While writing my recent book, 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, I tried to reflect on some of my favorite books of all time, and especially what makes them my favorite books.
These kinds of lists are always hard and weirdly defined and vary greatly from one person to the next. So you’ll have to bear with me. I stuck to fiction and a sense of longevity, which I’ll try to explain next.
It seems that some of my favorites are books I keep coming back to. Either I remember the plot even decades later or the ideas the stories brought up just keep coming back to my mind. To be a real favorite it needed to have that kind of longevity. There are books I loved, but years later I couldn’t tell you what happened. Those are still good books, but they didn’t quite make my vaguely defined cut.
So here are some of my favorite fiction books from throughout my reading life:
- Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
- From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
- Earthseed by Pamela Sargent
- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
- Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien
- Lord of the Flies by William Golding
- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
- Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
- Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- About a Boy by Nick Hornby
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Ask me tomorrow and I’d probably come up with a different list, but there you go. Oddly enough, few of my favorite authors ended up in the list (such as Anne Lamott, Barbara Kingsolver, Madeleine L’Engle, etc.), perhaps because while I love their writing, often their stories either don’t stand out or blur together because I’ve read so many of them. I couldn’t tell you plot points in Crooked Little Heart or Prodigal Summer, but I did love those books when I read them. For whatever reason, they just didn’t stick with me (perhaps candidates for a re-read?).
So what are some of your favorite books (regardless of how you define ‘favorite’)?