One time several months ago, a friend asked me what my Top 10 MUST READ books were. I felt (and still feel) like it was a
super somewhat unfair request to make, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since and have comprised a list I feel pretty ok about. (I do however remain of the opinion that you should only ever ask people to answer that question if you allow them 10 favorites per genre, and yes that means you will probably eventually get a different list of my Top 10 Poems. And Graphic Novels. And maybe even Dramas.)
I’m going to start with my MOST favorite, but after that (and I mean JUST after that [as in the difference between my most favorite and next most favorite is about as slight as the difference in the Olsen twins’ faces]) are my next favorites.
*for those of you who’re already debating closing this window, you can scroll to the bottom for the brief synopsis of my favorites.
- Anna Karenina.”He was nine years old; he was a child, but he knew his own soul.“-Leo Tolstoy y’all. this book is so phenomenal. and insane. i love russian lit so much because they (authors and characters alike) are so honest. they feel deeply and talk plainly. they infer; they develop. this book made me cry and laugh and scoff and think; it’s all about souls-finding them, growing them, understanding them. and now they’re making a movie (score!) just don’t ruin this for me, Kiera Knightly.
- Counterfeit Gods. “Idols give us a sense of being in control, and we can locate them by looking at our nightmares.”-Tim Keller this book was one of several of keller’s that we did in my bcm small group in college. not only did those girls (we somehow cheated our way into only having three of us in our group) and i become super close through our studies, but the way he described counterfeit gods and the measures we can use to extract them from our lives so practically really changed my life. it made me think differently and that’s what it’s all about.
- Pride & Prejudice. “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.“-Jane Austen i know, i know, i’m a girl…and i love P&P, you’re shocked. but for real. her writing is genius. it’s funny, it’s descriptive, it’s beautiful. jane is the sister I want to be, but lizzie is more of who i am i think. no matter though because both bennet girls teach their own lovely lessons and i love them all.
- Blue Like Jazz. “I was talking to a homeless man at a laundry mat recently, and he said that when we reduce Christian spirituality to math we defile the Holy. I thought that was very beautiful and comforting because I have never been good at math. Many of our attempts to understand Christian faith have only cheapened it. I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me. The little we do understand, that grain of sand our minds are capable of grasping, those ideas such as God is good, God feels, God loves, God knows all, are enough to keep our hearts dwelling on his majesty and otherness forever.”-Donald Miller big quote. big meaning. i chose this book because reading it is when i understood a lot of things that i really just didn’t get at all. at first his tone and stories made me feel a little uncomfortable (again, what good books do…), but when i realized that was the point, and decided that maybe that’s what life’s really all about-living in the tension-that’s when blinders started flying.
- The Awakening. “She missed him the days when some pretext served to take him away from her, just as one misses the sun on a cloudy day without having thought much about the sun when it was shining. ”-Kate Chopin sometimes i feel a little guilty for loving this one so much because there’s so many sad unsavory bits to it, but it really is just so beautiful. i love the language, the freedom it represents, the art, the everything! i’m cheating a little because it’s actually a novella, but i could stay lost in this one.
- Celebration of Discipline. “The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.”-Richard Foster i just read this book last year, but it is certainly a have-to-read for all christians trying to grow and understand their faith. it’s practical and painful at times, but it’s great.
- Outliers. “Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from. “-Malcolm Gladwell i first read this in my Rhetoric & Style class in college and for good reason because his style and rhetoric is so powerful and compelling that you forget you’re reading statistics and theories and only hear a story. i love that not only is the message optimistic, but it’s done well. i want to live life like he writes books.
- Night. “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time. “-Elie Wiesel from another favorite (but extremely disheartening) college class. this book is important because as he says himself, “Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere,” and not knowing is just as terrible as not caring. i cry even as i type about this book because it’s so powerful, and as horrifying as it still is, the kind of blatant honesty Elie writes with is what we need today. this book will forever remind me that forgetting isn’t a gift, but a curse.
- The Brothers Karamazov. “He spoke of many things, he seemed anxious before the moment of death to say everything he had not said in his life, and not simply for the sake of instructing them, but as though thirsting to share with all men and all creation his joy and ecstasy, and once more in his life to open his whole heart.”-Fyodor Dostoyevsky back to my russians y’all. i firmly believe that this book is necessary for every christian to read. if nothing else, at least book V, chapter 2 “The Grand Inquisitor. you. will. think. and think. and think some more. in true russian fashion everyone has 80 names, everyone is wild and unpredictable, honest, and fully engaged. i loved and loathed the characters all at once and that my friends, is a sign of true love.
- To Kill a Mockingbird. “People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”-Harper Lee this book makes me proud to be a Southerner. and not because the theme’s racism, because i don’t even think it is. it’s because as Lee says it, “I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” i love hearing the story from an innocent and i could easily, easily be persuaded to name a child Atticus because we could all use more Atticus-es in our life.
*Summary. If it has stellar character development, makes me cry, makes me think, or teaches me something practical, it’s going to be a favorite. In fact if you didn’t read the middle, don’t sweat it because now that i’m done composing it i’m unbelievably dissatisfied with how inadequate it is at representing my loves. c’est la vie.