a book, my whole day can brighten considerably because books are near and dear friends of mine. So picking just ten to feature in this post was enormously hard. But I’ve managed to do so, and here is the list.
(I’ve linked to my review for each book whenever it’s applicable.)
// Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell //
*insert starry-eyed emoji* This book is the epitome of everything a book should be: interesting, exciting, emotional, engaging, chock-full of brilliant writing and richly-drawn characters. There’s something about GWTW that captures me, heart and soul, even though I was leery of reading it at first (not the length, so much, but because I thought I’d waste a couple of weeks reading about a bratty Southern belle). Picking a favorite book, the one that always goes on the top of every list is hard, until you actually read The Book. And for me, GWTW is that book.
// Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand //
Unbroken is certainly at the top of my ‘Favorite Nonfiction Books’ list and it deserves that place. I originally found this book because of a friend’s recommendation (as so often happens) and though it’s a very hard read at times, I was drawn into the story (by way of Laura Hillenbrand’s intense writing skills) and ended up with tears on my face and a new hero to fangirl over. There are SO many good things about this book, especially the fact that Louie came to know Christ by the end of it, though his whole story is amazing as well. I really need to read it again…
// Violins of Autumn by Amy McAuley //
Who would have thought that a YA novel that I picked up on a whim would prove to be such a steadfast favorite? See, whenever I go to the library, I usually pick up two or three YA novels that I’ve never heard of before, just because. No real reason. But ever so often, I’ll find a gem like Violins of Autumn and that makes everything worthwhile, wading through all the stupid love triangles, ridiculous plots, and bad content that most YA book seem to have. All the characters are dear friends (or fictional crushes) and the plot is straightforward, yet interesting (and intriguing). And Amy McAuley’s writing style? I love it! She has such a way of putting things.
// The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery //
BARNEYYYYYY. Even though I still don’t like his name, he is one of the most swoonable fictional heroes in any classic romance novel ever. He’s a gentleman and he does things and loves deeply (Valancy, of course, but I also like his relationship with Cissy) and, basically, he’s perfect. But not in a boring way. And Valancy is tops. One of my favorite heroines ever. Yes, the plot can be a little predictable (though, to be honest, I didn’t predict either of the twists concerning Who Barney Was when I first read it) but that doesn’t detract from the overall charmingness and beauty of this novel. As always, L.M. Montgomery’s writing is golden and dreamy and ever so slightly sentimental. ❤
// A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens //
Having recently read this (in fact, ATOTC is the book on this list that I’ve read the most recently) I’m still basking in the glow of what a great book, a truly great book, can do for a person. It made me feel and think and cry and laugh and, oh, so many things. Charles Dickens is an amazing author and this book is his best, in my humble opinion.
// To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee //
Scout. Atticus. Jem. Boo. Dill. Tom Robinson. The grip these characters have over me (especially Atticus) is evidenced by the fact that I spent a good half hour crying in my room when the whole “Atticus is a bigoted racist!”, Go Set A Watchman debacle first came out. (And I was quite mournful for the rest of the day.) Dramatic? Perhaps. But even though I hadn’t grown up, so to speak, on TKAM and it had been only a semi-recent discovery, Atticus was maybe the only fictional character that I put on par with real life people as being a great role model. So, that was hard. (I got over it, though.) But returning to the book itself, I have to say that when I first read it, I thought it boring (mainly because I expected the story to jump right into the trial) but upon further re-reads, my opinion has (obviously) changed. If you haven’t read it…why not?
// The Victors by Jack Cavanaugh //
Picking just one Jack Cavanaugh book to put on this list (since I didn’t want to have more than one book by any single author unless absolutely necessary) was almost as hard as compiling the list itself. At first I thought I’d put down His Watchful Eye, book two in the Songs in the Night trilogy, but I realized that those three books need to be read together to get the full experience. The Victors, however, though part of a series, is a stand-alone and since it’s set in WWII, I can’t help but be drawn to it. There are several characters (the book is pretty long) and through their eyes, Jack Cavanaugh ends up covering several aspects of the war in unique ways: bomber pilots, USO entertainers, war correspondents, the French underground, and so much more. Have I piqued your interest yet? I hope so!
// The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins //
Even though I’m still not sure whether I prefer the Hunger Games trilogy or the Underland Chronicles, I do think that the UC books work better when read together, and there’ll always be something about THG, especially the first book, that will always evoke a special feeling inside me. But it only works if I let my mind forget everything – the hype, the fan theories, the crazy fangirls (of which I am not one), even the movies – and go back and read the series as though I’m coming at it for the first time. And the beauty of it all is that the books allow me to do that. Katniss’ viewpoint is in-the-moment and though I can’t say that I actually forget plot twists, I’m usually too caught up in the here and now to care about them until they happen. (Does that make sense?) Collins created an unforgettable world in this book, and I love returning to it again and again.
// Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card //
Ender Wiggin is just…unbelievable. I can’t say that I have a crush on him, because he goes from about six to twelve in the course of this book, but I feel for him and his crazy, mixed-up life and sometimes I find myself crying over things in Ender’s Game that aren’t really sad because his entire life is depressing. Especially after he wins the war. Anyway, I will read any book that has Ender in it, which is why I was so happy to pick up Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide at a used bookstore recently (now I just have to find Children of the Mind). And even though he does get older in the later books, I don’t think I’ll ever fangirl over him – he’s just not that kind of character – though I do admire him.
// Shane by Jack Schaefer //
The first part of this book (before all the trouble starts) reminds me of summery afternoons and that satisfied feeling when you finish a hard job and the smell of apple pie baking and everything warm and wonderful and beautiful. And I want to hug all the characters. And then the rest of the book is exciting, yes, and full of action, yes, but it’s also heartbreaking and heartwrenching and now I really want to hug all the characters. And by the time it’s over, I have a huge lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and I WASN’T SUPPOSED TO CARE THIS MUCH. But I do.
Well, that’s my list. Do you agree with my choices as being some of the best books ever written? Disagree? Do you spot any favorites on here? Let me know!
P.S. Look for a list of my top ten favorite movies, coming soon(ish).