I have loved to read since before I can remember. Books hold a certain magic for me, and I'm convinced that my love of reading contributed to my A's in English classes and all other classes which required paper writing. I have had the best teachers: Hugo, Lewis, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and oh so many more. While growing up, my family lived in a 100+ year old house that would get a little chilly in the winter. The warmest place in the house was directly over a heat vent (the vents are in the floors in old houses), so I would put on a long skirt, and sit directly over top of the vent, with a cat in my lap, and a book in my hand. Those were the most glorious and adventuresome times in my life, and I will always appreciate that my father passed down his love of reading to me. I was even put on "book restriction" twice growing up, where I was not allowed to read and instead had to watch tv with my family, or have a conversation. My mom was afraid that I would be socially awkward and a huge nerd I guess. :) Looking back, that was actually quite possible, considering that I would try to read a book during dinner instead of actually acknowledging those around me.
Because my love of reading began so early, I have read some pretty awesome books in my life. I could spend days writing down all of the books that I have loved, hated, and appreciated, but I'm sure my reader numbers would go down and I would bore you guys to death. (plus you can just click on the link at the top of my page that says Goodreads to see the books I have rated) So I'll try to narrow it down, and just list some pretty exceptional ones.
In each title, I'm going to put a link to the Wikipedia page for the book so I don't have to explain the entire plot. (and if there are any English teachers reading this, yes, I know Wikipedia is not a reliable source) Here goes (in no particular order):
This is by far one of my favorite books. I have read the abridged version at least twice and plan on reading the long version one day. (my understanding of the unabridged version is that there is a whole chapter devoted to cheese. What could be better?!) Set in the early 1800s it follows the life of the main character Jean Valjean and his path to redemption. It is set in France and discusses the 1832 June Rebellion. The writing is incredibly vivid, insightful, and deep not just in explaining the characters' transformations, but the transformation of a nation as well. There is a movie version coming out soon that has several of my favorite actors/actresses in it. I certainly hope it does the book justice.
I just recently finished this book, and it definitely ranks up there as one of the best nonfiction books I have ever read. It tells the epic story of WWII and POW survivor, Louis Zamperini. The trials that Louis experienced during his time on a life raft in the Pacific and at a Japanese internment camp are almost unbelievable. The writer is an excellent storyteller and definitely did her research. The book has several pictures and accounts from many different friends, relatives, and fellow serviceman who knew Louis. Those looking to read more history surrounding WWII would find this book incredibly interesting.
This book is definitely not for the faint hearted. A nonfiction book, The Devil in the White City jointly tells the story of the 1893 World's Fair, and the serial killer, H.H. Holmes, who haunted Chicago during that time. Being a Criminal Justice major, I found this book incredibly interesting. An author who can keep my interest explaining the unveiling of the world's first Ferris Wheel and the pathological nature of a murderer deserves a medal in my opinion. Clearly and concisely written, Erik Larson creates atmosphere and intrigue in a history of one of the world's first serial killers, without scaring the reader.
For "lighter reading" I have always enjoyed reading the different books in the Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia is, in essence, a land of fantasy, filled with magical beasts and children. It is sort of difficult to explain the story line, other than that it is an interesting and fantastical way of retelling the Salvation Story. Though on the surface level, it is easy to dismiss this series as mere "children's book," The Chronicles of Narnia have incredible depth and an even more incredible and relatable storyline. It's funny to think of the fantastical creatures and small children as being "relatable," to adults, but their struggles and fears offer such insight into the hearts of humans, no matter how old or young.
C.S. Lewis is, in my opinion, one of the greatest Christian writers to ever live, and I completely appreciate his willingness to write a book geared towards children, when most of his books are more philosophical and more adult geared. There is a reason why these were his best sellers.
Oh dear, it is hard to narrow these down! I could go on and on listing books, but I think 5 is enough for right now? Hopefully I inspired you guys to get out there and read some! Perhaps I will have fiction or nonfiction Fridays where I talk about a new book? Let me know what you think!