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What Are Your All-Time Favorite Books?

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As a young adult, I always enjoyed scouring people’s bookshelves to see what they liked to read and to get ideas for new books to devour. Today, with so many people reading e-books, bookshelves are beginning to disappear. Last year, I moved the last of my books to the basement and filled my living room bookshelf with my children’s games and puzzles (which is a discussion for another day). So now, if you want to know my all-time favorite books, you’ll have to ask me.

What about you? What are your all-time favorite books? Not the ones you “think” you should like because they’re in the literary canon or because they made the Modern Library best books of all time list, but what are the books you remember most, that influenced you most, that you loved most, that you would take to a deserted island? Here are a few of mine, in no particular order:

Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Illusions by Richard Bach
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Living, Loving, and Learning by Leo Buscaglia
Journey to the East by Hermann Hesse
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The World According to Garp by John Irving
The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mondino

30 comments to What Are Your All-Time Favorite Books?

  • Anthony Lee Collins

    Hmm. Off the top of my head:
    Inherent Vice (Thomas Pynchon)
    Too Many Cooks & A Right to Die (Rex Stout; two separate books, written years apart, but they go together)
    The Bostonians (Henry James)
    Dhalgren (Samuel R. Delany)
    Cerebus (Dave Sim & Gerhard)
    Lord of Light (Roger Zelazny)
    The Burning Court (John Dickson Carr)
    Plot it Yourself (Rex Stout)
    Cities of the Red Night (William Burroughs)
    Ten Days Wonder & The Cat of Many Tails (Ellery Queen; they go together)

    As I say, off the top of my head.

    • meghancward

      I love how every list is so different. We don't have one book in common! I'm not sure I've ever read The Bostonians, although I've read other books by James. And I haven't read the others either. Thanks for sharing!

  • annerallen

    What a fun question, which I don't have time for, but I'm going to answer just with a sweep of my bookshelves. I think it's going to have to be mostly collected works by author, because I tend to fall in love with authors rather than titles.

    1) the complete works of Oscar Wilde (I have the 1911 limited Sunflower editions with the original Beardsley etchings–one of my most treasured possessions.)
    2) The Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers
    3) The poetry of William Butler Yeats.
    4) The poetry and plays of Edna St. Vincent Millay
    5) The complete Dorothy Parker
    6) The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis
    7) The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aaron
    8) The Soul's Code by James Hillman
    9) A bunch of books by Barbara Kingsolver
    10) Most of Mary Stewart's novels (mysteries and the Merlin trilogy)

    Hows that for an eclectic mix?

    • meghancward

      Ha! I love Dorothy Parker, Yeats, and C.S. Lewis. I'm not familiar with Aaron of Hillman or Stewart's books. And how cool that you have the original Beardsley etchings of Oscar Wilde!!

  • treacycolbert

    No particular order, either, but just a gander at the shelves:
    1. Dubliners (James Joyce)
    2. Everything That Rises Must Converge (Flannery O'Connor)
    3. Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats
    4. Collected Poems of Denise Levertov
    5. Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop
    6. A Very Private Eye (Barbara Pym)
    7. The Red Pony (John Steinbeck)

    • meghancward

      Treacy, I LOVE Dubliners. I can so vividly picture two of those stories. Flannery O'Conner is wonderful too. These are all great books. Thanks for sharing!

  • Great topic!

    Here are some of mine. Now – they may all not be the most epic writing (some are!), but they are my faves.

    1. The Blue Sweater (Jacqueline Novogratz)
    2. The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle)
    3. Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo)
    4. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior (Dan Millman)
    5. The Alchemist (Paolo Coehlo)
    6. P&P (Jane Austen)

    • meghancward

      Do you follow Paolo Coehlo on Twitter, Heidi? I've read The Alchemist, but not his other books. Pride and Prejudice is great, of course, and I used to own The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, but I don't know if I ever read it. I've heard about The Power of Now, but haven't read it.

  • Sierra Godfrey

    Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher
    The Golden Compass trilogy by Philip Pullman
    My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts, and Relatives, and The Garden of the Gods, all by Gerald Durrell
    Behaving Like Adults and Being Committed by Anna Maxted
    Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy

    Just a few.

    • Anthony Lee Collins

      Gerald Durrell! Yes, definitely. (I also read Lawrence later on, who proved to be an influence on what I do. But when I read Lawrence, I always picture him as Gerald described him.)

