Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Fifty Favorite Novels

About four years ago, I posted a list of my 40 favorite novels right here. I have read roughly 40 novels a year since then, possibly more, which means I've read at least 150 since I made this list. I've found a lot of new favorites. I've reread more than a dozen on my original list of 40, and reconsidered others -- there's been a good deal of shifting within the list, in other words.

And so, today, I present you with My Fifty Favorite Novels (and a bunch of pictures from Pinterest). I love each of these dearly, have read most of them at least twice, and consider them all to basically be my friends.

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. The Hound of the Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle
6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
7. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
8. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
9. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
10. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

11. Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
12. Persuasion by Jane Austen
13. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
14. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
15. The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
16. Shane by Jack Schaefer
17. A Family Affair by Rex Stout
18. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
19. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
20. Dear Enemy by Jean Webster

21. Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
22. A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
23. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
24. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
25. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
26. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
27. Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
28. Greenwillow by B. J. Chute
29. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
30. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

31. A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz
32. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
33. Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson
34. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
35. Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery
36. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
37. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
38. Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster
39. Shadows Over Stonewycke by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella
40. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

41. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
42. An Antic Disposition by Alan Gordon
43. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
44. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
45. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
46. The Man in the Box by Mary Lois Dunn
47. Fear is the Key by Alistair MacLean
48. Lady Cop Makes Trouble by Amy Stewart
49. I, Claudia by Charity Bishop
50. Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

So there you have it! My list of the 50 books I love best. In another four or five years, I'll have to revise it again, I'm sure, but for right now, these are they. What do you think of the list, book friends? Do you love some/many/all of these too?


  1. I've read 23 of your list—so almost half! Of that number, at least To Kill a Mockingbird and Anne of Green Gables would make my own list. I should try this sometime...only I'm sure it would be a pretty tough mental exercise. When you like so many books, it's hard sometimes to sift out exactly which ones you love (and sometimes even harder to figure out why).

    1. Elizabeth, compiling the list of 40 favorites a few years ago took me ages. Scanning my bookshelves, combing through lists of books I read when I was younger... it took days. This time, it took a couple hours. Just had to scan back through my blog archives and figure out what new stuff I wanted to add in, and then fiddle endlessly with the ordering until it felt just right.

      Figuring out "why" isn't hard for me anymore, now that I know precisely what it is that bumps a story from "like it" to "love it," that one thing they have in common that I absolutely have to have.

  2. I've read 21 of these. I should read the rest because I've heard great things about most of them (and others I haven't heard of at all which makes me want to read them all the more). :)

    1. Laura, wow! That's a lot! I was thinking of making a permanent page with this list on it, and linking all the titles to my reviews, since I've reviewed all but a handful of these. That would make it easier for people like you to say, "Oh, she loves this, but what's it about?" and then click to read a review and find out what it's about :-)

  3. Do you find that your favorites change over the years? Sometimes a book I read in the past becomes more important to me months or years after I have read it.

    1. Ruth, yes, they do change, but usually sloooooooooooooowly. It took me about ten years to finally accept/realize/admit that The Black Stallion was no longer my #1 favorite book because Jane Eyre had superseded it. If you look back at my top 40 list, you'll see 6 of the top ten there are still in the top ten here. However, reading something more recently often bumps something back up in my affections that may have slipped over the years, which is why The Outsiders, Anne of Green Gables, and The Lord of the Rings have popped up several notches each, but others like Rebecca have slid waaaaaaaaay down. So I'm kind of the opposite on that, I guess.

  4. I've read 26 of them. Did you list them in order of preference? If so, I'm not surprised to see Jane Eyre as no. 1 but I am surprised to see The Black Stallion as no. 3. It's been decades since I read it --- should probably read it again.

    1. Cleopatra, so cool! I definitely listed them in order of preference. The Black Stallion was my favorite book from around the age of 7 until I was probably 30, when I reread Jane Eyre and realized that yes, it's true, I loved it more. The Count of Monte Cristo has patiently maintained the #2 spot since I was 11, though. I did re-read The Black Stallion a few years ago too, and realized that I do simply adore it still, but it's not the "best-written" book ever. But I still love it.

