1. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Any book from this series is my go-to book whenever life is overwhelming and I want to live in another world for a while. This is a series that I can read over and over and over and it never fails to hold my attention, even though the books are pretty thick. Whenever I have finished reading one of the books I feel that I have finished it too soon, that I still want to be in the magical world that J.K. Rowling has created.
2. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
This book is classified as a “children’s book” and yet even as an adult I continue to find myself absolutely enchanted by this book. Although the main character is a legend of sorts, doing incredible things, he is also very human. The supporting characters in general are written in a very realistic way, and are dynamic characters that grow throughout the book. I love Spinelli’s writing style, he never uses excessive words; through his writing he shows just how powerful and enticing short sentences can be when used properly. His writing is never boring and keeps me hungrily reading word after word.
3. Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff
This book is a psychological thriller with many twists and turns, due to the nature of the main character, who is the narrator for most of the story. When reading this book for the first time, you are constantly trying to figure out what kind of person the main character is, and the ending is pretty shocking. This is a fast-paced book that is good at keeping the reader engaged.
4. A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman
This is a book I read whenever I want to experience some warm kindness and wisdom, because Diane Ackerman is full of both. Her writing is a pure pleasure to read, she crafts sentences and paragraphs as carefully and finely as a master artist paints a painting. A Natural History of the Senses is a celebration of the sensory systems that humans possess and the beauty that they bring to our experiencing of the world. As well as being a writer, Ackerman is also a naturalist and her knowledge of the natural world and deep love for it absolutely SHINES through her work. Reading this book feels like spending time with a wonderful, warm friend.
5. Anthem by Ayn Rand
Although I don’t agree with a lot of Ayn Rand’s politics, I think that this book is still a very interesting read. She puts the story together in a fascinating way that keeps the reader intrigued because in the first few chapters it isn’t really clear what is going on or even who the narrator is. And though I may take issue with some of the themes presented in the book, I absolutely love the way the theme of individuality and making decisions based on your own judgement is presented in the book.
6. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
This is a book that I read now and then whenever I want to hear an understanding voice and laugh. This book is about the author’s struggles with her depression, being an adult, and also includes funny stories from her childhood and adult life. Her vibrant personality and sense of humor is ever-present in her work which makes reading it a wonderful experience.
7. Beyond Civilization by Daniel Quinn
I read this book for the first time recently, and now I want to read more of Daniel Quinn’s writing. He writes very clearly, using great metaphors, wonderful imagery, and in a way that seems as though he is directly talking to you. What I loved about this book were his futuristic ideas and out-of-the-box thinking about how we make the world a better place to live in. Reading this book I felt engaged and thinking about things, and enjoyed doing so.
8. The poetry books of Maya Angelou
I absolutely love Maya Angelou’s poetry and when I first read her work I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I don’t think there’s been a poet that has resonated with me more, even though many of her life experiences are quite different from mine. She uses simple language, and yet her work is incredibly enchanting and captivating. She is strong, yet vulnerable, and compellingly honest all throughout. Her kindness and intellect pours from her words, and the struggles that she and her family have been through add another dimension to her poetry. Her poems speak to the strength of women and the terrible obstacles and burdens that black people in America have had to deal with.
9. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks
Oliver Sacks was a British neurologist who was also quite a talented author. In this book he shares some of his most remarkable case studies that show the curious and strange things that can happen when one has a specific type of brain injury or disorder (the title of this book being quite literal and the story of one of his patients). What struck me about the author himself is that through his writing you can tell that he didn’t think of his patients just as cases as some doctors do, but as whole people, unique individuals with personalities and problems. The way he writes about his patients brings them to life, and makes reading their unusual stories all the more enjoyable.
10. Animal Farm by George Orwell
I have referenced Animal Farm in a recent blog post and for good reason – this book, although published in 1945 and written as a critique of Stalinism, is still incredibly relevant today. This short book very clearly shows how those in power use specific techniques to get the masses to stay submissive and silent, even as their quality of life and the rights they have drastically decrease. When I finished reading this book I was shook to my very core, because some of the tactics described in the book have already started happening in my own country, and just like the lower animals in book few people have noticed this. This book is clearly written, captivating, and important.