My Ten All-Time Favorite Books (and why)

My earliest memories involve books. Ramona Quimby and I lounged together on hot summer afternoons. Judy Blume and I learned to see the world in exciting, complex ways. As I grew up, Judy and I took different trips – ones that surprised and touched me. Then Nora Roberts took over. She helped me believe in magic. Stephen King showed me a whole different world of magic – and how to root for a character right up until the moment they are killed. But John Updike took me on a journey that, twenty-eight years later, I still recall with vivid clarity.

So I scanned my bookshelves for my top ten all-time favorite books. I divided them into fiction and non-fiction, and if you’ve seen my office you know why – each category has its own wall. And I tried really hard to limit it to five each.

If you asked me today, here would be my favorite books, and why they made the cut. In no particular order. But ask me again tomorrow – the answer will change.

Oh, and PS – none of my books are included, because that seemed skeevy. But hey, you are on my website, so I assume you know where to find them. 😉

Fiction

Wizard and Glass, Stephen King

Fun fact: I read the Dark Tower series out of order. Wizard and Glass is book four and, arguably, still my favorite . If you’ve never read it, it’s a softer side of Stephen King, if such a thing exists. Beautifully told, painfully heart-wrenching, and so good I read it again when I started the series over. Twice.

The Story Sisters – Alice Hoffman

She’s most known for Practical Magic (and probably the movie with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman moreso than the book), but this amazing tale about choices and the hardships of motherhood, not to mention forgiveness, has stayed with me for years.

Smart Women – Judy Blume

GAH!! First of all, this is my newest copy of this book and not the cover I remember. I read this one so many times that my old, purple paperback fell apart. Before this book, I did not know that Judy Blume wrote for adults. And she does it really, really well!! The character arcs are phenomenal. Also, this is the first time I saw the word penis in print. You’ve been warned.

In the Beauty of the Lilies – John Updike

I’m pretty sure this is one of his least popular works but man oh man it’s my favorite. It’s his view on faith and family as it spans four generations. It’s sneaky history. It’s the sins of our fathers incarnate. I LOVE IT.

American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis

He’s controversial, I know, but my memories of reading this book for the first time at 18 are vivid. And his ability to place you in a world – and make a monster sympathetic – are top notch. This book is not for the squeamish. It’s graphic and disturbing and offensive as hell. But soooo worth the read.

Non-Fiction

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu

I’m all about yoga, so of course I love this anthology of meditations and pockets of wisdom. But you will too. “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?” Come on!

The Opposite of Worry – Lawrence J. Cohen

If you’ve ever heard me say to be the second chicken – this book is why. My daughter’s therapist gave me this book when she first exhibited signs of anxiety. I bawled like a baby as I read it. Then I practiced it.

Naked – David Sedaris

Anyone else old enough to remember Random House book of the month club? One time I forgot to send in my card, and they sent me Naked. That was the best mistake I’ve ever made. To this day no one can make me laugh and cry at the same time like David Sedaris. He is a genius. If you ever meet me in person, by the way, ask me why there is a condom taped inside this book… next to a picture of a turtle.

The Holy Sh!t Moment – James Fell

James Fell is a Canadian health and fitness guru, but this book is far more wide-reaching than that. It’s the science behind how a habit becomes ingrained into us. It’s funny, informative, and truly inspiring. Plus he cusses like a sailor… right up my alley.

Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott

Most writers have read this book, but I’ve used the “break a big problem into smaller pieces” philosophy on pretty much everything since I read this. Also it has one of my favorite quotes about writing: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”