  5. I've only read 12 of these, although I'm currently reading two more (Lord of the Rings and A Portrait of Emily Price). Anne of Green Gables, Jane Eyre, North and South and To Kill a Mockingbird are all among my favourite books though :)

    1. Rachel, so cool you're reading Emily Price right now! I gave it to my sister-in-law for Christmas because it's so wonderful.

      Are you reading The Lord of the Rings with the relaxed read-through hosted by The Next Chapter? I've really been enjoying savoring the story this time through and not pushing myself to read faster and faster.

    2. I'm definitely enjoying Emily Price :)

      I'm just reading LOTR on my own, although it seems like a lot of people are reading it at the moment. I'm currently about halfway through The Two Towers :)

    3. Yay! Glad you're finding Emily Price enjoyable. It made me hungry a lot, lol.

  6. I've read 33 of these. What a great collection of books. It must have taken you ages to compile such a list and it must have been so hard to narrow it down.

    My daughter is currently working her way through the Black Stallion books. We are currently feeding her horse addiction with horse stories and the Black Stallion books should keep her busy for a while.

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! Wow, 33 -- that's cool we've read so many of the same books!

      When I drew up the list of 40 favorites a few years ago took me ages. I looked over my bookshelves again and again, searched through lists of books I've read over the years, etc. This time, it only took a couple hours to look through my blog archives and figure out what newer reads I wanted to add in. And then I had to figure out the order to put them in, which took a while because I was being very particular in my favoritism.

      I've only read maybe 5 or 6 of the Black Stallion books because the later ones didn't touch me the way the original did. But there are certainly plenty of them! Has she read Marguerite Henry's books already? Those will also keep her busy a while, and are sooooooo good.

  7. I've only read eight of these! But the rest are all on my to-read list. I am reading The Lord of the Rings and I got the Hound of the Baskervilles for Christmas so hopefully I will be able to read those soon! What a fun list!!

    1. MovieCritic, woo! Lots of people reading LOTR right now :-) And you haven't read The Hound of the Baskervilles yet? You're in for a treat! I introduced my 14-year-old niece to it this past fall, and she said she had expected it to be "boring" because it was "old," but instead it kept her awake reading at night :-)

    2. This is the year for LOTR! I can't wait because I love mysteries! I think I've seen a movie version of it, and I think I thought it was scary. I don't know why I did, besides that I was 6. I don't remember what it was about though.

    3. MovieCritic, mysteries are my favorite genre <3 I can well believe a movie version of Baskervilles would scare you when you were six! I've seen a couple different filmed versions, and I would not show them even to my 9-year-old.

  8. I've read 15 of these!! "Persuasion" is #6 on my own list of all-time favorites (I keep a list now--you're rubbing off on me! :-) ) and "To Kill a Mockingbird" is actually #3. It's just . . . aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhh, I love it so much.

    I can absolutely relate to having your childhood favorite novel in the #3 spot; my favorite children's book, "Miss Rumphius," is actually #2 on my all-time list because it's just THAT important to me. I literally begged my mom to read it to me every. single. day. as a little girl. And even today, 20 years later, the story is still a big part of who I am.

    And I am really quite fond of "The Black Stallion"--it's not a personal favorite, necessarily, but it's a wonderful book.

    I actually spot a lot of old friends on here! I read "The Swiss Family Robinson" over and over and over as a kid--it fascinated me.

    1. Jessica, awwwwww, that gives me warm fuzzies. You're keeping lists too! Probably if I'd read To Kill a Mockingbird more recently, it would be higher on my list.

      Those early books are soooooo formative and important. I've loved The Black Stallion since I was 6 or 7, The Count of Monte Cristo since I was 11, and Jane Eyre since I was probably 16 or 17. My history with them is definitely part of why I love them so much.

      I love stories about people stranded on desert islands, which is a big part of why I love both The Black Stallion and The Swiss Family Robinson. I'm fond of Robinson Crusoe for the same reason, and the TV show Lost...

