As in part one, my top 10 favorite non-fiction books, this post is motivates by the many requests I get from people asking for book recommendations.
When I was in high school, I had a rhythm down where many times I read a book a day. If I wasn't interested in class, which was 99% of the time, I'd sit in the back of the room and read, then I'd go home & read more. I read everything in Sci-fi and Fantasy I could get my hands on. I read the Tarzan series, I read every Conan book, and then I would re-read many of my favorites. I read a lot of good dark stuff too, Steven King, Anne Rice, and a truly talented writer of the macabre, Karl Edward Wagner. Unfortunately, I didn't read the "classics" until adulthood.
As I got older, I found my love for reading increasing, but my devotion to fiction decreasing It wasn't that I didn't like fiction anymore, I felt my allotted/discretionary reading time was better spent on reading non-fiction. When I offer my top 10 here, this reflects a few life-long favorites, but more of my adult favorites than those of my youth.
So, in no particular order, here are my top 10 favorite works of fiction:
#1. Okay, here is my all-time favorite fiction book, East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. This book has such a deep plot and weaves so many subtleties throughout, it blew me away. I loved Mice & Men a lot too.
#2. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. This is a book I've read several times, in my youth and as an adult. This book has a primal feel and pits the protagonist & antagonist against each other as if it were written to be studied. Also, the way Golding writes, the characters come to life and are very believable.
#3. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, by C S Lewis. I remember having a teacher read this to our class in second or third grade, this was the first book that I "got lost" in. I literally lost touch with reality while my teacher read this to me, my mind entered Narnia, and it was like I was in a trance. I read it to all of my boys when they were little, and when I our boys were young, I read it to their classes in school too.
#4. One Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. The simple plot of the book takes place in a Russian labor camp on a winter's day. It only covers one day, but it is amazing what takes place from from pre-dawn till lights out. It shows the will to live, the strength in community, and that life isn't always fair. I love this book, and felt like I there with the characters as they labored away on a power station, working with rudimentary tools and in harsh conditions.
#5. Friedman's Fables, by Ed Friedman. This book I have passed out several times, read from it in Sunday School & Sunday Night Small groups I read it to Klay when he still liked to have me read to him at nights. I can't get enough of this book! As you guessed from the title, it is a book of fables, and yes they all have a "moral of the story." This book is eye-opening, and life changing.
#6. The Traveler's gift, by Andy Andrews. I read this book in one sitting. The protagonist is a mid-life executive who realizes after being downsized, working minimum-wage jobs, and getting further in debt, that he's worth more dead than alive. He attempts suicide. After driving into an oak tree, he "wakes" up in the presence of some of history's most important people. Each of these people from the past teaches the protagonist important lessons. This is a book I've passed out & bought for others as gifts for years.
#7. The Brother's Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I don't have enough space here to describe this classic. All I can say is this book has such a wide scope of emotion and insight into the human soul that it should be required reading!
#8. Dandelion wine, by Ray Bradbury. Bradbury was my first "favorite" author when I was in grade school. When I read on Twitter he died, I immediately cried... on the job-site. Dandelion wine is set back in the 1920's, in the Midwest. It is a book of family, brotherhood and life in a simpler time. I think I have something in my eye.
#9. The Giver, by Lois Lowry. It is a book that blends an Orwellian 1984 & a Bradbury 451 world together, at least that's how I saw it. I read this book to a couple of our boys, and I don't know how many times I've read it. It's part of a trilogy, which I also recommend. This book is gripping, it's haunting, it's incredible.
#10. And The Shofar Blew, by Francine Rivers. This is the only Rivers's book I've read. I have no idea about the quality of her other books, Tammy has read about a dozen of her other books. I do know this book is unique for Rivers. This book is a tale of a young pastor who looses his way in his quest to build a mega-church. It should be required reading for any preaching/ministry class. Church leaders and members alike would get a lot out of it. This book helped me reevaluate my priorities. It was a great read, I doubt I can do it justice here with my thoughts.
Sorry, no runner-ups this time around.