February 16, 2015 by FHElessons
A few months ago a friend challenged me on Facebook to name my 10 favorite books. 10 favorite books? Who can narrow it down to just 10? I looked through my memory and my personal library and came up with at least 100 books that I have absolutely loved. There are probably quite a few more that I could add to this list, and perhaps I should have titled this article “101 Best Books that I Could Think of Offhand” or something of that nature. But, at any rate, I have gathered my 100 favorites, and I thought I’d share them with you today.
Above is a picture of our personal library. We created it by covering all the walls of our dining room with bookshelves, which are twelve feet high from floor to ceiling. At the time, we were overflowing with books around here and needed somewhere to put them, so we created a library the right size for our collection with plenty of room to grow. We’ve had our library for close to 10 years now, and it is overflowing again. Several of our bedrooms have shelves full of books as well, and our Kindle and Audible libraries are also quite plentiful. Can you tell we love to read around here?
I like to read a lot of different genres of books. I enjoy books that are well-written, such as classics and some that may become classics one day. I also enjoy sappy romances and easy-to-read books written for children. And there are tons of non-fiction books that I have loved. One genre you will notice is not represented here is crime novels/mysteries. I do like to read that genre as well, but those books just don’t seem to make it into my top 100. Ready for my list? Here it is, in no particular order!
(Click on any title to read the summary and reviews found on Amazon.)
Book Club Selections (Chick Lit)
Run – Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors, and my favorite book she has written is Run. What I liked best about it is that as people work to solve their own problems they also help each other. I also really liked her better known book, Bel Canto. When you read the descriptions on the book jackets, they may not sound very interesting, but her writing style is so amazing that she makes even a ho- hum topic into a fascinating read.
The Peach Keeper – Sarah Addison Allen
This is another one of my very favorite authors. I have absolutely loved all of her books, and it’s hard to choose a favorite, but I guess I’ll go with The Peach Keeper. What I like about her books is that she tells stories about everyday life with a little bit of magic thrown in. I also like that the books are happy and that people help each other.
Charms for the Easy Life – Kaye Gibbons
Great writing in this book as well as in her other books I have read, and just an enjoyable read.
Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult
Another favorite author because I love her writing style. For years I avoided her books because they are all about horrible, stressful, tragic topics such as a child with cancer, a woman who finds out the father who raised her actually kidnapped her, two teenagers who make a suicide pact, etc. Nineteen Minutes is about a school shooting (like Columbine). I think what I like about Picoult’s writing is that she really delves into the minds of her characters. She tries to make you see how each person in this difficult situation might be feeling and what motivates his or her actions. Although the subject matter is always something horrible, the books don’t make me feel sad when I read them. They are just very interesting and compelling. Some other books of hers that I enjoyed are The Tenth Circle, Vanishing Acts, The Pact, Plain Truth, My Sister’s Keeper (this one was sad), and House Rules. Salem Falls (this one was sad too), Perfect Match, Mercy, and Picture Perfect were okay. Some of her books that I did not like (some not even enough to finish them) were Sing You Home, Change of Heart, and Handle with Care. Keeping Faith was a little weird. Songs of the Humpback Whale had some inaccuracies in it, which bothered me.
Tending Roses – Lisa Wingate
Loved this book mostly because people help each other and because it was a “feel-good” type of story.
The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
Great writing, compelling story, a mystery, and I loved how the layout of the book mirrors the action. The protagonist was doing family history and the book unfolds the story in the same way you might discover information if you were doing family history yourself. I have enjoyed some of Morton’s other books as well.
The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series – Alexander McCall Smith
The first book in this series was not my favorite as it is fairly unhappy and a little violent, but it sets up the characters and situations for the rest of the books in the series. After that, the books are wonderful. Good writing, a little bit of mystery, quirky characters, and just enjoyable stories.
The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan
Amy Tan goes on my list of favorite authors. She is an amazing storyteller. I have loved all of her books, including her memoire, except for her newest book (Valley of Amazement). Not sure why I chose Bonesetter’s Daughter as my favorite, but I think I just liked it best.
Cold Sassy Tree – Olive Ann Burns
Just a story about a small town in Georgia, but it has all the elements that make this a great book. Sadly, the author died while writing the sequel. It would have been great to have had more from her!
