Lately I've made a lot more of an effort to get back into my favorite hobby, reading. I've never been a big fan of John Green, but I'm coming around to him, especially while reading Paper Towns. Being reminded of a lot of my other favorite books, I decided to write this week's article on a few of the most exceptional books I've ever read. These can be any sort of book. My only criteria is that they had a lasting impression on me, and have my highest recommendation.

1. Dune - Frank Herbert, 1965

I figured I should start with a sci-fi legend, and all around incredibly well-written book. The characters are some of my favorites from any story, and you can feel his world-building process throughout the novel. It took me a while to get into, as it is quite a large book, but every single chapter is worth it. If you are a writer and want to learn how to world-build, start with Frank Herbert.

2. Looking for Alaska - John Green, 2005

Like I said, I've never been a huge fan of John Green. This book is the exception, and the only reason I gave Paper Towns a chance. It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful love story I have ever read. If you have ever read anything by John Green and enjoyed it, GO AND READ LOOKING FOR ALASKA. Every book he has written since has been a poor attempt to recreate it, and it is his masterpiece. I'm so upset that his other books have gotten film adaptations, while Looking for Alaska never has. It deserves so much more than I can put into words, and a small part of me will forever be in love with Alaska.

3. The Opposite of Loneliness - Marina Keegan, 2014

This one is a collection of short stories and essays by a brilliant writer taken far too soon. I have a lot of respect for Marina's style of writing, and some of her short stories have stuck with me ever since I first read it. I think about them a lot, actually. She had a beautiful mind, proficient in crafting thought provoking short stories. I wish I could write like her.

4. All The Bright Places - Jennifer Niven, 2015

Credit to my good friend Tom Doetsch from showing me this one after I told him that Looking for Alaska reduced me to a useless sad puddle. I know my list is mostly sappy love stories, but I'm a huge sucker for a good love story. After reading Looking for Alaska, I suggest taking a good break of about a month, and then reading this. Trust me, the break is necessary.

5. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes, 1966

I'm ecstatic to be able to add this to my list. I love everything about this book, especially the stylistic narration choice made by Daniel Keyes throughout the story. It's really a great read if you're interested in psychology, especially developmental psychology. It might not be a FUN read, but it's absolutely worth it.

6. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho, 1988

This is, in every way, my favorite book. My new years resolution every year is to sit down and read this book at least once. It tells a lot of good lessons, and really helped me during a dark time in my life. It may not be the easiest to follow at first, so give it a second read. Not too long of a book, I never have trouble reading it. Trust me when I say it helps to bring about a lot of intense introspective thought. I wish you all the best of luck in discovering your personal legend.

Honorable mention - she walks into the sea - Patricia Clark, 2009

A book of poems by Patricia Clark, that doesn't make it onto the list for a lack of story, but that is TECHNICALLY available in book form. I actually carry a copy in my laptop bag wherever I go. She is such an inspiration to me poetically, and she's even from Grand Rapids! I hope to meet her one day. Her poetic voice has had such an influence on my own. If you want to read some absolutely serene poetry about nature, find yourself a copy and tell me what you think.