“Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice:
reading for the pure pleasure of it,
for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.”
– Paul Auster
Let’s face it, if you love reading, any time is really a great time to pick up a book and get lost in it. However, my personal favourite time to read is this time of year, when the weather gets chilly, and I can cozy up in bed with a warm mug of tea and great book. It’s taken quite a bit of thought, but I have finally composed a list of my top 10 favourite books of all time (thus far), and then some! These books are in no particular order, though I must say my top 5 are without question my favourite books of all time, and I most certainly can say, these books will always find a place on a top 10 book list, even if the rest might be subject to change as I continue reading. So here it goes:
Though I said these books are in no particular order of preference, I must first speak about this because it was the first novel that I ever truly fell in love with. There are certain books you might come across in your lifetime that will really stay with you long after you read them. Maybe it’s the timing, or maybe it’s simply because that book just resonated with you. Some books might leave quite the impression on you even weeks after you have finished reading. This book however, left me with a lasting impression, and to this day I still think about the story and it’s memorable characters. A great example of never judging a book by it’s movie (though I was lucky enough to read this much before the film, and really didn’t find the movie all that bad): The Time Travelers Wife by: Audrey Niffenegger. If you happened to see this movie without first reading the book, I can imagine that putting a damper on things (no one likes to read a book after having seen the film). I was lucky enough to come across this book (the recommendation of my younger sister) well before there were talks of a movie. Years ago, I must confess, I was not the book worm I am today. I don’t know what it was, but books just weren’t my thing. That all changed when this book was placed in my hands. I had no idea a book would leave such a lasting impression on me. Without giving anything away, Henry is a character that deeply touched me. This book is a love story/adventure about a man (Henry) who has a disorder that causes him to time travel, and his wife (Claire), who is left having to deal with his unpredictable and frequent leaving. This novel is written in the perspective of both Henry and Claire, which really makes being able to hear both sides of the story, first hand, very interesting. I felt myself sympathizing with both Henry and Claire as I read on. The Time Travelers Wife is a heart-breakingly beautiful novel, and I would recommend it to anyone. Let’s be honest, when a book is truly great, it can sometimes even make the toughest of us cry. I for one, cried like a little baby. I cannot say a book has ever made me cry, LONG after I have finished reading it. This book did that to me, and no book has ever done that to me since. “Why is love intensified by absence?”
What can be said about The Fault In Our Stars by: John Green that hasn’t already been said? I’m sure most of you have clearly heard about this book, as well as the movie (which CAN be judged by it’s book, as it was equally as amazing). If you’ve heard about this book, but still haven’t read it, you must! This book is very special to me. Having read a few of John Green’s novels, and enjoying them, I knew I had to pick this up (before all the hype) and give it a read. At the time I was working at a book store, and I remember the bright blue book cover catching my eye. John Green had signed quite a few copies, and so, when the book was first released in bookstores, I was lucky enough to nab a signed copy. I took this book home not really knowing what to expect, but hoping for the best, I began reading. Nothing could prepare me for what I was getting into. I was always a fan of Green’s, however, this book was on another level! To take such a tragic subject, and manage to turn it into, at times, comedic, was truly brilliant. The Fault In Our Stars is about 16 year old Hazel Grace, a cancer patient, who is coaxed by her parents to attend a cancer support group where she then meets (and falls for) 17 year old Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor, and amputee. Their love story is truly beautiful and will manage to pull on your heart strings and never let go. One of the things that I love so much about Green’s novels is how attached I always get to the characters he creates. You really find yourself invested in these characters, wanting so badly that everything turns out OK (or should I say Okay?). This book is a must read (for the few of you who haven’t already). Definitely be prepared with a box of tissues. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
While working at a book store, a few fellow employees recommended this book to me, but I was never really sure about it. The cover certainly caught my eye, bright red as it was, but I was under the impression that this would be a corny romantic novel (not that there’s anything wrong with those books every now and then, I just wasn’t in the mood for that kind of book at the time), and so it took me a while to get around to reading this one. Man, am I ever glad I did! I can honestly say, this was one of those books that I would have NEVER picked up off the shelves if it weren’t recommended to me. So here I am, recommending it to you! Pick this one up, you’ll thank me for it! Me Before You by: Jojo Moyes is a great example of never judging a book by it’s cover. This book is truly something special, and it get’s better and better as you read it and begin to fall in love with it’s characters. Me Before You is a story about Louisa Clark, a girl who is confused about her steady boyfriend, and living in a small town, and recently takes on a new job of working/caring for Will Traynor, who after an accident, is left paraplegic. In comparison to his adventure filled life before the accident, Will is having trouble adjusting to his new life. I cannot really summarize this book without giving too much away, but let’s just say, it is a book that will open your eyes to those who are not ‘able bodied’, and a story that will stay with you, long after you’ve read it. A book that again, left me in tears. Are we sensing a theme here? I seem to love heartbreaking novels. This book is another MUST read, and I can assure you, Will is a character you will fall in love with. As I imagined while reading, this book is now being turned into a film! “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
Let’s change things up a bit! For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading The Little Prince by: Antoine De Saint-Exupéry, you might very well think I am recommending a children’s book. This book, although adorned with beautifully illustrated pictures, is anything but a child’s book. This novella is the most read and most translated book in the French language (for a good reason). The Little Prince is about a pilot, stranded in the desert who then meets a young prince, fallen from another world. This is an extremely philosophical story (with illustrations) and includes criticisms remarking on the strangeness of the adult world, as well as the power and difficulties of love and friendship. This is such a beautiful story, filled with many beautiful observations and life lessons told by the little prince through colourful stories to the pilot. This is definitely one of those books that you can pick up and read within the hour, yet be touched by forever. If you’re like me, you might come back to this book again and again, constantly discovering something new, depending on what you are going through during a particular period of your life. One of the most beautiful books I have ever read. A book that will bring out the inner child in all of us. I must say, I am not one to over-hype anything because when things are spoken too highly of, they sometimes do not live up to their potential. However, if read carefully, I’m pretty certain this book stay with you, and maybe even change you (for the better) forever. “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.”
