FAQ > On Likes, Dislikes And More > What are your ten favorite books, and what makes them special to you?
1. A Dark Adapted Eye by Barbara Vine
A fabulous mystery story with a strong sense of place, believable, flawed characters, and a delicately handled ending. I’m a big fan of plots that swirl around a deep, dark family secret, and this book, which opens with the narrator being contacted by a biographer hoping to write about a relative with a dark past, is one of my favorites. There is something haunting about it, as with most Barbara Vine novels: a sense that history is full of unanswered questions and rich, private dramas.
2. Atonement by Ian McEwan
This glorious book has all the hallmarks of Ian McEwan—deep insight into the human condition, intricate plotting, and fine, fine writing. It’s a book about guilt and redemption, with a breathtaking conclusion. When I finished Atonement for the first time, none of my friends had read it so I had no choice but to go immediately to my local bookstore in the hopes of finding someone else with whom I could rave about it.
3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
In this wonderful novel, Jeffrey Eugenides does the thing I most enjoy in a book by creating a world so rich and layered that I became lost in it. Whether the characters were in early twentieth-century Greece or 1920s and 1930s Detroit, I was right there with them. I admire this book on so many levels—the enormous feat of historical research, complicated plot construction, humor, pathos, and great writing.
4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
This book evokes the ominous atmosphere of a grand country house swelling with secrets from the past, and the effect it has on a young woman who falls victim to her own vivid imagination. It’s full of beautiful writing and a strong sense of place, capturing the rolling coast line of Cornwall so that you can smell the sea, feel the salty mist on your face, and hear the waves pounding the moonlit cove.
5. The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
This truly original book tells the story of Henry and Clare, two soul mates whose love affair must survive the challenges of a rare condition that causes Henry to suffer frequent shifts through time. Henry’s life is unpredictable, the only consistency his tie to Clare, but Niffenegger’s delicate story-weaving ensures that readers are never lost in the complex temporal tapestry. It’s a wholly satisfying book: original, engaging, and, above all, a moving love story.
6. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
I love the mood of this book—once again, it’s a story that opens at a later date to that in which the main action takes place, then jumps back in time to show us how the characters were brought to their current situation.
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love this book for its portrait of the jazz age, and the menacing sense that its characters are all on a trajectory towards tragedy. The last line is one of my favorites.
8. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Nancy Mitford is such a funny writer—some of the lines make me laugh-out-loud—but there’s a lot of wisdom lurking amid the wit. On a practical level, I admire her ability to inject so much information about her characters into their dialogue.
9. The Veil of Gold by Kim Wilkins
A fantastic story that dips in and out of Russian history to weave a magical tale about a wild Russian girl named Rosa, who has a secret; and her lost lover, Daniel, who is set adrift in the dangerous world of Russian mythology.
10. Passage by Connie Willis
I could not put this book down. It got under my skin and had me reading in the car (when I was a passenger, of course!) and even sticking cotton wool in my ears so I could read when I was meant to be watching a DVD with a friend. The Doomsday Book, by the same author, is also a brilliant read.
Last updated on December 21, 2009 by Kate Morton