Someone asked me for a list of my favorite books. Or maybe it was, “If you were stranded on a desert island with only three books…” I don’t know. They demanded a quick answer and I had none.
May as well ask a mother to pick a favorite child.
Apparently, I’m just a fraud, masquerading as a literary aficionado.
And yet if someone knew nothing else about me they’d need to know that I. Love. Books.
When we pack up to move, the book boxes outnumber the kitchen boxes. Surely I have a shelf of favorites. Actually, I have categories of favorites. And not just genres. Books are favorite reads because of character development, or amazing descriptive writing, or a compelling storyline. Books are favorites because I recognized myself and my quirks in a particular character, or because the writing felt familiar and comfortable. Favorites find their way into my heart through no reasoning whatsoever. Some are such masterworks of genius I read them just to remind myself that such art and perfection exists.
My yearly goal is to read twenty-five books. (That’s two a month plus one for we math illiterates.) That’s been going on for upwards of thirty years. And some years I read much more than that. Being conservative, that’s 750 books I’ve read as an adult. As a kid and a teen I read like most people breath and I didn’t keep track of them. A book a day during the summer, perhaps? Given that impossible to estimate number, lets round it up to a thousand books I’ve read. Narrowing that down to ten favorites seems impossible.
Just as a sort of point of honor, I read all of these before they became movies, or musicals, or whatever else they’ve morphed into.
Yet, in the spirit of answering last night’s book club question, here is a list of a few of my favorite books, in no particular order. (If they have a star, it’d be in my “deserted island” backpack.)
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee*
- The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
- Les Miserables – Victor Hugo*
- The Book Thief -Markus Zusak* (Surprising narrator)
- Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper*
- The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
- Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
- The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (The best first lines of a novel ever!)
- Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen*
- Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
- Matilda – Roald Dahl*
- The Whistling Season – Ivan Doig* (Stunning!)
- The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck (Yup Mr. Beck, your favorite author made the list, aren’t you a proud teacher!)
- Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn
- Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
- A River Runs Through It – Norman McLean* (Better than a hike in the woods)
- A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens*
- Banner in the Sky – James Ramsey Ullman
- A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
- Life of Pi – Yann Martel
- Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
- Caleb’s Crossing – Geraldine Brooks
- The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Talk Before Sleep – Elizabeth Berg (Beautifully heartbreaking)
- Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
- The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
- A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – Fannie Flagg (Towanda!)
I feel like I’ve left hundreds of my beloved children behind. I also realize after reviewing my list that it’s all fiction. I do read non-fiction, they just don’t fall into my favorites lists apparently.
Simply reading the synopsis of each book will entertain you, I’m certain of it. Pick one or two that you haven’t ever read then get back to me about what you thought. I’d love a dialogue like that.
I ramped up my reading goal this year to thirty-six books. That seems reasonable. Three great reads a month. Okay, maybe they won’t all be great. But the more I read, I figure, the more likely I’ll find some real gems to cherish. I’ve read eighteen so far, so given that it’s the beginning of July, I’m right on track.
If you have a favorite you think I need to read or you don’t see here, I’d love to know about it. Please leave a comment so I can enjoy and share the treasures you’ve found among the world of reading.
I’m always looking for another favorite.