I must admit narrowing down a top 18 to a top 10 is incredibly hard.
#10 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The story of Liesel, a nine-year-old girl living in Germany during the Second World War. Beautifully written from a unique perspective. While it took me a while to get into to the story, it did blow me away and I keep recommending it to everyone. Kids, grown-ups, I think anyone will be touched by this story. (full review)
#9 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Another story with a nine-year-old protagonist, though completely different. This one is about a boy whose father has passed away in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He finds a key in his father’s closet and decides to solve the mystery of the lock belonging to the key. Yet again a touching story, for both children and grown-ups.
#8 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Cecilia is six years old when her father enrols her in a challenge. She has no clue what the exact rules are, nor does she know who her opponent is, or even when and where the game will take place. Beautifully and magically written, and an amazingly well-developed plot. (full review)
#7 Wonder by R.J. Palacio
This is a contemporary young adult novel about a little 10 year old boy, August, who has a severe facial deformity. His mother has always home schooled him in order to protect him, but now he is at an age where his parents believe he should go to school. Both heart-warming and heart-breaking. (full review)
#6 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Who doesn’t love this novel? I certainly did. We follow 17 year-old cancer patient Hazel Grace who tries to make the most of her life while it lasts. At a support group she meets and incredibly handsome and charming guy, and falls for him. Not at all your average love story but just like number seven, heart-warming and heart-breaking – although in this one the latter is much more dominant. (full review)
#5 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
This top ten is really showing my weakness for contemporary stories about children. Oh well. This novel tells the story of Ari - an angry boy who has never really had any friends. Until he meets Dante, who tries his best to teach him how to be a friend and how to get rid of his anger. I honestly don’t know what else to say than that yet again, it’s heart-breaking and heart-warming… I’m sorry. (full review)
#4 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged college professor who likes younger girls, and especially Lolita. Horrifying and disgusting, but incredibly beautifully written. A novel I’ll never forget. (full review)
#3 Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse-Five is an unconventional novel discussing the Second World War and consequential trauma. The narrator tells us the story of Billy Pilgrim, who, after having been abducted by aliens, gets unstuck in time. Sometimes confusing, but very rewarding and a novel I’d love to read over and over again. (full review)
#2 Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee
“In a South Africa torn by civil war, Michael K sets out to take his mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving armies.” I find it hard to explain why this novel touched me, but somehow I felt Michael K was a very relatable character, even though he is so far removed from who I am. Wonderfully written and so many layers that the story will be interesting reread after reread.
#1 The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This novel follows a man and his son as they wander through a desolate country which once was America. This apocalyptic story is interestingly realistic and while I have not yet read much of this genre, I feel it has very unique characteristics. The writing style – read punctuation – does take some getting used to, but that really is the only negative aspect to this novel. (full review)