Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Top Ten Favorite Books of All Time

My Top Ten Favorite Books of All Time - A Simpler Grace
Today we are talking about one of my favorite subjects - BOOKS!  When people find out I'm a book lover, I'm often asked what are my favorite books or which books I would recommend, so I thought it would be fun to share my top ten favorite books of all time.  I'd love to hear if you have read any of these and what your favorites are, so let me know if the comments below!  Here they are, in very particular order.  

Three Cups of Tea is the recounting of Mortenson's summit of Pakistan's K2 during which he encounters a remote village that has no school for its children.  After speaking with some of the local leaders, he promises to build a school for them and over the next ten years, completes the construction of over fifty schoolhouses in impoverished towns across the southwest Asian region.

I enjoy this story because it brings awareness to the need for quality education for all children, especially girls, who are commonly deprived of opportunities to learn in a school setting in many of these middle eastern countries. Three Cups of Tea is a wonderful study of a culture that has often been misrepresented since 9/11.


This book has seen a lot of wear and tear (which is why it's missing the dust jacket) as I have reread this story every year since it was released.  Tuesdays With Morrie is the memoir from Mitch Albom about his reconnection with his favorite college professor and mentor, Morrie Schwartz, nearly twenty years after graduation.  The reunion occurs in the end stages of Morrie's battle with ALS and they spend his final months together every Tuesday talking about life and love and death.

I have a soft spot for Morrie because my grandmother also suffered from ALS, but on a deeper note, this story reminds us that people enter (and re-enter) our lives at specific times, not by coincidence, but because their presence has a purpose in our lives and we are meant to learn something from each of them.


If you've known me for any length of time, you know that I am a huge Kennedy buff.  I've watched every movie, show and miniseries on the Kennedy family and have read, just about, every book published on the topic.  Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero is the biography from Hardball's Chris Matthews and it follows the life of JFK based on interviews with the Kennedy family, colleagues, and top political aides.

This book falls in my top ten list because it shares an intimate look into Kennedy's life and gives you an idea of who he really was from the viewpoint of those closest to him - something a history - and specifically - a Kennedy nerd lives for.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is probably the most recognizable book on my list.  This classic from Lewis Carroll is about a little girl by the name of Alice who falls into a rabbit hole and ends up in a magical world filled with whimsical characters like the Mad Hatter and March Hare, The Cheshire Cat and the Queen of Hearts.

This is my all-time favorite children's story and I knew I wanted to write creatively when I read it for the first time. I love that children's books and fairy tales, in general, foster imagination and let you see the make-believe come alive.


I did not like dystopian novels until I picked up Divergent - the first science fiction book in the self-titled series.  The book is about 16-year-old Beatrice, who lives in futuristic, war-torn Chicago where the population is split into five factions.  Each teen must choose the faction they belong in and live out their lives serving and working in their chosen group.  Chaos and mutiny quickly ensue and Beatrice finds herself needing to fight for her life and the lives of those she loves.

For being categorized as a young adult book, Roth does an excellent job capturing emotional complexity in this story.  From new love to betrayal, Roth's descriptive writing style will have you feeling all the feels.  The book reads like an action film and I found it difficult to put it down. I adore novels that deliver well-thought-out details, intertwining storylines, and complex characters but still excite you about what's coming on the next page.


The Da Vinci Code is a historical thriller that digs into the religious mysteries behind Leonardo Da Vinci's artwork.  Professor Robert Langdon is called in to help solve the murder of a Louvre curator who happens to hold the key to an ancient secret society.  With the help of the curator's granddaughter and French cryptologist Sophie Neveu, the pair tumbles into a very thick yet hidden family history and learn of an ancient secret that many are willing to die to protect.

This is one of the most thoroughly researched books I've ever read, delving into some topics I love such as art, religion, and secret societies and, let's face it, I adore anything Leonardo Da Vinci.  What you don't see in the above photo are the hundreds of post-it flags marking pages upon pages of topics and theories I want to do more research on in the near future.  The Da Vinci Code is an intellectually satisfying work of fiction and I can read it over and over again.


