Because our favorite books change the way we think and see the world.
As the year approaches an end I’m looking back at my favorites. Not just going through the ones I read this year, but all around which books have stayed with me.
Although picking only one in each category is pretty impossible, for the sake of not being repetitive (for the most part) I’m going to try to name books I haven’t talked about before.
My favorite book as a teenager:
My first “thriller,” I suppose. The first chapter is captivating. The fact that I can still remember how it starts after reading it so many years ago means a lot to me. There’s honestly a few books that I have on my shelf that I read as a teen that I can’t remember anything about.
“It starts with a phone call. “I’m dying,” a voice tells Dusty. Who is he and how has he gotten her cell number? Dusty wants no part of this strange boy . . . until he begins saying things that only someone who knows her intimately could say things that lead her to think he knows the whereabouts of her brother, who disappeared over a year ago. Suddenly drawn in, Dusty very much wants to save this boy. Trouble is, she cannot find him. Part human, part spirit, he won’t let himself be found. He is too dangerous, he says. There are mobs of people who agree and who want to see this boy dead . . . and who will hurt anyone who stands in their way.”
My favorite “classic” novel:
Admittedly, I saw the mini series first, which is only slightly less amazing as the book. I loved getting to peek into the industrial world of Milton. I’m use to reading Jane Austen’s settings, which are a bit prettier than this. And I hate to compare it to Pride and Prejudice, but I feel like I must. The pride and prejudice characteristics of North and South’s main love interests were more interesting to read. Probably because they have more of a temper than Lizzie or Darcy.
“When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.”
My favorite book I’ve read this year:
Stabbed me in the heart with a spear. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from this one. This was the first book I read for my monthly Book Club. So, I’ve already written a whole review of it here. (If someone asked me, “if you could choose one book everyone had to read, which would it be?” It would be this one.)
“Wallace Stegner’s Pultizer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery—personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents’ remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America’s western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he’s willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.”
My favorite book of short stories:
If you want a simple, yet complex display of every day life, this is for you. I only had to read one of Carver’s short stories to fall in love with his work. This collection is my favorite so far. I’ve written about my love for Carver before, which you can read here.
“Raymond Carver said it was possible ‘to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language and endow these things – a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring – with immense, even startling power’. Nowhere is this alchemy more striking than in the title story of Cathedral in which a blind man guides the hand of a sighted man as together they draw the cathedral the blind man can never see. Many view this story, and indeed this collection, as a watershed in the maturing of Carver’s work to a more confidently poetic style.”
My favorite nonfiction book:
This one is hard to read, simply because of the story it tells. What I loved so much about it was how in-depth this novel is. The description speaks for itself.
“On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.
As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.”
What are your favorites? Which novel do you wish everyone had to read at least once in their lifetime?