Top Ten Books

Distilling all the books I have read into a top ten list is a challenge. But this is the challenge I have presented myself. In the process of making this list, I was tempted more than once to make it a top twelve, or fifteen, or… well, you get the picture. I love this list. It is a balance of fiction and nonfiction, and it represents my lifetime in books. I decided to arrange it not in order of preference, but in the order in which I read them (to the best of my memory).

My Side Of The Mountain by Jean Craighead George

My_Side_of_the_MountainThis book about a boy named Sam who tires of his cramped life in New York City and runs away from home, where he learns that he needs to find a balance between spending time alone in nature and being with the family and friends he loves. I identified with Sam’s struggle, as I loved to roam the woods behind my house. But I also enjoyed coming back to see what my loved ones were up to while I was gone.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

34b6e893e7a06387e97e5110.LMy next favorite book comes from high school required summer reading. It is a story of the friendship and rivalry between two prep school friends. Writing any more about it might give up the plot, so I’ll just say I think teenagers, especially boys, will find much to identify with in this book.

Transcendentalist writers


I cheated a little here by picking a movement, and not a single book. Transcendentalists beliefs of being true to yourself instead of following others, and relying on your instict/intuition instead of knowledge have a lot of appeal to me. Though I do love to learn, and value knowledge, I strive to live as simple and natural a life as possible and practical. Raplph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are two of my favorite Transcendentalist writers.

On Writing by Stephen King

200px-OnwritingI am a fan of King’s work, having read probably eighty percent of his bibliography. His Dark Tower cycle of stories is phenomenal. I envy his imagination and writing ability. So, I immediately bought his book on writing when it came out. He tells of his love of writing and gives advice about style and the business side of writing. I recommend it to any fan of writing and/or of King himself.

Iron John By Robert Bly

200px-Iron_JohnIron John (or Iron Hans) was originally a Grimm fairytale. In 1990, Robert Bly wrote this book, which started a men’s movement. Bly uses Jungian psychology, and various myths, legends, folklores, and fairy tales throughout the book. He believes that the fairy tale of a boy maturing into adulthood with the help of the wild man contains lessons modern man can find useful to help him be his best.

Eats, Shoots, & Leaves by Lynne Truss

eats-shoots-and-leaves1I am a grammar geek. I love everything about writing: from first draft to final edit. Word choice, puncuation- I love it all. This book by Lynne Truss is a cheeky guide to proper punctuation that is as hilarious as it is informative.

Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

61CJwhOP78LSophie’s World is a book about a young girl who begins receiving letters from a mysterious man. In each letter is a philosophy lesson. The elements of mystery and the learning of philosophy make this an interesting read.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

9780670063260I was surprised how much I liked this book. Kerouac’s story about road trip, adventure, and living life to its fullest is a wonderful book that everyone should experience. I got caught up in the poetic musicality of the book and the heart of the Beat movement.

Quiet by Susan Cain

quiet_bookIntroverts make up a third to a half of the people you are around every day. I am one of that number. Yet, it seems like introverts are undervalued today. Everyone loves the happy, gregarious people among us. But Cain puts forth an Introvert’s manifesto, explaining the many benefits of our temperment; and, yes, the drawbacks, too. Reading this book was to discovery myself on every page. Read this book to understand yourself, or a quiet, reserved loved one.

the perks of being a wallflower by stephen chbosky

perks-of-being-a-wallflowerThis is the story of Charlie, an introvert and high school freshman. The story is told in letters written by Charlie to an unknown recipient. Charlie says this recipient is the only person he can trust. We follow Charlie as he struggles with the complicated issues of friendship, unrequited love, and putting his past behind him. Perhaps the most important lesson Charlie learns is to live his life, and not just react to events in his life.

So, there you have it. This is my top ten favorite books at this moment. This list will probably change in the near future. But these books will always be among my favorites. What do you think of this list? What books would make your top ten? I’d love to hear as I am always looking for new books to read.

