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Sunday, March 19, 2017

All-Time Favorite Books (Part 2): Staff Picks

Posted by Staff

We recently asked the staff here what their all-time favorite books were. Some of us had a hard time picking only one, but we did limit ourselves to five.  What is your all-time favorite book?   

Megan J.

Favorite Books OF ALL TIME! (not including Harry Potter)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I read this for the first time the summer after my freshmen year of high school while vacationing with my family in Hawai’i. I got lots of flak for reading a 19th century novel while the rest of my family was swimming with sea turtles and the like, but no regrets here. I think the reason this book still resonates with people even over 200 years after its first publication is because of the enduring characters. Everyone knows a Mrs. Bennet, or a Mr. Collins, or a Lydia in their life. And of course, we’d all like to be more like Elizabeth Bennet: smart, funny, and married to a ridiculously wealthy man.

Paper Towns by John Green

I’ve been a huge John Green fan since 2009, and while I adore the more well-known The Fault in Our Stars, his third novel is my favorite. The exploration of empathy and “imagining others complexly” in this story continues to resonate with me, especially as our world seems to become more divided and it gets harder to imagine our “enemies” as complete human beings who are as complicated as we are.

Yes Please
by Amy Poehler
If I could have a fairy godmother who I could call at anytime and receive sage advice from an older, smarter woman, it would be Amy Poehler. Reading her memoir is the next best thing. Amy’s memoir is hilarious and touching, and full of excellent advice for younger women (like me). If you can, try to listen to the audio book, which is read by Poehler herself, but also features the vocal talents of Seth Myers, Michael Schur, Patrick Stewart, and even Amy’s parents. 

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

I read this book for two separate literature classes in college, and each time I was blown away by how a book meant for children can still be so relevant and powerful as an adult. This is a story about stories, about how language and both reflect and shape our world, as well as a political allegory about India. But it’s also about fathers and sons, and the magic that holds our families together.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I read this book my first year of teaching, and it was the first of Gaiman’s novels that I read in its entirety. I fell in love almost from page one. Gaiman’s writing is exactly the kind of fantasy that I loved as a child and still love—magical and dark and funny all at the same time. The Graveyard Book is playful enough for children to enjoy, but also full of dark, adult-sized questions, ultimately helping us understand the role that death plays in our lives. Recommended for both the growing up and the growing old.

Cary H.

IT by Stephen King (audiobook format) – read by Steven Weber
I have read such a variety of book genres over the years: historical fiction, classics, literary, crime series, and romance. I read Stephen King in high school and in my twenties, but I really got hooked on him in my forties. Why do I pick this unlikely book as my “favorite”? For those of you who don’t already love King, it may seem odd that a book about an evil clown could be anything but ridiculous. It’s not ridiculous and the story is about way more than a clown! Trust me on this. The paperback version has over 1,000 pages, and I’ve read it, but it’s the audio version with Steven Weber as the reader that makes the story come alive. I was doubtful too, when I put the first audio disc into my car CD player, but Wow. After hours and hours of listening, the first thing I wanted to do when the book was over was play it again from the beginning. Immediately. I did not want the story to end.

I have read more lyrical, subtle, beautifully written books, but for pure story, Stephen King is amazing. Don’t be afraid, I know clowns are scary, but just try it ………


Mary B.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman
A novel about an angry old man next door and the impact one life has on so many others. Quirky characters. Will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

Author takes various train trips from London to Tokyo. Shows how, despite plane travel and package tours, that travel can still be an unexpected adventure where you meet all sorts of interesting people and see some very interesting places. Great travel writing!

Inspector Armand Gamach series (Still Life) by Louise Penny
A mystery series where the Chief of Surete du Quebec digs beneath the idyllic life in small town of Three pines to find long buried secrets. Very unique characters, easy reads, with good stories. 

Gabriel Allon series (Kill Artist) by Daniel Silva
About a master art restorer and sometimes officer of Israeli intelligence. Stories move fast and have interesting characters.

Anna Pigeon series (Track of the Cat) by Nevada Barr
Mystery novels written by law enforcement agent with US Park service that take place in various National Parks. Each book teaches you something about the various national parks!


Gerry B. 

Mastery by Robert Greene
This is my favorite book because I love the in-depth analysis Greene takes when looking at how historical figures such as Mozart or Einstein became masters at their craft. This book is both inspiring and very useful. I recommend this book to anyone who has a passion for a craft they are wanting to perfect.


Devin G.

The Harry Potter Series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone) by J.K. Rowling
A cultural phenomenon, Harry Potter is about a boy wizard training at a magical school and battling for his life with the Dark Lord who murdered his parents. When I was eight years old, my mom brought the first of this series home and began reading it aloud to me and my siblings. I was immediately hooked and still reread them every couple of years. While they are well written and have exceptional world building, what really makes me love this series are the multifaceted characters and their motivations.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Yet another book introduced to me by my mom! She and I would watch the movie adaptation with Keira Knightley on a frequent basis, so it was only natural that I read Austen’s novels. Lizzie Bennet is one of my favorite protagonists of all time and the Bennet family as a whole reminds me quite a bit of my own. It’s a cozy read for me, so I keep coming back to it again and again.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Frodo Baggins must destroy the One Ring of Power that will enable the Dark Lord Sauron to destroy all that is good in Middle-earth. This one isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you love detailed histories, epic adventures, and exhaustive world building, you might like it! It’s a classic that has stuck with me since childhood. 


Evan E.

Halo: The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund

This was my first dive into the deeper lore of Halo game franchise. It helped me gain a better understanding of the of how the game universe works and empathize with its characters.    

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