I have been looking at a tumblr site awesomepeoplereading. And it is truly awesome. Plus, it gave me the impetus I needed to talk about something I have been putting off for a while: books.
Books changed my life. I always loved to read. I knew how before I ever started school. My mother homeschooled my older siblings and as there was no sitter, we sat in on the classes. It made the first few years of school painfully slow.
I was always reading a book in class instead of paying attention, a habit I kept up right through high school. I never volunteered to answer anything in class, but always knew the answer when called upon (and once the question was repeated and after they finally got my attention). I am a bit of a know it all.
When I was 10 we moved to a house that was literally one block from the public library. I was old enough to walk there alone. And it was free. My mother gave the library permission to give me an adult card. And I have never looked back.
I spent that whole summer reading, and every summer after that. I would sit on our porch in the heat and rain with a glass of water or sweet tea and a bowl of snacks. I was lost in another world of some writer’s creation. I read voraciously. I could read an entire adult novel in less than a day (I still can if I have the time to).
So I thought I would share some of my favorite books of all time for you. I even divided them into categories. I have a lot of favorites. These are books that are so good, I bought them after I had already read them. But this is in no way extensive. Prepare yourself:
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling- These books got me through my first hospital stay. There were weeks of boredom and waiting for my blood levels to be right for my first surgery. I couldn’t walk, bathe, brush my teeth. I couldn’t even use the toilet. But when I read these books, nothing existed but the world of Harry and Hogwarts.
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – I actually read these for the first time this year. But I am obsessed with the books, story, and movies.
Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer- She is one of my favorite authors. This series is like Harry Potter in the 11th century. It is riveting. This is one of those series that you wish there were dozens of instead of only three.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams- I can’t even remember the first time I read this. Probably middle school. And I thought it was some of the funniest writing I have ever read. It still is. PS: He has other books not in this series that are somehow even better.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle- Most people don’t know there are 4 books in this series. All of them are interesting and wonderful.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell- This is one of the first books I can ever remember reading. It made me want to be a writer. It also is one of the most unintentionally feminist books I have ever read. It made me realize women were just as capable as men in every way.
The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer- I love her so much that she gets two spots on this list. This is the first book I read by her. I loved it so much that I buy a copy every time I see one for sale. I collect them and am constantly giving them away. I think sharing a book you love with someone is one of the greatest things you can do.
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner- Remember reading Where the Red Ferns Grows as a kid? Did it make you cry? Not me. I loved that book, it is very good. But THIS book made me cry.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery- This book will always be treasured by me. I will probably get a tattoo of it someday. I wish the whole world would read it.
Sign of the Seahorse by Graeme Base- All of his books are some of the most beautifully illustrated things I have ever seen. And the stories are good too.
I have a particular love of short stories.
Stephen King- He is my favorite author, but my favorite things by him will always be his short stories. All his compilations are fantastic and I think they keep getting better. ‘N’ is one that really stuck with me.
Ray Bradbury- He got me reading and loving short stories. I remember the first thing I ever read by him. I remember reading it and feeling like my world had changed and knowing that this would be an important memory. It was ‘All Summer in a Day.’ My favorite book of all time is an 800 page compilation of his. And that is saying something. ‘The Scythe’ has influenced me in ways I can’t describe. His writing is soft and gentle and sometimes terrible and horrifying. “The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl’ is very reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe.
Phillip K Dick- This man is pure sci-fi. A friend recently compared my fiction to his and I felt this was the highest of compliments. ‘Second Generation’ is one story I can read over and over. I am sure you know his work. He wrote Bladerunner. And Minority Report. And Total Recall. And Paycheck. And A Scanner Darkly. I could go on…
Edgar Allen Poe- I doubt any of you are surprised that I adore this guy. My favorite thing by him ever is ‘The Raven.’ I know it is very well known and popular, but it deserves to be. I also love ‘The Cask of Amontillado.’
100 Little Series- There are about a dozen of these short story compilations. I have read most of them. My favorite two are 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories and 100 Vicious Little Vampire Stories. These books will challenge your concept of aliens and vampires in the best ways possible.
I read a lot of horror and suspense. They rarely affect me. But these stories have haunted me long after I moved on to the next book.