The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield
Although I kept seeing this book on the best seller list, I avoided it for a long time because the description sounded so boring. But when I finally gave this book a try, I was so glad I did! There was just something about the writing that made this very readable. The writing style reminded me very much of Daphne DuMaurier – that same, spooky mystery that just gives your spine tingles.
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
This book is totally different from any other book I have read, which made it interesting. Has a magical feel to it.
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Who would have ever thought that I would like a book about a child who is raped and murdered? Again, it is the writing style that makes this book so good. I tried to read Sebold’s memoire after this and couldn’t get through it. Really enjoyed the fiction, though.
The Bean Trees – Barbara Kingsolver
After reading Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver became one of my favorite authors. Poisonwood Bible is a much bigger, more literary work than The Bean Trees, but I loved the story in The Bean Trees because people help each other. I also enjoyed Prodigal Summer and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Couldn’t get through The Lacuna.
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
The best part about this book was the main character. I just loved him and the writing style as well – very funny.
The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Again, wonderful writing and a happy ending.
Memoirs & Biographies
Memoires are one of my favorite genres. I find it fascinating to read about differing mortal experiences. I especially enjoy learning about different cultures as well.
The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
This is a must read! The messages of how the Hand of God touches lives and also of love, sacrifice, and forgiveness in this book are life changing.
Wild Swans – Jung Chang
One of my all time favorite books. The story of three generations of women in China beginning with the author’s grandmother who had bound feet, her mother’s experiences joining of the communist party, and her own story growing up in communist China.
Princess – Jean Sasson
One woman’s story of what it is like to be a woman in Saudi Arabia. Very interesting.
The Glass Castle – Jeanette Walls
I’m not sure why this book is so compelling, because it’s basically a story about parents who are total losers, but I read it in one sitting. I think the writing is just good, and it was interesting to see how children could grow up to be successful even with totally dysfunctional parents. I also enjoyed her other book, Half Broke Horses.
Expecting Adam – Martha Beck
The miracles and spiritual promptings are so overwhelming in this book that I was frequently in tears. The author was a Harvard student and valued only intelligent people, but then she found out her baby would have Down’s Syndrome. She describes what led her to decide to keep her baby.
The Color of Water – James McBride
Just great writing. This book is mostly about the author’s mother and is a tribute to her.
My Name Used to Be Muhammed – Tito Momen and Jeff Benedict
This is about a Muslim man who converted to Christianity and how he was persecuted because of it. It was interesting to see how Christians are treated in some countries, and I enjoyed reading about Momen’s courage.
I Chose Freedom – Victor Kravchenko
Unfortunately, this book is out of print, but you can still buy it used. That’s what I did. It is written by a Russian man and describes what life was like under communism. Very scary!
To Destroy You is No Loss – JoAn Criddle
Another book that is out of print, but so interesting. It is also about communism. It is written like a memoire but is actually told by a third person. The subject of the book was the daughter of a government official in Cambodia when the communists took over. Her father was executed on the killing fields, and the rest of her family escaped from Cambodia at great cost, only to be deported back in. These books about communism are so amazing to me. It is so amazing that these kinds of things could actually happen and that people had to live through them.
Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
I debated whether to add this one to the list because there were some things in it that did not seem believable to me. I think the author was just trying to be dramatic and maybe made things sound worse than they actually were. She describes conditions so bad it seems unlikely that anyone could survive them, yet she also includes photographs where the people don’t look that bad at all in them. Anyway, it is about a man who was preparing to run in the Olympics but ended up fighting in World War II and became a Japanese prisoner of war. The story is well written and very interesting. The sacrifices that our soldiers make are very sad.
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Classic! Teaches interesting psychological principles as well as the concept that we all have our free agency – the right to choose our own attitude no matter the circumstances.
Left to Tell – Immaculee Ilibagiza
I don’t think I enjoyed this one as much as the others, but it was still interesting. It is similar to many of the other memoires here as it is about a woman who survived an atrocity. Immaculee was a Tutsi in the Rwandan holocaust. She tells how her faith in God sustained her through the horrible ordeal.
These Is My Words – Nancy Turner
What makes this book so great is that the main character is this spunky, independent, strong-willed young woman, trying to make it as a pioneer in the Southwest. The story is loosely based on journals of the author’s great grandmother. Spoiler alert: It has a sad ending!
