Books. I love them. I read many and enjoy ticking each new title off my seemingly bottomless list of ‘books I want to read before I die’. As such, I thought it’d be an interesting exercise to sit down and attempt to select a handful of books that, one way or another, impressed me greatly enough to earn a place on my coveted list of ‘all time literary favourites’.
At first, I thought this wouldn’t be too difficult; a quick glance at my bookshelf and my favourites would pop straight out…right? Nope! Wrong. Very, very wrong! The longer I spent shuffling through my bookish catalogue, the more overwhelmed I became. I soon realised each novel I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying occupies its own special place in my heart and mind. How could I ever narrow my large collection of amazing reads down to such a small list?
Well, after some serious thinking, I’ve realised my favourite books are those that left a lingering impact long after the final page was turned. They are the books that tugged on my heart strings, shifted my perspective and challenged my thinking. They are the books that transformed me from the person I was into the person I am. So, without further ado, here are my top four picks:
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I discovered this book unintentionally after my mum received a copy from her friend. Intrigued by the title, I picked it up and read it in a weekend. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Big Magic focuses on creative living beyond fear. It captivatingly encourages us to embrace our creativity and summon the courage to bring forth the unique treasures hidden within us. Gilbert touches on everything from the birth of an idea to the harsh realities of doubt and rejection. She celebrates creativity as a divine gift worthy of persistent attention whilst paradoxically encouraging us to create in light and joyful manner. Never before have I read anything that details the process of creating in such a profound, genuine and humorous way. This book is truly invaluable.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Okay, admittedly, this one was a no brainer. Harry Potter is my childhood. It was one of the first series I ever began reading and played a fundamental role in sparking my long-standing love for reading and writing. The first book, The Philosopher’s Stone, stands out as my favourite as it was the first time J.K. Rowling introduced us to the magic of the Wizarding World. Teeming with rich characters, mystical settings and an adventurous plotline, the story showcases the limitless ability of the human imagination and teaches us valuable lessons about love, loss, friendship and bravery. It will forever hold a piece of my soul.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
I first read Lord of the Flies whilst holidaying in Tasmania after discovering a copy in a secondhand bookstore. I don’t remember much else about that holiday, but I will never forget the themes explored in this book. The story centers around a group of boys stranded on a deserted island and follows their catastrophic attempt at self-government. We are forced to explore the uncomfortable realities of the inherent brutality of mankind and the fragile line between civilization and savagery. Golding harshly illuminates the consequences that arise from a pleasure of uncontrolled power; driving home the message that ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Riddled with such raw, confronting and poignant themes, this is one book that has burned itself into my mind forever!
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
Over the past few years, I’ve really developed a taste for reading non-fiction and Daring Greatly would have to be one of my standout favourites from the genre. The book challenges everything we thought we knew about vulnerability; highlighting it as a valuable strength and perhaps our clearest path to engagement, courage and meaningful connection. I was in awe of the way Brown explained vulnerability as both the root cause of difficult emotions spanning fear, disappointment and grief and also the birthplace of creativity, happiness and fulfillment. In years to come, when I look back on a book that transformed my mindset and pushed my boundaries, I can unequivocally say I’ll be thinking of this one!