This is kind of hard, you know? It's like picking up the most awesome folks among a circle of truly fabulous friends that are amazing in their own way. Anyway, the following are the first 10 that came to mind. I have a series of runner-ups, so stay tuned:Hello,
I was wondering of you would be a post on your top ten books. The top ten books you couldn’t live without. One doesn’t have to limit themselves to just ten but I wondered which books you would put above the rest.
Thank you and cheers. — meganbarns
- Season of Mists (Sandman volume #4) by Neil Gaiman.
My life without The Sandman graphic novels would be like owning the whole The Beatles discography minus Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Seriously. I met my favorite writer of all time through these series of graphic novels starring the seven entities that are neither mortals nor gods—Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. It may not be the best, but Season of Mists is my favorite of all the volumes in the series. Here’s the blurb from GoodReads:
"Lucifer has grown tired of being the lord of Hell. He kicks out the demons and the damned alike, closes up shop, and gives the key tp Hell to Morpheus. Beings from all the world's mythologies converge on the lord of Dream to seize this instrument of power.”
- Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
I was trying not to pick from the classics, but I just couldn’t help it. Here’s Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. As I said in one of the previous asks, I see it as the masterpiece that sparked the ember of activism in me…and every time I reread it, I feel like I’m fanning the flames some more. This preface from the Gutenberg ebook edition pretty much sums up what I want to say:
“So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century—the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light—are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world;—in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use.”
- Sabriel by Garth Nix.
It’s an important book for me because through it, Nix introduced me to the realms of paranormal young adult fiction
and gave me a permanent morbid streak. I wish more YA books are like this book—the content is more about character and plot development, not about who the girl will pick as her lifetime partner or stuff like that. Nix is a tease when it comes to romance. It’s almost nonexistent in the book, and you won’t see it unless you want it to exist.
Here’s a blurb from GoodReads: “Since childhood, Sabriel has lived outside the walls of the Old Kingdom, away from the power of Free Magic, and away from the Dead who refuse to stay dead. But now her father, the Mage Abhorson, is missing, and Sabriel must cross into that world to find him. With Mogget, whose feline form hides a powerful, perhaps malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage, Sabriel travels deep into the Old Kingdom. There she confronts an evil that threatens much more than her life'and comes face to face with her own hidden destiny. . .”
- The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
Be a filter, not a sponge. They say you either really love or really hate this book, but I landed in the gray area. While I did not subscribe to everything that Rand said in this book, I got to admit I learned a lot from it. For a long while it even became one of my favorite novels.
Blurb from GoodReads: “On the surface, it is a story of one man, Howard Roark, and his struggles as an architect in the face of a successful rival, Peter Keating, and a newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey. But the book addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand's writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence.”
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
One of the best books I’ve read so far. Since Neil Gaiman’s quirky Goth girl interpretation, I’ve never been this fond of a personification of Death.
Blurb from GoodReads: “It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . .Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.”
- The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano.
I don’t normally like soulmate stories, but this one is such a bittersweet, exquisitely told tale of two people that can’t seem to connect, even if they know they’re the only ones who can complete each other.
Blurb from GoodReads: “A prime number can only be divided by itself or by one-it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, both "primes," are misfits who seem destined to be alone. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit.
But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface. Like Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night- Time, this is a stunning meditation on loneliness, love, and the weight of childhood experience that is set to become a universal classic.”
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Do I really need to explain this? I wouldn’t be the bookworm that I am today if I hadn’t come across this book.
Blurb from Goodreads: “In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.”
- 1984 by George Orwell. Ever since I read this, I’ve always dreaded the possibility of an Orwellian future. I mean if you think about it, it really can happen! The internet Blackout Revolution brought about by SOPA and PIPA were chillingly reminiscent of the book’s theme.
Blurb from GoodReads: “Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell's chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell's narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.”
- Paper Towns by John Green. This has a personal reason, but even if it hasn’t, I think I still my bookworm heart wouldn’t be complete if I hadn’t read this book. It’s like an updated Looking for Alaska.
Blurb from GoodReads: “When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night - dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows her. Margo's always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she's always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they're for Q. Printz Medalist John Green returns with the trademark brilliant wit and heart-stopping emotional honesty that have inspired a new generation of readers.”
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. My first ever Murakami book, which started my love affair with his other novels. ‘Nuff said.“Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II. In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria. Gripping, prophetic, suffused with comedy and menace, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a tour de force equal in scope to the masterpieces of Mishima and Pynchon. 3 books in one volume: The Thieving Magpie, Bird as Prophet, The Birdcatcher. This translation by Jay Rubin is in collaboration with the author.”