This will not be in any order because I have no clue which book is my number one favorite. It just seems unfair to my other favorites to pick sides. As I keep reading, I’m sure I will find more books to call my favorites, so when that happens I will make an updated version of this list. For now, here is my top 17 favorite books:
*All descriptions taken from Goodreads.
Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre – Young Adult
Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.
Thoughts: Speak is such a beautifully told story. The imagery that Anderson uses is throughout the novel and really captures the feelings and message being told. Melinda is a strong protagonist that has to deal with a terrible event that happened at a summer party. Once the reader finds out what happened during that night, the story really comes together to show why Melinda is acting a certain way. Overall, this is a story that I think many people should read, if they have not already.
Killing Britney – Sean Olin
Genre – Young Adult/Mystery
Britney is the girl everyone loves to hate. Ever since Britney transformed herself from freak-and-geek to the most popular girl at school, her life has been touched by tragedy. First it was her mom, who drowned on a family rafting trip. Then her hockey-star boyfriend, Ricky, was killed in a hit-and-run. When the deaths continue to pile up, everyone fears for Britney. Sure she’s popular, blond, and fabulous. But is that enough reason for someone to want to…kill her?
Thoughts: This is by no means a great book. If I were to read it now, it would be predictable and possibly silly. However, this book was the first I read that had a twisted ending, and it made me appreciate this type of novel. I remember reading this book when I was younger and being completely blown away by the ending of the story. I just sat there thinking that I wanted to write something similar to surprise readers. Even though Killing Britney may not be the best in its genre, it has a special place in my heart, and I will continue to keep it as one of my favorites.
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Genre – Young Adult/Science Fiction
In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training. Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.
Thoughts: Ender’s Game is a captivating story that keeps the reader’s attention. There’s no excessive fluff that’s only there to fill space. Scenes are kept short and to the point without adding in unnecessary details. I enjoyed how well-developed the characters were and how each character was not completely good or bad. The world development is fantastic, and the plot focuses on morals and humanity. Ender’s Game has won both the Hugo award and Nebula award in science fiction, and it deserves all the positive recognition. Readers of all ages will be able to enjoy this book, and it’s possible that this will be regarded as one of science fictions best works for many generations to come.
The Wereling Trilogy (Wounded, Prey, and Resurrection) – Stephen Cole
Genre – Young Adult
(Wounded) Kate Folan comes from a family of werewolves. She’ll only become fully ‘wolf herself when she mates with a male werewolf. But she vows that will never happen. The last thing she wants is to give in to her evil heritage. Then she meets Tom Anderson. Tom is a wereling-a werewolf who retains his humanity even in his wolf form. He was “turned” by Kate’s mother, who chose wisely. Tom and Kate can’t help falling for each other. But if they give in to their feelings, Kate will become the thing she hates most. Unless they can find a cure. . . .
Thoughts: Wounded, Prey, and Resurrection are the books that made me start reading for fun. I remember going through the aisle’s of my local book fair and seeing Wounded on the shelf. After reading the synopsis, I decided to buy it. It was also one of the first bargain priced books I ever bought (with my parent’s money since I was still a kid). When I started reading, I fell in love with the story. It was interesting and kept my attention throughout (This was a big thing for me since I seem to have the attention span of a squirrel). Once I finished, I begged my mother to take me back so I could get the other two books. I really believe that this trilogy could get boys and girls into reading. It sure helped blossom my love for books.
Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
Genre – Science Fiction/Classics
Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it … Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he is the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to mankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh …
Thoughts: Cat’s Cradle is a great example of Vonnegut’s irony and humor. He is able to take sensitive topics and discuss his viewpoints through his unique writing style. I read this book in my college class, and I fell in love with Vonnegut’s writing. When I first started, I didn’t expect to love it since it was for a class, but the blunt nature of his novel intrigued me. In this book, he has a way of poking fun at religion and science. In all honesty, I don’t think I can give Cat’s Cradle enough justice by trying to explain it. It’s a book that you should read at least once in your life.
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Genre – Young Adult
Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.
In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
Thoughts: The Hunger Games became a favorite to my surprise. My fiancé kept telling me that the book was really good and I should read it. After putting it off, I gave in and decided to get it over with. Of course, I ended up loving the story and had to know what happened to Katniss. I read The Hunger Games around the time the third book was coming out, so I read this book a while ago. I know it has been compared to Battle Royale by Koushun Takami (which I really want to read), but I still find it quite original. The character development is great, and as a reader, you become invested in the well-being of each character. Some scenes will pull on your heartstrings, while others will make you want to punch a fictional character in the face. Overall, this is a great read, and I would highly recommend it.
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Genre – Young Adult/Classics
William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first it seems as though it is all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious and life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic and death. As ordinary standards of behavior collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them—the world of cricket and homework and adventure stories—and another world is revealed beneath, primitive and terrible. Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was first published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature.
Thoughts: I first read Lord of the Flies when I was in high school. I seemed to be one of a few people that actually liked the novel. To me, it was the perfect blend of entertaining and heart-wrenching. Golding was able to create a story that focused on how humanity could be easily changed to primitive instincts if given the right circumstances. It was even more shocking that he would use young boys to show that it can even happen to children and that we are all beasts with basic survival instincts, even if that means betraying those around us. Lord of the Flies is a novel with brilliant twists and turns that will make readers want to keep reading.
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness/Jim Kay (Illustrator)
Genre – Young Adult
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.