A Break with Charity – Ann Rinaldi
I always enjoy books about the Salem Witch Trials, and this is my favorite one. One thing I really like about it is that the characters are the real people who were involved in this, so you feel like you learned something about history.
The Other Boleyn Girl – Phillippa Gregory
This was a fun read and a page turner, and you get to learn about the time period of Henry VIII. However, it does have quite a bit of fairly explicit sex scenes in it, so be warned. There are some other books in the series, which I also enjoyed. If I remember correctly, The Virgin’s Lover, doesn’t have any sex scenes in it, and you could read it independently of the others.
The Bronze Bow – Elizabeth Spearhead George
Wonderful children’s book about Christ. The story reminded me a lot of Ben Hur, but this is much easier reading.
Sharpe’s Tiger – Bernard Cornwell
There is a whole series of Sharpe’s books, and my husband and son loved them. I read this one, and it was a page turner. If you have boys, this is a good series to help them learn about history.
Mr. Darcy’s Daughters series – Elizabeth Aston
This is a fun series that is a spin off from Pride and Prejudice. The first book is actually not that great because the story is almost an exact copy of what goes on in Pride and Prejudice, but it introduces all the characters. After that, the books are really fun. My favorite one was The Second Mrs. Darcy.
A Bride Most Begrudging – Deanne Gist
Deanne Gist writes Christian romances. They are just fun, easy reading with a happy, satisfying story. This was the first one of hers that I read, and it was my favorite.
As You Are – Sarah M Eden
Sarah Eden is another fun, Christian romance author. Reading her books just feels like a treat. However, after reading several of them now, I am starting to wish she would vary her story a little more, as they are all very much the same. Still fun to read, though.
A Poisoned Season – Tasha Alexander
I loved the first three books in this series. A romance and a mystery set in Victorian England – what could be better than that?
Fishers of Men (Kingdom and the Crown series) – Gerald N Lund
This series is by the author of Work and the Glory, but it is about Christ. It is about how Christ affected the lives of people who knew Him and what is involved in the conversion process. Amazing books!
Rebecca (Women of Genesis series) – Orson Scott Card
I loved all the Women of Genesis books, but Rebecca was my favorite. I love reading about people in the scriptures, and especially about women. The stories in these books are fictional, but you still get insights into the Bible stories and people.
Hearts of the Children series – Dean Hughes
I didn’t read the Children of the Promise series, although I hear it is good. However, I enjoyed this series which is like a sequel to the first. It is about the children of the characters from the first series and takes place during the 60’s and 70’s. I thought the writing was enjoyable.
Ben Hur – Lew Wallace
Great book! How Christ changes us and makes us whole. The beginning is a little hard to get into, but once you get to know the characters, it is awesome!
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
I have read this many times. Love the good, wholesome values.
Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
Of course, all of Jane Austen’s books are wonderful. I pretty much have Pride and Prejudice memorized after watching the BBC version of the movie so much, but I’m going to go with Mansfield Park as my favorite book.
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Great writing, interesting story, and touching sacrifice. Love it!
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
Love the mysterious ambience of this book. Also enjoyed My Cousin Rachel.
The Good Earth – Pearl S Buck
I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of Pearl S Buck’s books. I love her as an author. Not sure which to choose as my favorite, so I’ll just stick with the first one I read.
Mutiny on the Bounty – Charles Nordhoff and James Hall
This is a fun, adventure story. I enjoyed the whole trilogy.
Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton
This was a book that I skipped in high school and only read the cliff notes. Then, as an adult, I decided to give it a try, and I loved it! One concept that I thought was interesting in it was: who owes what to whom when an underdeveloped country is invaded by a developed one. Both sides gain something from the interaction, and perhaps both lose something as well.
Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
I love Ray Bradbury’s writing, and I thought this was a fun, spooky story in addition to the coming of age themes for which it is known.
Anne of Green Gables series – Lucy Montgomery
I’ve read these many times as well, not to mention watching the movies more times than I can count. Love Anne!
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
I first read this book as a teenager and was surprised that it seemed to be a book for adults rather than for children. What’s great about it is the strange, dream-like quality and how it is so creative and different.
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Even though this story is dark and tragic, for some reason it is super compelling.
The Prince and the Pauper – Mark Twain
Couldn’t put this book down when I read it, even though I already knew the basics of the story. Must just be great writing.
