Friday, March 22, 2013

My Forty Favorite Novels

Inspired by a question on the WXROZ blog a few days ago, I decided to update my list of my ten favorite novels, as I hadn't really listed them off for a few years and I knew it probably had changed a bit.  But I had so much trouble narrowing it down to ten, and felt so bad about some of the books I had to leave off, that I decided to expand it to my top fifty.  But then fifty was too many, so I finally settled on forty.  I have read each of these books at least twice, and many of them I've read over and over and over and over.  They are all dear friends, and there are only two here that I don't own a copy of.  Yet.

Anyway, here they are:

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
3. The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
4. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
6. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
7. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
11. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
12. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
13. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
14. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
15. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
16. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
17. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
18. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
19. Persuasion by Jane Austen
20. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
21. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
22. A Family Affair by Rex Stout
23. The Long Goodbye  by Raymond Chandler
24. The Hound of the Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle
25. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
26. An Antic Disposition  by Alan Gordon
27. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
28. Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
29. Shadows Over Stonewycke by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella
30. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
33. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
34. Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery
35. Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson
36. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
37. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
38. The Man in the Box by Mary Lois Dunn
39. The Boxcar Children  by Gertrude Chandler Warner
40. Fear is the Key by Alistair MacLean

Have you read some of these?  Loved or hated them?  What're your favorite books?  Post your list in the comments here, or on your own blog and leave me a link -- I love learning about other people's favorite books!

I'm planning to do a list of my favorite authors soon, one of my favorite nonfiction books, maybe a list of my favorite series, my favorite genres... and on my other blog I'll do a long and updated list of my favorite movies soon.


  1. Reading 'Monte Cristo' would be great for me however it sort of intimidates me. ;/ Love the movie though so it'd be nice to read the original form.

    1. I first read Monte Cristo when I was 11. It's a galloping adventure novel, not at all tough to get through, even though it's long. But if you love the 2002 movie, be warned: that movie bears little resemblance to the book.

    2. Now that I've seen "Persuasion" the movie with you, I definitely need to read the book, since I've read some of Austen's other books, and this one appears to be your favorite. It needs to be on my list for the summer! There are a few more on your list that I haven't read, which I plan to remedy!

    3. I'm guessing you haven't read 6, 13, 22, 23, 25, 26, 38, and 40. Am I close?

    4. From cursory reading, I think I suspected that, Hamlette - thanks for the clarification. I do know the endings are quite different. Nonetheless, perhaps someday I'll wade through it - I think I have a copy I bought anticipating I'd read it for a writing project but never did - it was a bit intimidating. :)

    5. Well, I hope you conquer your intimidation one day -- it's such a fun book.

  2. The Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite HP! I haven't read most of the books on this list, but I loved Jane Eyre, Kidnapped, Anne of Green Gables, and Persuasion!

    Can't wait to read your upcoming posts, those sound like interesting lists!!

    1. I don't think I've ever met anyone before who also liked "Prisoner of Azkaban" best! Why do you love it? I have a huge love of themes like "escaped prisoners" and "wrongful imprisonment" and "presumed guilty but then proven innocent," so it makes me bounce with joy. I've read the last few chapters over and over and over. And Sirius Black is my favorite Harry Potter character <3

    2. Oh really? It was my favorite movie before I read the books and then I think that influenced me when I finally read the series.

      For me, it's the time travel thing... I love time travel! Plus the intrigue of the story.

      Why is Sirius Black your favorite? That's neat. I don't remember thinking of him too much, but I didn't dislike him! My favorites are Prof. McGonagall, Luna Lovegood, Kreacher, Prof. Lupin and Snape.

      (This is unrelated, but thinking about which characters I like makes me think about my "realization" which I am super close to writing! Just have to get a spare moment!)

    3. Oh, dearest, darlingest Sirius Black! How do I love him? Let me count the ways...

      1. He was wrongfully accused of murder and sent to prison for it! Swoon.
      2. He escaped from prison!
      3. He's got that Byronic Hero thing going on a bit, with the brooding over a sad past. I cannot resist broody guys. Fictional ones, I mean.
      4. He watches over Harry and protects him.
      5. He has that roguish, almost bad-boy thing going on.
      6. He once loaned Hagrid his flying motorcycle.
      7. He can turn into a big black dog. I love big black dogs.
      8. He has long hair.
      9. He skulks well.
      10. He has to live on the lam.

      Okay, that's my top 10.

      My favorite HP characters are:

      1. Sirius Black III
      2. Severus Snape
      3. Ron

      I read the book before I saw the movie, so getting the incomparable Gary Oldman playing him was a tasty bonus.

      Coincidentally, I am wearing my Sirius Black t-shirt today. How about that?

    4. Haha, awesome! :) I guess he is pretty cool when you think about it! I'm not entirely sure how I feel about broody heroes... hm... what are some other ones you can think of? That's so funny you have a Sirius t-shirt. What's on it?? Just his face or?

