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I think some of the best books I’ve read were books that were “forced” upon me – whether that meant physically shoved in my hands, accompanied by an order to read now or else, or suggested through gifting, top # lists, or what have you. Last week I talked about my top ten best and worst series enders and I’ll admit that many of the books that started those journeys were “forced” on me, one way or another.
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I remember my high school-age sister forcing The Hunger Games on me one Thanksgiving. Catching Fire was not yet released, but she handed me this book and said, you have to read this right now. That was at 9pm in the evening. I didn’t go to sleep until I’d finished it, read in one sitting on my parents sofa, at 3am in the morning.
2. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
I’m a huge Brandon Sanderson fan so I would have, eventually, made my way to this book – however, I also gifted a copy of it to my dad for Christmas a few years ago and he dove into it immediately. Then, he began hounding me to read it – as he wanted to discuss it. For months I listened to him telling me how good it was, and finally I gave in. It was everything he said it was.
3. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Last Christmas, before the movie was released, I “forced” myself to read the unabridged Les Mis. Why? Because I’d never seen the musical, I’d only heard one song from it as well, and I did not know the story. At all. So for four days I locked myself in my bedroom and I read. And I cried. It was amazing.
This is technically a series, but my brother-in-law forced these books on me by way of a Christmas present (he only bought me the first volume, what was he thinking??). I did not experience David Eddings as a teenager, but fell just as much in love with the story as an adult.
5. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
I have always wanted to be that person who could casually say, “Well, I thoroughly enjoyed To the Lighthouse…” and then go on talking about its brilliance and imagery and the fascination I have with the writing style. But until I took a class that required me to read this book, I had been unable to make it past the first 20 pages or so. Only under the expert discussion points of Dr. Barr at Eureka College did I manage to gain not only an appreciation, but a love for this fascinating, brilliant book.
6. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
A childhood friend recommended this book via his blog (I think? maybe it was Facebook or Twitter or some other outlet) so I took it upon myself to pick it up and read it. I don’t take recommendations lightly and went into this story with high expectations. To this day, I still feel a sense of wonder at the beginning of the book. It affected me more deeply than anything else I’ve read.
7. The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright
Such an oldie – but a good one. This has made its way to numerous lists of mine, and for good reason. I read this first as a young girl, then as a teenager, and most recently as a 30-something woman and each time its message touched me in different ways. It’s a beautiful story and one that should be cherished.
8. 8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
My friend, Kari, reviewed 8th Grade Superzero and gave it such glowing praise that I couldn’t resist. This is not a book I would normally pick up – the cover did not appeal to me at all, but I was thankful that her review “forced” me to give it a shot because it turned out to be one of my favorites.
9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
My aunt gave me Anne of Green Gables for Christmas when I was around 10 years old. I was a reader, but was primarily reading biographies of famous composers around that time (and whatever classics I could get my hands on from my dad’s library). I remember being hesitant, but I quickly fell in love with Anne and she was, and has been, a constant companion throughout my life.
10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
While I was introduced to Anne as a child, I was not introduced to A Wrinkle in Time for some reason. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20′s/early 30′s that I first stumbled across this title as being a favorite of many friends. I tried first to listen to it on audio and that failed, so I put it aside for a while until I got my hands on a paperback copy that was obviously well-loved through PaperbackSwap. While I think it lost some of its magic by being a late discovery, I did thoroughly enjoy the story and appreciate how much it would have appealed to me as a girl.
Did I miss anything obvious? Chime in!