I’ve been reading those ‘top books of all time’ lists and they always stick in Dickens and James Joyce and books that are unreadable and not enjoyable but they are ‘classics’. I think they get in there cause people are ashamed to leave them out. Stuff that.
I’ve compiled my own list of my top 100 books I like to read and re-read. A lot of this is literature, some is definitely not, some is non-fiction, and all are just fine reads that I personally enjoy.
This is my personal list. Everyone will have their own. I’ve not read everything yet, I’m sure there are some excellent books out there unread by me that I might end up putting on this list in the future.
The list is first and some commentary on the list comes next, I did it this way so the list is easy to get through and if you want to read more, go onto the next bit.
Avrils’ Top 100 to-read list (not in order of favorites)
100.Kimono – Liz Dalby
Alias Grace – Margaret Attwood
It was a toss up as to which of her books to put first. Cats Eye, The Haindmaid’s Tale, The Robber Bride, The Blind Assassin, and Oryx and Crake – all also brilliant. So I just picked one that is outstanding
The Lovely Bones – Alice Seabold
This is a wonderfully written novel. I’ve not seen the movie, don’t intend to.
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
I read another book by her first and hated it (The Little Friend) but this one is glorious. It starts with a group of students who commit a murder and then they have to live with that. Excellent writing.
Memoirs Of A Geisha – Arthur Golden
You can drink in this book. what an amazing story and so well told
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami
Again, which murakami to choose? I love almost all of them, except Norweigan Wood, which is his best seller and the only book of his that is not totally inexplicable. I love the weirdness in his books. Another favorite is Dance Dance Dance, and Kafka on the Shore.
The Remains Of The Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
I’m so pleased I’ve not read all his books yet. They are also weird and wonderful. Top marks for everything of his I’ve read.
A Room With A View – Em Forster
Don’t like much else by him but this is great
A Town Like Alice – Neville Shute
This book is nothing like people think it’s going to be. A war story and then a pioneer story set post war in the NT, brilliant stuff.
Forever – Judy Blume
Young adult book. I think every girl in any high school in the 80s learned about the reality of relationships from this book – still a good read. I also like ‘Starring Sally J Freedmon as herself’ – great writing that adults can enjoy
Milly Molly Mandy Books Joyce Lankester Brisley
Short, charming, funny stories. I reread hers a lot. She also wrote a book called ‘The Dawn Shops’ which is one of the best collection of stories for kids I’ve ever had. Manages to be simple but not patronising. You want to go and live with the family and buy sweets at the local shop.
Mallory Towers Books – Enid Blyton
So I have a soft spot for these books. Enid Blyton is often not really enjoyable as an adult (the secret seven and Famous Five are banal and dull) but this series is excellent, I go back and read it at least once a year.
The Queens Favorites – Jean Plaidy
The story of Queen Anne, Sarah Churchill, and Abigail Hill. Pretty historically accurate and very dry to read, the sort of historical fiction I like (not like the total guff that is coming out these days. I do NOT recommend stuff like the Other Boleyn Girl, which is about 80% fantasy and destroys the integrity of the people they are on about)
The Woman In White – Wilke Collins
Victorian melodrama at it’s finest, I like what I’ve read by Wilke. Some Victorian authors are full of shit (Dickens) but some are just brilliant and very accessible.
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
There is something very odd about the youth writings of the 1920s – a Bright Young Things novel. And don’t go out to the woodshed, you might see something nasty. This book is a romp the entire way through, and most funny. I just found out there is a sequal, will have to look it up.
Flowers For Algenon – Daniel Keys
Oh man what a great book. I was put off reading it as everyone in the year below me did it for school and they all whined about it, but they were wrong. It’s awesome.
Poems – Emily Dickenson
Quick ditties that cover just about everything
Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow – Peter Hoeg
If you want a thriller that spanks on Dan Browne. Enjoyable.
Sophies World -Jostein Gaarder
The ABC of philosophy but in a novel form. How cool is that. He (or she!?) also did a book about cards, which I liked too.
Man’s Search For Meaning – Victor E Frankel
Read it. Short and sweet and moving and meaningful.
Like Water For Chocolate – Laura Esquivil
Those whacky Mexicans. If you’re a foodie you will like it
Chocolat – Joanne Harris
Just a darn good read. however, too sweet now that i dont eat chocolate any more!
The Australian Womans Weekly Cookbook 1979
Probably my most opened book. Based on most of the ingredients one actually HAS. Most people swear by ‘Cookery the Australian Way’ but nope, this rocks it.
Cortez On Jupiter – Ernest Hogan
This might actually be my favorite book of all time. It appeals on so many levels. The story of an insane space artist who goes even insaner.
Easy Connections – Liz Berry
Young adults book. Hrm. About an artist, again. I see a theme.
