No, that isn’t me in the photo, but it does evoke all sorts of beautiful memories of reading outside on warm summer days.
This is one of those topics I could talk about all day. My list is a wonderful mishmash of genres and eras. I couldn’t be confined to just one small slice of the bookish world today.
Some stories are so amazing that I wish I could experience them again for the first time.
There’s nothing like the thrill of getting to know a well-rounded, beloved character or being delightfully surprised by a plot twist.
Rereading is lovely, but it’s never quite the same as experiencing those moments the first time.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Why: The ending was spectacular. I spent years pondering it before the sequel was released and the television show explored what happened to Offred after that pivotal moment.
2. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
Why: There are so many parallels between this futuristic version of Earth that was written in the 1990s and what we’re actually experiencing with climate change and political unrest today. It would have been fascinating to experience it for the first time as versions of so many of her predictions came true.
3. Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
Why: The author’s depictions of aliens was astounding. They were nothing at all like any sentient creature found on Earth. That’s difficult for any writer to do, and I adored “meeting” characters who felt so otherworldly.
4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Why: It’s my favourite classic novel. It’s filled with the sort of sturdy hope that can withstand the hardest times. I’ve returned to it through some of the most difficult portions of my own life, and it’s given me the courage to keep going when I need emotional support and encouragement.
Why: This is one of my favourite books of the twenty-first century so far. I know I discuss it regularly here, but it’s one of those stories that only becomes more meaningful over time. I keep going back to beautiful little details from the storyline that tied all of the plot twists together in ways I didn’t necessarily think twice about at the time.
6. The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
Why: Hagar was a fiercely unlikeable protagonist. If I were to meet her in real life, I’d be unflappably kind and polite to her while also feeling utter relief when she was no longer in my presence. With that being said, her character development was so excellent that she felt like a real person to me. There were good reasons for her cruel, vindictive, and emotionally abusive behaviour that I’ll leave for other readers to discover for themselves. That isn’t to excuse any form of abuse for any reason, only to say that sometimes people take their pain and fear out on others. I think it’s a sign of amazing writing when one genuinely wants to learn more about someone as awful as this character.
7. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
Why: While the last few books in this series weren’t really my cup of tea, the first instalment had fabulous character and plot development. I’ve literally had dreams about living 30,000 years ago and doing all of the hunting, gathering, and other tasks necessary for survival that were explained in such exquisite detail here.
Why: The ending couldn’t have been better or more satisfying. I pictured every incredible moment of it in my mind as I was reading. It would be delightful to experience it again while we wait for the film version that is currently in the works.
9. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Why: It was written for an adult audience who sympathized with Valancy as she endured emotional abuse and mistreatment with little hope for rescue when we first meet her. As much as I loved Montgomery’s lighter works that were written for children like Anne of Green Gables, her stories for adults were where she truly shined. She didn’t sugarcoat Valancy’s predicament in the least, and yet she still found a multitude of ways to show her audience how to survive when it seems like one’s difficult circumstances have no hope of improvement.
Why: The ending was incredible. It left me yearning for more, and I still wonder what might have happened to the main character as she became an adult. I will continue hoping for a sequel that explores her world in greater depth.