Top 10 All Time
Not in order because ranking things is of the devil. Even having a top ten hurts my soul, but I value your time, so if you really want to know which books I wish everyone in the world would read so we could talk about them, here you go:
Books About Writing
I read Stephen King’s On Writing in the early days of writing my first novel, and its impact on my writing process can’t be overstated. To this day, I’ve bought that book more times than any other, mostly because Nate keeps giving them away to people. The other books are also wonderful (and none of them are boring, even Dryer’s English, I swear), but if you’re only going to read one…
Of course, three of my favorites are already in the Top Ten. Some of these are all-time greats. Some are hidden gems. All are books I’ve read more than once. To keep it brief, I’ve only included one book from any one series, and I tried to pick the one I thought was the best, but you can pretty much assume the whole series is worthwhile. So, in no particular order, the science fiction that has influenced, impressed, or delighted me the most:
As with sci-fi, I already have a few of these in my Top 10. This is easily the category where I’ve spent the most time, largely because I lean toward epic fantasy and the books are so deliciously LONG. Also because I’ve read them multiple times. (If someone builds you a whole world to explore, it’s only fair to visit more than once.) If you DO want something short and delightful, read Piranesi. I can’t even describe it to you. Just read it like the mysterious wonder it was meant to be. On the other end of the spectrum, if you want sink as deep into geekery as you can go, read The Wheel of Time. I only know a handful of others who have read it, and every time I meet them it’s like we’ve got membership cards into the same weird club. The series is ridiculously long (14 books) and books 4-7 are a bit of a trudge, but it pays off so well. SO WELL.
Yes, most of these are what you might call classics, but for me classic lit and historical fiction fill the same niche in my heart. I made no attempt to choose these based on their claim to greatness. These are just the ones I have loved the most.
Nothing on this list will be a shock. I read A LOT of YA fiction, and after extensive research I can confirm that usually the ones that really hit it big are legitimately the best-written. Sure, some big hits aren’t really that great (I’m looking at you, Divergent) and there are hidden gems, but really there’s some horrible YA out there and even more mediocre fluff. These six still top my list. If I had to pick one of them? Six of Crows. Give me a band of lovable outlaws pulling off a heist every day of the week. Please.
I wanted to keep going and going. I could have made a whole separate list of the books my own kids have loved, but I confined myself to the ones I’ve personally read and can confirm are amazing. Unlike my YA category, there are probably a couple here you haven’t heard of. Each one delighted me. (And yes, you should read the entire Harry Potter series, obviously. I just like Order of the Phoenix best. I think. I can never decide for sure.)
Because yes, there is some really great non-fiction. I just can’t seem to get around to reading much of it. That said, these ones have really helped my life.