Goodnight, Mr Tom – Michelle Magorian
I cry, literally, every time I read this book. Story of an evacuee sent from London during the war, and where he ends up
Tales Of The Unexpected – Roald Dahl
Macabre and brilliant
The Mint – TE Lawrence
Lawrence of Arabia wrote this autobiographical account when he joined the airforce after WWI. Havn’t read it in years. But I read it a few times and loved it
Daddy Long Legs – Jean Webster
Don’t be fooled by the Fred Astaire movie which was based on it. Funny, charming, sweet, clever book
Washington Square – Henry James
DO NOT READ THE GOLDEN BOWL. But this one is good. Bittersweet, the way I really like a novel to be
Possession – AS Byatt
Set in two time periods, both stories are awesome.
The Belgariad – David Eddings
This is what I read when I’m sick. I don’t like fantasy but this one is just…rollicking. And amusing.
The Blind Watchmaker – Richard Dawkins
The man needs to lighten up on the atheist stuff. Yes, I agree with it, but shut up for goodness sake and go and do your biology. I don’t think his selfish-gene thing is the whole answer either – but this is a great read that goes into the mechanics of evolution which a lot of people should read, it puts things into context in plain English. Good read.
The Gap Series – Stephen Donaldson
Wasn’t sure whether to put this series or the Mirror of her Dreams series in. both awesome. Both traumatic and hard to read in places. I don’t recommend the White Gold books unless you really want to be depressed. He’s a great writer.
A wonderful life – Stephen J gould
Another biologist. This book has mostly been superseded but it’s a great read despite that.
Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
Great book! A bit different from the movie
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat – Oliver Sacks
Enjoyable read, he brings things to life
The Witching Hour – Anne Rice
Not a big fan of her other stuff but this book is evocative and brilliant and mysterious
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Good iconic read
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas – Hunter S Thompson
Oh man, his stuff is awesome. He’s a funny man
Dragonwyk – Anya Seton
She’s done a few really good books, she does historical fiction. This is a coming of age story set against some pretty interesting times
Robinson Crusoe – Daneil Defoe
I was surprised how good this was, I thought ‘oh yeah why bother everyone knows the story’. AD Hope has done a poem based on the Man Friday story too which is then worth a read when you’re done with this book
Barchester Towers – Anthony Trollope
Fine read. Joanne Trollope (great granddaughter) is also a writer who does village epics, I enjoy some of hers too but it’s super girly. All about feelings. Ew.
Enders’ Game – Orson Scott Card
I hesitate to recommend something by someone who is personally repugnant to me but this is a fucking awesome book.
Dragonsinger – Anne Mcaffrey
Her first 5 books set in Pern are worth rereading. I also like Killashandra. She kind of rote wrote later on and lost the plot a bit, but these were good
A Maggot – John Fowles
Again, which to pick of his. The Magus. The French Lieutenants’ Woman. The Collector. Probably four of the best books on my shelves. I recommend A Maggot because it’s science fiction hiding as historical fiction and it took me two goes to understand even slightly what was going on.
The Razor’s Edge – Somerset Maugham
He might be my favorite author just in his style of writing, but not his actual novels. All very bitter and sad, usually
Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirzig
You will enjoy the ‘quality’ of this book…heheheh
Little House On The Prarie (Series ) – Laura Ingalls Wilder
DO NOT BE fooled by the TV series which were naff. The books are so far removed from them other than the names. What glorious books.
The Narnia Chronicles – CS Lewis
I’ve gotten more and more fond of The Horse and His Boy as time has gone on. A bit goddy. But still readable.
Neal Gaimon – American Gods
I am not a fan of NG the same way others are. I find much of his stuff totally wanky and ‘gothic’. This book is utterly wonderful though. Surreal and clever and amusing and epic.
The Mists Of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
The authurian ledgends told by the women in the story. Leaving out most of the boring war bits. How good is that.
The God Makers – Frank Herbert
Ok I didn’t put down Dune, which I also love, cause I like this book more. I would recommend almost all his books (ALMOST) . the Dosadi Experiment I love too.
Startide Rising – David Brin
You can’t put it down once you get to the final epic scene! Dolphins, space ships, and evolution. Oh yeahg.
Hyperion Series- Dan Simmonds
These books got me into reading John Keats poetry.
Snowcrash – Neal Stephenson
Which Neal to put here. They all rock. Cryptonomicon and the Confusion books…his writing is like rich deep chocolate – you enjoy every bite
Lao Tsu – Tao Te Ching
For some thought and thinking.
The Journey To The West/ Monkey = We Cheneng En
Born from an egg on a mountain top indeed! Great read
The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester
JMS ripped off the telepath stuff for Babylon 5 but named his main telepath in homage to the writer. Amazing book.
Charles Darwin – Voyage Of The Beagle
I prefer this to origin of the species – it shows his joy in being a naturalist. But my goodness he did NOT like Australia! His book on reefs and attols is a surprisingly good read
The World Inside – Robert Silverberg
Fine SF. I like all Silverberg but I think this is him at his peak
The Picture Of Dorian Grey – Oscar Wilde
Oh my what an awesome book. Very very clever writing. read his plays and stories too.
The Blue Castle – LM Montgomery
My favourite of hers. She also did the Anne of Green Gables and the Emily of New Moon books, which are ALSO awesome, but the blue castle is the best. A Tangled Web is also good as a stand alone book of hers.
