This week’s TTT prompt is to list your 10 favorite books during your blog’s lifespan. Is this a joke? No one can make me choose only 10 favorites. There are too many books, and too many I’d love to share with everyone! This list — which I wrote in no particular order — has undergone countless changes. Even now, I continue to make mental changes by switching and swapping titles. I want to list every book I’ve read and loved since — and even before — my WordPress blog forced itself upon the Internet.
Without further delay (because at this rate, I will keep my list under scrutiny and the post will never see publication), here are my top 10:
1. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Here is a book I recommend everyone of any age read. In a wordless graphic novel, Tan artistically expresses — and with dazzling cinematic beauty — an immigrant’s tale. Most of us are familiar with this story: a foreigner makes a long journey to new lands, and all in hope to establish a better life. No matter how old and rehashed one might believe this story to be, Shaun Tan’s work is a refreshing gust of air that also took my breath away. I think many can appreciate the chronicle of a man braving a new world, while all (particularly children) will feel enthralled by the drawings and curious creatures. Overall, The Arrival is an imaginative piece of well-executed craft, and I can always go back and expect to feel same amazing enchantment.
2. Looking for Alaska by John Green
John Green hit my radar in late 2009 — a Nerdfighter enthusiast was ecstatic about an upcoming book (Will Grayson, Will Grayson), and even that was not enough to entice me. It sounds pathetic, but I needed a push and many reminders before I would step foot into the crazy realm of John Green hysteria. I waited a few years until I read Will Grayson, which — seeing as how I enjoyed the read — piqued my curiosity. Jeez, finally. After a so-so experience with Paper Towns, someone highly recommended I try LFA, and I am happy I went along with the suggestion. An Abundance of Katherines remains the only Green novel I haven’t finished, but I suggest LFA to those who haven’t encountered his books before. To this day, it remains my personal favorite of his work.
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I cried. This book made me cry, which isn’t an easy task to accomplish. I’m more easily impacted, emotionally speaking, by cinema rather than literature. And yet: two rivers ran their course down my cheeks, and I found myself carrying out that whole stiffing-my-tears business. I try to regulate breathing until it steadies, and then I repeat some mental incantation, like, “It’s just a book; stop it. It’s just a book. …Stop it.” (I’m not a public crier, alas.) Death amused me, Rudy’s end crushed all my joy, but I will always look at Liesel’s relationship with Hans — as well as with Max — with sentiment. The Book Thief deserves attention for its sweet but wrenching coming-of-age story, and I hope you all should attempt it at least once — especially with a film in the works! (Yay or nay? I stand on uneasy but expectant ground.)
4. Go the Fuck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach (Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés)
I can’t say I will later look at this list and regret making Manbach’s picture book a part of it, but I think of other books I’ve read. Books with more sustenance, you can say. The Picture of Dorian Gray, for example, is a classic I love, and I could list Suzanne Collins’s THG series as well. THG, in fact, would be rather fitting since the DVD and Blu-ray were released this weekend. In the end, I love all of these books, and although Go the Fuck to Sleep is quick to read, it’s also entertaining. This book is worth a smile and a laugh, and I’d read it again for the sake of amusement. Samuel L. Jackson’s audio, however, wins my favor.
5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
A laugh-out-loud satiric observation of the aristocratic life, The Importance of Being Earnest oozes formidable wit and illustrates why Oscar Wilde is perfection. No, Dorian Gray did not make my list despite how much I love that story — and don’t get the wrong impression. I nearly added Mr. Gray, but what it comes down to is mood and how Wilde effortlessly makes me laugh. I will certainly visit more of Wilde’s writing in the future, but I am just as likely to revisit this play time and time again. Even though I am past the wonderful first read of The Importance of Being Earnest — an experience I can never re-create (lest amnesiac misfortune befalls me) — I love how I can still return and get the same kick.
6. Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
It’s no secret: I’m a YA book junkie, and this happened to land a spot on my YA favorites shelf. Second to Hartman’s Seraphina, I look forward to this book’s sequel. Prior to decking bookstores and libraries, hype that surrounded Shadow & Bone hooked my curiosity and raised expectations. Disappointment typically follows once I set a piece of literature to higher standards, but I find that Bardugo’s style owns an attractive quality that engaged me from the get-go. Absorbed into the text — sitting there, reading — I hated life for butting in. When I had some place to go, I’d sit up from my comfy reading nook and walk with my faced still crammed inside the book. I wanted to carry on reading, but I didn’t wish the story to end, either. Emptiness replaced eagerness once I reached the end, so… Come on, 2013.
7. We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro
Laurie Notaro, particularly her older and non-fictional work, hardly disappoint when I feel in need for a mood-boost. If Laurie’s humor suits you, I recommend the humorous essay collection of We Thought You Would Be Prettier. Laurie puts ridicule on display, exaggerating and poking fun at her own faults and everyday life. What sounds like an embarrassing and hectic life make priceless stories that are perfect for sharing. I think her latest book fails to match the humor in her previous work, but I can always count on her to tell relatable stories that put a smile on my face.
8. What the Living Do by Marie Howe
Because I chiefly read YA literature and review little else, I don’t believe many people know that my love for poetry dates beyond my YA obsession. 50 percent of my first few top 10 lists consisted of poetry, in fact: Umberto Saba, Rilke, Komunyakaa, Hilda Morley, and Kevin Young (to give some names). I wound up removing them all save for Marie Howe’s What the Living Do. This collection moves me, as I still see it as powerful with the great ability to bear itself raw through artistic, gentle appeal. From a childhood marked by sexual abuse, then growing up to see death (especially that of Howe’s brother), love and more, Howe explores relationships among the living and dying. Her language is plain but never dull; rather, it’s all at once striking, conversational, and effective.
9. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
I’m surprised I still feel affection for Standiford’s book, because it has lasted such a long time! (Which is to say that it’s been months.) There are books I read, and although I enjoy and continue to adore them, the exact feeling of adoration returns like a weak tide, growing fainter every time they cross my mind. The laughter at the similarity between Bea and I, the frustration toward Jonah, and my upset over the bittersweet ending for How to Say Goodbye in Robot remains fresh. Compared to other YA contemporaries, this is one of few I claim holds a unique trait. Where else do you find a friendship like Bea’s and Jonah’s?
10. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Please. As if no one saw this coming. I would feel genuine shock if even a single person thought Seraphina wouldn’t make the list. Likewise, I imagine the people who are familiar with me skimming my top ten, chanting, “Where is it? Where is it?” And here it is! Gosh, have I tired anyone from my Seraphina-related banter yet? I fell in love with this book. As I normally do with something I love, I share and obsess and gush until I meet a new fascination. I just haven’t found a new fascination, but I am very eager to read Stormdancer…