I, like most bibliophiles, hate the question what is your favorite book? Like one book, for real? So read this list for an idea of why it is so hard to pick one.
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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Mary Roach you are my all-time favorite nonfiction writer. She doesn’t technically write comedy, but she totally writes comedy. If you’ve ever been curious about what happens to bodies donated to science you should read this book. Not for the squeamish, but also not that gross. It’s filled with tidbits and crazy stories all the way back to the pharaohs of Egypt. Mary Roach is the best nonfiction writer because she asks the questions you either wish you had the courage to ask or the ones you aren’t imaginative enough to have ever thought of and the combination is magic.
Fangirl: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell.
This is one of those books that made me feel like being an introvert is acceptable. I fell in love with the characters and the storyline. Reading it is also like reading my first year of college especially because my husband is an introvert but he’s very gregarious too. It’s an odd mix, but it works for him. Rainbow Rowell is great at realistic fiction and realistic endings. There is no perfect story where there is a simple fix and everyone just automatically knows how they feel. Reading Fangirl is kind of like telling my 19 year old self that it’s okay to be myself.
Journey by Aaron Becker.
This is a picture book. Yes, yes you’ve read picture books, but have you ever truly experienced one. Journey is a story told entirely in pictures no words whatsoever. And the story is incredible. It’s also a trilogy. This book redefines picture books and children’s books by adding fantasy and a continuous storyline without being too much for the little ones.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
This is some of the best literary mystery fiction I’ve ever read. This is a book about a book lover for book lovers who also love mystery. It also poses an interesting question for bibliophiles: if someone was destroying every copy of your favorite book (and I mean EVERY COPY) so that no one would ever read it or know about it would you kill them to make it stop? This question is also posed in my other favorite literary mystery fiction Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind. Read them both.
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I know it’s crazy to hear that someone loves Jane Austen but Pride and Prejudice isn’t their favorite book. Contain yourself. Read Persuasion and maybe you’ll understand. The idea is sort of similar to Pride and Prejudice, except that it would be like if Elizabeth and Darcy fell in love and then let other people’s opinions tear them apart. What happens next?!
So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane
My brother brought this book to my attention when I was about Nita’s age. Technically he shared the second book in the series with me, but by extension I found this one so it counts. If you want sweeping magic, epic battles, difficult decisions and a bildungsroman then this is the book for you. I found this book series again as an adult and my husband bought it for me (though he gave me funny looks when he realized it was middle grade and saw the older cover) and now he loves the series too.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
The sweeping storyline, the developed language, the inventive creatures, the battles, the love story, the memes. I’ll admit it took me two tries to read this hulk of a book, but once I did I loved it. My husband and I re-watch the series once a year at least. It’s been long enough that it may be time for a reread. Also, if you didn’t know Tolkien created the idea of elves with pointed ears because he wanted their ears to look like leaves to give them a more woodland appearance.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Another book brought to me by my brother. This book defines how I felt until I was about 15 and I could pass as middle class through the kindness of stranger’s gifts. My brother taught me to own being poor and to be proud of what our family could do. Ponyboy reaches into your heart and makes you want to change the world. And the ending! I always cry at the end.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
No favorites list is complete without this book. I first read this book when I was about Jonah’s age and loved it. Then when I tried to find it a few years later to share with my mom I couldn’t remember the name. I was telling her the premise while in the library and a book angel overheard me and said “That’s The Giver and it’s right over here.” I rediscovered the story and fell in love again. Then my first year of college I told my husband (boyfriend at the time) about a great book I wanted to try reading to him (A Wrinkle in Time) which began our tradition of reading to each other. The second book we read together was The Giver. He fell in love with it too. Fast forward a few years and through the rest of the Quartet and we got to meet Lois Lowry. She signed all of our books. We made her write something long on all of them and felt obnoxious but so grateful. But seriously read this book.
Like Fangirl this book made me feel like I am an acceptable person. I first came across it in Barnes and Noble and passed it up. I didn’t read it for another couple of years until I found it as an audiobook and thought “why not?” It changed how I view myself and how I view parts of the world. Strangely enough it made me more willing to talk to people because I didn’t feel the need to so hostilely guard my right to not speak. If you’re an introvert or if you just want to understand introverts a little more read this book!
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer
If you’ve never heard of Reverso Poetry then you have two options: research it (boring) or go find this book and delight in its beauty. It has beautiful poetry and some great artwork. I don’t ever buy children’s picture books, but if I could have I would have bought this one. Some snobs say the poetry isn’t that good, but for those of us who can’t understand Colossus by Plath this is a great book of poetry.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
If you’ve never heard of The Book Thief maybe you aren’t a reader at least not yet. It should only take one sentence to let you know if you’ll like this book or not: the narrator is death itself. My husband and I were three pages in and we knew we were going to give it five stars (which for him is especially rare).