The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13.1/3 – Sue Townsend
I can’t believe not everyone has read this. Funny funny and tragic.
Artists In Crime – Ngaio Marsh
For a bit of light crime reading from the mid of last century (and a bit on each side). The detection work is not about forensics (laughable now when you read it) but the people are always very human and the stories are great. I have all her books.
Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone – JK Rowling
I love the entire series. She has got it right
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
How can people not have read this. I’m on Team Jane.
Rebecca – Daphne Du Marier
Her other novel I love is Frenchmans’ Creek. I was torn as to what to put here. Rebecca I have read again and again. The movie does it justice.
The Waste Land (Poem)- TS Eliot
Incomprehensible but emotional.
Revelation Space – Alistair Reynolds
There are three books in this arc that don’t really stand alone. I read them out of order. It was very confusing. Haven’t liked his later stuff much but his earlier space books are all pretty fine.
The City And The City – China Meiville
Which China book to put down as the recommended one! Kracken, Perdido St Station and Embassytown…fine SF. So hard to read, so rewarding to read. my favorite author at the moment. Come on dude. write more.
Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant – Anne Tyler
Did this in year 12 and now a massive fan. I love also The Accidental Tourist, Yesterday when we were grownups. And another one which I can’t remember. With Cordelia Grinstead. Her books tend to be coming of age novels but for 50+ age group.
The Forsythe Saga – John Galsworthy
Irene is one of the most intriguing characters written
Perfume – Patrick Suskind
READ IT. What a nasty, brutal, glorious book.
Orlando – Virginia Woolf
Very clever writing. The fly on the sugar cube!
Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson
I was not sure whether to put this or Gideon up as my best pick. I went for this. She writes poetically.
The Gods Themselves – Issac Asimov
I like a good Asimov, this is one. Also, The End to Eternity, is another favorite
Ringworld – Larry Niven
I think I’m over Niven now as my favourite author, but I still enjoy dipping into this, and ringworld Engineers
Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feneyman! – R Feneyman
He is a brilliant man. Autobiographical
The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
Not a happy read but a really well written book
Lady Chatterleys Lover – Dh Lawrence
Coming of age book, pretty graphic but not pornographic
Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austin
What a darn fine read
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkein
I don’t actually like the Lord of the Rings. I find it tedious. There is a party, then there are some hobbits who hang out with ents and then the shire is scouged. Takes a few hours to read if you only read those bits. But the hobbit is brilliant.
Stranger In A Strange Land – Robert Heinlen
Yes I went there. I like the fast talk in his books but not the misogynistic attitude to women.
Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
I was shocked, this book was awesome. It was made into a Julia Robers film, which I will never see. It’s a really good book, says a lot about growing up and becoming yourself.
They Eyre Affaire – Jasper Fforde
I love love love his Tuesday Next series. Sort of fantasy set in an alternate future and the book world. If you like to read classic literature these books will be a total delight
The Grand Sophy – Georgette Heyer
I’ve never seen farce done as well as this book. I love her books. Probably the only ‘romance’ I read – comedy of manners set during regency is why I read them
Brideshead Revisited -Eveylyn Waugh
The mini series is a very close adaptation of this and compliments it so well.
The Chamomile Lawn – Mary Wesley
One of my favourite books (also mini series), the story of a bunch of people during war time and then later in the 80s.
The Golden Key Jennifer Roberson and Melanie Rawn
One of the few fantasy books I would recommend. I can’t read it any more cause of the association of who gave it to me but it’s a great read.
At Bertram’s Hotel – Agatha Christie
I’m fond of good old Agatha, this is my favourite, for the descriptions of the food, if nothing else.
The Plauge – Albert Camus
Not a happy read (it’s a metaphor for the Nazi occupation) but a good one
The Goblin Market (Poem) – Christine Rossetti
Easy to read poem. Worth it
The Golden Age Trilogy – John C Wright
Good original SF, I was blown away by this
Dorothy Parker Complete Stories
Three Bags Full – Leonie Swann
A bunch of sheep have their shepherd murdered and decide to solve the crime. Ever read a book from the POV of sheep before?
Angelique Series – Serganne Golon
Oh Angelique, so much happens to you. Best historical fiction romance war royal saga I’ve ever met, half way through it becomes the story of a pioneer to French Canada. Good stuff. I wish they’d finish the series in English
Edward Gorey – All of it
Poems. Illustrations. Awesome
Fifteen – Beverley Cleary
She also wrote the Ramona books, which are the POV of a hyperactive imaginative child who totally misses things all the time. excellent books. I love 15, it’s a teen romance in the 60s and it is saved from being soppy by being brilliantly written. Jane’s attempt to translate Julius Ceaser into modern english is one of the best moments.
Batavias Graveyard – Mike Dash
The really horrifying real life story of australia’s first European contact. It is real but that last chapter is true and utter farce. What a read. Not a happy read
Kimono – Liz Dalby
A book about the history of the kimono.