Tomorrow, 9/24 is my 22nd birthday and to celebrate I’ll be sharing with you 22 of my most beloved books, thus far!
I hope somewhere in here you’re able to find a title or two that catches your attention!
#22 Junji Ito’s Cat Diary by Junji Ito
Goodreads rating: 4.22 | Genre: Manga, Humor | 130 pages
Tales about the trials and tribulations of being a cat owner as told and illustrated by one of Japan’s most famous horror mangaka. This book had me crying with laughter. The artwork is so dramatic in Ito’s classic style. Normally terrifying, in this context it’s hilarious.
#21 Angel Dust Apocalypse by Jeremy Robert Johnson
Goodreads rating: 3.88 | Genre: Short stories, Bizarro | 184 pages
This is the first of a few books on this list that saved my life. This one is tough to recommend because it’s so weird and at times really gross. Even so, I read this at a perfect time in my life when I needed something truly surreal and different to take me away and offer me a perspective I’d never experienced before. Bizarro fiction isn’t really my thing anymore but this book, and Johnson’s other works will always have a place in my heart. “Luminary” in particular, has remained one of my favorite short stories ever.
#20 Ring (Ring #1) by Koji Suzuki
Goodreads rating: 3.82 | Genre: Horror, Mystery |282 pages
It takes a lot for a book to scare me. Maybe it’s because I just don’t have that creative an imagination or I just feel safer looking at words instead of pictures. I don’t know. But I felt okay reading this book at home by myself for about five pages. And then I didn’t dare look into any mirrors or peek around any corners in fear that I’d find that I wasn’t alone after all.
#19 The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke
Goodreads rating: 3.67 | Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult | 384 pages
I wasn’t expecting anything at all when I picked this up and it gave me everything I could’ve wanted: beautiful prose, seamless world-building, a lived-in setting, a cast of interesting characters. I think I highlighted nearly every sentence in this book.
#18 A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin
Goodreads rating: 4.45 | Genre: Fantasy | 837 pages
There are plenty of valid criticisms of this book and the series as a whole, I won’t make light of that. Even so, it’s one of the most complex and well written fantasy books I’ve ever read. Westeros is so convincing and so are all of the characters within.
The only reason I haven’t continued the series is because I’m worried that it won’t be finished and I’d rather not get too attached to a series that I won’t know the true ending to. We all know Season 8 didn’t count.
#17 Fruits Basket (series) by Natsuki Takaya
Genre: Manga, fantasy, romance
I”ve come back to these books and the anime adaptation(s) numerous times over the years. This is my warm and fuzzy, feel good story. Nearly every volume/episode makes me emotional and it’s great for when you just need to have a good cry.
Tohru is such a compelling and likable character. I love how determined she is and how kind she remains no matter what hardships she has to deal with.
The story is great too. I mean, who wouldn’t love it if their significant other turned into a cute animal from the Chinese zodiac from time to time?
#16 Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Goodreads rating: 4.19 | Genre: Fiction, contemporary | 224 pages
And the award for best book to movie adaptation goes to!^^
Not to be an Edgy Bitch on main but I love Fight Club and not just because it’s cathartic to watch Brad Pitt and Edward Norton punch the crap out of each other. I really enjoyed the discussions of toxic masculinity and consumerism in here. I’m not a big fan of satire usually but this story is so damn entertaining.
#15 The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Goodreads rating: 3.76 | Genre: Fiction, philosophy | 325 pages
Another book that quite literally saved my life by completely changing the way I think and see the world around me. It’s not higher on my list because it can be dense at parts and some of the philosophy drags the plot down to a crawl.
I had a teacher in high school reach out to me when I was struggling. She suggested I read this, and one other book later on this list and for that, I’ll always be grateful. Elegance tells the parallel stories of a twelve year old girl living in a Parisian hotel who plans to kill herself and the grouchy, old concierge who lives beneath her. I was so touched by the way their lives come together and the profound affects they have on each other.
#14 The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan
Goodreads rating: 4.39 | Genre: Fantasy, young adult | 361 pages
I love all of the Percy Jackson books but this one is by far my favorite. I love the dynamic between Percy and Annabeth (who doesn’t?) and the Greek myth of the labyrinth has always fascinated me!
#13 The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman
Goodreads rating: 3.97 | Genre: Fantasy, young adult | 399 pages
This was one of my favorite reads of 2018, and I still think about it all the time. Lyra is one of the best YA heroines I’ve read in years and armored polar bears that talk are just the greatest addition to fantasy ever. You can read my full review here.
#12 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Goodreads rating: 4.33 | Genre: Fantasy, mythology | 378 pages
Uhhh… where to start with TSoA. I needed therapy after this book. I cried for days.
