What to Read?

I’ve had two people ask me in the last twenty-four hours for some of my favorite books. This is hard, people. How can you pick a favorite book?

But, here’s a try for maybe some of my top 10 books. Let me know if I’ve left anything absolutely vital off:

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I LOVE this book. The first 50 pages or so are a little slow (not boring, just not lickity-split reading). And then, it really gets fabulous. I remember finishing this book in the car on a Disneyland trip with my family and just being more and more excited as the plot unraveled. It’s a good book, folks.




To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This book is a classic and for good reason. My AP English teacher in high school had a little girl named Scout, which made me love her (also her fabulous teaching made me love her). I reread this book in London last year and fell in love with it all over again.




Beauty by Robin McKinley. I haven’t been overwhelmed by most of her other writing, but this book is amazing. It’s one of the first “fairy tale re-tellings” I read and it’s the reason I love that kind of book so much still. Read it and be amazed.




October Sky by Homer Hickman. This book is unbelievably inspiring. I read it in high school a few pages at a time and it was one of those books that just made me want to be a better person. I love the movie, but the book is a thousand times better.




Emily of New Moon series by L. M. Montgomery. I have reread this series a dozen times. The writing in these just speaks to me – there are certain passages that I can almost recite from memory because they are just that good. I think they’re better than the Anne series.




Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I can’t help loving this book. I just read a review of a book about Rhett Butler the other day and the reviewer said something about how, although the book is good, the charm of Rhett Butler is that he’s a mystery and that trying to explain him makes him less Rhett. Anyway, I wore the cover off this book, literally.




Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This book is marvelous. You just should have read it. If you haven’t, remedy that now.




Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. The only thing I’ve liked by her, but this book is so good, it makes up for the rest of her writing.




The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. I like everything about this book – the quirky feel, the mulitple viewpoints, the writing, the plot, how it cleverly fits together, the cover.




Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I read this for a sports history class I took, but I loved it as if I’d picked it out on my own. Just a marvelous memoir. Fun, funny, and touching. Even if you don’t care about sports.





It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong. I’m not so impressed by Lance Armstrong these days, but I will never stop loving this book. It is so powerful, so fascinating, and so motivating. I could choose many many pages out of this book to quote endlessly, but you should just read it and find them for yourself.




Other authors I almost always love:
– Orson Scott Card (especially Ender’s Game and the Women of Genesis books)
– Shannon Hale
– Dave Barry (especially his columns collections)
– Ann Rinaldi

What books do you mention when people ask you about your favorite books?

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  1. I just read “Spindle’s End,” Robin McKinley’s version of Sleeping Beauty. I couldn’t put it down, but it wasn’t as good as “Beauty” was.

  2. I’m so happy to see that someone else loves Gone With the Wind as much as I do!

    I wrote down all the books on your list I haven’t read and I’ll be going to the library!

  3. I always lie and say Huck Finn (it’s only sometimes a lie). I figure people who are asking you for book advice aren’t really sincere about reading; they’re just enjoying the taste of the idea that maybe they would read books. It’s jealousy really, the same as when someone says, “Will you teach me to play guitar too?”

    The real answer to their question is “Go read something, anything. If you want to read, just read.”

  4. Yes, there are just too many to list! East of Eden will probably always be atop my list though. I’m just now starting to venture out into contemporary fiction; I’ve stayed close to The Canon for too long. Wallance Stenger is one of my new favorite authors. I find that his writing has a very Steinbeckian feel to it.

    Thanks for your recommendations. My Christmas break reading list keeps growing and growing!

  5. I just read an excellent book in book club. It’s called Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate. I was expecting it to be super sappy… but it was actually a great read. The life lessons in there are so valid for all women. Needless to say it was a great discussion at book club I highly reccommend it!

  6. I always recommend What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. One of the few books I feel the need to reread every couple of years. He did an extensive study of the afterlife before writing and does a fantastic job of weaving all these different views and beliefs together into one great whole. I bawl the whole time every time.

    (This is Kayla by the way. Commenting from work while I work. Bad Kayla!)

  7. I just read Rebecca for the first time, which is funny because it’s my name and you would think I’d have read a book titled with my name much sooner. (I think I was scarred by Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms. HATE.) I LOVED it though!

    I also love Jane Eyre and Gone with the Wind.

    I have not read some of the other books on your list but I will have to add them to my list because I think we have similar taste in books!

  8. Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, Enchantment, and Worthing Saga. Also, “The Bully and the Beast” and “Saving Grace.” Card is hands-down my favorite author.

    I also love Hawaii, Mexico, and the Source (James Michener). And Seven Sons and Seven Daughters. Quest for a Maid. Ella Enchanted. Les Mis.

    And a lot of stuff by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Amy Tan, and Brady Udall.

    I just finished reading Sherwood Smith’s Inda and The Fox, and I really enjoyed both of them.

  9. Thanks for the list Janssen. My high school English teacher told me that she thought I would love “Jane Eyre”, but I still have never gotten around to reading it. I’m a nonfiction girl myself, but I have enjoyed the occassional book of fiction.

  10. I can’t believe you don’t have any Jane Austen on your list. Pride and Prejudice or my favorite Persuasion are very good reads!

    I also love to recommend to people Chaim Potok books, The Chosen or My Name is Asher Lev.

    I have read many of those on your list but not all. So I will put them on my to read list.

  11. Actually I was just trying to compose my list of must-reads last night as I was falling asleep. Angle of Repose was in there, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, and I Capture the Castle, but really I could think of must-reads for years and never be done. Sigh.

  12. I like non-fiction and historical fiction the best, but also enjoy reading other types of books as well.

    I am currently reading “The Nanny Diaries” which I am rather enjoying.

    I just finished reading three books in a series by Shanna Swendsen which I thought were pretty good. The first book, Enchantment, Inc., is my favorite out of all three books.

  13. Andrew just checked October Sky out of the library. We’ve watched the movie, of course, and loved it, so I am interested to see how he likes the book. Maybe I’ll have to read it, too.

  14. Anything by C.S. Lewis; George MacDonald’s Phantastes, The Princess and the Goblin, The Light Princess, etc.; G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories; anything by Diana Wynne Jones; Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series; L. Frank Baum’s Oz books; E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It trilogy; anything by Jane Austen; Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment; Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina; anything by Connie Willis; and I’m with you on Jane Eyre and L.M. Montgomery. I haven’t read the rest of your list, though — I’ll have to fix that. 🙂

  15. Add me to the Gone with the Wind lovers list. I also loved The Red Tent by Diamant, The Book Thief by Zusak, David Copperfield, Rachel’s Holiday by Keyes, The Little Prince. Harry Potter (all of them, except maybe #5).

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