I’ve always been a book worm and am thankful to have inherited my Mum’s speed reading capabilities. This means that I can read a ridiculous amount of books in a short period of time. On average, I read 3 books a week, and that’s while living a “normal” life of cleaning, cooking, working, prepping for work, social life, etc. During the summer, I’ve been known to read a book a day. Now this isn’t a bad hobby to have, but it sure does get expensive because I insist on buying all of my books. A lot of people have tried to convince me to get a library card and just borrow my books, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I love the smell of a new book and I really like re-reading books. I also like the fact that I can share my books with friends and then we can talk about them after. I think they probably like that I buy all my books too!
I decided that, for my summer reading, I would read all of the books on my shelf that I haven’t gotten around to reading. I made a list and ended up with 42 books. That’s shameful. I have no idea how I ended up buying 42 books that I didn’t end up reading. So now, as hard as it will be for me to not buy some new books, I’ve decided not to buy anymore books until I’ve read every single book on my shelf. I’ve also decided that I need to read at a slower pace. It’s so hard!
Using Goodreads makes it so easy to keep track of all the books that I’ve read and want to read. I also have a list of my favourite books. Books don’t get added to my favourites list very easily. In fact, I only have 8 books on the list so far. I’ve read hundreds of books, but these 8 books are the books that really stuck with me over the years.
1. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
Can we just talk about Atticus Finch for a second? I think Atticus Finch may possibly be my favourite male character in literature. He’s moral, gracious, forgiving, strong, compassionate, respectful. In a time when racism is very real, he treats everyone as an equal and teaches his children to do the same. When he takes on Tom Robinson’s case, he dedicates his time to proving his innocence, even though he knows that defending a black man means that he will lose. He’s an incredibly respectable man and the ultimate role model. We sure could all learn a lesson from Atticus Finch.
“When they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things . . . Atticus, he was real nice. . . .” His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”
If my memory serves me correctly, I read To Kill A Mockingbird when I was 13. There are a lot of things about the book that I didn’t understand when I was that age. Being older, I have a new appreciation for the book and it’s message. To “kill a mockingbird” is to destroy innocence. There are many “mockingbirds” within this story. Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, even Scout and Jem. The overall theme is that we are to treat every human being with dignity.
“‘Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
‘Your father’s right,’ she said. ‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy…but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
If you haven’t read this book, you need to. If you don’t like to read, watch the movie. The movie is amazing and it’s every bit as powerful as the book.
2. “And Then There Were None,” by Agatha Christie
First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.
Agatha Christie was the master of mystery and this was one of her most clever novels. This book kept me guessing right up until the end and I enjoy re-reading it to pick up on all the things I missed the previous time. I think this book is best read without knowing anything about it, so I’m not going to say much more. I’ll leave you with this poem:
“Ten little soldier boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were nine.
Nine little soldier boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were eight.
Eight little soldier boys travelling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.
Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
Six little soldier boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.
Five little soldier boys going in for law; One got in Chancery and then there were four.
Four little soldier boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.
Three little soldier boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were two.
Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was one.
One little soldier boy left all alone; He went and hanged himself and then there were none.”
3. “We Were Liars,” by E. Lockhart
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews about this book. Some people hate it, some people love it. It’s hard for me to understand how people could hate this book. It is, in my opinion, brilliant. I read this book knowing absolutely nothing about it. That’s the way it should be.
“Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family.
No one is a criminal.
No one is an addict.
No one is a failure.
The Sinclairs are athletic, tall, and handsome. We are old-money Democrats. Our smiles are wide, our chins square, and our tennis serves aggressive.
It doesn’t matter if divorce shreds the muscles of our hearts so that they will hardly beat without a struggle. It doesn’t matter if trust-fund money is running out; if credit card bills go unpaid on the kitchen counter. It doesn’t matter if there’s a cluster of pill bottles on the bedside table.
It doesn’t matter if one of us is desperately, desperately in love.
that equally desperate measures
must be taken.
We are Sinclairs.
No one is needy.
No one is wrong.
We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts.
Perhaps that is all you need to know.”
4. “The Westing Game,” by Ellen Raskin
Barney Northrup was a good salesman. In one day he had rented all of Sunset Towers to the people whose names were already printed on the mailboxes in an alcove off the lobby.
Office – Dr. Wexler
Lobby – Theodorakis Coffee Shop
2C – F. Baumbach
2D – Theodorakis
3C – S. Pulaski
3D – Wexler
4C – Hoo
4D – J.J. Ford
5 – Shin Hoo’s Restaurant
Who were these people, these specially selected tenants? They were mothers and fathers and children. A dressmaker, a secretary, an inventor, a doctor, a judge. One was a bookie, one was a burglar, one was a bomber, and one was a mistake. Barney Northrup had rented one of the apartments to the wrong person.
Sunset Towers was a quiet, well-run building. Neighbour greeted neighbour with “Good morning” or a friendly smile, and grappled with small problems behind closed doors. The big problems were yet to come.
A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger – and a possible murderer – to inherit his vast fortune, one thing’s for sure: Sam Westing may be dead… but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!
I have always loved a good mystery and this is one of my most read books. It may have been written for a younger audience, but even adults can appreciate it. The plot is clever and it’s an incredibly enjoyable book to read.
5. “The Nightingale,” by Kristin Hannah
In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.
In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says good-bye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade
France… but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalated all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.
Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors or war, she meets Gaëtan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.
Find out why I like this book so much: BOOK REVIEW: ‘THE NIGHTINGALE,’ by KRISTIN HANNAH
6. “The Outsiders,” by S.E. Hinton
According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for “social”) has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he’s always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers–until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy’s skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.
Who doesn’t love this book?! It’s a quick read that captivates you from the beginning to the end. I only read this book last year and was kicking myself for not reading it sooner. It deals with social class and how it tears people apart. The greasers and socs are always fighting and picking on each other. It isn’t until Ponyboy meets a girl from the socs that he realizes that they aren’t all that different from each other. They find similar interests and he learns that both groups have to deal with hardships, fear, and sorrow.
This book made me laugh and it made me cry. It has a great message and I think everyone needs to read it.
7. “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.
Such a classic! I love F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing style. I couldn’t put this book down and finished it within a few hours. It seems like everyone who reads this books takes away a different message. I feel like F. Scott Fitzgerald was writing about how the American dream is just an illusion. The definition of the “American dream” is this: “the ideal that every US citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.” Instead, we see that the American dream has become about wealth rather than equality. It’s born of old money or dishonesty, rather than hard work.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
8. “The Island,” by Victoria Hislop
On the brink of a life-changing decision, Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past.
But Sofia had never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend, and promises that through her she will learn more.
Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished to see that it lies a stone’s throw from the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. Then she finds Fontini, and at last hears the story that Sofia has buried all her life: the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters, and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip…
Find out why I like this book so much: BOOK REVIEW: ‘THE ISLAND,’ by VICTORIA HISLOP
So there you have it! I feel like it’s best not to know too much about a book before you read it, so I didn’t elaborate on the books too much. What are your favourite books? I’d love to hear from you so that I can add more books to my “to-read” list. I hope that I was able to add some to yours.