The books that I count among my all-time favorites are the ones that I can remember years (and years!) after I’ve read them. The stories that will pop into my head at random, unexpected times; the characters that feel like old friends; the pages that I will turn more than once. While I have many ‘keepers’ on my shelves, these ones are my top ten.
1. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) – It took me three tries to get through this book the first time around. I started it in grade 8, tried again in grade 9, and finally managed to triumph over its more than 1,300 pages of very small print in grade 10. I went on to read from cover to cover again in grade 11, and once more in grade 12. Why? Because it is hands-down the most amazing piece of plotting I have ever read. Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask as well) was a master weaver of stories, pulling together a hundred different threads and keeping you on the edge of your seat the entire time. The Count of Monte Cristo remains my all-time favorite piece of fiction to this day. (And no, the movie doesn’t do it justice.)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)— If Alexandre Dumas was the king of plotting, Jane Austen was almost certainly the queen of dialogue. I’ve read all of her books, but Pride and Prejudice remains my favorite. There’s just something about Mr. Darcy… 😉
3. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) – I love Bronte’s portrayal of the bleakness of the era, and her quiet but determined young heroine. This was probably the first romance I ever read.
4. The Chrysalids (John Wyndham) Quietly unsettling in a way that has remained with me my entire life. While I’ve read Wyndham’s other books as well, this was my favorite.
5. Ashfall (Mike Mullin); also: Ashen Winter – Apocalyptic in an all-too-possible way, Mike’s books are the kind of thing that have me reassessing my emergency preparedness…and upping my preserving efforts annually! Sunrise, the final book in the trilogy, comes out April 15th, and I absolutely cannot wait. (I’ve been saving a gift card since Christmas just so I can buy it!)
6. A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson); also: Mother Tongue, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Informative, entertaining, and downright hilarious at times, Bryson’s books are among the few I’m able to read over and over again. My husband and I listen to the audiobook version of A Walk in the Woods (read by the author) on long trips. It never loses its sparkle, and Mr. Bryson is on my list of people I’d like to have coffee/dinner with one day.
7. Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery) – A feisty, redheaded, square peg in a round hole; a whole cast of quirky, three-dimensional characters; a wonderful depiction of the era; even more wonderful descriptions of Prince Edward Island (yes, it’s just as described in the book!)…what’s not to love about this Canadian classic?
8. The Mirror of Her Dreams (Stephen R. Donaldson) – Donaldson is actually better known for his Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series, but I could never get into those. The Mirror of Her Dreams, however, was a different story (no pun intended!) and another that has stayed with me over the years.
9. The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan) – I have a particular soft spot for this one because it’s what led to my daughter’s interest in food sovereignty…she’s doing her master’s degree in geography now, with that as her specialty. It’s also the book that marked a turning point in my relationship with food, leading me to put a great deal more thought into my choices.
10. The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love (Kristin Kimball) – Ah, the trials and tribulations of a beginning farm couple. I could so have lived this kind of life if I’d had the chance…and if I hadn’t married a city boy. 😉
How about you? What are your absolute favorites on your keeper shelf? (Or in your e-reader?) I’m always open to new suggestions! 🙂
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