I’m finally doing it: the TTT by The Broke and the Bookish! This week was a freebie, and I decided to go easy since it’s my first one. So here they are – my ten favorite books in no particular order.
1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. This one I was introduced to just recently, probably less than a year ago. It’s up in my top five, and it’s one that really inspired me in my own writing. There’s a huge paradigm shift at the beginning of the novel (six year old children acting like adults?) that takes a while to get used to, and the first read is really more for a basic understanding of the novel. Each time you read it, there’s more layers and depth to the characters – like reading a new book each time. It is a stunning piece of work, and while the sequels weren’t as fantastic, this first one is a masterpiece, and I’ll hold on to it for years to come.
2. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis. The whole Narnia series was the subject of my final paper in college (seventy five pages and three months of research), but this one was my favorite out of the series. My focus was on the parallels between the series and the events in Bible, and after my research I found that this one was more about the spiritual journey. At this stage in my life, I connected more to the themes and lessons in this book, and maybe one day it will change to another book in the series as I grow older and experience more, but for now this one hits home for me. Plus, this cover is fantastic. Look at that glorious artwork. LOOK AT IT.
3. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I picked this one up my local used bookstore, having heard about it from my mom years before. It was one of the first books that made me cry in a long time, because up to that point I’d still been stuck in the teen section of Barnes and Noble (I know – horrid). The book actually made me think, and that’s something I want a book to do. I want to cry and yell and laugh and question for days after reading the book. This book did that: a lot of my views about ethics in medical situations were definitely challenged. I’m not a huge fan of the rest of Picoult’s work (except Tenth Circle) is a bit formulaic for me, but this one stands out above the rest.
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I was really behind the times on this one, and read it after all the hype went down, but oh my was the media attention worth it. This book is outstanding, truly outstanding. I fell in love with all of the characters – even the “evil” ones! They were so well developed and realistic that I felt like they could be standing right beside me. There were moments that made me laugh, some that made me cry, and others when I outright cheered for the characters’ accomplishments. It’s a very special book, and has a permanent place of my shelf of glory.
5. Zenzele: A Letter for My Daughter by J. Nozipo Maraire. I read this one for an African Encounters class at college, and while I re-sold all of my books from the class, I did keep this one. There’s a quiet magic about this book; Maraire presents the tenderness of a mother who’s letting her daughter leave for college and live across the Atlantic Ocean. It’s written as a series of letters on a variety of topics: love, loss, remembering your roots, and most importantly, family. There’s also history entwined; the mother teaches her daughter using memories and events from the time when Zimbabwe was still a colony fighting for independence. It’s touching, poignant, and a must read if you’re looking for non-American literature.
6. Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. This one is an entire series. There really are no words for how much these books have influenced me. I first started reading them when I was 11 (perfect timing, yeah?), and almost seven years later they are still my favorite books. They really are magic. No matter how many times I read book seven, I will always cry. They’ve been there for me when I need to escape, when I’m heartbroken, when I’m ecstatic. No matter how I’m feeling, reading these books is like coming home. Maybe it’s cliche, and expected for my generation, but it’s true, and I’m not going to apologize for it!
7. DragonSpell by Donita K. Paul. I’ve included the first book here, but really the whole series is gold. I think I read this when I was eight years old, and it was one of my first forays into fantasy literature. I still have all five books, and they belong on the shelf of glory! Kale and Bardon (introduced in book 2) were my OTP before I even knew what shipping was. The whole series is a Christian analogy, and while some of the elements were a bit blatant, the books itself were a great read, and I didn’t think it was too preachy. If nothing else, read it for the dragons! They were so cute and had tons of personality.
8. Eragon by Christopher Paolini. While I wasn’t a fan of the sequels, and still haven’t read the fourth book, I really enjoyed this first one. Saphira was, and still is, my favorite character, despite the fact that she never actually speaks out loud! She’s sassy and entertaining, and I literally laughed out loud at several parts. This is another book, like Harry Potter, that’s comforting to me. I don’t know why, but my particular copy is very soft and just fits in my hands. It’s a book you can hug – don’t tell me you haven’t done that before!
9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. This one is on the list more for the character of Lisbeth Salander rather than the actual story. She’s unapologetic and goal-oriented, and in my mind, one of the better models for a “non-traditional” female character. In a lot of stories, I read about the girl who doesn’t want to be “feminine” simply because she wants to defy stereotypes. With Lisbeth, I didn’t get that sense. She wasn’t traditionally feminine because she didn’t want to be; she wore what she wanted, dyed her hair, tattooed her skin, and pierced strange locations, all because she wanted to. She wasn’t out to please anyone but herself, and I think that’s a better model for females. If what makes you happy is a flowery dress and curly hair, so be it! Being a “strong female” is so much more than wielding a gun and wearing leather. *gets off the soap box*
10. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is another one of those that’s just magical. I wrote more about it in an older blog post of mine, but I’ll try to sum up why I like it here. And my answer is: everything. Every part about this book speaks to me. The characters are like close friends at the end, and as Scout grew up I learn along with her. It’s social commentary hidden behind a coming of age story, but the commentary never becomes preachy or overt. There is so much that can be gleaned from this story, and new lessons can be learned each time. It’s a stunning work, and a must read.
11. An extra one because I needed it! The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. I’ve read this one several times, starting when I was really young and could hardly understand what was going on more than the fact that there was a little person named Bilbo and a big dragon named Smaug. I still pronounce his name as Smaug with an “aaaa” rather than a Smaug with an “ow”, if you can understand my gibberish. As I’ve read it repeatedly throughout my childhood and teenage years, I finally understood the plot more! Hooray! It’s another one of those books that’s like coming home. It’s one of my babies, what more can I say! I also had the pleasure of teaching it to my students last year, and completely geeked out on them. They now know the difference between Orcs and Uruk-Hai, and I am not ashamed that I am probably known as the uber-geek literature teacher.
Sorry for the massive post, but when you say “favorite books” you sign yourself up for the long haul! I could add a million more, but then we’d be here all day and I’m sure you have a life to get back to and I’ve got another tv show to marathon! Just kidding. Kind of.
What are your opinions about these books? Do any of them make your “top ten” list of favorites?