18 books I love

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
  • Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin
  • Jacob Have I loved by Katherine Paterson
  • Narnia books by CS Lewis
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  • Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Ash-Wednesday by TS Eliot (poem)
  • Leviathon by Scott Westerfeld

Some observations

Age of audience

Kids (about 12 years old): 7

Adult: 7

Young Adult: 4

This is surprising. I would have guessed that the YA books would have topped the list and adult books would have been rock-bottom. Maybe there are so many kids’ books on here because I was more deeply influenced by books when I was that age, reading these.

Then again, if I rank them from the ones that I consider the absolute best, the YA books are on the top.


Fantasy: 8

Science fiction: 4

Historical: 4

Literary: 2

Reasons the books are on the list

Made me think differently/changed me: 11

Emotionally powerful: 9

Impressive worldbuilding: 5

Stunning plot: 1

Purpose of this exercise

I want to give readers the same things that I get from books that I love. The final category here is probably the most useful. Books I love change me, make me see the world differently, and are emotionally powerful. This is the kind of book I want to write.

I think there’s a connection between the books that change me and that are emotionally powerful: the emotional strength is what made them carry change into my heart.

It’s also an insight into WHY things work. Only one book is here because I was surprised at what happened. As for the rest, I generally could see what was coming. It’s not plot that drives change in readers, it’s emotion.

What books change you?

Are you trying to emulate any particular qualities of books as you write? Do you love books because of their aesthetics or their plot twists, their ability to change you or the emotional roller coaster they strap you into?

Join our conversation!