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These are some of my favorite books, and books that I’ll recommend to anybody. They completely run the gamut on genre and writing styles. Some are thought-provoking and some are rather simple and lovely romances. Some are heartwarming and some are heartbreaking. If you want me to describe why I love a book further, or ask for a different recommendation, please shoot me an Ask!
*Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy- A very classic story of love, family, and coming to terms with yourself and your life. Tolstoy’s writing cuts right to the heart and leavings you wondering, “How did he say that so perfectly? How did he know?”
*David Copperfield by Charles Dickens- Dickens follows the life of his protaganist David Copperfield, from childhood onwards. This novel, while at times long and somewhat dragging, is comical, provides extremely lovable and relatable chracters, and is so very heartwarming. When I closed the book upon finishing the last page, I cried simply because it was over.
*The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett- A story set in medieval Europe, it follows the intrigues and characters in a small medieval European town, as they work together and against each other to construct a cathedral. It’s undeniably GREAT, an absolute classic in its own right. I never thought I’d enjoy a book like this but I did.
*Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell- I can’t describe this novel with justice. I’ve read it so many times that my book has literally fallen apart. I have parts of Gone with the Wind all around my house. It will make you cheer on Scarlett O’Hara, swoon over Rhett Butler, weep at beloved characters’ funerals, want to name your firstborn son Ashley, and ride a horse drunk in Gerald O’Hara’s name.
*Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Suceed by Jared Diamond- This book is a history book that incorporates various sciences to back up its conclusions. In it, Diamond essentially proves how some ancient societies (Mayans, Easter Islanders, Tikopians, etc) lived their lives, misused their environments, and how beautiful and full cities were suddenly emptied, left only with mysterious ruins for us to figure out. Well, we have. Diamond also applies his conclusions about the past into the FUTURE, telling us in a very non-preachy way that we need to reconsider our place on earth.
*Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand- Two separate books, but both fit my descripton: books very staunchly preaching Republican values of working for yourself and getting what you earned. I’m extremely liberal and yet I LOVED these books. The plot lines themselves are ridiculously interesting, very well written, and tell a great, great story.
*The Pact by Jodi Picoult- This book is possibly my favorite of all Picoult books (I’ve read them all, now). This book is about a young teenage couple who make a suicide pact. It’s not an overly dramatic re-telling of the event, but rather a very readable and relateable analysis of it from various points of views of involved characters. Picoult’s books all are easily readable, will probably make you cry, and fit the bill perfectly for a good-hearted middle-aged woman. So, as an 18 year old, I think they’re great :p
*Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace- One of the largest books in the English language, it’s hugely ambitious. I think it succeeds. It’s a freakishly weird Fiction book, somewhat hard to follow at first, that discusses topics of addiction and happiness. It is hysterical and heartbreaking and beautifully poignant. Probably my favorite book that I’ve ever read.
*Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury- Set in the dystopian future, this is a book about burning books. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but it’s still an enduring classic. If you like dystopias and science-fiction type stuff, then this one is for you… but you’ve probably already heard of it!
*Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen- Love this book! A simple romance novel about two sisters and their respective significant others set in high-class British society. It’s great, for what it’s worth. I found myself identifying with BOTH of the two very different sisters (somehow, haha) and enjoyed both of their trials and tribulations very much.
*The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky- This is a classic Russian novel. It’s about a man that comes into moral-less high-class Russian society, but he is very kind and true to himself. Stupidly so, almost, like an Idiot would be. For me he had Tolstoy’s quality of cutting right to the heart with his speech—I would always say “what a beautiful way to put that.” A great book about morals and personalities and the human heart.
*Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen- My favorite of the Dessen novels, although I love them all. She’s like Picoult, but aimed towards more of the Young Adult crowd. Great books about girls kind of finding themselves, finding the guy, everything working out, and them realizing how to fix their lives. That sort of easy reading, but they’re wonderfully good, every time.
*Diary by Chuck Palahniuk- My favorite Palahniuk book. It’s weird. It’s that type of weird writing that is difficult to follow, and you’re not sure what’s going on at any point, but at the end you’ll want to read it again. And again. And again. If you’ve read any of Palahniuk’s books you’ll know what I’m talking about.
*A Separate Peace by John Knowles- This is a small book about two guys that are best friends and teenagers in a boarding school. One of them is rebellious, a charmer, outgoing, and downright completely lovable. The other gets his heart broken by him—in a completely platonic way, though. It’s a novel about friendship and the oncoming of war and staying true to yourself and your friends. It’s so damn lovable.
*In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien- A small novel about love, and the power of it, and falling apart from it, and what happens when it’s devoid. It is about a married couple— they take a vacation to a cabin house, and the wife disappears. It’s a mystery what happens to her, and the novel goes back through their history to discover if the husband killed her, what he had been thinking, his past in Vietnam, and more. It’s about loving someone so much you try to become one with them, and what happens when you lose yourself. It’s beautiful.
*The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara- Che! What to say. This guy is a South American revolutionary, idolized by some and hated by others for his work with Castro. Regardless: this book that he wrote about his trip through South America is poignant and inspiring. In it he wrote how he wanted to help his people, and other genuine insights.
*A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard by James Frey-These are memoirs by Frey that have been contested for their veracity. Regardless how much is fiction and how much is memory, these books are BEAUTIFUL. They are about a man recovering from drug addiction in a rehab center, and his friends there. He is a genuine writer, and writes with passion and spareness of prose, and total disregard for grammatical rules.