Inspired by my lovely friend Lou, who blogs over at Lou Lou Reads, I’ve decided to make a list of my fifty favorite books as of right now. I hope to revisit this list next year. Of course, I had many questions for Lou right away, because chronic anxiety dictates that I know what I’m getting into before I do it. For instance, how did Lou decide in which order to put her books? Does she keep a list of books read throughout her life? What makes a book “important,” or a “favorite”? Each year, Lou notes how books have shifted position in the ranks by showing the book went +3 (went up three places on the list) or was -27 (went down 27 spots), for example. Basically, Lou’s list has isn’t a scientific experiment, and it’s more what she feels about a book. A lot of her interest in a book is how much it sticks with her, or if it was important during a certain time in her life. So, here is my (non-scientific) list of fifty favorite books. For this first year, I’m not putting them in any sort of order like Lou does lest I overwhelm myself.
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- East Pittsburgh Downlow by Dave Newman
- Cruddy by Lynda Barry
- Bogeywoman by Jaime Gordon
- Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
- Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
- Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
- Savage Girl by Alex Shakar
- For Sale By Owner by Kelsey Parker Ervick
- Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
- Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson by Judy Oppenheimer
- The Wakefields of Sweet Valley by Francine Pascal
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell
- Dietland by Sarai Walker
- Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- This Much Space by K.K. Hendin
- No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley
- Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks
- The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts
- Don’t Die, My Love by Lurlene McDaniel
- Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
- Girl Imagined by Chance by Lance Olsen
- No-No Boy by John Okada
- The Tide King by Jen Michalski
- The Last Herald-Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
- I’m the Teacher, You’re the Student: A Semester in the University Classroom by Patrick N. Allitt
- My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme
- New Hope for Small Men by Grant Bailie
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
- Wrestling with the Muse by Melba Joyce Boyd
- The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss
- Everyday Psychopaths by Lucy Corin
- The Complete Poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- Altmann’s Tongue by Brian Evenson
- Real Vampires by Daniel Cohen
- The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
- Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
- The Snow Queen Cycle by Joan D. Vinge
- The Bird Way: A New Look at How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think by Jennifer Ackerman
- Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
- Immobility by Brian Evenson
- The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
- A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister
- The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
- A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
- Joe Jones by Anne Lamott
- Drought and Say What You Like by Debra DiBlasi
- Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century by Patrik Ouředník, trans. by Gerald Turner
- Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Several of these were books I read before the age of eighteen, books that I’ve visited repeatedly and think of often: The Great Gilly Hopkins, Real Vampires, The Family Nobody Wanted, and The Wakefields of Sweet Valley, for example.
Then, upon taking literature classes in college, new books influenced me: Altmann’s Tongue, Wrestling with the Muse, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Europeana.
Other were books I taught to college students, like Drought and Say What You Like, A Raisin in the Sun, Strangers on a Train, and No-No Boy.
Many of these choices were influenced by the fact that not only are they wonderful books, but I read them aloud to my spouse, who loved them as well: East Pittsburgh Downlow, Cruddy, Bogeywoman, and The Honk and Holler Opening Soon.
Lastly, several books helped me understand the world better, such as Hyperbole and a Half; The Bird Way; I’m the Teacher, You’re the Student; and No Visible Bruises.
Hopes for the future? I’d like to have even more books about fat women and non-binary people on this list. Definitely more works by and about D/deaf people. Perhaps some more poetry, too, though Paul Laurence Dunbar is a great start for any reader tippy-toeing into poems. I’m going to create a calendar reminder and come back to this list in 2022.
Have you read any of these books? Which ones sound interesting?