Continuing in my 40 series with top 40 lists once a month for the whole year I am the big 4-0 I figured the next logical post was my 40 favorite books, also know as the best books I’ve read. This list is a little different than my 40 Books to Read Before You’re 40 list because in this list I can go full out genre-crazy. (Don’t forget to also check out my 40ish Book recommendations post.)
I held off on going too genre-crazy or niche because I wanted to list books with a broad appeal. On this list I can dive as deep as I want to into the world of genre fiction, namely Science Fiction and Fantasy, but also children’s, middle grade and young adult. I’m also going to skip any books I mentioned on the previous list. So you won’t find the Bible or Fahrenheit 451 on this list. (But I hope you will find a lot of interesting reads.)
40 of the Best Books I’ve Ever Read
Note: Listed in the order I thought of them.
- Dream Thief – Easily the book I’ve read the most times (not counting bed-time stories to children… then Farmer Mickey or Glow in the Dark: Stars, Moon and Clouds would be at the top. I have read those book so many times I can basically read them with my eyes shut now. 😉) I love the Dream Thief, from the settings to the action to the weird Mars mythology, but a Christian-Sci-Fi-Fantasy-Adventure story is not really for every one.
- Wuthering Heights – I love this haunting story, but I understand that it’s not the type of work everyone will love. I still get shivers when talking about this book.
- Rags and Ruins – Rags and Ruin took all of the fantasy troupe and turned them on their head in a very interesting way that was not satire, but rather in a fun adventurous way. Read my full review.
- The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2.5) – Not your typical fantasy story, but a masterpiece nonetheless. I feel like this needs a pause… just a moment to take it in… how wonderful this story is… and how more fantasy should be this daring.
- Books of the Infinite – A Christian historical fantasy series. I know it’s a bit of a head scratcher when you just see the genre, but it works. Trust me. A very well done story about Ela Roeh of Parne who becomes a Prophet of the Infinite (the name of God in the fantasy world, which closely resembles Old Testament times.)
- Inkheart – I love books about reading and storytelling.
- The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread – IT IS SUCH A GOOD BOOK!!! The movie did not do it justice. Go read this book. 💖
- The Hunger Games – I know some people will feel this is a cheesy choice and that many people think the Hunger Games is over-rated. HOWEVER, I love dystopian YA, strong female leads and books with archers. It’s like The Hunger games was made for me.
- Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur (or nearly anything by Stephen R. Lawhead) – Yes he gets two spots on my list. This trilogy may be part of the wider Pendragon Cycle, but I prefer to think of these first 3 books as one story and the others as add-ons. These books were formative to my love of fantasy.
- The Pyrdian Chronicles – A wonderful fantasy classic. I love all the adventure and the characters and the Welsh influence setting.
- Deus Irae – This must be the book I’ve checked out of the library the most times. I really should get myself a copy. It’s about a crippled artist wondering in a post-war landscape trying to find their new god so he can paint his picture. It’s different and weird and then ending is very philosophical.
- The Lathe of Heaven – Dreams in stories and stories about dreams are some of my favorite troupes. Here Ursela K. LeGuin shows off her writing muscle and perfectly encants us in a story about a dream and his psychologist who attempts to change the world though the dream.
- Prometheus Bound – My favorite Greek Play. Again I’ve read and re-read it many times. I only wish we had the two other Prometheus plays in their full forms today. Alas they didn’t survive the ages.
- Inferno (or nearly anything by Kat Ross) – This is my favorite book from Kat Ross, however it’s my favorite because it does an excellent job of wrapping up the thread and story lines from the previous 8 books. An excellent fantasy tale. Read my full review
- Clod Makes a Friend – I have sung the delight of Clod many times. This is a great read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy… and cake! Read My Full Review (And yes I broke my rule on this one because it is on the first list. I just feel the need to mention Clod whenever I can.)
