What is it about a favorite book that is so comforting? When I’ve had a bad day or just can’t decide what I want to read next I always turn to the same handful of old favorites- books that over the years have become friends, the covers warn and pages bent but still loved beyond all others. Here are some of mine. What are yours?
Sunshine by Robin McKinley is my be-all-end-all favorite vampire book. I love this one so much I picked it for my book club and made them read it, too. McKinley, famous for the Newbery Honor Book The Blue Sword, is one of my favorite authors and she’s never written a bad book. Any of her novels you can just pick up and fall into and if you haven’t yet you should. But what I love so much about Sunshine is that it isn’t your typical (if there is such a thing anymore) vampire book. Her main character is a baker, famous for her big-as-your-head cinnamon rolls and love of sunshine who befriends a vampire.
Winter Rose by Patricia A. McKillip is my favorite version of the fairy tale of Tam Lin. It’s been told a million times and in my eyes no one does it better than McKillip. The classic story of a girl who falls in love with a human being held captive by the fairy queen is told with beautiful prose. The characters are solid, breathing people and the story so engrossing that once you set the book down you feel as if you’ve been dreaming.
Winter Rose was published in 1996 and McKillip wrote a sort of follow up in 2006 titled Solstice Wood which takes place generations later. With Solstice Wood the world of fairy and the wood is given a new tilt, leaving you wondering which book presents the true vision of the wood and its inhabitants.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones was made into an animated film by the Japanese Director Hayao Miyazaki. I watched the anime first and then I had to dig up the book. I loved the movie but the book, as it usually is, was so much better. How could you not get pulled into a story featuring a moving castle, a wizard who eats the hearts of young girls, a horrible curse, and true love? I’ve read it several times since I first picked it up and each time I find something new to love.
Of course my list couldn’t be complete with out Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I know I’ve gushed before, and I’m sure I will again, about how much I love Meyer’s series. But for me the best one is still the first one. I love that after reading Twilight you still get an impression of freshness and hope that in the later books isn’t there. It was great when I first read it and I still love it.
Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black is another young adult novel that I wouldn’t part with for the world. Fairy tales and the retelling or reforming of classics has always been a platform that authors have used to a greater or lesser extent; some with more success than others. Holly Black is one of the few authors that has taken a basic idea, something that her readers can identify with, and then given it a totally original spin. Tithe is the first of a loosely connected trio of books that takes the classic idea of a fairy tale and re-imagines it for a new generation of readers.
Last but not least is Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. This is the first book of her Southern Vampire Mysteries, a series that has 8 books now with the newest release of From Dead to Worse. It’s always so hard to pick a favorite with a long running series but I feel the best place to start is with the beginning. Harris’ character Sookie Stackhouse is original and entertaining and the world that she lives in is almost ours, except for the vampires and weres. Reading this series is like eating a bag of chips, you just can’t stop.