I don't have children but I imagine choosing your favourite book is like picking your favourite child. How do you decide? They're each so unique and individual. I thought about the books on my shelves, the ones I've read more than once and often have the book and audio book. These are the books I recommend to friends over and over again so I realised these must be my favourites...
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I read The Night Circus for my book club and it has been my mission to get everyone I know to read it too. There's a definite line in the sand between people who love it and people who don't. I'm not saying we can't be friends if you don't like it but all my best friends do.
I love the way Morgenstern moves between the story and a second person account of visiting the circus. You feel like you are actually there. The sensory detail is out of this world, especially the scents. It made my mouth water! The individual tents are gloriously described in a way that isn't overwhelming - I'm not really a lots of setting kind of person but this book does it fantastically.
Morgenstern is also a fellow NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) participant which makes it feel extra special. The story is based on a novel she wrote during NaNo and the one idea that she kept when she redrafted was the night circus. It has given me hope during my own frantic writing during NaNo in November.
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Every favourite books list needs a classic and this is my absolute favourite. I love Jane as a character, she's feisty and intelligent, she follows her heart and loves her freedom. It's a book I've returned to and one I always find new layers to every time I read it.
Despite being published in 1847 the story still feels relevant, Jane's desire for love, belonging and independence are ones that face women today. There's a wry sense of humour woven throughout the novel and it's a fantastic story.
3. All my Friends are Super Heroes by Andrew Kaufman
This is a fantastic, quirky love story that will have you move from laughter to tears and back within paragraphs. It was another book club read and I adore it. The way Kaufman takes everyday personality traits and turns them into super powers will have you analysing your own quirks and trying to work out which makes you a superhero. I can see myself in many of the characters but I'm yet to pick just one.
4. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
THursday Next is a literary detective! Maybe the coolest job ever. She has the ability to go inside books and meet the real life characters. It's the dream of every reader and Thursday is cool and funny too. She's the kind of woman you want to be best friends with, though she would probably land you in a huge amount of trouble. She would get you out of it though and you'd have fun through out.
I actually read this before I read Jane Eyre which gave the classic a whole new spin when I did get to it. This is the first in a series and the books keep getting better and funnier. I met Jasper Fforde at a book signing and he's a lovely man. He has a "no plan plan" to his writing and the wild, mad-cap stories are a testament to that.
5. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Another book about books, The Shadow of the Wind is about a secret library where copies of out of print books are kept safe. Everybody that visits gets to pick one book to take away and read. The idea captivated me and I wished I could step into the pages and explore the underground labyrinth of shelves.
The book was written in Spanish but the translation is incredible, it doesn't feel clunky or as if any of the beauty is lost. The story is complex and beautiful with many elements woven together. In writing this post on my favourite books I realised I enjoy books that combine several stories, merging past and present together as you get to know the characters. It is part of the Cemetery of Books series and the stories build on each other but this one is my favourite. I don't normally like books with a sinister, darker element to them but this is done so well that my desire to know what happens next always drew me on.
As I started this list I realised that I couldn't keep it to five, an acceptable length of a favourite books list, so I'm dividing it up still further to sci-fi and fantasy, life changing and childhood books. That's why there's no Harry Potter here, although maybe he should make it onto both lists. More blog posts to follow...
Have you read any of these?
What did you think? Did you enjoy them too? Let me know in the comments and if you have any suggestions for books you think I ought to read do tell me. I'm always looking for my next favourite book.
Claire Wade is the winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition and author of The Choice. She was bed bound for six years with severe ME, trapped in a body that wouldn't do what she wanted. She now writes about women who want to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she's deeply familiar with.