Jackie’s Top 10 All-Time Favorite Books to Read Now
I will admit that when Kirsten suggested we do a post of our all-time favorite books, I agreed without thinking it through. The funny thing is that I can probably name at least 6/10 of Kirsten’s favorites but, coming up with mine was an ordeal. There are so many books that I love for so many different reasons.
There are books that I read at the perfect time, books that I have related to, books that have taught me something, and books that I connect to on an emotional level. But, let me be clear, finding just 10 books was NOT an easy task.
This is one of the hardest posts that I have had to write. I debated, I changed my mind, and then I called my mother. In the end, I was able to find my top ten books by dividing them into categories like literary fiction, classics, epic read, and fantasies. These books are my favorites but, after all the debating, I admit that they are not the entire list. Maybe I will have to do part 2. I hope you enjoy my all-time favorite books.
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Jackie’s All-Time Favorite Books
Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais
The story examines the relationship between a black woman and a white girl in apartheid South Africa in 1976. This novel is a brutally honest and emotionally compelling story, unlike anything I have ever read.
This book begins just before the 1976 Soweto uprising in which thousands of black students marched in protest of the apartheid government. Though the protest was peaceful, police open fired killing a hundred children.
This historical fiction book led to the most amazing discussions with our book club. The characters jump off the page. I was completely absorbed from the first sentence on the first page until the last page of the book. It is powerful and poignant and one of Jackie’s all-time favorite books.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I read this book long before we started the blog and I still recommend this book to everyone as a must-read.
It is the middle of the Great Depression and Jacob finds himself orphaned just shy of earning his Veterinary degree. He finds himself a job with a circus caring for a menagerie.
Here he meets Marlena, the beautiful star of the show, and an untrainable elephant named Rosie.
I loved everything about this book from the romance and tension to the beauty of the animals and their relationship with the people around them. This historical fiction romance was one of the first books we thought of for a list of the best romance novels of all time. It is no surprise that this one also found its way to my list of all-time favorite books.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
March 2023 Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick
This is a remarkable story of two sisters who live in France. As historical fiction goes, this one set the standard for me. It is one of my all-time favorite books. It details how they survive the Second World War under Nazi Occupation. The sisters are separated by time and have completely different experiences in the war.
This book is one of the books that should be read in a lifetime. It is a total tear-jerker and one of those books about WWII and books set in France that are basically essential reading! If you are looking for the best book club books, this is one of them.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Every word captivated me from beginning to end and I couldn’t put it down. The story was magical- both literally and figuratively and the descriptions are so vivid.
The stage has been set for a magical competition between the pupils of two very powerful magicians. The stage: the night circus. The pupils, a man and woman, are unsure of the rules, unsure of how to win or when the competition will end. As the competition continues, the opponents fall in love- a situation that only complicates their predicament.
This is magic in a way that I never imagined it before. The story has twists and surprises that left me wondering how I didn’t see what was right there all along. Not only can you find this book in our list of the Best Romance Novels of all Time, but you can also find it on our list of 14 Best Carnival and Circus Books to Read Now, 24 Books Like the Hunger Games to Devour Now. And now, you can find books just like it in our post of Books Like the Night Circus. Can you tell this is one of my all-time favorite books?
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Mr. Backman has a beautiful way of capturing the reader’s interest with wonderful characters that find themselves in hilarious situations.
I laughed out loud many times while reading. The book A Man Called Ove does indeed start with Ove trying to take his life and continuously being interrupted by his new neighbors and he mourns the loss of his spouse.
But, this story is so much more than that. As it progresses, Ove is able to have a profound impact on the life of everyone he meets. If you love this contemporary fiction book about grief, check out Books Like A Man Called Ove. But don’t let the description throw you off. At its heart, this is one of the best feel-good books and one of my all-time favorite books!
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Album
As full cast audiobooks go, this book about music is the best one I have ever listened to. This book is also one of my favorite books of all time. It is narrated by “music” who is telling the story of a magician named Frankie Presto.
There are multiple people who narrate this book and it is more like a play. I could listen to this contemporary fiction book over and over so it no wonder that it is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved this book and bought a copy which I lent to an unnamed person who loved it and did not return it. My second copy has met the same fate. Third time’s a charm?
The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
In this list of long books, this book is worth every single page because it is such beautifully written historical fiction. The writing is so lyrical- which is usually too poetic for me. But, in this case, it was hard to put down.
The story moves between two strong, intelligent women living centuries apart and the choices and decisions that they have to make in order to be true to themselves If you have the time to invest in one read, this book is my pick and one of my all-time favorite books.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
The first time I read this book was actually before I saw the movie Shawshank redemption. I read it a bunch of times and loved it. I did not realize, however, that it was an abridged version.
When I was in University, I embarked on a journey to read the unabridged version of this book. I was so amazed at the brilliance and detail that is has been a favorite ever since.
Edmund Dantès is thrown into the Chateau D’if for a crime that he did not commit. There, he meets a fellow prisoner who teaches him within the confines of their cells before telling him of a treasure. Dantès escapes and seeks his revenge. As the classics go, this boat book is epic and it is one of my all-time favorite books!
All-Time Favorite Books: Middle Grade Picks
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K Rowling
I was in university when this book was published and the first four were sitting on my younger brother’s bookshelf before I picked it up to see what the fuss was about.
I read all four books in as many days and was married with a child before the final book was published. It should be no surprise that it is one of my all-time favorite books.
This book is so much more than just a book. It is a vernacular that is used in our house. It is the book that changed all books and our culture forever.
I am so grateful for the world of Harry Potter because I think it opened up the world of books to people who may never have known they love to read. Harry Potter shows up on our list of books like Percy Jackson too! And if you love Harry like we do, check out our 17 Books like Harry Potter for Kids Obsessed with Magic or 21 Adult Books Similar to Harry Potter for Fans of Magic.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery
My mother was the first person to read this book to me and I was immediately drawn to Anne. She was smart, precocious, and has a way of making everyone love her while simultaneously finding new ways to get into trouble.
I read the book again when I was a teenager and then again as an adult. I will be reading this to my daughter next. Every time I read it, I am able to capture more of the nuances that are hidden within the pages. I am not sure if this book is more popular in Canada but, one day I hope to visit Prince Edward Island. This is one of my all-time favorite books.
Book Lists for 13-Year-Olds
Do you love this list of all-time favorite books, check out more in our list for 13 year olds.
officially placing Hum and Night Circus higher on my list! Great picks, Jackie!!