Aug 23, 2013

My top 5... or 10?

I have two sons who, like a lot of men, have pretty logical brains- they rank things in order of preference a lot, magazines they read have so many lists it makes my head spin- things either are 'in' or they aren't, there's no shades of grey. They seem to love lists and are often asking me what are my top 5 favorite...

I try to explain to them that it all depends on the mood, the age, the moment and that a favourite one day may well not be the favourite the next. I am fully aware that books or films I adored years ago are not so enticing or enjoyable now.

But, pushed, I have stuck my neck out and tried to come up with a selection of my favorite books (and I cheated by putting them into sub genres)... this was very, very hard.  I kept thinking of other books I've read and many. So many.

Top Historical (not romance)
When I look back at the countless historical novels I have read I realise I have vicariously visited many eras, lived through many wars, disease, hardship- I have loved medieval lairds, regency dukes and tudor kings... but the one book that sticks out above them all for me was the one that I literally devoured in two days- and I wept and wept and wept. So good that I think I may well try it again! But then, last time I read it I was 18- I've learnt and lived a lot more since then:
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Top Romance
Well, this was the most difficult category of all. How to choose just one or just one hundred romances I have loved? Should I have narrowed it down to category v single title? Category sub genre? Should I have gone for small town romances which I love, or modern urban settings? What about the medical romances that make my heart soar? Any book by any of our Lovecats would have made it into my list. But I had to be hard on myself.

As way of an explanation I have to say that I have not been a romance reader for very long- but in those few short years I have read a lot! And absolutely loved most of them. But Jenny Crusie seemed to
tick all the boxes for me- funny, emotional, contemporary:
Bet Me by Jenny Crusie (or, really, any of her earlier books... or Jill Shalvis,  Fiona Lowe, Jane Porter, Trish Wylie... Susan Wiggs, Nora... Kristan Higgins... okay, so I'm cheating...)

Top Thriller
I'm not a huge thriller/crime reader but I just wanted to throw this book into the mix. I've recently finished it and I was blown away by the writing. There are very few books I will continue to read when I hate both the main protagonists! I just had to find out how it ended.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Top children's book
Pretty much any book by Enid Blyton would have gone on this list until a few years ago, then along came Harry Potter and more recently The Hunger Games-  all of which I devoured along with my boys. But there is one book that brings me to tears every single time I even see the cover. This book was given to me on that dreaded third day after having a baby- the day the hormones are all over the place, the milk comes through and you finally face the realities of being a mother- responsible for this tiny scrap of life in your hands. I opened the package, looked at the cover and burst into tears. Because there was no way anyone would know just how much love I had for my boy right then. (and still do!)

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Top top book of all (my life) time

A few years ago I would have hands down said, A Secret history by Donna Tartt but then I met and fell in love with every single book by Jodi Picoult. For me she tackles interesting ethical dilemmas from a very human perspective. I love her writing style, her first person present and her depth.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

So, I'm always on the lookout for new books and new authors- what are your top picks? What is your TOP book of all time?

(I'm afraid I might not be around as much as I'd like over the next day or so as I'm away at conference hoping to find my next fave book- but I'll try to pop in as much as I can!)


  1. What a great list, Louisa. I love Gone Girl, Guess How Much I Love You and Tess of the D'Urbervilles (although apparently I understand we are in the minority if discussions with friends are anything to go by). I haven't read all of the others you've listed.

    One of my all time favourite books is A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (of Cider House Rules, The World According to Garp fame). Read all through the night to finish it (back in my twenties).

  2. Louise, I often make sweeping statements like, that book is in my top 10 favourite romances. Or that book would be in my top 5 books of all time. But I've never actually made a list - as you say, it depends on mood and a whole heap of other non-quantifiable factors.

    For example, I love Bet Me, and there would definitely be a Jennifer Crusie book in my top 5, but the actual book changes all the time. Right now, Maybe This Time is my favourite of hers so it would win over Bet Me.

    And there would be a Jane Austen in that list, but the actual title changes for her too. For a number of years it's been Persuasion.

    Maybe I should sit down and make a list one day. Thanks for sharing yours!