Thursday, November 8, 2012
In another life and time I was an English major. I've been a big reader since I learned how to read. And though I don't have nearly as much time for it as I used to, reading is still a priority in my life. I don't often read the heavy literature of my college days anymore--I need escape more than intellectual stimulation (though I still need a bit of that too).
A friend recently asked for my top 25 book recommendations. I cheated a little because I listed only 20, but I counted series of books as one book. My personal list of best books is constantly in flux, but here it is. (I emphasized in American Lit in college, so it is better represented here than Brit Lit.)
1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
A favorite since I was very young. Probably too young to be reading something so dark.
2. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
A new favorite, but I was on the bandwagon from book one.
3. Matilda by Roald Dahl
As a bookish child, I naturally wanted to be Matilda. Though I didn't envy her parentage.
4. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
This book took me months to get through, but the ending moved me emotionally like few books ever have.
5. Poems by Emily Dickinson
Not a book exactly, but she is my favorite poet. I started reading her when I was young because we shared a first name. In college, I read her complete poems every summer.
6. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
Holy the Firm is actually my favorite Dillard book, but this one is much more accessible. Think Walden Pond.
7. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
I'm eventually going to read all of Faulkner's books. I got a good start by taking a Southern Gothic Lit class in college. He's amazing, but he's odd. He's definitely not for everyone.
8. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
Modern fairytale telling at its best. Not her most popular book, but by far my favorite.
9. The Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer
I honestly enjoy reading these. Robert Fagles is my preferred translator.
10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
If you haven't read it, read it now. And watch the movie. And read it again.
11. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
I can't explain my obsession with this book, but I've read it at least once a year for the past 20 years.
12. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
My copies of these books fell apart because I read them so much. I now have a pretty hard bound illustrated version. And I read them aloud to my children. I think it's time to start again.
13. Beauty by Robin McKinley
I love retellings of Beauty and the Beast. Her Rose Daughter is my favorite. But Beauty is more mainstream and you can read it with your daughters.
14. Short Stories of Flannery O’Connor
Another Southern Gothic and so not for everyone. If you took an American Lit class you probably read A Good Man is Hard to Find.
15. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
I read all of the Newbery books. This is another one that the ending has stuck with me for years.
16. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
If I had to pick one favorite novel (but please don't make me choose just one!), this would be it.
17. The Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
I did not read these until this year. It was too popular for me to appreciate it right away. I actually liked reading them all one after another and was able to appreciate her storytelling abilities more than in the early days of the Potter craze.
18. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Everyone should read some Shakespeare. And it's not original of me, but Hamlet is my favorite.
19. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Another Newbery winner whose ending stuck with me a long time.
20. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Can you be an American without reading this book? If you only read it as assigned reading in high school, read it again. Twain is one of my favorite humorists.