NOTE: This was last edited in 2009. ! It’s in dire need of an update.
This is not a comprehensive list, and it will always be in progress. I went through my shelves, pulled out my favorites, and then divided them into three groups (yes, I even organize my favorite books). This list is numbered, but the books are not in any particular order, not even those three groups (because when I went back to look at the grouping it didn’t make sense anymore). Okay, too much explanation. I love all of these books.
- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – Mom recommended this to me when we were in the Netherlands (summer of 2004). I read it in a matter of days (even while we were in Europe) and I finished it on the plane back home (I was seated between two total strangers, but that didn’t stop me from crying). Since then I’ve read it at least five more times (about once a year). I love it. Yes, it has time travel, but it’s more like a medical condition and less like a science-fiction plot device. This is a romance, a drama, a great story.
- Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey – I love everything Anne McCaffrey has ever written. Really. The Pern series is my favorite series of hers, and if I had to choose a book from that series, it would be this one. I think. It’s hard to choose. This series has dragons, but they’re not the fantasy type of dragons. I would definitely call this science fiction. And I still wish I could be a dragonrider.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – I’m not sure I can pick a favorite book out of this series. The link is to the first book, but I really enjoy each and every one of them, and I love the series as a whole. I laugh, I cry, and I realize that I’m an adult and these were written for kids, but they’re just so good!
- The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett – This is the first book in the Lymond Chronicles. It’s a little confusing to start, but it pays off in a very satisfactory way. The whole series does. I had a hard time deciding if the first book or the last book was my favorite. The House of Niccolo series (a prequel series with the same range as the Lymond Chronicles) is good, too, but the Lymond Chronicles is the series I keep re-reading. It’s literate, and it’s exciting.
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – I re-read these books every other year or so. I wanted (still want? maybe) to be Anne, to live in Avonlea, to have my own Diana and Gilbert. Every one of the books in the series makes me cry for one reason or another. I love these books beyond reason.
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein – This was one of the first Heinlein books I ever read. Maybe the first. Since then, I’ve read all of them. Why is it one of my favorites? I think part of it is how visual the scenes are. It’s been several years (maybe seven or so) since I read it last, but there are some scenes that I can picture clear as day in my mind.
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – This is a fantastic book. I resisted reading this for a while (maybe a year) in high school. Randy suggested it to me, but it seemed a little too ridiculous. Supersmart little kids are being trained to win a war to save the world? What? But I read it, I loved it, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. And it led me to everything else Orson Scott Card has ever written.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Everything by Jane Austen, but this one first. Mr. Bennet, indifferent father and bad husband that he is, cracks me up. I’m giggling before I’ve turned the first page. And the BBC miniseries is the perfect adaptation. With Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy…that’s when I decided I loved Colin Firth.
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – I haven’t read this one in years, but I haven’t forgotten a bit of it, and thinking about this one makes me want to re-read all the others, too.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – I found this book on a table in my 8th grade classroom, and as soon as I was done with it, I passed it on to a friend. And then another friend , and then another. I once read the entire thing in a Barnes and Noble, sitting on the floor against a bookshelf, while waiting for someone else to finish browsing. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, but it never gets old.
- The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson – An old friend sent this to me while I was on deployment. I read it twice before the ship pulled back in at home. I’d never read Stephenson before, but because I enjoyed this one so much, I’ve read everything he’s written now, and I’m on the lookout for more.
- Grass by Sheri S. Tepper – I don’t remember how I discovered her, but I’m glad I did. All of her books are good, but this one stands out for suspense. It’s eerie and creepy and tense and really good.
- The Gate to Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper – This one is my other favorite of Tepper’s, and I’m mentioning it because it’s not anything like Grass. Grass is science fiction, set on another planet, with a mystery to solve and evil to defeat. The Gate to Women’s Country is set in a post-apocalyptic US (you infer eventually) and is about trying to create a new civilization, a new way of living to avoid the violence that put them in this situation.
- A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – Really good fantasy, with realistic characters and plot arcs and surprising (and sometimes devastating) twists and turns. The biggest problem with the series is that it’s not done. Not only is it not done, but the author doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to continue even though he’s been writing the 5th book (which was originally the 2nd half of the 4th book) for over five years.
- The Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein – I love this book. It makes the assumption that not only do alternate universes exist, but some of them are the fictional worlds created by our favorite authors. And THAT is totally awesome. I wish it were true. Maybe it is!
- Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein – Well, the title gives away the basic premise, but I love the ride. The main character is a bit of a chauvinist (most of Heinlein’s characters are, to some extent), but he’s not a bad guy and his female companion pulls her own weight in spite of him. Mostly.
- I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – I chose this book to list here, but that was almost at random. Asimov’s books were possibly the first science fiction I ever read, and between those and Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, my reading future was set. Anyway, the robot books were always my favorites as far as his novels go (The Three Laws of Robotics are and forever will be the only way to program robots. I know, this makes me the biggest nerd.), but I’ve never read a story of his I didn’t like.
- Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett – Follett’s spy novels are great, and this one is the best. World War II, German spy in England, totally awesome.