what’s your best book ever?

April 2, 2011

“Lists like this one have two purposes. One is to instruct. The other of course is to enrage.”

I love this line from the TIME 100 best books website….

Once again I am on a search for an engrossing book – one that will change my life…. After reading things like The Book Thief, The Time Traveller’s Wife and Ahab’s Wife – I just can’t be motivated to read something mediocre…. I am asking all of you out there to PLEASE suggest one or more books that ‘rocked your boat‘.  (I will try and thank one random contributor with a little surprise in the mail….) Jo x

PS – any book suggestions for an 11 year old girl?



  1. Well it’s not really a novel, but “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey is a fantastic book. It’s easy to read and interesting all the way – good for getting your life on track. Another very thought-provoking book is “The Thiaoouba Prophecy” by Michel Desmarquet – very ‘out there’. At the moment I’m reading (bit by bit very slowly…), “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves” by Naomi Aldort which is fantastic. I’m also looking forward to reading several books that I bought ages ago, but haven’t got to yet: “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, two books on the Steiner journey through school, and “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

  2. Hi Jo, i’ll add my two bobs worth but i’m not at all sure you will like any of these offerings. You know that “Lord of the Rings” had the single biggest impact on me as teen, and i would read out loud to my sisters, my wife, my kids as bedtime stories, my dog…
    anyone i could lock in room. But i have moved on, and being a “Boy” i now read mainly history novels- there is so much to know…
    But, here are a few i have fond memories of.
    1. The Caine Mutiny- Herman Wouk. He tells a great story, even a girl might like.
    2. The Deptford Trilogy – Robertson Davies, the most engaging piece of writing in the first 2 pages you’ll ever be likely to read
    3. The Blackwater Lightship – Colm Toibin, Booker prize finalist, nicely written
    4. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller, i get it now, unlike when i first read it at 16 and thought it was shit.
    You can’t beat the classics really…
    5. Last but not least pretty much anything by Bill Bryson, who never fails to amaze me with his witt and intellect. If you can’t decide try “Notes from a Big Island” it made me cry from laughter, and was impossible to read to Hoppy as i couldn’d get the words out. He also writes serious stuff on the english language and his “short history on the World” is amazing also, but a bit more heavy duty.
    ohh, and i last year i re-read ‘Perfume” and found it just as good as the first time.

  3. ‘Eucalyptus’ by Murray Bail.
    (Just. Beautiful).

    ‘Cloud Street’ by Tim Winton
    (Made me homesick as all get out when I was living overseas).

    ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy
    (Took my breath away).

    ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ by John Irving
    (I wonder if ten years on, I would still laugh out loud in public places?)

  4. I loved Lionel Shriver’s “Post Birthday” world. “Lets talk about Kevin” was seriously disturbing but like any good book, left you thinking and feeling deeply.

    I rarely read novels these days – I’m trying to remember the last one I’ve read? “Book Thief” is still sitting unread on my shelf!

    For an 11yo – some of the Enid Blyton classics like Famous Five, Mr Galliano’s Circus, Mr Pinkwhistle etc are lots of fun. Or Lemony Snickett.

  5. Two of my absolute favourite books that spring instantly to mind are:
    The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and
    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.
    Both of these books swept me up, totally engrossed me and I never wanted them to end. I have read other books by the same authors but none have had quite the same emotional impact (although Brook’s “People of the Book” was also a pretty good read.)
    Others on my top books list are:
    The Lord of the Rings
    A Prayer for Owen Meany
    Catch 22
    Pillars of the Earth
    Pride and Prejudice
    Jane Eyre

    Hope this helps!

  6. Pillars of the Earth is supposed to be amazing. Another book still sitting on my bookcase!

  7. OK, at the risk of being laughed out of cyberspace, has to be Breaking Dawn. Did it change my life? Well, just the three consecutive days it took to devour it. The perfect ending to the Twilight jaggarnot.
    ‘Seven Laws of Spiritual Success’ by Depak Chopra is pretty good… yet, oh so different to Breaking Dawn.
    Lots of love.

  8. The question about a book for an 11-year-old, Anna is loving the Little House on the Prarie series.

  9. ….my daughter really enjoyed the Lemony Snickets series at around about 11 and a year or two later “Mimus”…, she also read all the “Horrible History” stories, the Illustrated Tin Tin books are fabulous.

    For the grown ups, and if you like history “Bury my heart at Wounded knee” is a must

  10. For the 11 y/o i remember reading and absolutely loving, “A dream of Saddler Wells” by lorna hill. It almost made me want to do ballet- which was something i had never dreamt of (all too girly for me) Also loved
    I am david- but of course it centres on a boy!

    and another whose name i have forgotten but if they held purple flowers they could fly…

    and for the adults
    * Mr Pip
    * Death of a riverguide
    *An evil cradling
    * weight (j. winterson)
    * the orchard

    to name a few (better late than never)

  11. For an 11 year old: One of my favourite books ever “I heard the owl call my name” by Margaret Craven. The moving story of a terminally ill young Anglican priest who is sent to an Indian village in the wilderness of B.C., Canada. What he learns about life and nature prepares him for his own death.

  12. I know it is a little late to respond to this but you know, it is never really too late. I just thought seeing it hasn’t been mentioned yet. Over the holidays Glenn and I got into Paulo Coelho. If you haven’t already read “The Alchemist”, it is unforgettable and definitely life changing. “Brida” is a beautiful journey about a woman and he has many other titles to try as well. x

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