To Kill a Mockingbird: Loving this book seems to get more and more controversial. I first read it in 7th grade and it wasn’t until years later that I discovered some thought of it as subtly racist in its marginalization of the black characters. And then there’s that sequel, of course, that I will never read. Maybe that’s childish but I love TKAM not only for the integrity of Atticus Finch but for the innocence and childishness of Scout Finch.
Favorite Character: Atticus Finch
Favorite Line: There’s just some kind of men you have to shoot before you can say hidy to ’em. Even then, they ain’t worth the bullet it takes to shoot ’em.
Holes: My first summer reading book. For someone who thrives off of balance and fairness, there was no sweeter victory for me than Stanley’s name being on the trunk.
Favorite Character: Stanley Yelnats
Favorite Line: “Now you be careful out in the real world,” said Armpit. “Not everybody is as nice as us.”
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: Really funny and creative. Though if you plan on reading it, be warned: there are random gross/inappropriate references. It is a book about a teenage boy going through puberty, after all.
Favorite Character: Rowdy
Favorite Line: I always knew you were going to leave. I always knew you were going to leave us behind and travel the world. I had this dream about you a few months ago. You were standing on the Great Wall of China. You looked happy. And I was happy for you.
Mrs. Dalloway: More than just a pretty cover. Don’t be afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Favorite Character: Clarissa Dalloway
Favorite Line: But one must fight; vanquish; have faith in God.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: I’ve had to defend this choice as the best Harry Potter against the 4th and occasionally the 5th installments. Maybe it’s a nostalgic pick, like so many of the others, but this is where I became truly invested in the story and counted down the days until the next book.
Favorite Character: Remus Lupin
Favorite Line: There was Percy, jumping up and down like a maniac, all dignity forgotten. Professor McGonagall was sobbing harder even than Wood, wiping her eyes with an enormous Gryffindor flag; and there, fighting their way toward Harry, were Ron and Hermione. Words failed them. They simply beamed as Harry was borne towards the stands, where Dumbledore stood waiting with the enormous Quidditch Cup.
(But here’s the thing with the third Harry Potter. It was to become the first of many book to movie adaptations that broke my heart. Which brings me to…)
Ella Enchanted. So much potential wasted. This book has the perfect protagonist, prince, and side characters. And Anne Hathaway had to ruin it. If it weren’t for Les Miserables, I never would have forgiven her.
Favorite Character: Prince Char
Favorite Line: Char’s proposal (It’s too long to put here but if I’d thought about it, I would have insisted Matthew propose to me with that letter verbatim).
Rebecca: Another nostalgic pick that has stood the test of time with me.
Favorite Character: Mrs. DeWinter
Favorite Line: I believe there is a theory that men and women emerge finer and stronger after suffering, and that to advance in this or any world we must endure ordeal by fire.
This Lullaby: Not a classic but a protagonist I both relate to and aspire to be more like.
Favorite Character: Remy Starr
Favorite Line: It’s like a big pie chart, and the love in a relationship has to be the biggest piece. Love can make up for a lot.
Passing: So much of what I’ve learned about race that hasn’t come from my parents or personal experience came from this book.
Favorite Character: Irene
Favorite Line: In that second she saw that she could bear anything, but only if no one knew that she had anything to bear. It hurt. It frightened her, but she could bear it.
Jane Eyre: My favorite love story. Strange, considering our hero is a bit of a manipulative liar and our heroine plain, obscure, and little. But this love story is also a redemption story and I love when the heroine ends up saving the hero.
Favorite Character: Jane Eyre
Favorite Line: I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.
Le Petit Prince: If you ever lose faith in the world or are just in a bad mood, read this.
Favorite Character: The Little Prince
Favorite Line: Il faut chercher avec le coeur.