If I ran the world, which I clearly do not, every day, everyone would drop everything and read for two hours straight. Kind of like a literary siesta. “Drop everything and read” is coincidentally a phrase I learned from a book and in order to facilitate my own adherence to the D.E.A.R. principles if it indeed becomes a thing, I try to never be more than six feet from a book if I can help it. (This means I have books stashed in my purse and in my car and behind bushes, like some kind of bandit.) And while I LOVE discovering new books, I also love re-reading books I’ve read before. There’s just something cozy and comforting and delightful and discoverable about returning to an old friend. If you’re looking for a book to read, chances are I’ll recommend one of these to you. And, thanks to Perpetua Futbol and my cousin Virginia Targaryen, I’m being happily forced to list ten books that have touched me in some way. Some lists are difficult, but this one is a no-brainer.
Hannah’s Ten Books That Everyone Should Read No Matter What
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This is my favorite book of all time. I mean it. If my house were on fire, I’d run to save the copy I keep by my bed and read every Christmas. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about this book—a line pops into my head, I’m reminded of one of the characters, or I put on my ship necklace every morning to remind myself that “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” I cannot impress upon you enough how much I love this book. I can never wish you a greater happiness than I feel when reading it. So, if you haven’t read it, GO. I’ll happily lend you one of my three copies. And no, it is not a “girl book”. It is a human book, filled with laughter and sorrow and sweetness and light and obstacles and joy. So much joy.
Next up: My three nominees for THE Great American Novel
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
There are so many to choose from, but as far as I’m concerned, these are the ones. Granted, I haven’t read every novel purported to be a Great American Novel, but the spirit encapsulated in these three guts me every time. They are beautifully written, heartbreakingly realistic, and yet, despite their inherent melancholy, each ends hopefully. It’s lovely to live on a raft with a green light as we’re borne against the current and understand that there’s only one kind of folks. Read them. They’ll fill your soul and give you hope.
- The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Everything that can be said about these books has already been said. From my perspective, life needs a little magic. Look to Hogwarts and you’ll find it.
- What Now? by Ann Patchett
Really, anything that Ann Patchett has written could have made this list, from the heartbreak of Truth and Beauty to the breathtaking Bel Canto to the human realness of This is the Story of A Happy Marriage. But What Now?, adapted from her 2006 Commencement Address at her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College, is the one I’ve read and listened to the most. It gives me courage, it reminds me it’s okay to be a work in progress, and it makes me laugh. Ann Patchett is my favorite living author simply for this one speech.
- The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
Middle school is rough for everyone. I was homeschooled until high school, and middle school still sucked. But this book makes middle school seem worthwhile, as long as you have friends and teachers around you to bring meaning into your days. It’s important to have other souls balance you out and celebrate your individual gifts. Also, a cup of slow tea makes everything right.
- Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Possibly one of the most meaningful reading experiences I ever had was reading this book in English my senior year of college after having already read it. It gave me the opportunity to consider these short stories with more thoughtfulness than I ever would have on my own, and gave me so much perspective on the life experiences of others.
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
I have a long, extended argument on why the movie The Princess Bride is the most perfect movie of all time, but that’s for another time. Instead, while this book is indeed a kissing book, it also has fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, rodents of unusual size, high adventure, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…basically, it’s the only book you’ll ever need. (Besides Little Women.) It’s also hilarious
10. Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
My favorite picture book. It gives me three goals for my life, and reminds me that the hardest thing of all, but the thing most worth doing, is to make the world more beautiful.
There. My work here is done. Now head to your local library or independent bookstore or stack of books next to your bed that you’ve been meaning to read or my bookshelf so I can loan you something and get reading. Preferably one of these books, but if you have a book (or ten or twenty-nine) that you think everyone should read, let me know. I’m always looking to add to this splendid list.