10 Books You Can’t Take Away From Me

I’ve always believed that you can tell a lot about a person’s interests and personality by discovering what they like to read. In the spirit of full disclosure, here are ten books I would want in my possession if I ever got stuck on a desert island.

  1. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldon–Adventurous time travel romance that spans seven (and counting) 800+ page tomes. The books offer awesome plots, great characters, and pure escapism. This is the ultimate beach read (and thus ideal for this desert island scenario), but it’s also a romance novel with guts.
  2. The Harry Potter Series, by JK Rowling–It’s a story about good and evil featuring kids with wands who live in a castle. I don’t care what George W. Bush thought: this is an awesome way to teach kids (and adults) about how to be good people.
  3. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte–My favorite classic. Mr. Rochester is an excellent predecessor to every smoldering bad-boy-with-a-secret who’s emerged from literature in the two hundred or so years since its publication (seriously: put him in a cage match with Edward Cullen, and watch the latter crumble like a stale cookie), and the story just pulls at my heart every time.
  4. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak–I love it when I find books that make me want to become a better writer. The whole book, which tells a story set in Nazi Germany from the perspective of Death, is packed with imagery that brings me to my knees. Example: “Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.” Read this book and try to make sense of war. I dare you.
  5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathon Safran Foer–Like The Book Thief, this one has a lot to do with life and death, but it also has everything to do with what makes us human. I wish I could see the world through Oscar’s eyes all the time, but that would take away from the beauty of this post-911 novel that explores family, humanity, and what it is that makes people tick. Also, my previous challenge about war still applies to this bit of genius. This book also pointed me towards Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, which is mind-blowing.
  6. Bridget Jones’ Diary & Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, by Helen Fielding–Sometimes novels just need to be fun, and if I’m stuck on a desert island, I’d want Bridget to be with me. I love the tone and humor of Fielding’s writing. It’s a real novel for women in this day and age, and the final chapter–in which Bridget writes her Christmas cards after a few glasses (bottles?) of wine–is always a treat.
  7. The Green Mile, by Stephen King–This is the first time I can remember crying over a book (with the exception of Cheaper by the Dozen, which is also fantastic but not quite on par for this list). Again a look at life and death, as well as forgiveness and fantasy, King’s story is laced with elegantly structured characters and a perfect plot.
  8. The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough–I was anxious about bringing my copy of this book (and the campy mini-series adaptation) to Boston College when I moved up north for school. I was sure that the Jesuits would boot me for adoring a book about forbidden love between a priest and a young woman, but no one was the wiser.
  9. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell–For the southern woman in me, this book is like mother’s milk. Scarlett O’Hara’s journey through the Civil War and Reconstruction always pulls me in, even when I’ve read the book four times.
  10. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier–Again a book that makes me love good writers, and again a book that explores how war and love take their tolls on us. Read this and tell me if you’ll ever look at a scarecrow in the same way.

What are you reading, and what pulled you in? I love book recommendations.

-CH