Five Books Everyone Should Read is a feature we’re running in 2015. We’ve asked some of our favorite authors, readers and bloggers to share five books that touched them or have stayed with them throughout the years.
KindleGal is another Twitter friend who has a fantastic blog and has similar reading tastes so we’re big fans of hers. She’s here to share her top five book picks.
“Five Books Everyone Should Read,” aka the evilest guest blog topic ever. Like many others before me, I happily accepted Holly’s invitation to do this before realizing what an insane task it really was. FIVE books and ZERO parameters?? Eep.
In the end, I chose my five, and collectively, it might seem like a really odd list. After all, I’ve been predominately a contemporary romance reader the past few years and there is only one romance on my list. But the task was five books everyone should read, so I went with some of the most impactful books that have stayed with me over the years for one reason or another.
Here goes (in no particular order)…
Is this cheating, naming an entire trilogy as one of my five? Probably, but I’m willing to risk it because it’s the trilogy as a whole that makes this a must-read recommendation.
I realize a lot of people may have already read these books, but for you holdouts and those who have only seen the movies (bad bookworm, BAD!), I urge you to give them a try. They are so intelligently written, with fantastic world-building and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. But what I loved most, and why they are on my list, is that hidden underneath the suspense of a great action adventure/thriller, there are endless statements about how this horrific dystopian world might not be so different than ours.
I honestly think every middle school student should read and discuss these books. It shows the ugly side of what happens when a society becomes obsessed with vanity, is entertained by watching other people fail spectacularly, believes whatever they see/hear in the media, and allows others to suffer so long as they feel/remain safe. See where I’m going with this? Yeah.
I love that the protagonist is a girl who is imperfect. Broken, even. She is also insanely brave and strong, and the way she demonstrates all of these traits over the course of the trilogy is simply beautiful.
(Yes, I’m cheating again.) Do I really need to explain why this series is on my must-read list? In fact, some of you may be wondering why it needs to be on my list at all, since everyone has already read it. Au contraire, I know a few people who continue to resist reading this series, including one of my blogmates! GAH!!
This series is simply magical. Born from a vast imagination, the world of Harry Potter is one that swallows you up whole as you read the adventures (and misadventures) of the orphan wizard who, along with his friends, grows up before your very eyes. The world-building is phenomenal, and while the stories are far from perfect (some more than others), I am certain they will stand the test of time and become classics that my children’s grandchildren will enjoy.
Just for funsies, here are some bits of goodness that can be found in the pages of this series:
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” — Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” — Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only someone remembers to turn on the light.” — Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” — Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Okay, stick with me here … Have you read this story recently? As an adult? Do it.
This book is all about life’s ups and downs, and although it’s technically a children’s story, it really speaks to adults. It reminds us that life isn’t always going to be easy; we might get stuck in the Lurch, end up in a Slump, and there may be times we are in—gasp!—The Waiting Place. But despite these inevitable bumps in the road, there is optimism and hope. Always hope.
Yes, it’s simplistic. Perhaps even a tad childish and trite. But for most people, it’s the perfect pep talk and reminder that “life is a great balancing act” and to not despair.
This was a somewhat impulsive Half Price Books buy for me 19 years ago. I’d just started graduate school and had an interest in neuropsychology and learning disabilities. I didn’t know much about autism at the time and found this read utterly fascinating. In it, Grandin, a gifted animal scientist with high-functioning autism, tells about her experiences as someone who views the world in a very concrete and visual way, touching on how this impacts her social interactions, but more significantly, how it led her to apply this perspective and understanding to help revolutionize the way livestock are humanely handled across the country. While so many books talk about how to “cure” or “manage” autistic tendencies, this was the first one I’d read that showed how the mind of someone with autism was an asset.
Fast-forward 11 years to my oldest son’s diagnosis on the autism spectrum.
While there are many aspects of my son’s experience that are different than Grandin’s, I firmly believe Thinking in Pictures laid the foundation for me to better understand and appreciate my son’s unique gifts. Because of this, it will always be on my list of books everyone should read.
P.S. There is a biopic—Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes—based on parts of this book. It won several prestigious awards several years back.
Have I given y’all whiplash yet? Two YA titles, a children’s story, nonfiction psychology, and now … a romance! (I’ll be honest, I was tempted to name the entire FBI/US Attorney series here, but I figured I’ve already pushed my luck…)
It’s kind of a no-brainer that the only romance on my list was going to be one by Julie James. She has owned me ever since I inadvertently picked up my very first romance a few years back (Practice Makes Perfect).
I chose A Lot Like Love for this list because it contains: a “tall, dark, and smoldering” undercover agent; a whip-smart, snarky heroine who can easily hold her own with anyone, anytime; a pretend boyfriend plot; memorable secondary characters; a little suspense; a little romance; and loads of sarcastic, quippy banter. Oh, and did I mention the heroine owns the city’s top wine shop? Yep. Clearly I was destined to love this book!
A Lot Like Love might very well be my all-time favorite contemporary romance! The plot is airtight, the pacing perfect … I honestly can’t think of one thing I dislike about the story or characters. And if you know me, that is saying something.
Kindle Gal’s Bio
Kristi is best known around the web as Kindle Gal because her Kindle Paperwhite is her BFF—she has it on her person 24/7. She is the founder of Kindles & Wine Book Blog, which has won numerous awards and is known for its highly selective and eclectic taste, reviewing across all genres and always providing a beverage pairing to go with each read.
When Kindle Gal is not blogging or drinking red wine, she works as a freelance editor. She is also a wife and mom to three amazingly loud (but adorable) boys.