      • Sierra Godfrey

        I too read Lawrence later and never could get past his unflattering portrayal by Gerald, but then again his very literary tone didn't help at all. 🙂 All of Gerald's books are great, including the later ones about his times catching animals, although that is a very unethical practice now.

    • meghancward

      You would come up with a list of books I've never heard of! I've heard of Maeve Binchy because my mom used to read her books, but I'm not familiar with the others. I love the titles of Durrell's books, and sounds like Anthony likes them, too.

      • Sierra Godfrey

        I think you would really enjoy the Gerald Durrell books. Read My Family and Other Animals first. Then Birds, Beasts, and Relatives. The Garden of the Gods is possibly not in print in the US. I will lend you my British copy if you promise to turn the pages with sterilized tongs 🙂

  • Rebekah

    1. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
    2. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
    3. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

    • meghancward

      I never finished A Prayer for Owen Meany, and I was a big John Irving reader many years ago. I can still picture the two dresses in the mom's room at the beginning,though – the one she bought to copy and the copy she was in the process of making.

  • Nicole

    Some of my faves over the years (return again and again)

    The Picture of Dorian Grey – Wilde

    Bertrand Russell essays

    Animal Farm – Orwell

    The Portable Emerson – especially essay on Self Reliance

    TS Elliott poetry – esp Lovestory of J Alfred Prufrock

    The Portable Nietzsche

    And when I was younger-

    My Side of the Mountain

    Aesops Fables

    • meghancward

      Nicole, I don't know My Side of the Mountain. All the others are wonderful classics! I particularly like Animal Farm.

  • lindseycrittenden

    The ones I loved as a child & adolescent come first to mind–Laura Ingalls Wilder, of course (especially when Laura was younger, before Mary went blind); Zilpha Keatley Snyder's books; Gone With the Wind; the Jalna series; Victoria Holt's gothic romances. Later: Love Signs and Edna St Vincent Millay (lowbrow and high-, for treating first heartbreak); Lonesome Dove; Anna Karenina; Great Gatsby; Jane Eyre; Song of Solomon; Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy. And for making me want to write like that someday, Joan Didion & Mary Cantwell.

    • meghancward

      Lindsey, my mom read me the Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I was a kid. I forget how old I was, but maybe 6? Not old enough to read chapter books. I'm wondering at what age I should start reading them to my kids. I still haven't read Anna Karenina (I have it on my iPad) and I've never read Lonesome Dove or Gone With the Wind. So many great books out there to read!

  • lindseycrittenden

    Oh! &, let's not forget Maurice Sendak's Nutshell Library, which I carried EVERYWHERE.

    • meghancward

      I've never heard of that one! We have two Sendak books from the library here right now (in French – The Night Kitchen and Where The Wild Things Are.)

  • Haha, I still peek over people's shoulders to see if I can figure out what they're reading on Kindle/iPad. *halo*

    A few of my faves, no order:
    – BELOVED by Toni Morrison
    – THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd
    – THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
    – THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer
    – MONSOON by Wilbur Smith
    – HONEST ILLUSIONS by Nora Roberts
    – ROOM by Emma Donoghue
    – ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maud Montgomery

    • meghancward

      I'd forgotten about Anne of Green Gables! I watched all those shows when I was a kid, but I don't think I ever read the books. I liked Anne of Green Gables. Room is great; so is Beloved. I can't even remember The Secret Life of Bees, although I did read it. Loved The Hunger Games, although I guess I think of the books that most influenced me as ones I read when I was much – eh hem – younger.

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  • Michael

    It's kind of sad that paper books are getting replaced by e-readers. Personally, I think that something can be new without necessarily being better than what it's replacing. Anyway, on the topic at hand:

    THE DARK TOWER series by Stephen King
    THE COLORADO KID by Stephen King
    FIRESTARTER by Stephen King
    ODD THOMAS series by Dean Koontz
    PHANTOMS by Dean Koontz
    LIGHTNING by Dean Koontz
    TICK TOCK by Dean Koontz
    TWILIGHT series by Stephenie Meyer
    THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer
    ANONYMOUS REX by Eric Garcia
    CASUAL REX by Eric Garcia
    HOT AND SWEATY REX by Eric Garcia
    GOLIATH by Steve Alten

  • FIRESTARTER by Stephen King & THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer

  • […] What are Your All-Time Favorite Books? by Writerland […]

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