My 51 Favorite Books (1995 – 2013)


Growing up I was always the odd one in my school and family. While everyone else was watching TV, playing video games, and tossing the football around in the yard, I was in my room reading.

Though I was acquainted with the Bible from a young age, my obsession with great literature really began when I was in the sixth grade. That was the year I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time and discovered a writer named Ray Bradbury. It was also the first time I picked up a volume of Shakespeare. (I read Hamlet and Macbeth). And it was the year that, after reading David Copperfield and The Diary of Anne Frank, I decided I was going to grow up and become a novelist.

In the seventh grade I set a record in my school by reading the most books of any student in a single year. Ironically my obsession with the novels of Charles Dickens disturbed my English teacher, who removed A Christmas Carol from the curriculum and replaced it with a series of contemporary young adult novels by Gary Paulsen and Joan Lowery Nixon.

In high school I discovered The Lord of the Rings and fell in love with mythology. I devoured the works of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.

But I view my first couple of years in college as the pinnacle of my reading experience, first because, being an English major, I was reading more books than I had ever read, and because it was during my freshman year at Southwestern that I first encountered my favorite author (G. K. Chesterton) and my favorite series of novels (Harry Potter). Everything afterwards, to paraphrase Fitzgerald, was bound to savor of anti-climax. The summer before I visited London (in 2006), I read 100 books in four months, among them Paradise Lost, Les Miserables, the Gormenghast trilogy, and the novel that remains, to this day, my all-time favorite.

So these are my favorite published novels that I’ve read in the last eighteen years. I hope it will inspire you to read things you may never have read before.



Special mention: The Bible (KJV and NRSV-CE)


Top Ten


1) Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell                                               Susanna Clarke


2) Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass                 Lewis Carroll

3) The Man who was Thursday                                                  G K Chesterton

4) Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix                                J K Rowling

5) David Copperfield                                                                  Charles Dickens

6) The Lord of the Rings                                                           J R R Tolkien

7) Macbeth                                                                               Shakespeare

8) Moby Dick                                                                            Melville

9) Celtic Myths & Legends                                                         Peter Ellis

10) Ficciones                                                                             J L Borges


11) Ulysses                                                                                James Joyce


12) The Great Gatsby                                                                 Fitzgerald

13) Catch-22                                                                             Joseph Heller

14) The Gormenghast Trilogy                                                     Mervyn Peake

15) The Magicians                                                                     Lev Grossman

16) King Lear                                                                            Shakespeare

17) The Divine Comedy                                                             Dante

18) Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince                                    J K Rowling

19) King Arthur & His Knights of the Round Table                     R L Green

20) Collected Poems (1909—1962)                                             T. S. Eliot


21) Hamlet                                                                               Shakespeare

22) 20,000 Leagues under the Sea                                               Jules Verne

23) The Count of Monte Cristo                                                  Dumas

24) The Christ Clone Trilogy                                                      J. BeauSeigneur


25) Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy

Edward Edinger

26) The Story of Civilization (11 volumes)                      Will & Ariel Durant

27) The Chronicles of Narnia                                                      C. S. Lewis

28) Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire                                         J K Rowling

29) Les Miserables                                                                     Victor Hugo

30) The Thousand & One Nights                                                   Anonymous



31) A Journey to the Center of the Earth                                  Jules Verne


32) The Phoenix & the Carpet                                                    E. Nesbit


33) Fahrenheit 451                                                                    Ray Bradbury


34) A Tale of Two Cities                                                           Charles Dickens


35) The Martian Chronicles                                                        Ray Bradbury


36) God’s Secret Agents                                                             Alice Hogge


37) The Death of King Arthur                                                    Peter Ackroyd


38) Seven League Boots                                                              R Halliburton


39) Shakespeare after All                                                            Marjorie Garber


40) His Dark Materials                                                               Philip Pullman



41) Descent into Hell                                                     Charles Williams

42) Crime & Punishment                                                           Dostoevsky

43) On the Road                                                                        Jack Kerouac

44) Bodyguard of Lies                                                    Anthony Cave Brown

45) Rebecca                                                                   Daphne DuMaurier

46) Nicholas Nickleby                                                                Charles Dickens

47) Father Brown Mysteries                                                       G K Chesterton

48) The Evidential Power of Beauty                                            Thomas Dubay

49) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Catherynne M. Valente

50) Leaves of Grass                                                                    Whitman

51) The Faerie Queene                                                               Spenser




          What did I miss? What should I read next?

8 thoughts on “My 51 Favorite Books (1995 – 2013)

    • I love the feeling of tension, paranoia, and slowly escalating horror that seeps into the story near the end of the Yule Ball. The last 200 pages are sublimely creepy, powerful, and frightening.

      The fifth book is my favorite of the books, but the fourth movie is the best movie. I can’t watch Amos Diggory coming down out of the bleachers screaming, “That’s my son!” without bawling.

  1. Pingback: Archives | thetalkingllama

  2. I am fascinated by your list. I used to read so much but now with kids and battling depression, I haven’t for a long time. A Tale of Two Cities is one of my all time favorites along with

    A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving
    The Sparrow by Maria Dorio Russell -HIGHLY RECOMMEND
    Father Elijah by Michael O’Brien
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
    A Voice in the Wind by Francine Ricers
    and as I’m Canadian of course…
    Anne of Green Gables

    Thanks for sharing some of your story. Glad you made it out of your dark cult experience with a love for The Lord and a passion for Him still intact.



  3. My life of loving good books came alive when I read huckelberry Finn at age 13.
    Here are some more of my favz;
    To kill a mockingbird
    one flew over the cool cool nest
    phantasties (George Donald)
    Lilith (also by g.m.)
    The heart is a lonely hunter
    the deans watch (Elizabeth goudge)
    The scent of water (also by e.g.)
    If not now when (primo Levi)
    A Christmas memory (Truman capote)

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