Every bookworm has suffered the same question: “What’s your favorite book?”
What, like, of all time? You want me to pick one? Impossible.
For people who really love books, giving one single favorite is akin to climbing Everest. It’s easier to say, give a favorite one from each category, or favorite from the last year or so. We need a bit of a narrower category to really give a good answer. But give a favorite in the whole history of literature, out of everything we’ve ever read in our entire lives? Yeah, no. Can’t do it.
And being that I work with books, I get asked for favorites and recommendations quite a bit. People come to me when they need something new to read all the time….alright, alright, fine. Sometimes I give them without being asked. You know you do it too! I can’t help it, I love talking about great books.
So I’ve put together a list of my Forever Recommendations – books that I will tell everyone to read no matter what, books that changed my life and I think will enrich yours, books that occupy a special place in my heart.
the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Because honestly, if you haven’t read Harry by now, what have you been doing with your life?
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
This one is definitely not for everyone. You might be aware of the famous 1971 film adaptation and it’s iconic outfits, and if so, you’re probably aware that it’s an incredibly violent story. It very much centers around the nature of violence and human depravity, so it can be a very difficult read at times. That being said, I’m a sucker for great use of language, and Burgess did something revolutionary with A Clockwork Orange. The story is told in a mixture of cocky English, Russian, Shakesperian English, and slang to form a dialect unique to this story alone (well, this story and maybe Russell Brand). To me, the inventiveness of the narrative is what makes A Clockwork Orange stand out. If you’re okay with a little blood, this one is a must read.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Secret History is one of those ones I almost don’t want to share. It’s like when you love a band and then they go mainstream, and you get really possessive and spiteful of ‘new fans’. And I am a jealous person by nature so I want The Secret History to be mine, but that’s not really how books work. So, read it. It gave me goosebumps and heart palpitations and the proverbial feels. Just fuck me up, Donna Tartt. Fuck. Me. Up.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude is gripping from the first sentence. It’s a book that will not only make you think, but will make your heart race and your soul ache. Marquez is a master of language and story, and if you’re someone who likes things a little bit weird and mystical and wild, this is definitely something to pick up. One Hundred Years of Solitude is also my first recommendation for anyone who likes fantasy and wants to get into something a little more adult, or who wants to try reading a book in translation for the first time. It’s an epic story, and one that I will champion until the day I die.
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
So I’ve talked a bit before about how if a writer is really good, I fall in love a little bit. Well, Jonathan Safran Foer is the love of my damn life. I love him, I love him, I love everything he does, I am absolutely mad for him. I will read everything he produces forever and ever. I have stopped strangers on the train because I saw they were reading his book. Really, read everything by JSF, but I recommend this one first because it was my first one, and because it made me cry in my university library in front of a whole load of people. So, there’s that.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Neil is another great love of mine, a fantastic and epic love that has taken me to so many new worlds and new adventures. Neil is a perfect human being in everything he does, and has produced such a wonderful body of work that it’s hard to pick just one favorite. Again, Stardust was my first, and as a child of fairy tales, it’s my go-to Gaiman. It’s a beautiful story about love and destiny and magic, and it absolutely cannot be beat when it comes to adult fairy tales. Read everything by Neil Gaiman, but if you need a starting place, this one won’t let you down.
Of course, I have many more favorites, including ones I’ll never admit to. My bookshelves are overflowing with books I have loved and given myself to, so these are just a short selection. But there is something about each of these that touched me, that infected me, that became part of me. And I’ll love them until the very end.
What are some of your forever recommendations? Share the book love!