Happy New Year! I love January – I know it’s crazy, but I love the cold weather and gray winter nights that are perfect for settling down with a good book.
Several months ago, I posted my list of Top 5 Christian Books. In case you are thinking of doing some new year’s reading this winter, here is my list of Top 10 Fiction Books.
I’m a bit of a book snob, so it was hard to come up with just 10, but most of these have been favorites of mine for decades:
1. Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. This is one of the most sweeping, epic works of fiction I have ever read. Men, it’s not just a ladies book about catching Rhett Butler. Packed with Civil War culture, excellent character development and a plot spanning several decades, it’s one of the few books that truly deserves the title of “Great American Novel.” If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
2. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Few times have I put down a book at its conclusion and thought, “Dang. That was brilliant.” At the same time that I’m weeping, no less. Khaled Hossini deserves these words and more, for a tale so beautiful – so unique and firmly crafted, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t real.
3. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. One of the hardest thing to achieve as a writer is write literature that appeals to a broad range of ages. Rowling has crafted a series of not one, but seven novels equally addicting to 8 year-olds and 60-year-olds. Her creativity and the depth of the fictional world she has created still blows my mind. I don’t endorse witchcraft (and Rowling doesn’t either), but her magical tale of fantasy is so rich, detailed and charming, she deserves the #3 spot.
4. Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins. Most of America is familiar with the film series, but the books started it all. The alternate world Suzanne Collins has created is excellent, and she treats weighty topics with care and intelligence for a young adult audience. You’ll feel like you’re in the arena.
5. The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I didn’t read this book until I was in my twenties, and it changed my world. A short, young adult book that can easily be read in a weekend, the tale of The Giver is the best non-religious explanation I’ve ever heard for “the problem of pain.” For that alone, it is worth a read.
6. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Second maybe only to Gone With the Wind as one of the most intriguing, masterfully written books with a Southern setting. It’s not Faulkner, it’s not Hemingway, it’s…better. Well done Kathryn Stockett. Well done.
7. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. You were probably wondering when I was going to list a “classic,” and John Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize winning East of Eden is just that. Be warned, this is not light reading. Like The Kite Runner, this is one of those books you read prepared to take a voyage into the dark depths of humanity, without the levity of other novels. But Steinbeck’s care and steadiness with the tale makes it a literary voyage worth taking.
8. The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. Another sweeping, magnificent epic novel about the 12th century (how many books have you read about the 12th century?) the story follows Jack, a traveling architect who builds cathedrals in early England. Monks, knights, lords, gypsies – this book has it all (including some violence and a little vulgarity), so the fainthearted should be warned.
9. The Divergent Trilogy, by Veronica Roth. What if we were all categorized by our personalities? The Divergent Trilogy thrusts you into an alternate reality making readers wonder – if they could be just one thing – whether above all they would rather be brave, intelligent selfless, truthful, or kind.
10. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. If you like deep thoughts and witty sarcasm, this book is for you. Heavy and deep, yet somehow light and hopeful at the same time, this book follows teenagers Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters through a battle with cancer and thoughts on the quirks of life. Probably the most quotable book I have ever read, I found myself liking it quite a lot despite my original determination not to.
What are some of your favorite recommendations?