World War Z by Max Brooks- If you’ve seen the movie, forget it. This book is nothing like anything I have ever read before. It is in my top 5 all time favorite books. And I don’t even particularly like zombies. The story that stuck with me most was under the streets of France. That shit is haunting.
Gerald’s Game by Stephen King- I have read everything by him and this was the book I couldn’t sleep after reading. The man in the moonlight just did me in.
Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood- This book does everything she intended it to do. The ending is so horrifying to me.
Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan- His writing is so beautiful, it is like reading poetry. But don’t let that fool you. This book is incredible and disturbing.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes- This book chronicles one of my greatest fears. Need I say more?
1984 by George Orwell- I know there is some debate of 1984 vs Brave New World. But this book is scary because the people don’t even have the privacy of the inside of their own minds. It still gives me the shivers.
I’m not too good to consider the writing and stories in comic books to be just as serious as any other medium.
SCUD by Rob Schrab- Have you read this? No? Read it! It is the best comic ever written. It is full of pure fucking awesomeness. And that’s all I will tell you.
Bone by Jeff Smith- It took me a minute to get over the weird creatures that are the main characters. But the story is too good to miss.
Hellboy by Mike Mignola- This was one of the comics that got me seriously into comics when I was younger. The stories are funny and weird and interesting.
Ghostopolis by Doug Ten Napel- He has several comics that I love, but this is one of the best. It has some interesting ideas about the afterlife.
Watchmen by Alan Moore- I think the movie did a great job adapting this, but you should read it anyway because the story is that good.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel- The movie is good, but the book is better. I laughed my ass off during several parts of it.
I thought my father was God- This is a series of short stories written by NPR listeners. They are all true, short, and interesting. This book is funny, sad, spiritual, interesting.
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusack- This is one of those stories that just sticks with you. I had to read it twice just to re-experience the book from the perspective of knowing the ending.
Widow for One Year by John Irving- I love everything by this man. Some of his books are depressing. But this is another one that snippets of just seem to stick with me. I find myself thinking of it during odd moments of my day.
Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan- I love two non-fiction books over any other; food and diseases. This one is about food. It is interesting and well written.
Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft- I wish every single woman on the planet was required to read this. It’s about abusive men and their motives. It was the single most helpful thing I have read on the subject. I intend to read it once a year for the rest of my life.
Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker- This is the only other book on this list that I believe should be required reading for every woman on the planet. I have bought more than 10 copies of it because I continue to give it to people that need to read it.
Gaining by Aimee Liu- This is about eating disorders. It is helpful to read if you have one, are recovering from one, or know someone that has one. It is about life after an eating disorder. It made me realize I wasn’t alone with my issues.
The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson- This book is about cholera and the father of epidemiology and anaesthesia: Jonathan Snow. He is my hero. This is one of the best books I have read about diseases and I believe I have read them all.
Bonk by Mary Roach- She is hilarious and amazing and everything she writes is incredible. This book is about the study of sex. She reminds me of the bloggess. Read her, love her. She has a TedTalks about orgasms that is brilliant.
These are a few favorites that I didn’t know where to put.
Microserfs by Douglas Coupland- I love all of his books. They are weird and funny and lovely.
Rant by Chuck Palahniuk- His novels are great. But I am always fascinated by the things happening in the periphery of his stories. This is my favorite because it is about rabies and time travel and I can’t even explain what else here.
The Pleasure of my Company by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin)- This book is another that will stay with you. It is amusing and sweet.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson- This book was so hard for me to read. But all of her books can be. They are about the dark side of growing up. Not in some Christopher Pike, ‘my best friend is secretly a ghost’ way. Her books are more of a ‘I was raped or have an eating disorder’ kind of way. I own multiple copies of this book and even suffered through Kristen Stewart’s acting to watch the movie.
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon- My favorite plot device is the unreliable narrator. And this books nails it on so many levels.
Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb- I went through this phase where I read every book I could find on dating. Most of them were hilarious, terrible, or hilariously terrible. This is the one that I thought was actually sensible, logical, and helpful. I don’t suffer from the issues described in this book, but I recognized many of my friends, male and female, in it’s pages.
And there you have it. A, by no means, exhaustive list of some of my favorite novels. Do you think I missed something? Do you have something to recommend to me? Please do so in the comments.
PS I just wrote a humongous post about books. And I had to really narrow down my favorites. None of you can leave me too long of a comment. Honestly, ever. But definitely not if we are talking books.