Top 10 Favorite Novels

I just discovered blogfests this week, and here I am taking part in a second one.  Madeleine Maddock at Scribble and Edit  is doing a blogfest called “Share Your Ten Best Novels.” Madeleine, this is a great idea! Thank you.
I will give favorites roughly in the order that I discovered them and give a reason why they became my favorites.
Heidi by Johanna Spyri


Heidi is the first book I ever owned. I was in the fourth grade in public school when I got it. We had a gift exchange in the class, and someone had given me a necklace, apparently not knowing that I was not allowed to wear jewelry. My friend, Debra Model, had just gotten a gift of the book, Heidi. She said she had already read it. I asked if she wanted to trade gifts, and she did. It was like magic to own a book! I didn’t have access to many books at the time, so I loved it all the more.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain


The reason for this being one of my favorites is probably obvious. Mark Twain is one of my favorite writers of all times. He could make any story interesting. I read his stories as a child, and then again as an adult.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery           

I was in my early twenties, teaching school in the Amish community when my friend, Susan Kurtz, first told me about the Anne of Green Gables series.  I was halfway through the first chapter when Anne stole my heart. I read the whole series, not able to put the books down. In yesterday’s blogfest about writing compelling characters, there was much talk of how a character needed flaws. If Anne had any, they became invisible to me. She was just so honest. I still love her. And it was uncanny how the films that were made years later captured the characters, setting, and everything exactly the way I had imagined them. I need to see those again!

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


When I left the Amish, I had a lot of catching up to do in reading good literature. David and I were in a reading group when we read and discussed To Kill a Mockingbird. I absolutely loved it because it provided such a wonderful example of how a responsible adult (Atticus) protects and cares for his children. One interesting aspect of the story is how Scout accepts her life for what it is, without a mother. She is well cared for by her father, so she feels secure and loved, which allows her to be a child.
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel


The Amish absolutely do not believe in evolution. In fact, it was considered heresy and a terrible sin to even think of it in my home community. So, when I first found out David (my boyfriend at the time) believed in evolution, I cried, because I loved him, and I didn’t know how I could be in a relationship with someone who believed in evolution. It took me years to get out of the Amish mindset and think of evolution as a possibility for explaining the world, the universe, and everything in it.  Reading The Clan of the Cave Bear was pivotal in opening me to new ways of thinking.
My Ántonia by Willa Cather


When I was living in a rural town in Vermont with two young children, I was trying to catch up on reading classics, but I didn’t even know what titles I wanted to read. One day I told the librarian that I had grown up Amish and had very little exposure to literature, but I would like to make up for lost time, could she recommend some books to me.  She kindly recommended My Ántonia, which kicked off the start of me reading classics. The story was intense, but very well written.
The Seal Mother by Mordicai Gerstein


I know this is cheating just a tad, because picture books are not really novels. But The Seal Mother has got to be one of my favorite stories.  I discovered it during the weekly visits to the local library for the stack of books that I would sign out with my boys. I don’t know if my boys enjoyed hearing the story as much as I liked to read it, but I selfishly took the book out of the library every few months. It is about the great grey seals taking human form and coming out onto the rocks to sing and dance on midsummer’s eve. A local fisherman fell in love with one of the seal women and captured her sealskin so she could not take her seal form again. She married him and had a child, only because he promised he would return her sealskin after seven years. He does not keep his promised, but the son helps his mother find her skin. She returns to the sea, and she visits her son often. The reason this story spoke to me as it did, is because I felt like the seal mother — when I left the Amish, I found my true form.
The Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls



I loved reading to my boys. And lucky for me, they liked it too. I used to read chapter books to them, even after they could read themselves. I read The Summer of the Monkeys to Tim one summer.  One day we were lying in our hammock in the backyard, reading the book. I read about a character in the book who was lying in a hammock reading. Tim looked at me and said “Mom!” and we both laughed at the synchronicity of it all.  It is a sad story, but has a bittersweet ending. When we finished the book, Tim and I were both crying.
The Romance Reader by Pearl Abraham