The prose is gorgeous, poetic, lyrical. If you’re familiar with The Iliad then you know how this story goes, kind of. It won’t keep you from devouring this retelling and it certainly won’t keep you from crying. I think you should read it anyway if you have any interest at all in Greek mythology or beautifully written romance (read: tragedy).
#11 Claymore (series) by Norihiro Yagi
Genre: Manga, fantasy
I’d call this my guilty pleasure series, but I don’t feel that guilty about it. These book are awesome. Sure they have some of the classic fantasy tropes like villains blatantly giving away their evil intentions, or the occasional plot contrivance but for the most part this story is original and delightfully binge-able.
If you want a cool fantasy story about a group of all-female, half monster, monster hunters then I can’t recommend this enough! The anime adaptation (while cut tragically short) is really good too.
#10 Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Goodreads rating: 3.97 | Genre: Fiction, horror | 562 pages
This was the first King I ever read and it remains my second favorite (behind one coming up shortly). The horror elements are great of course, it is Stephen King after all, but I mostly like this book for its portrayal of a family’s total collapse due to their inability to come to terms with death. In this way it’s shockingly relatable and I think that’s the scariest part.
#9 Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Goodreads rating: 4.23 | Genre: Fiction, dystopia, thriller | 647 pages
This is a book you read with a bowl of popcorn nearby. It’s nearly 700 pages and I couldn’t help but take it down in two sittings (because work and sleep unfortunately). If I didn’t have such a towering TBR looming over me I would’ve turned back to page one and reread it the second I finished it.
#8 The Long Walk by Stephen King (as Richard Bachman)
Goodreads rating: 4.11 | Genre: Fiction, dystopia, horror | 416 pages
My all time favorite Stephen King book. This one, I read in a single sitting and then did immediately read it a second time.
#7 The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Goodreads rating: 3.57 | Genre: Plays, drama | 143 pages
I feel so bad for folks that had terrible experiences reading this for school. I love this story and I think it’s my most re-read book. The Salem Witch Trials are a fascinating (and horrifying) historical event to learn about but its Miller’s writing that hits me so hard.
The line: “There are them that will swear to anything before they’ll hang,” always gives me chills. And don’t even get me started on John Proctor’s speech about his name.
#6 Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
Goodreads rating: 4.03 | Genre: Fantasy, young adult | 422 pages
I’ve screamed about this book series a lot on my blog but I’m here to do it again. I BROUGHT THIS BOOK WITH ME ON VACATION I HAD NO IDEA IT WAS GONNA BE LIKE THAT. Every time I sell a copy of this at the bookstore where I work I want to shake the customer’s hand and also apologize.
You can read my review of DoSaB here.
#5 Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames
Goodreads rating: 4.33 | Genre: Fantasy | 502 pages
Guys, please read this book okay?
It’s got amazing fantasy, action/adventure, PoC and LGBTQ main characters, humor, and some really touching moments too. It’s currently the best book I’ve read in 2019. My full review is here.
#4 The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien
Goodreads rating: 4.35 | Genre: Fantasy | 398 pages
Tolkien, like GRRM is not a writer without flaws. These books could definitely use some more female characters with agency and fewer descriptions of Middle Earth’s flora and fauna. Even so this is a masterfully done fantasy story with some amazing characters that are so beloved for a reason.
The movies are freaking amazing too.
#3 The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Goodreads rating: 4.09 | Genre: Fantasy, young adult | 447 pages
I’ve read a lot of Stiefvater’s work and this is far and above my favorite. Hell, it’s my favorite YA period. I come back for a reread at least once a year and it never fails to make me feel at once warm and fuzzy and very emotional.
Thisby is my fantasy home away from home. I love the mythology there with all of my heart.
I included it in my first go around of Rapid Fire Book Reviews.
#2 The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Goodreads rating: 4.65 | Genre: Fantasy | 1007 pages
This is a very intimidating tome of a book but man, did it pay off. With no hesitation whatsoever I put this on the same pedestal as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, and I actually think Way of Kings does some stuff better than them.
This book was bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. Where would you like to start? The lore: phenomenal and not as tough to follow as you might fear. The plot: incredible in how far reaching and also intimately character driven it is. The characters: AHHHHHHHHHHHHH (that means good).
I have a full review that makes more sense here.
#1 Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Goodreads rating: 3.82 | Genre: Fiction | 288 pages
Hang on I need a second to compose myself because I’m still crying, six years after reading it for the first time. This is the other book that was recommended to me by that high school teacher I mentioned, and this is also a book that saved my life (by breaking my freaking heart).
I really don’t want to say anything about this book because I knew nothing going into it and I think that’s part of what made it so impactful for me.
When people ask me what my favorite book is (after I go, “Come on, that’s way too hard. Don’t ask me that.”) I tell them Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
And there you have it! 22 of my favorite books! If you made it this far, thank you and I love you. I hope you all have the most magical Tuesday.