- Roar – A beautiful book with great character depth and an interesting twist to elemental magic. Read My Full Review
- Battlefield Earth – This book had everything… action, romance, spaceships. I don’t understand why it gets such a bad rap.
- Heart and Brain: An Awkward Yeti Collection – My favorite webcomic became a book and I cannot tell you how much I love that. 😍
- The Book of Atrus (Myst, Book 1) – The Myst games are far too mind boggling for me to play (or well I don’t like having to click around the screen just guessing at things.) But the mythology behind the games fascinated me which is why these books are so rich. Get a peak into the world and the culture of the D’ni.
- Nobody’s Princess – A myth-lite book that does take a lot of liberties with Helen of Troy, but I found it an enjoyable read.
- Starship Troopers – An epic book! The movie seriously covers only about one chapter worth of the story told in this book. This is what sweeping science fiction should be.
- Sign of the Beaver – I enjoyed this book as a young adult and as an adult. It’s a story of courage and survival and is right up there with Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain.
- Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle – I want to be like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Except not a widow and not living in an upside down house. But I love these silly stories of solving misbehavior in children.
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond – A great historical fiction, coming of age, fish out of water tale. The title may make it sound like fantasy, but it’s not. It’s set in colonial America at a time where neighbors eyed strange behavior as witchcraft.
- Island of the Blue Dolphins – A great story of survival. (I know there are several on this list.) This one really spoke to me when I was younger because it was about a GIRL surviving on her own, being smart and practical and self-sufficient.
- Ralph Mouse Books – The mouse and the motorcycle is a classic and really all the tales of Ralph are endearing and fun.
- The Serendipity Books – I loved this artwork as a child and now that I’m grown I’m working to collect all these book. However… some of the books and stories are dated and the message does’t play well nowadays. Still the artwork is amazing!
- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! – My favorite Dr. Seuss book. I’ve actually read it enough times that I can **almost** read it with my eyes shut. Have I mention how much I love book that are about reading?
- Tales of the Wild West Series – A great series of short books with themes like Pioneers, Mountain Men, and Gunfighters. Based on true tales, tall tales, diaries and recollections.
- Antigone – Except it’s only this one translation that I found in a used book store that is on my mind. It was translated to English to be performed in occupied France during WWII. The anti-nazi undertones are delightful.
- Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t) – My FAVORITE kids book of all time! A book about finding the love of reading.
- I Will Not Read This Book – A gem I found by accident while shopping at a discount store. If you have reluctant reader I highly recommend this book.
- Brian’s Winter – Since I put Hatchet on my earlier list I’m putting Brian’s Winter here. Both books really need to be read together. When Miss S and I finished Hatchet she immediately said, “I almost wish he hadn’t have been saved. I want to read more.” And I was like BAM! 💥 “I have a book for that.” and pulled out Brian’s Winter.
- Chronicles of Narnia – I did put The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe on my first list, but really go ahead and read the series.
- 99 Days (Red Proxy #2) – It’s been hard for me to put into words, aka a review, what this book is to me. A very different fantasy story that left me thinking for long, long after I read it. If you want a book that really questions the value of a life through an epic fantasy quest then this is it.
- Half Magic (Tales of Magic, #1) – My parents read these books to us when I was little and they are filled with warmth and fun and important lessons.
- The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – I made the mistake of reading an excerpt of this book and ended up not being able to put it down. A suspense book that will leave you breathless.
- Original Nancy Drew – I’m not just talking about the Secret of the Old Clock, but Nancy Drew books in the editions before they were updated (and then updated again) if you haven’t read the originals you are missing out. Nancy is a kick in the teeth herione.
- Ticker – A fun steampunk adventure with a heroine name Penny Farthing, which alone should tell you something.
- Marvel 1602 – A great graphic novel, esp if you are like me and enjoy Marvel, Neil Gaiman and the Renaissance.
That’s my list… what’s the best book you’ve ever read. I’d really like to know so leave me a comment below. And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 🎉🎉🎉🍾