The first list focused mostly on childhood and early teenage years. This second list will focus more on my high school years.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Forever and always the standard by which fantasy will be measured in my house. Don’t try to argue that a different series is better. Others have tried. You will lose.
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen
Just all her books. They’re all hilarious. And beautiful. In high school I got the distinct impression other people were reading the books wrong, because all they would talk about was the romance. Like, seriously. Did you not fear for your life laughing when Collins was thick as a post? Or when Darcy insulted Lizzie to her face then was surprised when she got angry? Or the entire relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett? How about Northanger Abbey? Emma? No? Sounds like someone is due for a re-read.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I love this book so much, I actually refuse to watch any movie adaptation of it. Nothing that Hollywood or even the BBC could do would do justice to the way this book plays out in my head. There are at least five copies of this book in my house. My sister almost brought a sixth one back from Spain, because everyone needs a copy to read, and a copy to sit on the shelf and be gorgeous. And if you prefer Wuthering Heights, we can’t be friends.
C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy
Out of the Silent Planet. Perelandra. That Hideous Strength. These books make you think, and change the way you see the world, like basically anything my favorite Irishman wrote. If you loved Narnia as a kid, you’ll probably like these books as a grown-up.
The Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter
There are few literary villains that I have hated as passionately as Lady Mar, the woman who betrays William Wallace. My sister and I have an agreement that if either of us gains access to a time machine, we’re going after her. Not Hitler. HER. There is at least one death in this book that has made it to my list of most emotionally scarring fictional deaths. And that’s an exclusive list.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
You could say I have a thing for stories about revolutions. I was also that weird kid who’d read this book for fun about two years before all my friends started complaining about having to read it for school.
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
This book reinforced my crush on Robin Hood in a very real way. There’s a reason I have a merry band of outlaws in my book, and it’s not because I live in Jesse James country.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
I can’t even think of this book without wanting to cry.
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle
I relate to Meg in a very real way. Really, I relate to the main characters in every Madeline L’Engle book I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t mind just living her life. At one point her job title was “Librarian and Author in Residence” at a cathedral in New York. Basically my life plan right there.