One common question I get as an author is “What is your favorite book?” I HATE this question for the simple reason that it’s too hard to answer! There’s no way I can pick just one favorite book or author. Usually my answer depends on who’s asking: kids, moms, fellow readers, other authors, etc.
I do have a running book list of faves that is always evolving and reshuffling in my heart of hearts, which is what I’ll share here. To date, here’s my list:
I grew up on these Adam Raccoon books. The author/illustrator Glen Keane has worked for Disney Animation studio (on such titles as The Little Mermaid, The Rescuers Down Under, to name a few). A few years ago he won an Oscar. But he’s a believer who wrote these books that are allegories for Christian truths. When I was a kid, it was a big treat for me and my siblings to get one for a special occasion. Now I read them to my kids.
Anything by Jonathan Auxier! His stories are full of bright characters, whimsy, and so much heart. And they’re just incredibly well-written. His book The Night Gardener is the only ‘horror’ story I’ve read that is both appropriate for readers 8-12 yrs old and captures all the nuances of that genre. He is also the author of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. He wrote one of my favorite openings of any book in his Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard:
“It has often been said that one should never judge a book by its cover. As any serious reader can tell you, this is terrible advice…Sophie loved books beyond reason…It was the very thing that made her unique, until it made her dangerous. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, which is also dangerous. So light a lamp and find a comfortable chair, and I will tell you her story.”
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is a beautiful coming-of-age story that is more “quiet” and literary than plot driven. But it reminds me of a classic already. And the author’s descriptions make me swoon.
“By 1899, we had learned to tame the darkness but not the Texas heat. We arose in the dark, hours before sunrise, when there was barely a smudge of indigo along the eastern sky and the rest of the horizon was still pure pitch. We lit our kerosene lamps and carried them before us in the dark like our own tiny wavering suns.”
I’m a Sherlockian. So I have to include the original Sherlock Holmes fiction by Sir Author Conan Doyle in my list. My love for Sherlock Holmes inspired me to write my own children’s mystery series. I bought my first complete volume when I was in high school. I put an ad in our local town’s paper called the Green Sheet asking if anyone had a hardback of the complete volume. An elderly man answered me and sold me my first copy for $20! My favorite Holmes story is the Adventure of the Dying Detective.
My next top favorite is a mystery series by Charles Finch, who I believe is this generation’s Arthur Conan Doyle. Set in the Victorian era, his Charles Lenox mysteries are clever while also bringing in human complexities to his characters. He is also so well-researched–I have learned so much about life in this time period! In addition to writing these great books, Charles Finch is also an intelligent yet down-to-earth person who was extremely generous to me by reviewing my latest Sherlock Academy book The Holmes Brigade and writing a blurb for it!
Tyler Knott Gregson is a modern-day poet and photographer who started writing poetry on an old typewriter. Typing on scraps of paper (receipts, napkins, old library cards), he expresses emotion and passion and all the nuances of life so beautifully. His Instagram @tylerknott is super inspiring to follow too. Both of his poetry compilations are lovely: Chasers of the Light and Wildly Into the Dark.
For any homeschoolers out there, you must read Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. This books changed my entire view on homeschooling, education, my kids, and myself. Earlier this year I co-led a book study on this book with some other moms and it was so encouraging. I read this book at least once a year, if not more now.
“The daily mundane is holy ground because the ordinary tasks of a monotonous Monday are where we meet our Maker.”
Besides the Bible, the next book that changed my life is Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification by Sinclair Ferguson. It brought about a spiritual awakening, filled in the holes in my theology, cut me to the very marrow, and made me wept in repentance and gratitude. Be warned: this book is not for the faint of heart, for it is meaty and heady, but totally worth the time and effort.
“God is with us; God is behind us;…God the Trinity has determined to pour His energy into making us like Jesus Christ. It is His settled purpose.”
No Little Women by Aimee Byrd addresses all the hot topics of women in the church, women’s ministry, popular Christian movements based on bad theology, even the trend of Bible journaling. Get ready to have your thinking challenged, but you will come away with great clarity on these very important topics.
“No matter what our different circumstances and vocations may be, every woman is a theologian.”
If you’re a mom, please read Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman. It’s a quick little book packed with Gospel truth reminders that address the struggles and also the holy calling of motherhood.
“Whenever mothers choose to give of themselves, it is evidence of God’s preserving grace in our fallen world.”
My favorite devotional of all time for the past 15 years is Streams in the Desert.It’s a day-by-day devotional that delivers a quick punch. Each day starts with a Scripture, then commentary compiled from all the Faith Hall of Famers: Charles Spurgeon, St. Augustine, FB Meyer, etc. I love that poetry and old hymns are added in as well.
So there you have it. The long answer to that most dreaded question: “What’s your favorite book?” To which I really should respond, “Well, how much time do you have?”