The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
This book took me two weeks to read (which is an eternity for me), and while I was reading it I could hardly stand to do my regular work. All I wanted to do was read. Make sure to read this unabridged – the abridged version leaves out some important characters. But don’t read it unless you have a couple weeks to do nothing but read. Haha!
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
I read this book as a teenager and immediately counted it among my top ten books.
Dragonsong – Anne McCaffrey
I loved this series when I was a teenager. Then I met my husband and found that he loved it too. It’s a lot of fun.
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein
The Lord of the Rings is great, but it is very much a “guy” book series. It’s full of war and fighting. The Hobbit is more adventure oriented. I read it many times when I was younger.
Game of Thrones series – George RR Martin
Disclaimer: This is not the type of book series you would normally find recommended on an FHE site. It is full of violence and sex, including rape and incest. That said, I still really enjoyed these books. I think it is because they have the type of writing where the author really delves into each character’s psyche. And the characters are all very complex people. Add a little bit of Fantasy to that and it makes for a great series. Now, if only RR Martin could break his addiction to video games and get down to finishing the series!
The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
I added this one because my husband is a huge reader of fantasy, and this is his all-time favorite fantasy book. The same is probably true of my son. I liked the book as well.
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
I have enjoyed many of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, but I think this one was my favorite. Love his ideas on what makes someone successful.
The Road Less Traveled – M Scot Peck
Very interesting read, and I totally agree with his definition of what love is.
Leaven – Jerrie Hurd
This book is all about women in the scriptures. After reading it, I not only knew the scriptures better, but I also better understood my role as a wife and mother.
Spiritually Centered Motherhood – Sherrie Johnson
I used to give this book out as a gift at baby showers because I thought it was so great. I think it is out of print now, though, sadly.
Mere Christianity – CS Lewis
Classic. CS Lewis is awesome!
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Steven Covey
I would say this is another classic. Covey has great ideas on how to be successful in life.
A Thoughtful Faith – Philip Barlow
If my house were ever to burn down, I would want to save this book because I love it, and it is out of print now. The used copies seem to be crazy expensive. In THIS article I give links to where you can read some of the articles in this book for free online.
Young Adult Fantasy
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
Who doesn’t love Harry Potter? I’ve read this series about seven times all the way through.
Fablehaven series – Brandon Mull
This series is awesome as well. The first books are definitely better than the last though. Very creative and magical.
Peter and the Starcatchers – Barry & Pearson
This is a retelling of Peter Pan, and I love retellings of fairy tales. It is also a page turner, and goes on to add more books to the series.
Mr. Monday series – Garth Nix
Garth Nix is a great author, and I think this is my favorite series of his books that I have read so far. Also very creative.
Goose Girl series – Shannon Hale
Another retelling of a fairy tale. Goose Girl was good, but I actually liked Enna Burning best.
Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine
Super creative and engaging Cinderella story. I have loved all of Gail Carson Levine’s princess books.
East – Edith Patou
This one is a retelling of a fairy tale as well. It’s not as well known as some of the above, but it is also excellent.
Erec Rex series – Kaza Kingsley
I listened to the first three of these books on Audible, and the reader (Simon Jones) was fantastic. I could listen to his voice all day. I was afraid I wouldn’t like the next books as well since he wasn’t reading them (they are not available on Audible, so I bought them in print), but I loved them too.
Warrior Heir series – Cinda Williams Chima
Another great fantasy series. The whole series was great. I love books where people find out they have powers and learn to use them.
Lightening Thief series – Rick Riordan
Another great series. Too bad the movies weren’t very good.
Cinder series – Marissa Meyer
I just finished the third book in this series, and it was so enjoyable! These books are a combination of fairy tale retellings and science fiction. Each book adds a new character, and the stories are interwoven.
Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
Skip the first book in the series (The Magician’s Nephew) as it is boring. The rest of the books are wonderful. After reading this series, I felt I had a better understanding of the nature of God.
Magyk (Septimus Heap series) – Angie Sage
This is a fun series. The writing isn’t great, but it is still very enjoyable to read.
Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
I think the reason this book was so good was just because the characters loved books so much. The next books in the series are nowhere near as good as the first one.
Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer
Love Artemis Fowl, the boy genius. He is a great character, and the fantasy/sci fi combination is good.
