1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book Thief is definitely not a unique choice for an all time favorite novel, but it is still mine all the same. I read it at the ripe old age of 12 and have a core memory of finishing it during my 6th grade math class and having to hide in the bathroom for the remainder of the period because I could not stop crying. It is a beautiful novel about the resilience of human beings, about how hatred is taught, and that words, love, and children are the most powerful forces in the world. It also gives a sobering account of grief, fear, and loss from the perspectives of both children and adults so powerful you have to step away for moments. Even writing about it now years after the last time I’ve read it (yes, I have read it multiple times and plan on reading it again), it brings tears to my eyes and raises goosebumps on my arm.
2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I read this book during a pretty dark time in my life, having just freed myself from an abusive relationship and starting to date again. My inner child had been crushed and giving out my love to others was a terrifying thought. The Song of Achilles, however, is one of the best love stories ever written, and the best one that I have ever had the honor of reading. Following the story of Patroclus and Achilles’ relationship from childhood up to adulthood and witnessing the pure, unfiltered love they had for each other reminded me of the privilege it is to be capable of loving someone so deeply they have the ability to destroy you, especially when they choose not to. Both because of this, paired with the absolutely beautiful writing style of Miller, I recommend this book to every person I meet.
3. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
Easily the best fantasy series I have ever read. I even have an (abridged) quote from the series tattooed on my arm. I have always been a lover of fantasy, so enjoying the first two novels in the series did not come to much of a surprise to me, however… my mind was absolutely blown from book three and kept getting blown over and over again up until book seven. How Maas even got from book one to book seven is insane to me. Did she have it all planned out from the beginning? Did she make it up as she went? I need answers. The plot twists were unbelievable, the character development was beautiful. The major themes of what it means to be human and whether monsters were born or made were so intricately woven into the plot while simultaneously plaguing your mind every waking moment. Do not even get me started on the female protagonists (and even antagonists!). There are too many good things to say. Aelin Galthynius is by far the best female character I have ever read and every morning, I wake up aspiring to be just like her.
4. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Brothers K has to be my most secretive and most pretentious favorite book. It is a Russian classic, by the same man who wrote Crime & Punishment, and is a whopping 800 pages. To make it seem more appealing, it is the story of three brothers, a monk, an intellectual, and a soldier who are all suspects in the murder of their crazy alcoholic father. Not to mention all the affairs, betrayals, secrets, bouts of insanity that include a tiny little devil haunting one of the brothers, and romance. It is probably one of the more bizarre books I’ve read, but it was absolutely enthralling. What I personally valued so much in this book was the moral and religious questions it asks, mainly, if God is not real, where do we get our morals from? If there are no morals, is anything permissible? If questions of ethics are of interest to you, then I highly recommend this book, and I also highly recommend it if you love massive books filled with twists and turns and crazy weird characters and events.