Some books are entertaining. Some are interesting. Some books are fun and fast. Some draw you in because of an exciting plot. Some keep you going because of the author’s great writing style. And some books contain many if not all of these hooks that make them memorable. They wedge themselves in the folds of your brain, where you find yourself thinking about them every once in awhile. The books listed below have done just that. They’ve settled into a warm and cozy spot in my mind and heart. For me, they are unforgettable. They are some of my favorite books, although there are many others that also came very close to falling into this category. It was actually difficult to whittle this list down. This is not a complete and final list of my favorites, just the ones that I have reviewed so far. Check it out and see if any of them fall on your list, too. Click on the titles to read the reviews.
In Alphabetical Order
Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
Written with humor, this is a memoir of a poor boy growing up in Ireland, who later comes to America. Warning: this book may leave you with pangs of hunger in commiseration or pangs of guilt in having eaten that Snickers bar.
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Phileas Fogg with his valet, Passepartout, race around the world in order to win a bet and find themselves in a series of adventures. I call it the original Amazing Race.
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Published in 1948, this is the biographical account of growing up in a family of twelve kids with an eccentric father who was an “efficiency expert.”
City of Thieves by David Benioff
A novel about two men who are sentenced to death in St. Petersburg, Russia during WWII. They are given a one chance for survival: get a dozen eggs for a Soviet officer for his daughter’s wedding. It’s an almost impossible request that leads the two into heartbreaking and dangerous adventures told with a gripping, humorous style.
The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas
A woman marries a man she barely knows and moves to the Colorado Territory where she faces adversity on the new frontier and in her home. Mattie is a practical, optimistic, and sometimes naïve woman who makes the best of the most trying situations. I was rooting for her all the way.
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
In some seriously cold and god-forsaken place a man is trapped in an unhappy marriage. Along comes someone to brighten his day, but ….well, you’ll just have to read it.
The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken
A librarian forms a friendship with an overly tall boy. She calls it love, and it is a love story. But a different kind of love. Miss Cort narrates the story looking back on her life, and it “McCrackles” with a blunt, honest, and dryly humorous tone.
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
A gripping memoir about unbelievable circumstances of Jeanette’s family growing up. Both parents were extremely intelligent, but did everything they could not to work and properly provide for their family. Instead, the kids are always dirty, hungry outcasts.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Everyone knows this whopper of a book is about the saga of a spoiled Southern girl, Scarlett O’Hara, during and after the Civil War. What you may not know is that the book differs a little from the movie. Sure, Scarlett is still spoiled and Rhett is oh so handsome. But in the book she has more than one child, and more shockingly in the book the famous quote of “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn,” is strangely missing “Frankly.”
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
After WWII, writer Juliet Ashton finds herself corresponding with a man on Guernsey Island. Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, she learns about the people and history of the island.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Set in volatile Jackson, Mississippi in the early sixties, this story revolves around a budding reporter who clandestinely interviews the black hired help. She compiles their true stories into a book that rocks the town.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Written by one of the famous Brontë sisters, this book follows the life of an orphan girl who endures many hardships before becoming a governess. She falls in love with her master, totally inappropriate given her place in the household as well as the fact that she’s kind of homely compared to his upscale friends. Charlotte Brontë first published the book under the pseudonym Currer Bell. Charlotte lived the longest of all the siblings but died shortly after she married.
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
A young girl is ripped away from her family and sent to a leper colony on Moloka’i in the late 1800s. In this isolated place with a horrible disease Rachel grows up and learns to live with the hand she was dealt.
The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
The women in a quilting bee in a small Kansas town in the 1930s welcome a new member to their group. Queenie, one of the farm wives, befriends Rita and tries to help her in her quest to become a journalist who is unraveling an unsavory secret.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Basil paints the portrait of handsome Dorian Gray. When Gray later makes an off-handed remark that he wished he would always look like that, it magically comes true. But the results of a remarkable life of beauty and youth can become boring, and boredom can lead to no good.
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan
Based on the true story of Evelyn Ryan who raised a hungry family of ten kids on contest winnings. Her husband is an alcoholic who does little to support the family. With humor and an indomitable spirit Evelyn wins money, food, toys, and even a car for the family.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Not to be confused with the kid’s classic Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, this story is about a young woman who marries a handsome widower. Mrs. de Winter’s new life at Manderley is not what she thought it would be with housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers’, constant reminders of the late Rebecca de Winter. The book starts with one of the most famous openings: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman A twelve-year-old girl who lost her mother moves in with her great-aunt Tootie Caldwell. CeeCee begins her life in this southern town with a cast of memorable characters. Hoffman’s writing style is fun and amusing.
The Seasons of Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia
A successful children’s book author spends winters with his wife in the Caribbean and summers in Ghana with his second wife.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
After the sudden death of his parents, a veterinary student joins a circus. As he learns the ropes in this world of animals and eccentric people, he falls in love with the brutal owner’s wife. Good book!
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
A memoir about an English couple who retires in southern France. It’ll make you laugh and hungry as he describes his new life and the delicious meals there.