Ruby Red – Kerstin Gier
Maybe I should have put this one in the paranormal romance category. It has some fantasy and some romance and is about time travel.
Paranormal Romance Series
Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
A lot of people love Twilight, and a lot of people hate it. The first time I read the first book, I liked it but thought it dragged in places. I wasn’t in a hurry to get the second book. The second book was one that stayed in my mind for a long time after I finished reading it, as good literature will do. But when I really came to love this series is after I finished the fourth book. As soon as I did, I immediately turned around and read the whole series again.
What I love about it: I love the theme of desire and restraint, the natural man over the spiritual man. The vampires desire blood, and the teenagers desire sex, and they have to decide if it is worth it to have a moral code and exercise restraint or just give in to desire. I also love the analogy of mortality versus immortality. When Bella is mortal, she is clumsy and awkward and slow. She worries about whether to give up mortality and wants to experience everything it has to offer before she does. But when she becomes immortal, she is quick and graceful and beautiful, and the pleasures of mortality seem paltry to what can be experienced as an immortal. I hope very much that is how immortality is. Without the thirst for blood, of course. I also like the literary allusions throughout the books.
Blue Bloods – Melissa de la Cruz
Just another vampire book series, but it is enjoyable to read.
Need – Carrie Jones
This one is about fairies. Also a real page turner.
Young Adult Dystopian
The Giver – Lois Lowry
The Giver is such an amazing book! So well crafted and interesting. I have loved all of Lois Lowry’s books as well.
Hunger Games series – Suzanne Collins
These books are just page turners. I did not really enjoy the movies.
Uglies series – Scott Westerfield
Fun sci fi series about a society where everyone is given a surgery at age 16 to make them beautiful. Before that, they are all uglies.
Divergent series – Veronica Roth
These books are good because they are page turners. Sometimes they get a little too violent for me, though. And the end of the series is sad. Still enjoyed the books, though.
Matched series – Ally Condie
Just another fun dystopian series. Too bad these types of series never end well.
City of Ember – Jeanne DuPrau
A lot of similarities to some of the others on this list, but well-written.
Among the Hidden – Margaret Peterson Haddix
The writing in this series is pretty bad, but my kids absolutely loved these books. I thought they were pretty good. It is about a society where each family is only allowed to have two children. The “hidden” are the third children.
Classic Children’s Books
A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Fantastic book! One thing I loved about it was that the protagonist didn’t know if she was actually a good girl until she went through trials. She didn’t know if she was good only because of her circumstances, and her trials gave her a chance to test herself. The scene where she is starving but gives her rolls away to another hungry person just made me bawl. I also loved The Secret Garden, of course.
The Phantom Tolbooth – Norton Juster
This book is a little bit of fantasy and is full of a play on words that makes it super creative. Classic!
The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
Loved this book as a child. Well written mystery.
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
I don’t own a copy of this book, but I had to include it in my list because it is one of the books that sparked my love of reading as a child. I loved this book so much that I went on to read all of her other books over and over again.
Other Young Adult or Children’s Books
Wonder – RJ Palacio
This book is similar to Picoult’s books in that it explores how a certain difficult condition affects not only the person suffering from it but all the people around him. I thought it was very well written and great for children to read and understand.
Frindle – Andrew Clement
All of Andrew Clements books are good, but Frindle just has all the elements necessary to make it a masterpiece.
Holes – Louis Sachar
Such a fun book. They kind of ruined it with the movie. Even though the movie was good, it was nowhere near as good as the book. I wish they would stop making movies out of all my favorite books!
Just great writing in these books.
Flipped – Wendelin Van Draanen
Also great writing. A book about friendship.
Where the Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein
I love poetry, and I love rhymes. Silverstein’s rhymes are so creative and original. I have many of them memorized and quote them at random times when appropriate.
The Chosen One – Carol Lynch Williams
My daughter gave me this book for Mother’s Day last year, and I loved it! It is about a girl trapped in a polygamous society, and is just very well written as well as opening the reader’s eyes to what might go on in that kind of society.
The Wreckers – Iain Lawrence
I don’t think this one is as popular as many of these others, but it is one that I really enjoyed. After reading the first Harry Potter and thinking how amazing it was that a children’s book could be so good, I read this and also Ella Enchanted and thought they were both just as good as Harry Potter.
What books would you add to this list? Which of the ones on my list have you enjoyed?