Top Five Favorite Reads (To Date)

Top Five Fridays.  Has a nice ring, doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I like lists and have a special fondness for any Top InsertNumberHere lists. And since it’s my blog, I thought I’d do a Top Five Friday.

To kick things off, I thought I’d narrow down my bookshelf and bring you my, drumroll, please . . . Top Five Favorite Reads (To Date). 

Let me tell you , this is much harder than it sounds. Having been a reader for longer than I care to admit (I could use the word decades here!), I’ve read so many good books – great books – that it’s really a tough thing to narrow them down to a top five.

The following is my attempt to do just that. Each time I crack open the cover of one of these bad boys, I feel like I’m catching up with a long lost friend. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here they are:

The Long Walk – Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)
The basic premise: A hundred teenaged boys sign on to compete in the ultimate competition where the prize is anything you want; the real prize, they soon learn, may just be life.

Now before you stop reading, hear me out. I discovered this chilly gem of a book when I was a teenager, and now, some twenty years later (give or take), it still doesn’t fail to deliver a biting social commentary. It’s a bleak, almost hopeless look on being a teenager, entertainment, love, and life. You’re sucked into the story and are compelled to keep reading, even though you can feel the utter lack of hope spun throughout the words.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The basic premise: For those of you living beneath a rock, this book tells the tale of Katniss Everdeen, a teenager who is thrust into the spotlight of a very controlling, futuristic society when she’s forced to enter the Hunger Games. The rules are simple: kill or be killed.

Team Peeta, thanks for asking. There’s not a lot to be said about this book that hasn’t already been said. It’s a riveting page turner that uses first person present tense so well to convey a sense of action and an in-your-face presentation of the Arena. Of the trilogy, this is by far, hands-down, the best of the lot.

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell.

The basic premise: Scarlett O’Hara’s trials and triumphs during Civil War era Georgia.

Yes, this is a huge, daunting book. But it’s worth the time and effort. Margaret Mitchell totally immerses us in the South and has created a heroine that you root for one second and want to slap the next. And if you think by seeing the movie, you’ve essentially read the book, then you’re wrong.

Outlander  – Diana Gabaldon.  

The basic premise: Claire is a WWII nurse who inexplicably finds herself propelled back through time to land in 18th century Scotland.

But really, it’s so much more than that! A whole series of these mammoth books exists, and while I have a particular fondness for the third and fourth, they all feature top-notch writing and storytelling.

Bloodwork -Michael Connelly.  

The basic premise: A retired detective gets drawn back into police work when he’s charged to find out what really happened to his heart donor.

This is the first Michael Connelly book I read, thanks to the recommendation and mention from my big brother. I’m so glad he said: “Hey, you gotta read this.” Connelly is one of the best writers out there today. He’s consistently good, and this is among his best. Do yourself a favor: bypass the movie and dive into the book.

And, because it’s a beautiful, sunny Friday here in Western New York (no, really, it is), here’s a sixth:

Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin. 

The basic premise: Winter is coming. (That’s about the best I can do for this mammoth tome.)

Before the bloody, bordering-on-vulgar HBO take on the “A Song of Fire and Ice” series (of which Game of Thrones is the first), there was this book. Let me tell you, I do not know how people who have never set eyes on the pages of this series can keep up with the show. There are, by conservative estimates, approximately 14,582 characters between the covers. Anyway, this is a fantastic epic of a tale. While there are some out there (loony tunes, the lot of them) who bash Martin’s writing, I think he’s superb.

Honorable Mentions: 
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood 
The Running Man – Stephen King (again, as Richard Bachman)
World War Z – Max Brooks

What about you? Could you narrow down your bookshelf to a top five? And what would they be?

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