Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Top Ten Picks: Books You Have To Read At Least Once

I found this meme over at Random Ramblings. Jillian offers a weekly thought-provoking question that requires listing our top ten picks of "x" (whatever that week's topic is). This week's topic is Books You Have to Read at Least Once. After a great deal of thought that required me to eliminate some of my personal favorites, I have come up with my Top Ten Picks: Books You Have To Read At Least Once:

1. The Bible
Whether you choose to believe in its contents or not, the Bible is one of, if not the oldest book full of history, adventure, death and life, happiness and sadness, encouragement, letters, prohpecies, poetry, romance (including the ultimate love sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins), and more. I have yet to finish reading the Bible in its entirety, but I still am in awe when I think of how many different stories and genres the one book itself contains. *I highly recommend picking up a translation that you feel most comfortable reading, so as not to put you off the idea of reading it altogether.

 2. The Robert Langdon Series
I haven't finished The Lost Symbol yet, but if it is anywhere near as good as Angels & Demons and The DaVinci Code, it won't disappoint. That's right, I've just made the leap from the Bible to one of the biggest controversies in the church. I don't understand why Christians made such a huge cacophony over these books. Maybe it's just because I've grown up in the library, but people need to realize these books are just fiction, and to my knowledge, Dan Brown has never tried to pass them off as anything else. So, don't read these books if you can't discern between fact and fiction, and don't read these books if you are doubting your faith. But if you can handle a fictitious Indiana Jones-type adventure story based aroud components of the church and/or Bible, humor yourselves with these books. Any adult book that I was able to get through before I hit my teenage years I consider an impressive feat.

3. The Shack
Yep, I'm back to that whole "Christian-thing" again. Yet, this book also has stirred controversy in the church because, again, as a work of fiction, the author has changed some things to a sort of his type of view on how things may or may not be. If you ask me, I'm all for reading an amazingly written story about my heavenly Father. Even better if a non-Christian can pick up the book and enjoy it because it is slightly less traditional than the Bible. If the reader relates to the main character enough, it might even lead them to a church to find out more about the Trinity *gasp* but we can't have any of that because it didn't come directly out of the Bible? I don't think so. If you're looking for an amazingly inspirational story of healing, hope, love, and peace (but don't mind shedding a few tears), PLEASE pick up and read this book. 

4. Harry Potter
Ah, yes, again the leap from religion to "evil". Again, Harry Potter is a work of fiction. If you feel you might be compelled to turn Wiccan if you read this book, please don't read it. However, I would recommend this book if you'd simply like to relate to a child who was able to escape his "normal" life [by being sent off to a magical school]. Side note: If your child doesn't enjoy this book, please don't force them to read it. I tried reading it when I was about 11 and I couldn't get into it enough to make it through the first couple chapters. However, a year or so later, I tried again and liked the first three books so much that I read them each seven times. Not everyone will be in the right "mood" to read the same book at the same time. In my opinion, it doesn't really matter, as long as they're reading something. You could always try showing them the movie, and if they think the movie was awesome they are more likely to pick up the book.

5. The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Another religious and controversial book on my list - get over it. Many people, Christians or otherwise, are afraid of death and/or dying. You won't find mansions and streets of gold in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Instead, this book explores the idea of what if you could design your own Heaven? I believe what the Bible says about Heaven over this book any day, but the concept does kind of make sense - if you get the choice of spending eternity somewhere (mine would be Disney - oh I hope there is a Disney in Heaven), not everyone would choose the same place. Regardless, it makes for a wonderful story (I read almost the entire book over my mom's shoulder on an airplane ride to Cincinnati). *Have tissues on hand.

6. The Hobbit
Okay. Done with the controversy. That is, if you don't account for the fact that apparently J.K. Rowling's wizardry writing comes from the devil but J.R.R. Tolkein's is of divine inspiration... Anyway, on to the literature! I recommend The Hobbit because it is just as good and adventurous of a story as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, in way fewer pages. Even if you haven't been able to make it through the LOTR trilogy (I haven't been able to make it through The Two Towers), at least give The Hobbit a chance. Random tidbit: I don't think I've ever known a book to have so many different covers!

