There is a reason this post is titled “Ten Of My Favorite Books” and not just “My Ten Favorite Books”. I am one of those people who think of books kind of like children. It is nearly impossible for me to pick my favorite. I always reserve the right to add more and change my mind.
Growing up I was obsessed with reading. My parents used to read to my brother and me constantly, which is where my love of books began. I could never get enough! I would finish entire chapter books in one afternoon during summer breaks. I was also never really interested in books that were age appropriate.
For instance, I have zero interest in romance novels as an adult. Probably because I went through that phase when I was 13. In many of these books I literally had no idea what I was reading about when it came to the details, but I always understood love and “happily ever after”.
Now, as an adult, my tastes have definitely changed. I don’t have the spare time to read like I used to, so I want the books I do crack open to mean something. I appreciate novels that make you think; ones with complicated characters you both root for and question all of their life choices.
I also know this type of novel is not for everyone. When I was last home in Minnesota my mom told me she had left a book in my room for me to take home. She said she couldn’t even get 50 pages in and hated it but thought it might appeal to me. As soon as I saw the book I had to laugh. Not only had I already read it, but I loved it!
So, here are ten of my favorite reads of all time, in no particular order. Is it strange that it makes me happy just to think of books I love? Yeah, I’m weird like that.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss—this may be my favorite book of all time (my mom did not understand why). It is a sweet story of random lives connecting all because of people’s ability and need to love. I’ve read it more times than I can count. Highly recommend!
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver—I read this book for the first time many years ago and I still think about it. For those wondering, my mom actually loves this one as well. It’s the story of a family of missionaries and the ramifications and implications of their choices. This is a book that is worthy of multiple reads.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë—This novel was published in 1847 but feels far more recent. Jane Eyre was very much ahead of its time, but not because of the robots (where are all my Friends fans out there??). Obviously, there are no robots, just a story that challenged the norms of gender, religion, class, and feminism.
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand—Here we have another book my mom did not like. But I truly loved it. Rand explores society’s tendency to fear innovation and reject what it doesn’t understand, as her main character champions individualism over conformity.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers—This is the first book I read by Eggers and it certainly was not the last. But it remains my favorite. It’s an extremely raw and unique look at two brothers who must find a way to keep living after losing their parents.
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn—If you can get past the idea of a giant gorilla speaking to humans telepathically, then there is so much to get out of this book. It will make you think about the legacy we are leaving behind as humans and how we are each individually responsible for our environmental actions and their consequences.
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry—I think of this book as The Grapes of Wrath set in India. It is not overtly happy or light, but it explores the reality (albeit through fiction) of struggling people living in a caste system during a time of major economic change in India.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt—You don’t win the Pulitzer Prize by being crap! This book has so many layers, you’ll see why it won that and many more awards. It follows the life of a little boy who loses his mother in a terrorist attack in New York City through to his adulthood. It’s not short, but it is worth finishing. Even my mom “kind of” enjoyed it.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides—While we’re on the topic of Pulitzer winners, here is another! It’s a coming of age story that explores gender identity, nature vs. nurture, and how we define ourselves as human beings. Beautifully written over multiple generations to tell the main character’s story, I couldn’t put this book down.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer—This book was emotional, I’m not going to lie. It follows a little boy who must deal with the reality of losing his father in the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City. Warning: you will cry. But it is so raw and rich that it will make you see that attack on a new level, through the eyes of a child forced to try to understand it all.
Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? And let me know your favorite books of all time. I’m always looking for new reads!