      Are there any characters that you liked in the books but not in the movies? Since you read the books first I'm curious as to whether any of the castings or portrayals really bugged you.

    5. Other classic broody, Byronic Heroes include Byron's own Childe Harold and Manfred, Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre, Edmund Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo, and in a way, Erik in The Phantom of the Opera. More modern brooders include both Sirius and Snape, the character Angel from the TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, sometimes Wolverine from X-Men, and the Huntsman from Snow White and the Huntsman... basically any guy with a sad or dark past that feels remorse over it and spends lots of time brooding.

      My Sirius Black shirt looks like this. It's his face and his name.

      I read only the first 3 books before I saw the movies -- right when the 3rd movie came out, I quick read those 3 so I could go see the movie. I saw that one and all the following in the theater, but the first two I saw on DVD. Anyway, it's hard to remember what I imagined some characters like before seeing their movie incarnations. I do tend to imagine Sirius as being much taller and skinnier -- looking more like Chad Kroeger from Nickelback from about ten years ago, rather like this but with darker hair. But I don't recall any characters that I went, "Oh, no, that's not what they should look like!" I'm kinda used to reading a book and seeing the movie and reconciling the two, I guess.

  3. Wow! Kudos to being able to narrow it down even to 40! I'm not sure how narrow I could make my list. There's just so many to love! But I may have to attempt this now. Thanks Hamlette! *wrinkles nose at you* ;D

    I've read several on your list but not all. I have to admit that I've never been able to finish Jane Eyre. :( But I LOVE The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins! One of my favorite Suess books. But no one (until now) ever seems to mention it. How awesome that you love it too! :D

    Of course I also love Persuasion and the Anne books.

    1. It seems like I could either have a top 60 or a top 40 -- when I tried to narrow it down to 50, it didn't work at all. So maybe you could do a top 50 or 60!

      Isn't it amazing how a book will touch one reader so deeply, and another cares for it so little they don't even finish it? A heartening thought for any writer, and a sobering one as well.

      It seems like everyone enthuses over The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham and forgets about the non-rhyming Seuss books. Such a shame! But it's great to find another Bartholomew fan! Do you also like the sequel, Bartholomew and the Oobleck? I don't care much for that one.

    2. I do enjoy the Oobleck one, but the hats are probably my favorite of the two. I like his rhyming books too, but I have a special place in my heart for Bartholomew. He's simply a great character! :)

      That is the fascinating thing about stories. How everyone reads it and connects to it (or not!) so differently. It's so wonderful when someone loves the same book as you, but that's also never a guarantee that they'll love every book you love. Like you said, a heartening yet sobering thought for authors. I've seen many authors state that they refuse to read reviews of their own books and I really can't say as I blame them. I think I'd probably feel the same way.

      As for my favorites list, I haven't ever actually tried counting them up. Perhaps it's not as many as I think? Hmmm. I do feel a post coming on now. ;D

    3. What's also fascinating is how two people can love the same story for completely different reasons. Every person has themes and concepts, etc, that resonate with them that might leave the rest of the world cold.

      Can't wait to see your list!

  4. I quite enjoyed this post. I know most of the titles, though I haven't read nearly all of them. The ones I have read are: Jane Eyre (totally love that one too); The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (so zany and delightful; I like Bartholomew a lot too, and I will have to say, I was absurdly pleased to discover something like Zeuss on your list); The Lord of the Rings (you know how I feel about that); The Outsiders (reading your review inspired me to find it on the web and read it; quite interesting); Anne of Green Gables (yes, I love that one too); Little Men (how does Louisa May Alcott succeed in making everyday events so interesting??); Persuasion (just read that with my mom, and really loved it); Misty of Chincotegue (loved that one too); Anne of Windy Poplars (liked it); A Tale of Two Cities (usually my favorite book ever); and The Boxcar Children (so fun). So the ones on this list that I've actually read are mostly favorites of mine too.

    I'd add to this The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis, Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John, Emma by Jane Austen, A Little Princess by Francis Hodgeson Burnett, and Tales of the Kingdom by David and Karen Mains.

    1. I should re-do this list, as there are a number of books I've read in the past 4 years that I would put here now. So cool you like a lot of the same books! Of the ones you mentioned at the end, I've read all except Tales of the Kingdom. My son is in looooooove with all things Narnia right now!

    2. Yes, it would be fun to see your redone list. I don't think I've ever quite gotten over my love for Narnia myself. :) I doubt you'd like Tales of the Kingdom very much if you read it, because it's a very allegorical story. I enjoyed it though because the main character has one of the most believable "coming-to-faith" arcs I've ever read. I can get tired of that sort of thing, but his story is so gradual and enjoyable that I never tire of re-reading it.

    3. I looked up the Tales of the Kingdom books, and I think my son would really dig them, so I'll see if we can get them through the library, or if I can dig up used copies somewhere. Thanks!

    4. You're most welcome! Just to let you know, I think the first book in the series is by far the best, but that's just my opinion. I'd love it if you let me know if you get the books and/or if your son liked them -- if you comment back here later, for instance.


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