1. Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone - JK Rowling: this whole series means more to me than any other book. When I'm sad or happy, bored or just too busy, these books cheer me up. I grew up as they did and Hogwarts is my happy place.
2. The Fellowship of the Ring - JRR Tolkien: this first book is my favorite particularly because of the beginning, when we get to see so much of the Shire, my dream homeland. These books were there for me in very dark times and gave me something to delve myself into when I couldn't have a real world I enjoyed.
3. The Help - Katherine Stockett: this book is so well written and so meaningful, I was crying and laughing in turns at every page! She is a very talented writer and I feel like I know each character personally. She tackled a marvelously tumultuous time in our history in the most relatable way.
4. Holes - Louis Sachar: every time I read these pages or even see the Shia LeBouf movie, I’m reminded of elementary school and those easier times. His writing style was so unique in its appeal to literally every age, as I have read this book more times than I can count.
5. Flowers in the Attic - VC Andrews: This story is so heartbreaking, so shocking, and just leaves a lingering cloud of shadow over you the entire time you’re reading it… but this series immerses you so completely, with unfaltering descriptions and such wholly-deeloped characters that I could draw you a layout of Foxworth Hall and tell you Cathy’s decision or opinion on almost any matter, from politics to her favorite ice cream. The characters in this book taught me not to judge others, and to appreciate others’ struggles, because nobody has a perfect life, and some people’s mistakes are very much understandable.
6. The Face on the Milk Carton - Caroline B. Cooney: She captures growing up in 20th century middle-class America better than any writer I’ve ever read. I haven’t read this book in years but I can remember Janie’s world so clearly. I’ll never forget Cooney’s spot-on description of “the smell of the local Y… like sweat and chlorine”. It’s those little things that made this book so good! I read it straight through in one day, I remember.
7. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald: I was never assigned this in school, but read it on a quiet morning, all in one sitting. “And we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past…” need I say more? The loveliest, most delicate imagery in any classic I’ve ever read. Also, Fitzgerald has synesthesia like me, so I appreciate his unconventional metaphors and similes.
8. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen: Such a happy-place book. I was never assigned this one either, I just loved it! I long to be an accomplished young woman in the 1800s, waiting for a man who makes 500 pounds a year (a LOT back then) to swoop me up. Mr. Darcy taught me that absence does make the heart grow fonder, and Elizabeth showed me that you can have personality and opinions and even yell straight up at your admirers, and they’ll still come back!
9. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee: This book is a nostalgia trip if ever I’ve been on one. I read this not as an assignment in school, but as a release from a terrible time in my life. I didn’t even focus on the trial and all the stressing over civil rights that this book is subjected to in most classrooms, but instead Ifocused on Scout’s boldness, Dill’s sweet disposition, and Boo Radley’s pitiful existence that bred such a deep innocence that it made you cry. This book transports you to cute little Maycomb County instantly, before the end of the first paragraph, and it’s a place I love to spend time in.
10. Twilight - Stephanie Meyers: I know, very unpopular. But it reminds me of the last years of my childhood, those early years before I moved and before high school, before I knew anything of the world and before I had the daily anxieties of adulthood and worrying over the future so much. I have reread my favorite chapters of twilight just about every year since middle school, and it shows me just how much I have grown and changed. It’s good to have those reminders so that when something seems really big to me now, I can go read Twilight and remember that it won’t be very big at all in another year or two.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to include your favorite reads below in the comments!