My Ten Favorite Books

Note: This post previously appeared at christiney.com as a guest post I wrote for the site.

One of my earliest memories of school is reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a for fun reading in my third grade classroom. Despite the book being a pretty advanced book for my age, my teacher encouraged me to try reading it if I wanted to do so. When it came time to take a content test on the book, I bombed my test. That said, without that encouragement and experience, I’m pretty sure that my love for reading wouldn’t have grown as strong as it did.

Sixteen years after that happening, I got to thinking about what my favorite books ever are. These may not have been the most critically acclaimed books I’ve read, nor are they necessarily the ones that benefited me the most in my professional endeavors. That said, these ten books are the ones that I found the most enjoyable to read, and I’ve read many of them multiple times in my life. All images courtesy Amazon.com.

10. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Oh, Lord of the Flies. How easily people discard you as a gruesome required reading in high school literature classes without giving a second thought to the broader story told beyond all the death between your covers. The #10 spot on this list was my most difficult to select, as I also considered The Island of Dr. Moreau for this list. Ultimately though, while both books are attempting to make similar points, I appreciate the metaphors made in Lord of the Flies better.

#9. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

The summer of 2011 was incredibly kind to the reader in me, as three of the ten books on this list are ones I picked up for the first time during my sole summer spent in Phoenix. Vonnegut’s most widely known novel played strongly to my love of satire, and I found his use of flashback scenes as wonderful examples of how to do the same as I was working on my first NaNoWriMo project later that year.

8. The Giver by Lois Lowry

My first exposure to dystopian literature came courtesy The Giver during my fourth grade English class. While I’m not as big of a fan of Lowry’s three sequels in this series, The Giver is an example of the perfect dystopian world…in that the dystopia itself is created by the fact that those who rule the world have created a world where the dystopia is believed to be a utopia.

7. I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

Colbert’s TV character on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report is one of the inspirations to why I wanted to major in media in college. His biting wit and satire is on full display in I Am America (And So Can You!), especially in the footnotes and asides throughout the book. While Colbert’s followup books have been disappointments, I Am America (And So Can You!) is the second best comedy book I’ve ever read.

#6. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller

This is the point of the list where it becomes really evident that I have a thing for dystopia. A Canticle for Leibowitz is one of the few books where I had a completely different take on it the first time I read it than after subsequent reader. On the first go around, it was a decent, though not spectacular dystopian novel, akin to Brave New World. That said, as I reread the book in the summer of 2011, A Canticle for Leibowitz charmed me with the breadth and depth of a historical back story created within its pages, and has since become one of my favorite books.

#5. Why My Wife Thinks I’m An Idiot by Mike Greenberg

In my entire life, there’s only two books I’ve ever bought within a week of their release: the aforementioned I Am America (And So Can You!) and Why My Wife Thinks I’m An Idiot. Greenberg is one of the most respected names in the sports radio business, best known for his ability to both embody the fan he is at heart while still having the objectivity of a sportscaster. Why My Wife Thinks I’m An Idiot is a great set of stories from Greenberg’s life, and because of the book’s charm, it comes in as the top non-fiction work on this list.

#4. Brain Droppings by George Carlin

There’s been one celebrity death ever that has brought me to tears — George Carlin’s passing in 2008. Carlin’s witty and sophisticated humor delivered in an understandable (if not crass) manner made him an idol for many comedians, writers, and entertainers the world over. Of his books, Brain Droppings is the one that I’ve found myself rereading the most frequently, if for no other reason than as more time passes, the content in its pages only continues to become more and more relevant.

#3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita is the final of three books from this list from my summer of 2011 in Phoenix. For as much as I like the stories in the top two books on this list far better than Lolita, I dare you to find a more complex character than Humbert Humbert. The amount to which Nabokov allows you into the mind of Humbert is astounding, revealing a character who is loving, mad, controlling, and caring, all at the same time. Humbert is the standard to which all character transformations should be held.

#2. Feed by M.T. Anderson

Have you ever read a science-fiction book that felt like it was possible in the here and now, even if the technology to make it work doesn’t exist? If not, I recommend reading Feed. Though it was published in 2002, well before the explosion of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites, the book’s main technology, feednet, is a constant stream of updates surrounding a person’s life, complete with personalized advertising to each individual based off of location, all while being completely connected to each person. Sound familiar?

#1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Just kidding…no human who’s telling the truth actually likes Bronte novels…

#1. Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

After all the talk about dystopian novels I’ve done throughout this article, did you really expect anything else? The book was written nearly 70 years ago, yet serves as a constant reminder that too much surveillance and control without checked power easily becomes a dangerous weapon. Even the love story in the book doesn’t seem completely ridiculous, which is an achievement in the literary world. Hell, the book is in the top 35 books sold on Amazon in four different categories (Classics, Science Fiction, Humor, and Satire). Seriously. It’s that good of a book.

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10 thoughts on “My Ten Favorite Books

    1. I have not seen the movie The Giver yet, however it did seem interesting. Taylor Swift is a deterrent to seeing the movie, but I do love the book so much.

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  1. Ugh, I hate hate hate Lord of the Flies. I appreciate what you said and yes there is a lot to be taken from it, but I hate it. This probably has something to do with personal life events at the time of reading it, since someone compared it to Hunger Games/etc in terms of goriness and that doesn’t bother me (although I personally see significant difference there, but whatever).

    Jane Eyre is actually the ONE “classic” I really love 😉 But Wuthering Heights was awful.

    I remember reading The Giver as a kid and enjoying it, but I don’t think I fully grasped it. I’d like to go back & read it again as an adult- I think I would have a deeper appreciate for it.

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    1. I truly appreciate the irony to the fact that four of my ten favorite books (1984, Feed, A Canticle for Leibowitz, Lord of the Flies) were all books I was required to read for the only class I truly hated. My sophomore English course in high school was hell on earth thanks to my teacher, but she did assign us some really good books to read.

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  2. I was not as big of a fan of Ender’s Game as I thought I’d be. Considering my genre tastes (dystopian literature, very similar to you), I would have thought it was a slam dunk. Sadly though, I was just…eh…about it. I had a much better time with the Redwall series.

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