12 thoughts on “Top Ten Books

  1. I love reading top 10 lists of things, but if I could choose my favorite it would be books (closely followed by perfume).
    I can’t believe I haven’t read anything on your list although King’s On Writing, Sophie’s World and On the Road have been on my TBR list at some point (it changes all the time I’m afraid due to lack of time).
    At some point in life I read everything by King I could get my hands on but that was before the Dark Tower. So you’re recommending it? 🙂
    I don’t think I’d be able to do a favorite 10 books list, possibly 10 favorite authors… Do series count as one book? 😉

    • Ines, While I made this list, I was thinking how a list of my top ten writers would look very different than thinking about individual books. And yes, I would count a series as one entry, just so I could fit more books in 🙂

      My list changes regularly, too. I love the Dark Tower series. To me, it has something for everyone, Western/apocalyptic theme, mystery, sci-fi, romance, adventure. It’s an amazing work.

      Maybe I’ll do a top ten fragrance list soon 🙂

  2. Hi Jim,

    I enjoy Top Ten Lists, too. I appreciate the thoughtful way you approached this exercise, as well as the fact that you included a little blurb for each book. My top ten would include The Good Earth; Heidi; Jane Eyre; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; The Stand; Atonement; Saint Maybe; The Witches of Eastwick; The Diary of Anne Frank; The Song of Bernadette. They are familiar, much loved friends.

    I look forward to your top ten list of fragrances. If it’s anything like mine, it would be a fluid thing, pun intended. 🙂 Love to you. xxoo

    • I’ve only read half of the books you list as your favorites, Terry. Thanks for sharing.

      My top ten fragrances has actually been a pretty firm list for quite a while. I’ll write that post sometime this coming week. Lots of love.

  3. I like the way you categorized your list, so thinking off the top of my head here, my top 10 would have to include Where the Red Fern Grows as my first favorite book. I remember being in elementary school and I cried when Ann and Dan died thinking how could a book do this to me? Next, The Long Gray Line and Fields of Fire are in my top 10 because of my 10 year obsession with Vietnam. Fahrenheit 451 or Brave New World as a dystopian novel. There are so many WWII books that I love, but I will go with Citizen Soldiers by Ambrose (even with the plagiarism controversy). The Four Agreements is a book that I would recommend to almost everyone. Next is Jon Krakauer, I like Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, Under the Banner of Heaven, but Where Men Win Glory about Pat Tillman really moved me. Skydog about Duane Allman has to make my list and since I am missing a classic novel, I will go cliche and say The Catcher in the Rye. Thanks for post, enjoyed reading you list

    • Yeah, I just couldn’t figure out how to rank them by preference, so I got the idea to go with the order I read them. Where The Red Fern Grows, Fahrenheit 451, Catcher in the Rye, and The Four Agreements are books I love, too.

      I’ve read hardly anything on Vietnam. I’d probably have to go with Band of Brothers for WWII, despite the controversy you mention. My list has more modern books than I thought I would end up with. I’ll probably add a few honorable mentions soon.

  4. Part 2 please! As in 11 to 20. I did not know that Sophie’s Choice had such an interesting plot. It has been decades since I read transcendental books and I will give those two authors another read with those decades under my belt. I like the way you add that you love to learn, and value knowledge as a widening of the intuitive focus of Emerson and Thoreau. Did you ever read Ayn Rand? Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. On the Road; never finished it but will give that one another go.

    • Thanks for reading, Jordan 🙂 I’ll try to sit down and figure out 11-20 soon. I’ve read Atlas Shrugged but haven’t read The Fountainhead yet. Rand’s ideas give lots to think about.

  5. Great list. This is my top ten too. Wow! How about that? Great minds and all. 😉 x

  6. Enjoyed the list immensely. On Writing is also my favorite book about writing. And thanks to this list, I’ve added two children’s books to my online board and to my reading list. Julie of the Wolves was one of my favorites by Jean Craighead George. When studying for my English minor, the Transcendentalists were also my favorite writers. I even wrote a poem about them that I submitted to a contest. Sadly, the judges weren’t able to reward my enthusiasm. 🙂
    Other favorites are typical for a bibliophile, anything by Jane Austen and the Brontes. Although I love to watch a movie in some way related to Jane Austen, I consider Charlotte and Emily Bronte the better writers. Finished reading Quiet over the weekend. It was money well spent, and I wouldn’t have read it if you hadn’t recommended it.

    • I don’t think I read Julie of the Wolves. I’ll have to look at that one. I’ve published one poem here that was inspired by Whitman. But it’s nowhere near good enough to consider submitting. I’m sure yours was good.

      I’ve read more Austen than Bronte. I should revisit those books at some point. Glad you liked Quiet. I had a good feeling you would 🙂

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