If you know me, you know I’m a reader. I LOVE books. I love stories and I love learning and I love reading. I’ve been known to stop dinners so that I can look something up and read a detailed article, plus 4 more opinion pieces, on a particular topic of debate. I started a book club with my brother, where we read and discuss books monthly. I have a book collection currently housed in my room, where I most definitely do not have enough room for my books. But I still consider myself a book novice. There’s so much literature out there, and I’ve only read a fraction of it. I hope someday I can say I’m well-read. Still, I’ve put quite a few Goodreads under my belt. Here’s a list of my top ten books that I think everyone should get around to reading at least once in their lives, if not a few times.
1. Never Let Me Go – Kazou Ishiguro
This book earned me my high school diploma, so it's fitting that I would have some strong feelings about it. Ishiguro is a master of subtleties as he explores the human condition in this novel. It may seem confusing at first, but it's well worth the read and very artfully written. (If you wanna read more about why this is such a cool book-- hit me up, I'll share my project with you).
2. The Help – Kathryn Stockett
The Help was one of those books that you actually can't put down. I'm sure you've at least heard of, if not seen, the academy-award winning movie adaptation of this novel, and so you know how the story itself is gripping. The writing is even more so. I remember being devastated when I finished the book because the characters felt so real, I wanted to keep reading about them. Stockett has immense talent in writing.
3. Now I See You: A Memoir – Nicole C. Kear
Memoirs are my favorite genre of books, especially when they're written this well. This is the story of a woman who's slowly going blind and decides that carpe diem is the way to go until she has children. The most memorable part of this novel is the ending-- one of the most beautiful and touching book moments. Also, it definitely gave a brand-new appreciation for my own eyes and for the unpredictability of life.
4. The Book of Lost Things – John Connolly
This is one of the creepiest, utterly weirdest novels I've ever read. But it's brilliant nonetheless. It perfectly captures a world of fantasy with imagination in a rather odd coming of age story. For younger kids, it's not the best story and may just creep them out, even though it's written as a children's novel. But there are subtleties and dark themes hidden behind the seeming innocence of this novel. It certainly leaves you with a lot to think about.
5. No Matter The Wreckage – Sarah Kay
Granted, this is the only poetry book I’ve ever read in its entirety, it’s definitely a must, must read. Sarah Kay has an unimaginable way with words. Her poetry is one of the first that’s actually made me feel something after reading it. She writes about everything, from heartbreaks, to brother, to teachers, to feminist-esque poems. She’s truly amazing. Her spoken word poetry and her Ted-Talks are also well, well worth the watch.
6. Room – Emma Donoghue
Room was absolutely haunting. Donoghue writes through the voice of 5-year-old Jack, in a chilling, truly realistic way. But the matter at hand is most certainly not 5-year-old material. Jack is innocent, naive, but his story is not. It's a book that you want to tear your eyes away from, but just can't. When you think it can't get any better (or any worse?), it does. Another book with an Academy-award-winning film adaptation, Room is a book to add to your must-read shelf.
7. The Handmaid's Tale – Margaret Atwood
Another book from my high school English class, The Handmaid's Tale is a very, very important read. Atwood's greatness as an author is known far and wide, and it most certainly is true. If you've been avoiding this book despite all the buzz around it, I highly, highly suggest that you stop avoiding it and pick up a copy today. You won't regret it. Especially in today's political climate, a novel with feminist tones such as this is jaw-dropping and inspiring. And if you've watched the series already, I still highly, highly recommend reading the novel – it'll be well worth your time, sincerely. It's a chilling, mind-boggling story that will stay with you for a long time.
8. A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
This book is absolutely adorable; one of those hit-you-in-the-feels, make-you-feel-warm-inside books. It's a story about a grumpy old man with a touching past, who meets a family that'll change his life. It was especially touching for me because I read it while also being thoroughly annoyed (but with lots and lots of love) by my grandpa who was visiting for the summer. I could relate HARD. Backman is also an incredibly talented writer; he writes every chapter as its own story, a true chapter in every sense of the word, yet the story is cohesive and culminates in one ending. It's a wonderful read, especially if you're in the mood to tickle your feels.
9. Following Atticus – Tom Ryan
Books about dogs and their bonds with their owners are always a favorite of mine. These are the books I usually find myself crying over to no end. I could fill the entire list with books that are about dogs, but if I had to pick my most favorite, it would be this one. Ryan's relationship with Atticus was touching, and again, caught me in the feels. It was well written, too. A great book, and a very inspiring story, all around.
10. The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
I know it seems like I only ever pick books that are made into movies, but it's because they're good books!!! The Namesake is no exception. It was a wonderful story, that hit home for me being that it is about a first-generation Indian kid growing up in the States. The relationship that he has with his mother, father, sister and culture is such a beautiful, intricate, and complex tapestry; one that Lahiri paints wonderfully.
Feel free to comment with your favorite books!