For all the reading I do, I thought I’d sit down and write out my absolute, all time favorite books.

It’s really, really hard for me to narrow it down but there are just some books that I’ve gone back to through the years and will go back to in the future. To me, a favorite book feels like a long term friend, and whenever I need to I can go back and reread to escape or find something I’m missing in my real life.

Anyway, enjoy mine – for now!

EllaEnchanted | Book Challenge 2020

Ella Enchanted

What happens when you’re cursed to always have to obey every command.

  • Author: Gail Carson Levine
  • When I First Read: Somewhere between 7-9
  • Setting: Kingdom of Frell
  • Buy Local // Shop Amazon

The original love of my life in book form. When people ask me why I am the way I am, I can point to a lot of different references and Ella Enchanted is one of them. I must’ve read this book as a kid (I’m almost certain it was purchased at a Scholastic Book Fair. If not there than Walden Books for sure) and re-read it multiple times through the years and it has ALWAYS held up. Like I should still have my original copy in storage somewhere and it is well worn and well loved.

I just remember reading it and being able to feel and see everything Ella was feeling and seeing. Like the cake she eats until she’s sick or the dresses she wears through the novel. I don’t know how to describe it but I even remember trying to draw what was described.

Also, Amethany, if you ever follow me or see this post – I think we as adults can finally agree that Just Ella is NOT a sequel. And also to whoever played Prince Charming at Disney World in 2002, sorry I interrogated you so much about your real first name. I really thought you were going to admit it was Charmont and you went by Char because of this book.

One to Watch | Book Challenge 2020

One to Watch

When a plus size fashion blogger goes on the book’s version of “The Bachelorette”

  • Author: Kate Stayman-London
  • When I First Read: 2020
  • Setting: LA with some Marrakesh and Paris
  • Buy Local // Shop Amazon

This book is quite literally the most perfect rom-com novel in existence and I can’t believe this is Stayman-London’s debut (and currently ONLY novel until her next one comes out in the fall). My friend, Caitlin, recommended it and I was instantly in love when I finished. It’s probably the first book with a plus-size character where the portrayal felt real without it being a huge *thing.* It honestly made me like the Bachelor like 1% more than I did (which is like -10000% but I digress).

If you’ve read too many shitty romance novels in a row, pick this one up! I’m due for a reread now that I think about it.

Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery | 2018 Book Challenge

Rilla of Ingleside by LM Montgomery

The final book of the Anne Shirley series about her youngest daughter during WWI.

  • Author: LM Montgomery
  • When I First Read: Middle School
  • Setting: Prince Edward Island
  • Buy Local // Shop Amazon

The entire Anne of Green Gables series is also a must-read, but if I had to absolutely pick my favorite it would have to be Rilla of Ingleside. My favorite Anne-centered book is Anne of the Island, and while I love reading about her foray into college and finally falling in love with Gilbert Blythe, there’s just something really specially about the final book.

Rilla is about her youngest daughter and is set during World War I as many of the boys of PEI go off to a war no one is prepared for. It’s actually one of the only contemporary WWI novels that covers life at home in Canada. During the novel, Rilla grows from being a bit of a shallow pretty girl to a woman with determination and strength. Add in a cute little romance with Kenneth Ford, and it’s both triumphant and absolutely heartbreaking to read. Just thinking about it makes me tear up.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry | 2022 Book Challenge

People We Meet on Vacation

Poppy and Alex were best friends and total opposites for years until one night two years ago ruined everything. Now they have a chance at one more trip to clear the air.

Another book Caitlin recommended! I read this and I remember it taking forever to come in from the library. As soon as it did though, I think I must’ve read it in record time. I feel like an Emily Henry mega fan, and this is still my absolute favorite of her books. The way Poppy feels about her hometown and how that motivates her to see the world feels so close to how I feel about my hometown and drive to see the world that it felt like reading a book about me. Only I’ve never had an Alex lol.

The Great Passage by Shion Miura

The Great Passage

A charming book about the creation of a dictionary in Tokyo.

By now I’ve read quite a few modern Japanese books, and they all have had this lovely ability to make the mundane enchanting. By all means a book about creating a dictionary should be as dull as dishwater but I just remember be utterly charmed the whole way through. Like if you can make dictionaries romantic, you deserve all the awards! I actually think I’m due for a reread soon, I swear I think about this book like once a month for the most random of reasons.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo | 2020 Book Challenge

The Night Tiger

Ji Lin is trying to pay off her mother’s debt while keeping it a secret from her stepfather and stepbrother while Ren is a houseboy who must find his former master’s lost finger within 49 days or else his soul will wander the earth forever.

  • Author: Yangsze Choo
  • When I First Read: 2019/20
  • Setting: 1930s Perak State, Malaysia (Ipoh)
  • Buy Local // Shop Amazon

My second Yangsze Choo book and my instant favorite. Choo just has this way of world building, bringing her characters to life, and managing to keep both the mystery and fantasy elements feeling real and important to the story. Ji Lin and Ren are such intriguing characters and the bit of romance just perfectly scratches that itch. If you’ve never read one of her books, start with this one!

The Shadow in the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

The Shadow of the Wind

After falling in love with a book and wanting to find more from the author, a young man finds himself entangled in a world of murder and tragic love.

  • Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • When I First Read: Freshman Year of College
  • Setting: Barcelona, Spain
  • Buy Local // Shop Amazon

This is hands down one of my favorite books of all time, and the way I discovered it sounds like it should be out of a romance novel lol. My first kiss actually recommended it and lent me his copy and it absolutely cured my reading rut. Like I tore through this within maybe a week and was consumed by the story. I immediately made my roommate read it and she too was in love. (Unfortunately, there was no romance between me and my first kiss but that’s a story for another day.)

The mystery and tension in this book is impeccable – all I can say is read it right now if you haven’t! I love it so much, I own multiple versions in Spanish and English. RIP Carlos, your talent is sorely missed.

Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller

The Song of Achilles

A love story of the ages as told by Patroclus about our golden hero Achilles.

I couldn’t quite decide if I loved this or Circe more but I ultimately am a sucker for predetermined doomed romances so… here we are. You know the story of Achilles – you know how he and Patroclus end. In this book, Miller explores their romance through Patroclus’s eyes. I cannot emphasize how devastated I was. Like borderline inconsolable – you’d have thought I had no idea they both ended up dead!

I just find Miller’s writing to be so beautiful in this deeply internal way, and Patroclus became realer to me than in any other adaption of the Trojan War I’d seen or read. I am beyond excited for the day she’s able to publish her take on Psyche and Eros, aka my favorite myth.

The Tea Girl of Humming Bird Lane

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

As a member of the Akha people, Li-yan’s life revolves around tea and tradition. What happens then when she breaks that tradition with a baby out of wedlock?

I cannot emphasize the mild life crisis this book gave me when I finished it. I’ve liked and loved every Lisa See novel I’ve read so far and while The Island of Sea Women gave this one a run for its money, ultimately the unexpected matter of adoption hit me like a gut punch and really made me think about my birth mother and my heritage in a way I hadn’t before.

book challenge

The Wild Girl

A story about Dortchen Wild, the girl next door to the Grimm brothers, a source for many of their stories, and eventual wife of Wilhelm Grimm.

My friend, Elissa, introduced me to Kate Forsyth through her first novel, Bitter Greens. I’ve read a good chunk of Forsyth’s novels now and The Wild Girl is still my favorite. I’ve reread it at least once and I think I might again soon because Dortchen Wild is such a fascinating character and the way Forsyth takes us through her story is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt

Up a Road Slowly

A story about a young girl named Julie as she moves with her Aunt Cordelia after her mother’s death and grows up over the next ten years.

For the longest time I told people this was my favorite book ever. I’m going to have to re-read it to see if it holds up because I truly think I read it at the perfect time. It’s just this really lovely, really well written coming-of-age story that follows Julie from a grieving 10-year-old to an accomplished 17-year-old and I found it so comforting in middle school. I actually discovered Irene Hunt because we had to read Across Five Aprils for 7th grade history. I remember not loving the story but liking the writing so when I saw this book while perusing the shelves of Walden Books, I picked it up.

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams | 2020 Book Challenge

Along the Infinite Sea

On paper, Annabelle Dommerich’s life story is more than confusing, what with the Nazi husband and Jewish lover, but there’s more than meets the eye.

  • Author: Beatriz Williams
  • When I First Read: 2020
  • Setting: Cocoa Beach, FL, Paris, and Germany
  • Buy Local // Shop Amazon

I freakin’ love Beatriz Williams and the way she brings this WASP-y side to 20th century America to life. All of her books are somewhat intertwined, so just be prepared to dive in and start trying to piece together characters and their relationships.

After careful consideration, I’d have to say Along the Infinite Sea is the book that I think about the most, although The Summer Wives is a close second. There’s a bit of a mystery of who Annabelle winds up with in the end but the romance and heartbreak and tension are just so palpable, it’s incredible. This was actually the last book I read in 2020, and I remember finishing while at a New Year’s Eve party!!

Just Last Night

What happens when your friend suddenly dies and your lifelong friend group must face issues they’ve been avoiding for years?

Ugh – UGH!!! I am also a Mhairi McFarlane megafan, and this was my introduction to her. It kind of is sold like a friends to lovers romance but it is 100% not. It’s truly about the grief that comes after your best friend dies suddenly and you don’t actually get any closure. I’ve lost two friends in the last decade, and this book would’ve felt like a lifeline when I was initially grieving. It’s just so freaking good!!

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton | 2023 Book Challenge

Everything I Know About Love

A series of essays from Dolly Alderton about love in all its messy forms.

This is actually a book my friend who passed away recommended years ago but I never read it until last year. It’s kind of ironic that the timing worked out because I truly think this is a perfect book for like 29 – 34, maybe older depending where you are in life. It’s just so true and wildly funny and there’s something comforting knowing someone has gone through the same roller coasters you’ve gone through albeit in different ways.

Not to spoil anything – but the moral of the story as is with life is that the love of your girlfriends should be treated as special as it is!

Why Not Me?

A follow up to her first memoir, this book goes through Mindy Kaling’s life and her musings on how she’s gotten to where she is.

  • Author: Mindy Kaling
  • When I First Read: 2015 or 16
  • Setting: Los Angeles, CA
  • Buy Local // Shop Amazon

I cannot overemphasize how important this book has been to me and my mindset over the years. I want to reread it soon to refresh my memory but basically the overriding lesson I got from it is “Well, why not me?” Why can’t I do x, y, or z? What’s stopping me exactly? What’s stopping you from doing whatever it is you want to do? Why not you?

I recommend everyone read it. Self-help gurus and life coaches WISH they could do what Mindy Kaling manages to do in this book about her life!

What are some of your all time favorite books? Let me know below!

For more bookish posts, read these next:

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