A friend called me one day and said she had just discovered a book that reminded her of me. She offered to loan me the book, which I devoured. It was very much my story, set in a Chassidic family instead of an Amish family, so I could definitely identify with “Rachel.” I have read it several times since.
All Men Are Mortal by Simone de Beauvoir


I love when philosophy and literature come together as they do in All Men Are Mortal. This story explores the question of what it would be like for someone to live forever. Not a good scenario, if one thinks about it, as this book is prone to make one do. I love the philosophical passages woven into the story.
So, here are my favorites (at least of the ones I can think of now). Are any of these your favorites, too? 

Next I will be heading over to Scribble and Edit to look at other people’s picks. 

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19 thoughts on “Top 10 Favorite Novels”

  1. Thanks, Katie, for your comment. Happy reading!

    I’ve been meaning to let you know how much I enjoy your pictures and writing of your travels. You have a gift with a camera!

    Saloma

  2. Hi Saloma…what a lovely list. Thanks for dropping by on my blog and sharing your list. It was nice to read everyone’s list.
    I will be making a new list of books that just has to go into my TBR pile.

  3. Hi Saloma..thanks for sharing your list. To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer and Heidi are my favourites too.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog. Have a nice week.
    Many new books will go into my TBR pile. :)

  4. Hi Saloma Thanks for joining my novel blogfest. How exciting! I love Anne of Green Gable and To Kill a Mocking Bird, though I’m not familiar with most of your others. I never read Heidi though I know the story from TV. Thanks for sharing. I shall follow up your other recommendations. :O)

  5. I enjoyed Heidi, Tom Sawyer and Anne of Green Gables as a child as well. To my shame, still have not read “To Kill A Mockingbird”. It’s been lots of people’s top 10 lists so I really must find myself a copy! Very interesting to read about Amish views of certain books, especially Jean N. Auel’s books. Never quite thought of it that way before. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Funny how so many of our favorite fiction book are beloved stories for children. Having just read Anne of GG last week (I’m now on Anne of Avonlea) it would definitely make my list now. I always think of To Kill a Mockingbird as America’s favorite novel. When I ran a reading discussion group, I was amazed at the turn out to discuss TKAM. People love that book, and admittedly, it is truly great because it is memorable. Now you’ve made me want to read My Antonia.

  7. It seems we have some mutual favorites. I love Anne of Green Gables (actually most of Montgomery’s works) and To Kill a Mockingbird. This theme is a wonderful idea!
    Blessings,
    Karen
    P.S. Have you ever read The Blue Castle by Montgomery? That’s a favorite too. :)

  8. Some of these are my favorite too. My Antonia, The Summer of Monkeys, and The Romance Reader are new to me and I will definitely read them now. I like books for children/young adults too. My sister and I speculate that maybe they tend to be kinder to both the characters and reader. In many ways.

  9. Thank you all, for your lovely comments. Karen, I have not read The Blue Castle, but now I will. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Angelle, I agree that children and YA books tend to be kinder to the characters and the reader than many adult novels. I hope it never goes out of fashion to have some kind of resolution at the end of children and YA books. Perhaps that is why I love them so much… why read through a difficult book if not for some kind of redemption at the end?

    This has been a fun process to learn about blogfests and participate in 2 in one week… the novels one is really fun. Madeleine, thank you very much for hosting it.

  10. I think everyone should read To Kill A Mockingbird. To my shame I haven’t read any of the others on your list although I have seen the films of Heidi and Tom Sawyer.

    From the photo you’ve chosen to illustrate it, Anne Of Green Gables looks like a novel about a girl with only one leg. I’m intrigued.

    Dave
    Dave Wrote This

  11. I’ve read most of the books on your list and they’re also some of my favorites. One of my favorite books of all time is not a novel. I go back and read The Hiding Place about every five years or so.

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