Today is the day and I am officially 25. I didn’t even cry tears of horror at growing up! Success. To celebrate, this blog (which is admittedly a few days late) is a little different – here are 25 of my favourite books for adults, in no particular order.
1) The End of the Alphabet, C.S. Richardson – I picked this up at the bookstore half a dozen times before I finally borrowed it from a friend and fell in love. So short, so elegant, so many tears.
2) The Emperor of Paris, C.S. Richardson – Obviously I had to read Richardson’s follow up to The End of the Alphabet, and it lived up. Same feel, different style, still tears.
3) I Shall Not Hate, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish – You can’t read this without feeling inspired to be a better person. In a horrible way it demonstrates the absolute extreme in human resilience.
4) Island, Alistair MacLeod – It’s rare to feel so wholly transported to another landscape through the written word alone.
5) Bossypants, Tina Fey – Guys. Tina Fey. What more do you want?
6) Brave New World, Aldous Huxley – “But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” Yup.
7) The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom – I don’t know what heaven is like, but I would be happy with this.
8) Hey Nostradamus! Douglas Coupland – Multi-perspective story on a school shooting and the long-lasting effects, as well as a harsh critique of the media. I read it before I was a journalist but would love to revisit it.
9) Sherlock Holmes, any or all, Arthur Conan Doyle – He’s not the world’s most well-known detective for nothing. Fun fact: Sherlock never once says “Elementary, my dear Watson” (at least in the books).
10) Generals Die in Bed, Charles Yale Harrison – I read this in high school so my memories are foggy, but it gave me my first look into the horrors of war outside of combat – I still remember reading about the rats and the lice and registering that was still somehow the least of the soldiers’ problems.
11) The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson – Written like a novel but based entirely in fact, the subtitle pretty much sums up the appeal: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America. As a history buff, I was hooked.
12) World War Z, Max Brooks – It had me planning my zombie escape route for weeks afterwards, and from what I hear Brad Pitt’s got nothing on the original novel.
13) Parachute Infantry, David Kenyon Webster – Most people have heard of Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers – if not the book at least the miniseries. Harvard-educated Webster is one of the soldiers featured, and he wrote his own memoir published after he was lost at sea in 1961.
14) A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini – Hosseini shot to fame with The Kite Runner, which I still haven’t read, but I’ve been told this one is even better. It would be hard to beat, so I believe that.
15) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer – Heartbreaking without focusing on the tragedy, and a great tour of New York City.
16) The Zookeeper’s Wife, Diane Ackerman – Tracking the true fate of the Warsaw zoo and its proprietors as World War Two rages in Poland already makes for a captivating tale. Add to it involvement in the Polish resistance and late night piano concerts with hidden Jews, and the situation intensifies considerably.
17) Shoeless Joe, W.P. Kinsella – How can you not be romantic about baseball? Or Iowa. Reading this made me want to live in a cornfield.
18) Stardust, Neil Gaiman – A rare case where the movie was tweaked in just the right way to be about as good as the book, but that’s not an excuse to skip out on the novel. I’m gonna cheat here as well and also recommend Gaiman’s American Gods.
19) Through the Hitler Line, Laurence F. Wilmot – Admittedly heavy on military details that may bore some who don’t share my historical interest, this memoir explores the intersection of religion and combat, from a non-combatant Anglican chaplain in the midst of battle.
20) The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas – I read this on my Kobo account on my phone on the subway while commuting to work, so it took me about six months to finish but what a complex and fascinating story that was totally worth it.
21) Fifth Business, Robertson Davies – I think I was too young to fully appreciate this when I first read it, but I was still intrigued enough to read the sequel The Manticore, and I recently bought the entire Deptford trilogy with plans to read the final installment.
22) Scribbling the Cat, Alexandra Fuller – Ostensibly a memoir that traces Fuller’s journey with a veteran of the Rhodesian war/Zimbabwe War of Liberation, I’m not sure I believe K’s story in its entirety. Nonetheless, a compelling look into the politics of southeastern Africa and a war we don’t hear too much about on this side of the world.
23) This Blinding Absence of Light, Tahar Ben Jelloun – I know there are horrible things in the world, but I still remember my naive shock at this fictional story based on fact of prisoners in a secret Moroccan desert prison.
24) The History of Love, Nicole Krauss – A beautiful novel of overlapping lives.
25) The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson – I have yet to finish this as it’s been on the backburner while I read children’s books all summer, but so far it is just delightful. Allan Karlsson is one of the most intriguing and endearing characters I’ve come across in a long time.