Our Favorite Books of All Time (Today)

What happens when you ask a librarian for a list of their favorite books of all time?  You get answers like this:

  • “This may be the most impossible question of all times, and it’s constantly a moving target.”
  • “Oh no!! You know the worst question to ask a librarian is ‘What’s your favorite book?’ … Ask again next week and I’ll probably give you a totally different list.”
  • “This is SO hard!”
  • “Today’s list of my favorite books of all time. (Tomorrow’s may be different!)”
  • “This is *extremely* difficult, so my caveat is that this is a list of my favorite books of all time based on my current mood and what I can remember off the top of my head.”
  • “This was super hard to narrow down…but fun.”

So keeping in mind that these lists are ever evolving, here are some of our librarian’s lists!

The Republic by: Plato; translated by Tom Griffith
Frankenstein by: Mary Shelley
More Than This by: Patrick Ness
Crooked Little Vein by: Warren Ellis
Bones and All by: Camille DeAngelis
The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters series by: Gordon Dahlquist
Butcher Bird by: Richard Kadrey
Child Thief by: Brom
Six of Crows series by: Leigh Bardugo
Clockwork Century series by: Cherie Priest

Let me try:

  1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  2. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  3. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  4. Rules of Civility by Amor Towels
  5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  6. The Night of the Gun by David Carr
  7. Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton
  8. Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir by Bill Clegg
  9. Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty By Andrew Bolton
  10. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
(not only are they great fantasy books for kids AND ADULTS but it does my librarian heart good to know that Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling changed the course of reading for kids throughout the world.

The Melendy series by Elizabeth Enright
(The Saturdays, Four-Story Mistake, Then There Were Five). This is a calm, peaceful, lean into the way-back series about a family in the 1940’s who move from NYC to “the country”. They have a bunch of mini-adventures but it’s mostly about damming streams, holding fairs and celebrating birthdays. Sigh… if only…)

Blueberries for Sal or One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
(These are classic picture books about life in Maine. Super fabulous illustrations and gentle stories.)

Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery by Russel Freedman
(Perhaps the best biography of ER that I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot!). This covers the highs and the lows of the life of Eleanor plus it includes fabulous photos.)

I recently managed to winnow it down to 15. Winnowing further…

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Jem and the Holograms series by Kelly Thompson
Carrie by Stephen King
Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong
Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor
Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Do yourself a favor and listen to the audiobook!  It makes the story even better!)
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
Bitch Planet series by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Ahab’s Wife – Sena Jeter Naslund (historical fiction)
Longbourn – Jo Baker (historical fiction)
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – David Wroblewski (magic realism)
The Sunlight Pilgrims – Jenni Fagan (dystopic fiction)

Bloody Jack series – L. A. Meyer (historical fiction)
Ms Marvel series – G. Willow Wilson (graphic superheros)

The Story of Ferdinand – Munro Leaf (picture book)
Bark, George – Jules Feiffer (picture book)
Green Pants – Kenneth Kraegel (picture book)
The Bureau of Misplaced Dads – by Eric Veille’ (picture book)

In no particular order.

The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken
The Cry of the Sloth by Sam Savage
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

I’ll start at the beginning, with my favorites from childhood (lost my original copies, but they have been replaced).

Miss Twiggley’s Tree – a lovely story about an eccentric woman who lives in a willow tree with her dog Puss. She sleeps in her hat and has bears over for tea. Everyone in town thinks she’s strange but okay, except for the Mayor’s wife.

The Little Fur Family – my copy of this book is about 2″ by 3″, and is covered in soft gray fur. It is about a little fur child who goes on a tiny little adventure. At the end of it he comes home and his parents sing him to sleep.

Then there are the children’s books that I found as an adult, of which my favorite is
Mr Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea – about an elderly gentleman who decides he wants a cat. The pet store tries to sell him on the kittens, but he picks an elderly cat instead, and they become best friends. This is the beginning of a series, about this pair and their neighbor with her dog. They go on quiet little adventures, and the stories are very sweet without being at all cloying.

For adult books, a few of my favorites are
Spindle’s End – or really any of the fairy tale books by Robin McKinley. She manages to expand and change the stories while staying true to the classic. In this one particularly, there are some lovely twists and character development. For example, Aurora grows up as far from a princess as you can get and the fairy gifts are not so useful. She hates her golden curls, and her teeth are so pearly white that they almost glow in the dark.

Thud – The center of the “Night Watch” set in the Discworld series, Thud follows Sam Vimes as he navigates an ancient (and ongoing) conflict between the Trolls and the Dwarves, while still making it home every night to read to his young son.

Uprooted – Combining a couple of fairy tale elements (noticing a theme?) with some wonderful descriptions of new kinds of magic and elements that I haven’t seen before. I found myself rereading passages just because they were so beautiful.

Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy – Vogon Poetry! Intelligent Mice! Depressed Robot! 42!! What’s not to love?

Share your top 5 or 10 in the comments below!

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One Response to Our Favorite Books of All Time (Today)

  1. Pam says:

    Oh NO!! Now I’ve read everyone else’s lists and I want to add another “top 50” to my favorites list…

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