I've always thought about writing this post but never really believed I could do it. I've read too many books to narrow it down and I know that writing a list is just opening myself up to missing something great. But, I figured it might be a fun exercise to wrack my brain for some of the greats I've read over the years. And maybe it will inspire you to read something new! Honestly, since Christmas I've been reading a lot of informational books on health and puppy training, so thinking back on some of my favorite stories is inspiring to me too ;)
Also, these are in no particular order. Despite what you may think by #1...
1. The OUTLANDER series by Diana Gabaldon
Rich, realistic characters. Non-stop adventure. Intelligent AND beautiful writing. Scottish accents you can hear while you read!? I really can't ask for anything more. Reading those books is like coming home for me. Bad day? Read a few chapters of Outlander. It's good for the soul.
2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
It's like a cliche book series to love, because who doesn't, but there's a reason everyone loves it. That reason is largely Hermione and Snape because they're so obviously the best HP characters. But one of the big reasons I'm choosing it is because I remember the excitement and magic of each of those books coming out. When I started reading HP, the third book had just come out. There's something extra special about being a part of a fandom as it's happening. Anticipating every book. Waiting in line til the midnight release. There will always be great memories associated with HP.
3. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
This book is different from my normal. It's more plot heavy than character heavy. But it got me. I couldn't put it down. I was completely enthralled in this incredibly LONG book. So much drama and conflict. And yet, when you tell someone "it's about building a cathedral in 12th century England" you'd assume it's a total snooze-fest. It is anything but.
4. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Had to hit a classic eventually... I am an English major after all. Yet, no class ever required that I read this book. And I loved it so much. I read the whole thing in a day and then wanted to read it again instantly. It showed me the power of a character's voice and it made me think of the world a little differently. Great books do that to you.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Speaking of classics that make you think of the world differently... this was another classic that I picked up on my own. One of my English teachers gave us a choice of projects to do on any book we wanted, and I remember being the only one who chose the project I did for this book. You had to write the next chapter to the book. So I did. And I loved taking the characters and playing with them... writing from Scout's perspective, in her distinct voice. It was a new way of learning to write and spawned a lot of fanfiction... :)
6. Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi
Switching gears quite a bit with this one haha. I can't even explain why this book haunted me the way it did. I think it's because it was REAL. The writing was so precise, beautiful, simple, and personal. I never would have thought I could understand the mentality of eating disorders. It's always been beyond my comprehension. But this book created an empathy in me that I didn't have before and I was so interested in finally understanding the thoughts that live in such a terrible mindset. Is this book great literature? No. But it affected me in a huge way.
7. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Everyone's heard of The Kite Runner. This is the same author. But I found this book even more gripping. Maybe because it is so focused on the life of women in Afghanistan. But I love all his books. I love the fresh perspective. Personally I can't gather what life is truly like in Afghanistan from news reports. But a novel can do that for me. And Hosseini has a poetic way of telling these powerful stories. It's a book you won't get out of your head any time soon.
8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This is such an English major book. It doesn't get more "how to study literature!" than this book. I didn't love it at first. I read it in high school. I read it for a British lit class in college. And then again in a Gothic lit class. Every time I read it, I pulled something new out. I wouldn't have loved it if I'd read it just once, but now I find it so compelling. Richer and more debatable than I did initially. I love something you can have a good argument about. And I love moral ambiguity. Frankenstein has all that!
9. The Stand by Stephen King
In the same vein, this apocalyptic novel definitely has the creep factor! It is Stephen King after all. But it's less SCARY and more intriguing. I do like moral ambiguity and exploring the gray areas, but this is more your classic good guys vs bad guys story. It's just a fun book. And if you read it alone in the middle of the night... you WILL feel like the only person left on this earth ;)
10. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
This book has a little bit of everything. It's funny, clever, sad, debatable, and makes some important statements about humanity. I probably wouldn't have loved it as much, but the movie is just as good as the novel (how often does one get to say that!?) and Jack Nicholson, well, enough said. If you haven't read this book, give it a try. You won't regret it.
Ten is not a high enough number. I could continue this list all day. And I can't even really say these are my ten favorites. I don't have ten favorites. But these are 10 books I think are worth your time. That's a more accurate description, just not as catchy a title ;) I'm going to go enjoy another SNOW DAY now. Do me a favor and leave some of YOUR favorite books in the comments!