I have to say that listing my top five is a bit difficult. I get so passionately engrossed in many books I read that limiting them to just five seems unfair. However, adhering to my own rules for this pick, I’ll try to narrow my affinity for great stories down to the following:
1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
The quintessential “American” road trip story with Gods and Goddesses and a fella by the name of Shadow Moon who is simply trying to survive. Funny that I call this an “American road trip story” being that Gaiman is British, but he deftly conveys Americana with easy and fluidity. From a writer’s perspective, (particularly a genre writer’s perspective), American Gods should be your writing bible.
2. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by LainiTaylor
I read this novel only a year or so ago so it might surprise those who know me that I’d place it so high on my top five list. However, with such lush, vivid imagery, such amazing characters, such a wild, shocking twist within a twist at the end, this is the Young Adult novel that could. I am so very much in love with this world, with these characters that when I get stuck in my own writing, I go back to it for a dose of creative inspiration.
3. The Harry Potter series
What can I say about JK Rowling? She created a world that I became utterly obsessed with and because of that world I met the most amazing women (my bints, the sisters of my heart) and was throttled head first into a serious writing foray. There’s a reason Rowling has sold more than 400 million copies of her novels. It’s because her world of wizards and muggles, of dragons and horcruxes centers around a simple boy with a huge task settled at his feet. This is a series about overcoming loneliness, resisting the temptation to be complacent and, at its heart, a series that teaches us all that the greatest magic imaginable is love.
4. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Heartbreaking, gut-wrenching and told from the perspective of a young murder victim, Seabold effortlessly makes the ghost story literary. Reading this novel will make you cry, cringe and utterly enraged that such a precious life was cut short.
5. Beloved by Toni Morrison
I can never read this novel again. It isn’t that I don’t absolutely love it, I really do, but this novel was the focus of my graduate school compulsory exams and I had to become very, very intimate with Sethe, Paul D and the very creepy Beloved herself. It was exhausting in the best possible way. This novel will absolutely break your heart, challenged your intelligence and, I promise you, make you a better person for having read it.