In my quest to write about 52 writing topics in 52 weeks, I can’t leave out my 12 favorite books. Part of being a good, or even a great, writer is to read voraciously and in many genres, as well as the genre you plan to write in.
Here are my favorites that I’ve read in the past 20 years:
- The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway – I love Hemingway’s crisp writing style and sparse dialogue that carries multiple messages underneath the surface text.
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald – The story of the rich Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan is tight without anything extraneous or unnecessary to the telling.
- Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austin – The dialogue is witty, and Elizabeth Bennett is a complex, emotional and smart character that you can’t help but love.
- One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez – This is the best example of magical realism I’ve ever read told through the lives of the Buendia family.
- Lolita, Vladimir Nobakov – The language is beautiful, though the subject matter is grotesque.
- Reading Lolita in Tehran, A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi – Beautifully told with rich themes, this book made me realize how lucky I am to have an American sense of freedom.
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being – I read this so long ago, but I do remember the contemplation of existence and being that makes the reader think on a philosophical level.
- Enchanted Night, Steven Milhausen – On a summer night, the characters of the story leave their beds in search of a better life. The story is told with a touch of romance and whimsy, and the language is magical and poetic.
- The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford – This World War II story with modern day elements perfectly connects the beginning to the end through the use of symbolism.
- The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins – Fast-paced with compelling characters, this dystopian series describes an alternate world that actually is closer to reality or potential realities than at first appears.
- In the Drink, Kate Christensen – This is chick lit at its finest with well-developed characters, those of Claudia Steiner and her love interest William, great dialogue and an interesting story that isn’t boring and fluffy.
- Thanks for the Memories, Cecelia Ahern – Take a fairy tale and combine it with a few what-if questions and you get an exploration of the heart, memory and déjà vu.