I recently narrowed down my 55 most favorite books down to 20 and from there to 10! It wasn’t easy. (The ones I took off- I still love recommending them!)
The writing had to be more than beautiful, it had to have made some sort of impact in my life. I tried not to include books I read recently. My favorite books tend to be the ones that made me fall in love with reading.
I remember back in elementary school R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps were all the rage. I gobbled them up. Then I discovered his teen books, particularly Fear Street, and it may be in one of those books where I first stumbled upon Christopher Pike. In the back pages, they had a list of his books which you can order from.
His books were different from other YA books. First of all, they were more sexual which seemed thrilling and forbidden. And, they read more mature while still being interesting to teens and pre-teens. And, some of the books talked about spirituality, meditation, and other subjects my young mind wasn’t really familiar with.
Remember Me features Shari Cooper, a teenage girl who people think committed suicide and, as a ghost, is out to prove them wrong and catch her murderer. I can still recite the opening lines.
It would be followed by two more books; and, it was after finishing Remember Me 3: The Last Story that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to give back to others what I got from reading good books.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne Shirley is probably my most favorite literary character. She is a kindred spirit. My seventh grade English teacher made us watch the 1980’s movie starring Meagan Follows and that’s what got me hooked to the red-haired girl with a tendency to get herself into scrapes. I read seven of the eight books in the series but I only stopped because, from book five on, the adventures focused more on her kids than the plucky heroine I was reading for.
The World According to Garp by John Irving
I tell people this has the best first chapter of any novel I’ve ever read. And from there on, it continually delivers incredible moments. One chapter had me laughing uncontrollably. Another section had me in tears, I was so heartbroken by the story’s revelation. I was also impressed by the scope of this novel.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
This is a book I wish someone had given me growing up, graduation or not. Based on an actual speech, the story was uplifting and had a realistic approach and advice to life’s challenges. The message is strong enough to motivate anyone regardless of how young or old they are.
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
The essence of childhood can be found in these stories.
Even though I knew that the characters made famous again through Disney were based on A.A. Milne’s creations, I’ve never read the original stories until a few years ago. The writing was funny, silly, and just full of innocent charm that extended to the wonderful characters. My favorite parts were the explanations that didn’t really explain anything at all. I had the impression there were hundreds of stories that took place in the Hundred Acre Wood so I was surprised that there were only two such books- Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. The ending was quite sad. These stories in which Pooh and company go off on their adventures should be required reading for adults just to be reminded of how much fun and wonder there is in life.
L. Frank Baum- did he know how his books would redefine the imaginations of so many people over the years. Let’s start with his novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz– an absolute classic one can’t escape reading. Dorothy and the gang come even more to life with the MGM musical The Wizard of Oz. And then comes Gregory Maguire’s retelling the story of the antagonist, taking the familiar and changing it into something new. And from there something Wicked that way came.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
This is my most gifted book. I reread it every year and I get something different every time I do.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
I love recommending Brian Selznick to Readers because we know the amazing power of the written word but pair it with his unique visual storytelling technique, our reading is somehow enhanced and elevated. They become experiences.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
In books we like to see something of ourselves in the story. I feel like Milo sometimes, the boy who’s a bit disenchanted with life. In books, we also like to see something of what we could be- or what we could have. He goes into this land, full of strange wonderful things, full of wit and wordplay, and comes out transformed, better able to appreciate the magic of everyday life.
And Jules Feiffer’s illustrations are so iconic, I couldn’t even bother to watch the film animated by someone else.
I tried not to include a book I’d read within the past year or two since it may just be an infatuation with it, a heady high one might get when your crush says hi and you think it’s the best feeling ever when it’s not. I see this as a book that will get reluctant adult readers fall in love with reading. It’s just that powerful.