What are your favorite books?

What are your top 10 ten favorite books? Of all time. I find 10 a really hard number. Three? Easy. Even my 1 and only favorite book is easier than 10. We tend to have these superlative life-changing books that we continue to think of as our favorites even as we add more and more great ones to the list. So, I’m curious… what are yours?

This morning I Stumbled Upon World Book Night, a UK reading initiative that gets people reading on the same night in March. They’re currently in the process of narrowing down their long list of peoples’ 100 favorite books to 25. Many of my favorites were on the list (some weren’t). I was struck with this feeling that I really want some my favorites to be on the short list. Nothing against The Time Traveler’s Wife or The Notebook, it’s just that if The Notebook makes into the top 25 and Anna Karenina doesn’t… I will quite possibly cry. Which is why I immediately registered and added my own favorite books to the pool. (You can too.)

So here goes.

My criteria: all 10 books 1)kept me engaged/entertained/interested while reading then, i.e., I didn’t want to put it down, 2)the characters and narratives have stayed with me long after finishing the book, and 3)they all changed me in some way:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson





Persuasion by Jane Austen





The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor





The Shipping News by Annie Proulx





Watership Down by Richard Adams





Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie





Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson





The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinback





The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald





Now, I’d love to hear from you: what are your top ten? Also, for my British readers (and American – Why not?) do you think you’ll participate in World Book Night?

(Photo from Quotables)

  1. A top ten is so hard to narrow down! They change as I age–I outgrow some and grow into others. However, I’d have to say that Jane Eyre has been my favorite for quite a few years. I’d also have to put The Sun Also Rises, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid’s Tale, Lolita, Cane, Brave New World, Mother Night, The Remains of the Day, and Heart of Darkness. That’s the ten on my brain at the moment.

  2. Adam said:

    Top ten is especially difficult for me as well, in large part because I read a lot of Fantasy novels, which tend to be series rather than stand alone books (some of which can be very long). A few that I would probably consider are The Mistborn Trilogy (Brandon Sanderson), the Wheel of Time (Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), The Xanth Series (Piers Anthony), Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones), I Am Not A Serial Killer (and sequels, by Dan Wells), and….. I don’t know, I’d have to sit and go through my bookshelves for a while to really narrow down the rest of the list, but there’s a start and I recommend all of those books.

    • Erin said:

      Adam – I used to be a huge Fantasy fan and even now have been known to dable in the genre. I loved the Sword of Truth series (Terry Goodkind) and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Stephen R. Donaldson). Right now I’m reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman and am really enjoying it.

  3. Oh my. There are a lot of books on that list that I don’t think deserve the honor!

  4. tj said:

    I have a child list of favorites as well as an adult list. Shel Silverstein The Giving Tree, Where The Side Walk Ends and A Light In The Attic, the entire Amelia Bedelia series, Beverly Cleary’s the “Romona Series” and Judy Blume. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge are close to my heart.

    As an adult I must say I tried to keep up with Oprah books club. **Side note I was happy Ms. O got books back into the main stream of things. It appeared to me that the vast majority of society lost a love for books. Maybe by her doing this people got some of that back**. My favorite of her selection was the The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver. The Classics of Charles Dickens Jane Austen, more recently Elizabeth Gaskell.

    I’m currently reading a fascinating book that has all the aspects of human life and death. This books deals with ultimate struggles between good and evil, action-packaged, drama, passion, adultery, betrayal, lust, murders, war, greed, slander, inter-faith, inter-marriage, Interracial marriage, rape, brutality, incest, pagan worship, human sacrifice, abandonment and much much more. This book is the Holy Bible. Truly an literally masterpiece that should be read.

    • tj said:

      oops the last sentence should read truly a literary masterpiece.

  5. Erin said:

    Wow – those are all really good! Jamie, some of your favs are definitely in my top 50. I nearly chose The Remains of the Day and To Kill a Mockingbird for my top ten. Also, I only read Jane Eyre this year and I couldn’t believe (in a good way) how weird Jane and Rochester were together. So good!

  6. Emily C said:

    Okay this is hard and all of the ones listed would typically be in my top ten. So without duplicating the above here is my other ten: The Razor’s Edge (Maugham); Handful of Dust (Evelyn Waugh); The Story of Lucy Gault (William Trevor); The Small House at Allington (Anthony Trollope); The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Zafron); Ragtime (E.L. Doctorow); The Vagabond (Collette); Cocktail Hour (P.G. Wodehouse); The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins); Howard’s End (E.M. Forster).
    Of course this is all subject to change.

  7. Ha! You mentioned Donaldson! I love those books!… but…

    -A Tale of Two Cities
    -Letters to a Young Poet (wait, are these supposed to be all fiction?)
    -Things Fall Apart
    -The Lord of the Rings
    – To Kill a Mockingbird
    -Moby Dick
    -The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    -The Old Man and the Sea
    -The BFG

    This list is in no particular order– after all, I wouldn’t want to reveal too much about myself to complete strangers on the internet…

  8. OIKZ said:

    – The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
    – The Catcher in the Rye by JD SAlinger
    – 1984 by George Orwell
    – Along for the Ride Sarah Dessen
    – Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
    – Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
    – Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth fantaskey
    – Sea by Heidi R kling
    – The Outsiders by SE Hinton
    – The Cay by Theodore Taylor
    – The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    – Something like Fate by Susan Colasanti
    – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    – Tangled by carolyn Mackler
    – Scribbler of Dreams by Mary E Pearson
    – Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
    – Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison

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