I came across this book while working at the bookstore, and it had always caught my attention. I kept forgetting to borrow it until it was then recommended to me, and I thought “why not?”. Every Day by: Daivid Levithan has to be one of the most interesting novels I have ever read. After reading the back cover, I was very intrigued and knew this wasn’t your typical teen fiction story line. I was a fan of David Levithan’s before this book, and I can certainly say, this is my most favorite novel of his. This novel is about a being called A, every day A wakes up in the body of someone else – one day it may be a girl, one day a boy. A’s life is kept in a routine until A wakes up in the body of teenage Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. This is when the novel really begins and when the rules by which A has been living this strange life are then changed, because finally A has found someone A want’s to be with every day. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes imagine what it must be like to be in the shoes of someone else. This was a book that I could not put down, because it does just that. If you’re tired of the same old story line and looking for something a little different, this is the book for you. A book that will certainly awaken your imagination. “I want love to conquer all. But love can’t conquer anything. It can’t do anything on it’s own. It relies on us to do the conquering on its behalf.”
Still with me? Good! Onto…
This book is very precious to me as it was sent to me unexpectedly by someone very important at the time. I had no idea it was coming, and I had to idea what to expect, and I think that’s how many favourite things come to be; by chance. The Shadow of the Wind by: Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a page-turner of a novel that I would place in the mystery category. This novel takes place in Barcelona, and follows the story of 10 year old Daniel Sempere who is taken to the ‘cemetery of lost books’ by his father who allows him to choose just one book from the shelves to keep, in which ‘La Sombra del Viento’ (The Shadow of the Wind) by Julian Carax, is chosen. Fast forward a few years, and this novel unlocks an unexpected world of mysteries, as one night Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from the novel, a character who might just be the devil himself. Don’t let my summary scare you, it is a very interesting read that will speak to the book lover in all of us. There is one character in the book, Fermin Romero de Torres, whom I was particularly fond of, as he always had a brilliant remark to make or story to tell. “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
Unlike the books I have previously mentioned, this one is very different because it is NOT a work of fiction. This book is The Last Lecture by: Randy Pausch, and is not in fact a novel, but rather, a series of lessons modeled after Pausch’s legendary lecture given in Carnegie Mellon Hall. Due to the overwhelming praise received during this lecture, Pausch then decided to turn the lecture into a book. The last lecture to me is about the life lessons Pausch has learned thus far, including personal stories to really illustrate the point. Despite this book being called The ‘Last’ Lecture due to the fact that it came to be after the diagnosis of his terminal pancreatic cancer, it is quite uplifting and teaches many valuable lessons, fundamentally of which is not to take life for granted. Thinking about this book gives me goosebumps, as it was such a powerful, motivational, and lovely read. I truly believe every single person could benefit from reading this. You can even find this lecture online if you’re looking for a little taste of what to expect in this book. There are SO many great quotes to be found, that it’s hard to pick just one. Here is a passage that really stood out for me: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
I decided to hurry up and read this book after hearing many people talk about how great the movie was. Like most, if I know a movie will be coming out, I’d much prefer to read the book, and then see the film. I was a bit late to the party, and so, in the midst of the film being released in theaters, I started to read The Book Thief by: Markus Zusak. Immediately after finishing the book, I saw the film, and I honestly couldn’t tell you which I preferred more. The movie really did do this novel justice, in that it was beautifully portrayed by great actors, and stayed true to the story. The book, Narrated by Death (which is quite brilliant, given the subject matter) and set in Nazi Germany, focuses on a young, book stealing Liesel’s relationship with her new foster parents, and a young Jewish man named Max, who is taken into their home and hidden in their basement during World War II. This book was quite powerful and touches on the complexities of War through the eyes of the residents of Himmel Street and beyond. The more you read, the more you will fall in love with (and root for) these beautiful and complex characters and their struggles.“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”
This book was truly a pleasure to read. The Art of Racing in the Rain by: Garth Stein is narrated by a dog. Yes, an elderly philosophical dog named Enzo (with a very human-like soul), tells the story of his master Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. I almost wish it were a little less focused on racing and more so on Enzo’s interesting life, as he clearly had so much wisdom to bestow. This is a story that only a trusting narrator such as a dog could tell. I can certainly say, as a dog owner and lover, this book really made me hopeful that my little Summer can understand me (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read this). This would be a great read for any dog owners like myself, those of you interested in race cars, or just anyone looking for an ‘easy’ and uplifting read. “There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.”
