Both of my parents were English majors in college. Our childhood home was filled with shelves and shelves of books, most of them the classics and works of great literature. I read War & Peace when I was only 12 years old and when I mentioned it to my mother, she accused me of just skimming it, saying I was too young to read and understand it.
She was right, I was too young to understand it, but I did read it. And then I read it over and over again during the next few years, until I finally understood it (as much as anyone can really say they understand War & Peace) by about the age of 15. On my first read, I thought of it as a really interesting love story because I mostly skipped through all the political scenes (just as my mother suspected). But upon my second and third read, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place and I began to pick up the historical references and the rich history of Russia which then continued to fascinate me throughout my adult life.
I inherited my parents love of literature and spent my childhood with my nose stuck in a book. Every Saturday I would go to the library and take out 6 books at a time (6 was the limit of books you could take out in a week from our town library). I would read them all and go back for 6 more the following Saturday.
I read everything – good, bad and indifferent. It didn’t really matter to me at that time, I just wanted to read and absorb everything like a sponge. One summer I voraciously read all of the Greek myths; a few months later I read all of the Nancy Drew books. I wasn’t particularly picky, I just wanted to escape the suburban world I lived in and read about lives and worlds more interesting than my own.
Below is a list of my top 15 all time favorite books, not in any particular order except for Pride & Prejudice which is, and always will be, my absolute favorite #1 book of all time. I must have read it at least 5 times.
- Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel
- Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
- The World According to Garp by John Irving
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
- Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I’ve only included books that I liked so much that I’ve read them more than once, to be sure they withstood the test of time. How about you? What are your all-time favorite books?