Hot on the heels of my ’20 Fabulous Gifts For Writers’, I thought I’d share My Ten Favorite Books. This is the perfect time of year to hunker down with a cozy throw, a good read and a warm fire.
I love to read and generally I make it through fifty or more books each year, in many different genres. My reading list is eclectic – encompassing everything from horror to autobiographical accounts. One common thread linking these great stories? They’re stories of human survival.
Most of these titles are familiar literary classics. The reason these books made my Top Ten list is because each book left an impression with me long after reading The End. Whether the emotion was outrage, shock, joy or fear, these stories resonated long after I turned the final page.
My Top Ten Favourite Books
1.) Left To Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
2.) The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyle
3.) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
4.) The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
5.) Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody
6.) Lord Of The Flies by William Golding
7.) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
8.) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
9.) It by Stephen King
10.) Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
The other notable factor in choosing titles for this list is the descriptions of the settings were superbly written. I lived in the jungle alongside the family of missionaries in The Poisonwood Bible and I cried at Betty Mahmoody’s separation from her child as though I were in that locked room with her. I stumbled through the canyons of California and the wilderness of Alaska, inhaling Christopher McCandless’s desperate search for life even as he was losing it as the days passed. I have always believed a sign of a good book is the ability to get lost in it, for a moment or for several hours.
We can all relate to the desire to help or save someone, and most of us would relish the opportunity to visit some far-flung exotic place, despite a bit of danger. This is often referred to as ‘armchair traveling’. So come along for a few minutes and I will share with you why I love each of these titles in a bit more detail and why some of these books inspired me to visit the very places in which they are set.
- Left To Tell
A true account of a young woman’s struggle to live during the genocide in Rwanda. While not light reading, the impact of this woman’s strength, against all odds, is a classic portrayal of survival.
2. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
A fictional tale of a German soldier’s son, living alongside a concentration camp. The setting, while stark, is less important than the story of forbidden friendship, told simply, with a harsh and shocking lesson.
- The Poisonwood Bible
I have always loved the idea of Africa. Exotic jungles, wild animals, and people whose lives are both mystifying and inimitable. A land of extremes in every sense. This is a fictional story of a family of missionaries whose lives are forever changed when they settle in the jungles of Africa. A real saga of life, religion, death, and culture wrapped up in wonderful storytelling.
- The Glass Castle
Based on the childhood of journalist Jeanette Walls, this is a story of a girl whose childhood could be described as anything but normal. Beautifully written and at times hard to believe. Her childhood unfolded in the vast dry desert land of Arizona and wound up in the misty coal mining towns of Pennsylvania. Gritty and absorbing.
- Not Without My Daughter
Another true tale. Betty Mahmoody marries an Iranian American doctor and they travel to Iran for a holiday. Only she doesn’t realize that her husband has become radicalized and has no plans to return to America. A television movie was subsequently made starring Sally Field, depicting this brave woman’s fight to save her daughter. Recently, her daughter, Mahtob, released her own account of that frightful time in Iran.
- Lord of the Flies
A literary classic, this is the fictionalized story of a group of British boys who crash land on a deserted island and quickly form a tribe. A shocking tale of survival of the fittest and how even the innocent can change under life and death circumstances.
- To Kill a Mockingbird
Often given out to high school students as required reading, this is a finely crafted novel of life in the American south in the 1930’s when racial segregation dictated life for everyone. Another classic.
- The Handmaid’s Tale
A dystopian view of the future of American society. True to form, Atwood’s storytelling takes literature to another level, leaving the reader horrified and turning the pages as quickly as possible. Finely written and imaginative. The main character’s struggle for freedom will have you rooting for her survival against a tightly controlled authoritarian regime.
While I don’t always lean towards horror genres in my book choices, I do like elements of fear and mystery. This book, however, is classic horror, written by the master of this genre. The story follows a group of suburban teenagers in Maine as they run from their nemesis – a murderous clown. As the clown materializes in sink drains, in schools and in the woods, this book will keep you awake all night long.
- Into the Wild
Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young graduate who leaves everything, and everyone, behind. His body is later discovered in a bus in the wilds of Alaska. His life story was brought to the big screen in a movie by the same name. A gripping story that is as hard to understand at times as it is to put down.
I’d love to hear from readers and other authors as to your favorite reads!