This is the first book of the Grisha Trilogy: Shadow and Bone by: Leigh Bardugo. Once started, I could not put this, or the other two books down! I know it’s almost cheating to list one book, if clearly two others must be read, however, this first book was definitely my favourite of the three. Not to imply that the series declined, I just personally enjoyed discovering this entirely new world, and the specific plot of this first novel. This book centers around the fallen nation of Ravka, torn in two by the Shadow Fold. Alina Starkov, when attacked by monstrous creatures on The Fold reveals a great power that saves her, and the life of her best friend Mal. Once her powers are discovered, Alina is then trained to be a member of the magical elite of Grisha led by The Darkling. I really enjoyed reading the dialogue between Alina and The Darkling; not to give anything away, but it is this specific story line that held me so captive. This is a great example of why I enjoy fiction so much – the idea of getting completely lost in another world entirely is such an enjoyable form of escapism that only a captivating novel such as this can provide. Pick this up if you’re looking for something different to really capture your attention, and not let it go. “The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.”
Here comes the “and then some” part of my top 10!
Since this is not in my top 10 (per say), I will not say too much about this book. However, if I had to recommend ONE classic novel to anyone, The Picture of Dorian Gray by: Oscar Wilde would be the one. Filled with brilliant philosophical thoughts and ideas, Wilde’s book is truly a classic that everyone should read. I found myself constantly stopping to write down a snippet of a new favourite passage or quote. Although written in 1891, this novel truly speaks to our generation’s obsession with power and appearance. “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.”
A Children’s Book (and most beautifully illustrated):
When a favourite children’s book comes to mind, many of you (along with myself) may be compelled to think of Robert Munsch’s I’ll Love You Forever. That is definitely a favourite of mine, however, I wanted to open your eyes to a lesser known, but equally touching story: The Rainbabies by: Laura Krauss Melmed. This story is of a childless couple, who in the midst of a magical moonshower find 12 tiny babies. This book is a pleasure to read, but even more so, a pleasure to look at, with beautifully painted illustrations. I remember having this read to me as a child and being completely fascinated with the images, so much so, that I would imagine how exciting it would be to find little tiny babies for myself while exploring outside. The copy I once had as a child is gone, however, years later, not being able to get the beautiful imagery and unique story from my mind, I just had to purchase this story. I hope those of you interested will do the same.
A definite favourite poet of mine has always been Pablo Neruda. I love his works so much, that when I happen to stumble upon a book of poetry of his, I just have to have it. My personal favourites are his love sonnets. It’s nerly impossible to describe poetry, so I will include snippets of my favourite poems of his: “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.” “I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”
A Sentimental Favourite:
Even more so than Neruda’s poetry, I cannot stumble across a beautiful copy of Alice in Wonderland by: Lewis Carroll (or even Disney, as you can see) without buying it. I don’t know what it is, I just really have a sentimental attachment to this book and it’s characters. I cannot help but relate to curious Alice and all the trouble that her curiosity leads to. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter as well? Come to think of it, I might just relate a little to every character.“Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so, you’re entirely bonkers, but let me tell you a secret, all the best people are.”
“Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it’s a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book.
But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book,
reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself.”
– Rebecca Mead
So there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed my top 10 favourite books (of all time) and then some! I really enjoyed writing about my favourites, as it brought me back to the stories I loved so dearly. I would love to hear any recommendations of books you think I might like as well. Thank you for reading 🙂 – Lisa
6 replies on “My Top 10 Favourite Books! (..and then some)”
I adore this post!! Almost all of your favorites are mine as well… I love the photos as well.. It makes me want to read now!
Thanks Juls! 🙂
This is crazy – we have so many mutual favourite books! And Pablo Neruda is my #1 favourite poet. Thanks for telling me about The Rainbabies, I had never heard of it before. It sounds like there are some important social themes in it, as well. Great post!
Wow! I would love to see your top 10 as well. At least we can trust each others tastes. Thank you 🙂
Nice lineup you have here :). Check out “The Happiness of Pursuit” by Chris Guillebeau, seems like you and I are on the same page with travel and what life should be about. I think you’ll enjoy, written by a good guy / friend and hit the NYT best seller list almost immediately after release.
you like one of my pics in IG, so here I arrive at your blog 🙂 I had the time travelers wife since 2 years ago haven’t open the plastic yet! should read it soon! and I prefer to read the book first before saw it in movie