  9. I've read 12 of these, possibly 13, but I can't recall. :-D Very fun reading your list!

    1. DKoren, ooooooh! Now I want to try to guess which ones you've read. LOTR, of course. The Count of Monte Cristo? Fahrenheit 451? Kidnapped and Little Men, probably. King of the Wind and Misty of Chincoteague, probably. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood? Probably The Swiss Family Robinson. Obviously Fear is the Key.

    2. Hee. LOTR and Fear is the Key, as you say, obviously. King of the Wind and Misty, but of course. Kidnapped, yes. The others you mention... no. Although I used to read my Disney version of Swiss Family Robinson all the time, but not sure that counts. :)

      The other ones would be:
      Bourne Identity (you gave me my copy!)
      The Eyre Affair
      Hound of the Baskervilles
      Harry Potter
      Black Stallion
      To Kill a Mockingbird
      Princess Bride
      Tom Sawyer

      I'm pretty sure I've read Tale of Two Cities cuz I own it, but it was ages ago, like in high school, so not sure whether to count it.

    3. Well, but I've given lots of books to lots of people, and I don't ever know if they're going to read them or not. Still, having a copy ups the odds that they will. But anyway, I do vaguely remember giving you The Bourne Identity waaaaaaaaaay back when I was grooving on Ludlum a lot. And duh, of course I knew you've read HP.

  10. Oh! Oh! I'm inspired to do my own list of favourites now!!:D

    The Count of Monte Cristo, The Lord of the Rings, A Tale of Two Cities, Anne of Green Gables, Daddy-Long-Legs, The Blue Castle -- these would definitely make it on my list.

    Jane Eyre would have been on my list a few years ago...I'm not so sure now.

    Sense and Sensibility would be my Austen choice, though I like Persuasion too.

    Anne of Windy Poplars was probably my least favourite of the series. My absolute favourite is Rilla of Ingleside. :D

    And I absolutely love that you have Alistair MacLean on your list!... Fear is the Key is a great read! MacLean favourites are The Way to Dusty Death, Where Eagles Dare, Caravan to Vaccares (sp?).

    1. Risa, that would be cool if you did a list of your favorites too!

      Alistair MacLean is just such fun, isn't he? I've read probably half a dozen of his -- my other favorites thus far were definitely Where Eagles Dare and The Guns of Navarrone, but I've really enjoyed all of his books that I've read. I have a couple more on my TBR pile, so may get to them later this year for the Mount TBR Challenge, we'll see. He really knew how to spin an engrossing yarn!

  11. It is funny to see how one's taste in books change over time:)
    I've read 16 of these (including your top3) and I can say I heartily approve of them;)
    I was delighted to read your list (I love ranking lists but am horrible at making them myself)

    1. Rose, it's so true. Although I haven't grown to dislike the books that were on my previous list and dropped off this one, I just have grown to love others more :-) But once in a while, I'll read a book or watch a movie that I once loved and be like, "Huh, that was just kind of okay."

      Glad you enjoyed the list!

  12. I was a bit surprised that I've only read seven of these, but not surprised that they were all among some of my favorites as well. (Jane Eyre, Monte Cristo, LOTR, C-22, TKAM, Tom Sawyer, To2C). A few more that I've got coming up, that I am pretty confident I'll like. Cheers.

    1. Joseph, that's not a huge surprise given that like a tenth of these are YA and junior fiction, lol. Hope you enjoy the others that are on your list as you get to them!

  13. Very smart list! There are several of these that are still on my TBR, but there are also several of my own personal favorites here.
    Little Men, huh? I should give that a go. I have just finished Little Women and thought it was lovely.

    1. Thanks, Toady! Yes, I've always liked Little Men better than Little Women. I just re-read Little Women a couple years ago, and need to make time for a re-read of Little Men now.

  14. I spy Katherine Reay on this list! :)

    1. Rissi, indeed! I really love her latest so much.

  15. So many good ones! I was very pleased to see several favorites of mine. But it also looks like my TBR needs to grow a bit more! :)

    1. Kara, that's the trouble with being friends with other book bloggers, isn't it? We keep adding to each others' TBR piles!


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