Last week, while Spring cleaning, I decided to tidy up my bookshelf area. That ended up turning into pouring over the pages of all my old favorites; I always mark up my books with little notes or underlined phrases and turn down important and meaningful pages. Needless to say, my books are in rough shape– but this is signs of love and years of rereading.
I was inspired that afternoon to write up for you my top-eleven (don’t ask why I picked 11, lol) favorite books of all time and why I love them; and why you need to read them as soon as possible. They are listed in no particular order as it was hard enough to pick out my top eleven– let alone a single favorite.
- Cabin Fever by Mandy Smith– Warning: this book will make you want to drop what you’re doing and become a flight attendant. Seriously. I still occasionally think about it. Smith’s memoir of her time as a Virgin Airlines air hostess is jam-packed with incredible travel experiences, crazy scandals, and hilarious moments. You’ll laugh, cringe, and dream about having a life like hers. Take this book with you on vacation, lie back on the beach, and you won’t be able to put it down. Highly recommend.
- I’m With the Band by Pamela Des Barres– As one of the most famous groupies in the history of rock-n-roll, Pamela Des Barres has quite unbelievable stories to tell. Yet she tells them in such a heartfelt, brutally honest way that makes you trust every word. Live vicariously through Pamela as she experiences a lifestyle that nobody will ever know again and feel all her emotions along the way. This is an especially cool read for classic rock junkies.
- Asking For It by Louise O’Neill– This is a more difficult read than the first two books I talked about. Partly because it deals with sensitive content, mainly sexual assault, and partly because it is so damn relatable. Almost every other girl these days will identify in some way with the main character, Emma O’Donavan. O’Neill tackles a pervasive and upsetting social issue with grace and urgency. Everyone should read this book. Pass it along to your younger siblings, friends, colleagues, and teachers to spread awareness and show people the real-life effects these incidents have on peoples’ lives. Well executed and powerful– I highly recommend.
- Sold by Patricia McCormick– Another tough read, but also worth it. McCormick writes in poems, telling the story of a young girl sold by her family into India’s sex trade. The book is beautifully heartbreaking and may make you feel deeply uncomfortable– but hey, this stuff isn’t easy to hear about. Sold is not only a literary masterpiece, but also an awareness piece and call for change.
- Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan– If you’re even mildly interested in psychology and behavior, this book is for you. If you love page after page of unexpected turns and mind-boggling (literally) concepts, this book is also for you. Cahalan’s recollection of her experience with an extremely rare neurological disorder will give you chills. FYI: it’s being made into a movie. Make sure you read the book first!
- Alone Together by Sherry Turkle– More of an academic read, but still enjoyable and incredibly interesting. Turkle talks about technology, social media, modern methods of communication, and the impact this has on our relationships. This book will teach you a lot, but more importantly, it will inspire you to put down the phone and disconnect for a while. If you don’t have time for the whole book, or not sure you’ll like it, check out Turkle’s TED talk by Googling her name.
- Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella– Although I will admit that this isn’t one of the best books I’ve ever read as a whole (I’m not a huge fan of Kinsella’s writing, but her books are usually fun and easy to read), it made this list for one very important reason. The book’s main character, Audrey, lives with severe social anxiety. The book, for someone who doesn’t experience much anxiety, is eye-opening. It helped me understand how people with anxiety feel so I could better empathize. Definitely worth the read.
- Bird Box by Josh Malerman– Like Finding Audrey, Malerman’s book isn’t really a literary masterpiece. But it will keep you super hyped with suspense. I read it in one sitting, it had me hooked instantly. Your heart will race, you might even sweat a little. Such an intriguing read.
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr– I know this is a recent read that Linds and I have in common! This book is truly a work of art. A little slow getting started, but Doerr’s writing is unbelievably beautiful, heartwrenching, complex, and creative. Highly recommend this book for a truly unforgettable story.
- Even Silence Has An End by Ingrid Betancourt– Another work of art. Essentially repeat what I said above for #9, but add the fact that this is a true story. Even Silence Has An End is difficult to read at times, but it is a testament to the strength a person can have in the most hopeless of situations. Betancourt, a candidate for Columbian President, was kidnapped and held captive for 6 years by guerillas in the jungle. (Although, interestingly, I have come to learn about a lot of controversy surrounding the legitimacy of Betancourt’s experience–quite the conspiracy)
- Play On by Mick Fleetwood– Anyone with an interest in music, autobiographies, or classic rock has to read this book. Fleetwood Mac has such a wild, unbelievable past and Mick Fleetwood tells their stories perfectly. He has such a zest for life and truly loves what he does every day. This was such an inspiring book!
I really hope you take up at least one of my recommendations. Each of these books had a profound impact on my life in their own unique way and I hope they do the same for you.