I sometimes see this question pop up on my Facebook feed, and I figured it would make a great blog post about my own list of top 10 books–off the top of my head. No googling.
- The Adventurers by Harold Robbins – I first read this when I was about 12 or 13 when I found it on the top shelf of the bookcase in my room, which also happened to be my mom’s depository of books. My copy had no front or back cover but it was thick and I was grounded with nothing to read. Three words: Diogenes Alejandro Xenos, otherwise known as Dax.
- The Pirate by Harold Robbins – Another book hidden on that top shelf in my bedroom and after I finished The Adventurers, I read The Pirate and 3 words again (or maybe 2): Baydr Al Fay. Between Dax and Baydr, the latter shaped the image of the alpha male to my then-teen mind, and I suspect it kinda still does decades later.
- Shogun, by James Clavell – Anjin-san was the name Richard Blackthorne was christened by the locals when he and his crew end up shipwrecked in Japan in the midst of a deadly civil war of sorts (again, I’m not googling, so I might be wrong). I read this when I was grounded for a whole week–which meant I read 800-or-so pages in one week. Some of you may remember Richard Chamberlain playing Blackthorne in the mini-series.
- A Stone for Danny Fisher by Harold Robbins – I read this book years after I read The Adventurers and The Pirate, and this one broke my heart. As much as I love the first two Robbins’ books, I believe this was his best work and probably shaped much of my writing style.
- The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman – Ugh. That’s all I can say about this book and the movie version stars Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, which I cannot bear to watch because I will totally ugly-cry in the theater.
- Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I was introduced to Harry Potter via Jim Dale’s narration while on a drive from Los Angeles to Petaluma, which is north of San Francisco. I still remember driving around the neighborhood after midnight until I felt I reached the point where I could actually stop the book and move on with my regular life for a while. If Dale read a passage from the books in front of me, I’d probably cry with happiness.
- Under The Skin by Michel Faber – Let me just say that I became a vegetarian for six months after reading this book. The word, “mercy” will never be the same since I read it here and I’m still planning on returning to a vegan diet–as soon as I figure out how to plan meatless meals and live without using animal products. By no means is this a book that encourages going vegan–but Faber’s writing produced a visceral reaction in me that took me completely by surprise. Because of his character, Isserley, you will also never catch me hitchhiking anywhere in Scotland. This book was the basis of a movie starring Scarlett Johanssen and it’s totally just inspired by the book, not an adaptaion. I don’t think anyone would have funded the movie if it stuck anywhere close to the book at all. I do love the movie version though, but that’s probably only because I read the book and understood the cinematic changes.
- Siddhartha by Herman Hesse – We had to read this in high school and though I didn’t get it then, I appreciated it as I got older and began learning meditation. It chronicles the life of the Buddha before he became Buddha. As Siddhartha, he was a prince who gave everything up to seek enlightenment. I think Keanu Reeves played Siddhartha in the movie version, which I thought was pretty good.
- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck – Another book we had to read in high school and discuss at great lengths. It’s on my To Read Again list.
- The Little Prince by Antoine St. de Exupery – My all-time favorite children’s book that’s not exactly a children’s book. I have a 1946 edition that I treasure and every time I read it, it always leaves me sad that no one is taking care of the rose.
- The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – I know I said ten, but this is a runner up. Lisbeth Salander is a girl after my own heart. That girl went through so much throughout the whole series and man, did I root for her till the very end. As far as the movie goes, I’m crazy-loyal to the Swedish version starring Noomi Rapace.
- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Another runner-up only because I’d never read anything like it back in 1998. This had everything–romance, adventure, time travel, mystery. But oh, the romance and that Scottish accent! Jamie Fraser was my book boyfriend for years before I was introduced to John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport of the Prey series (this would be the third runner-up). But then Lucas got married and then became no fun…
- Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough – OMG, the feels with this one. It’s on my To Read Again list, too! Richard Chamblerlain was in the mini-series adaptation opposite Rachel (OMG this is killing me, no Google, but the name’s coming) Ward–who I remember now married Bryan Brown, who I think played her abusive husband…?
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman – This book blew me away simply because whowouldathunk? The old gods walking among us, disappearing into nothing when no one remembers them, and in the midst of it all, is a great con at work. I really need to reread this gem again, and am pretty excited that it’s going to be adapted into a series.
So there you have it. My Top Ten list that’s really my Top 15, but I hope my hastily-assembled list jogged your own memory, too, for your favorite all-time favorite books–without Googling anything. For a romance writer like me, not seeing a lot of romance books is worrying, but, oh well…
What’s on your Top Ten list?