7. Make Lemonade
I've known the phrase "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade" for as long as I can remember, but I don't think I ever expected this story to be quite as...difficult/harsh as it was. This is a coming-of-age story of sorts. The main character is a girl who lives in the slums, but boys can just as easily relate to her challenges of dealing with school and trying to find a way to make money. Similar to A Child Called "It", this book will (more likely than not) make you thankful for everything you have, even if "everything" isn't that much, but with less violence.

8. Amelia Bedelia
I had to add Amelia Bedelia to my list of books to read because it's the only book/series I can think of that span just about every age gap. Children love Amelia Bedelia to laugh at her goofy-ness clearly visibly in the pictures, even if they don't understand the puns, adults understand the puns, and grandparents...well, grandparents should just love reading with their grandchildren! 

9. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
This is a great coming-of-age series for girls, each book told from a different "member" of the "sisterhood"'s point of view. These books could be totally unrelated to pants and still be just as amazing. When you get down to it, this is simply a great story about adventure, friendship, and love.

10. Trixie Koontz 
If you're looking for heartwarming, inspirational, and/or uplifting words (in dog language, though, of course), read anything by Trixie Koontz. Complete with adorable pictures and a strong dislike towards cats, Trixie's words can delight all ages. Psst, honestly I like Trixie even more than Marley!


  1. I loved your picks...and Kudos to you for posting The Bible- something everyone- Christian or not- should read...:)

  2. I have not read 'Make Lemonade' before, but reading your description of it is actually making me add it to my top5 tbr list!
    Oh, and glad to see the sisterhood here :) I loved that series! I first read it when I was 15, I still love it until now -- such great characters. My favorite will always be Bridget, and Lena still breaks my heart when I remember her story with Kostos. I have to be honest though, I disliked Carmen a little =/ Who's yours though? :D

  3. I only read the bible on your list, the other books I heard of but never read. :)
    I've been seeing the sisterhood series around for some time, and maybe I should try one of them.

  4. Jillian, let me know what you think of Make Lemonade once you've read it. :) I didn't even think my description did it justice! ha.
    I'm biased about the characters since I've also seen the movie and I like Alexis Bledel so much. Carmen is my least favorite, Lena's love story was very sad, so I think I liked her romance the best. However, I have shared some of the same experiences that Bridget and Tibby had to go through, so I guess they are my favorite?

  5. I've only missed two on the list. I'm going to have to check them out.

  6. Kel, wow. Which two have you not read?

  7. Interesting list. I'm not sure if I agree with all your picks being MUST reads, but I've read almost all of them. Missing the Shack (too over-hyped) and Make Lemonade.

  8. Hi Elisabeth. I finally got my list posted and am visiting the other links. You and I agreed on several! I used to read Amelia Bedelia to my children when they were small! Not familiar with your 7., 9. and 10. picks but they sound worthwhile too!

  9. Great list! I've read about half of them and the ones I haven't I may just have to give a go. I'd actually never heard of Make Lemonade, but it sounds really interesting. Great post...stopped by via Today's Adventure Cream of the Crop post.

  10. NotNessie - I don't know if they are all MUST reads I just tried to think of interesting ones that everyone could actually get something out of, rather than just my favorites.

    The1stdaughter - Thank you! And thanks for informing me I was on someone else's post - I had no idea!

  11. Briggs commented on this way back in '09

    Still, after everything I've heard about Dan Brown
    (and some claims that he's really a hack writer) I'm in no hurry to read him. Really, I can't see any reason to prefer him over any of Michael Crichton's works. Maybe we should just list #2 as "thriller" works - maybe see who would put what there. (Grishom, King, etc)

    I'd put:
    Bible, Anything by Lewis (Narnia, Great Divorce, Till we Have Faces, lots of good choices), Tolkien's LotR, or at least the Hobbit, one of Thomas Sowell's economic books, at least 1 work by Shakespeare in my top 5.

  12. Elizabeth - I haven't read the Lemonade one and the Trixie Koontz one. I'll have to get them soon. I just started a new blog about my writing journey if you are interested in swinging by. I could use some positive energy! :) http://awritersroad-kel.blogspot.com

  13. Nate - I actually would replace the Robert Langdon books with the Chronicles of Narnia, but I didn't think of them at the time and refuse to go back now to change it. haha

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