The book that started my adoration for legal and political thrillers, The Tenth Justice was Brad Meltzer's debut novel about U.S. Supreme Court clerk Ben Addison who is blackmailed to deliver a court decision before it is officially handed down.  This fast-paced plot is full of twists and turns and you suspect every one of the main characters of being the leak that catapults Ben into a race for time and a race to save his career.

Brad Meltzer is a living encyclopedia of all things legal, political and conspiratorial and his research shows in The Tenth Justice.  He will have you on the edge of your seat and second-guessing your theories as you burn through the pages of this thriller.


Eat, Pray, Love is the memoir of author Elizabeth Gilbert as she leaves love and heartbreak behind in New York City and journies into self-discovery while traveling for an entire year abroad - four months in Italy, four months in India and four months in Bali.  Along the way, Gilbert connects with handfuls of memorable characters who teach her about life and help her find her long-lost self again.

Liz Gilbert is a storyteller and reading this book is like you are sitting at a little cafe table across from her with your cup of cappuccino or glass of wine and listening to her tell you her story.  She digs so deeply into her own emotional chokeholds that you find yourself gasping, "Yes!" when you realize you have felt that exact way at some point in your life.  This is another book that I read at least once a year and learn something new about myself each time I crack it open.


Hazel Grace Lancaster is sure she is going to die.  A teenage girl with lung cancer in remission, she views herself as a walking time bomb - until she meets Augustus Waters in her cancer support group. Gus brings Hazel back to life, teaching her to love and hope again for the future.  This painfully-truthful novel is about two teenaged kids who are forced to experience some very adult feelings.

John Green is such an amazing writer, capturing the raw emotion of heartbreak and grief in such a truthful way, you will experience them right along with the characters.  Green's writing style has a natural flow to it and although this is classified as a teenage book. the complex storylines and detailed character profiles will have even the most mature reader's heart long before you reach the last page.


My favorite book of all time, The Art of Racing in the Rain, is narrated by a dog named Enzo, who believes that if you are a good dog, you are reincarnated into a man in your next life.  Enzo lives with his owner, race car driver, Denny along with his wife and daughter Zoe.  During the day, while Denny is working, Enzo watches the National Geographic channel in hopes of learning as much as he can about the world.  He also watches recorded races Denny has been in - because he wishes, more than anything, to be a race car driver like his owner when he becomes a man.

This book presents a simple theme of a dog who holds a family together when they are going through tough times and how, even though it's just an animal, families really do rely on those animals for companionship and security.  It also presents a more complex and thought-provoking idea.  Who would your dog be if he were to be reincarnated into a man in the next life?

What are your favorite books of all time?  Have you read any of my favorites?

The post My Top Ten Favorite Books of All Time first appeared on A Simpler Grace.  If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it with your friends!


  1. Ahh some of my favorites are on here too. :) I LOVED The Art of Racing in the Rain so much, and pretty much weeped throughout the last few chapters.

  2. Rachelle, it is such a great book! I cry through the last half of it and especially at the end in Italy. :)

  3. Brie @ SophistifunkApril 26, 2016 at 2:28 PM

    I'm so excited to read some new books! I've read five on your list and they're definitely some of my favorites. I really look forward to reading The Art of Racing in the Rain. :)

    xo Brie

  4. Brie I'm so excited that you're going to read Racing in the Rain! I pick up new books thinking they might top it as my #1 fave, but they never do. It's a great one! :)

  5. I've only read a few of these, and I look forward to finding some new favorites from your list! Thanks for sharing them!

  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  7. I love Fault in Our Stars and I enjoyed reading Divergent more than watching the movie! I've been meaning to read Eat Pray Love but I always forgot when I start a new book.

  8. The Fault in Our Stars is so good! John Green is an amazing writer. I agree with you on Divergent, Adriana. I feel like there was a lot of details discussed in the books whereas in the film, it was almost as if you were expected to have that knowledge going in. I thought the same thing about Insurgent too. Haven't seen the third film yet, so I can't speak for that one. :) Thanks for stopping by and reading the post!