Thoughts: Honestly, I’m not sure I can describe how amazing this book is. Not only are the words beautifully written, but the illustrations just add so much to the novel. I’ve heard a lot of hype about this particular book and believe me when I say that it deserves every bit of praise. The reader delves into the mind of a thirteen-year-old boy named Conor. He is struggling with a lot in his life and nothing ever seems to make it better. This book demonstrates the psychological nature of an adolescent boy and his difficulties in understanding life and himself. I hope this is a book that people will read in their lifetime because it really makes a reader step back and appreciate everything in his/her own life.
Fahrenheir 451 – Ray Bradbury
Genre – Science Fiction/Classics
Guy Montag was a fireman whose job it was to start fires … The system was simple. Everyone understood it. Books were for burning … along with the houses in which they were hidden. Guy Montag enjoyed his job. He had been a fireman for ten years, and he had never questioned the pleasure of the midnight runs nor the joy of watching pages consumed by flames … never questioned anything until he met a seventeen-year-old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid. Then he met a professor who told him of a future in which people could think … and Guy Montag suddenly realized what he had to do!
Thoughts: This is another book that I read in high school. I have not read this novel in a while, but I still remember feeling mad that the people just gave in and let their books be burned. It really made me appreciate books and knowledge. This just showed how life might be if the government outlawed books and made humans fear learning new concepts. I tend to get some aspects of this story confused with 1984 by George Orwell (mainly the Big Brother concept and the scene with the rat). It seems I will have to reread Fahrenheir 451 and 1984 soon.
The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
Genre – Young Adult/Classics
Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.
Thoughts: The Catcher in the Rye focuses on a distinct individual. I wouldn’t want to be Holden’s friend, but I find that’s what makes him unique and what makes him a believable character. Not every human is hopeful and charming, so it’s nice to see a different type of character that reflects an alternate human being. He is mopey and moody and has no optimism for the world. Not everyone will enjoy this story, but it does reflect how alienation might affect an individual.
1984 – George Orwell
Genre – Science Fiction/Classics
Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions. A legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.
Thoughts: I read 1984 around the same time I read Fahrenheir 451 in high school, so it’s understandable that I get the two confused with one another. 1984 was such an interesting book for me because I never really thought about how the government could rule over everything. I enjoyed the aspect of Big Brother is always watching and how Orwell incorporated communism as a main focus and possibly even capitalism with the book that Winston Smith reads. I’m sure I wouldn’t have picked up this book on my own, so I’m glad that we read it in class because I was able to appreciate the story as a whole.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
Genre – Young Adult
Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.
Thoughts: Charlie is an awkward individual, trying to get through high school as best he can. It was easy to root for him to make friends and to deal with his problems. When I found out about Charlie’s past, it made the novel and Charlie make so much more sense. It showed what he was going through and why he was having such a hard time with everything. I believe The Perks of Being a Wallflower can educate readers about not judging others before knowing them. It’s hard to know what a person has been through, which is why we should treat others with respect no matter how strange or awkward they may act. Everyone is fighting their own battles, and it’s important to remember that when it would be easy to pass judgment. I think many people need to read this book, and I’m glad that I did.
Shizuko’s Daughter – Kyoko Mori
Genre – Young Adult
Yuki Okuda knows her mother would be proud of her grades and her achievements in sports if she were alive. But she committed suicide. And Yuki has to learn how to live with a father who doesn’t seem to love her and a stepmother who treats her badly. Most important, she has to learn how to live with herself: a twelve-year-old Japanese girl growing up alone, trying to make sense of a tragedy that makes no sense at all….
Thoughts: Shizuko’s Daughter is such a breath of fresh air for young adult books. Mori tells a fascinating story that can be quite sad and depressing because of the topic, but it’s an enjoyable read. I found myself hoping that everything would turn out fine for Yuki because she deals with so much with her mother’s suicide, her distant father, and her horrible stepmother. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a deep and motivating story, but be prepared for the heart-wrenching and tragic moments.
Easy – Tammara Webber
Genre – New Adult
He watched her, but never knew her. Until thanks to a chance encounter, he became her savior… The attraction between them was undeniable. Yet the past he’d worked so hard to overcome, and the future she’d put so much faith in, threatened to tear them apart. Only together could they fight the pain and guilt, face the truth—and find the unexpected power of love. A groundbreaking novel in the New Adult genre, Easy faces one girl’s struggle to regain the trust she’s lost, find the inner strength to fight back against an attacker, and accept the peace she finds in the arms of a secretive boy.
Thoughts: Easy is my first new adult, contemporary novel. Obviously, new adult has more mature content than young adult. Mostly dealing with sex and the chance encounter described in the synopsis (I don’t want to give away any spoilers for the story). I enjoyed the cuteness of this story, and I really loved how the author avoided unnecessary drama. I’m not a fan of drama, but if it can be played out to work for the piece then I’m all for it. Overall, I found this to be quite entertaining, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a nice, easy read.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Genre – Historical Fiction/Classics
Tomboy Scout Finch comes of age in a small Alabama town during a crisis in 1935. She admires her father Atticus, how he deals with issues of racism, injustice, intolerance and bigotry, his courage and his love.
Thoughts: To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the first novels I read in high school that I actually remember. At first, I didn’t want to read it, but as the story progressed I found that the novel was intriguing, and I wanted to find out what happened next and see what the characters would do. I tend to enjoy classics. I won’t say I enjoy them all because there are a few that I wish I never read, but I love the messages that they send and what the books focus on. Classics are a way to look at the past without a history book. A reader can find out all kinds of things about a certain time period by just reading some novels written during that time. I love how To Kill a Mockingbird and other classics open a window into the past, and I will continue to read classics as should others.