One of the marks of a good book for me is that I’m still thinking about it several years later. I might be a character that I feel attached to, or some philosophical question that sticks in my brain. Sometimes it’s just a particular scene that I can still see vividly in my mind. Of course to get to this point a good book has to hold itself together pretty well… you can’t rest a crap story on a fantastic character. And you can’t effectively put together a dramatic scene without first forming a good connection with the reader. With that in mind, my five favourite books currently are:
- The Way the Crow Flies — Ann-Marie MacDonald — Some lines from this book still haunt me to this day. I can’t forget the characters, the situations they were in, and the everything-is-going-wrong-but-I-honestly-see-no-way-to-fix-it feeling somewhere near the middle. It takes an unexpected turn about two thirds of the way through, but just see it through and it’ll definitely be worth it. (2006)
- American Gods — Neil Gaiman — A lot of creativity in taking old ideas and putting them together in a whole new way shines through. It has an eerie quality to it that still comes to mind when I think of it, along with many interesting lines from it. (2005)
- Not Wanted On The Voyage — Timothy Findlay — This was a Canada Reads selection in 2008, and the panel discussions about it, from both the for and against crowd, really piqued my interest. I went out and bought that week and am glad I did. I will not forget that unicorn. (March 2008)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — J.K. Rowling — I admit I feel like a bit of a dweeb putting this on here. I did not like the Harry Potter series through the first few books, but somewhere around The Goblet of Fire it really took on a whole new level. While it still has bits that feel a bit young (as in, a younger reading level) there is a lot of depth here if you’re willing to see it. I know I definitely had a lot of fun debating with friends how it was all going to end. (July 2007)
- Garden of Rama — Gentry Lee and Arthur C Clarke — I admit I have not gone back to this book for a second read. The latter three of the Rama series are widely criticized for being so different from the worst and different from Clarke’s usual style, but I don’t take that as a bad thing. I am planning on going back to read this again, and hopefully it won’t disappoint as books last read as a child often do. (Mid 1990s)
- Three Day Road — Joseph Boyden
- The Lord of the Rings — J.R.R. Tolkien
- Factoring Humanity — Robert J Sawyer — The only reason a Robert Sawyer book didn’t make the cut to the top five is that they each have qualities which make them great as an ensemble, but don’t quite have the lasting punch that some of the others have. See my essay Sawyer’s Choice for more.
- Calculating God — Robert J Sawyer
- The Neanderthal Parallax — Robert J Sawyer
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams — This is the novel equivalent of The Simpsons and Seinfeld, which earned their honourable mention in the top 5 for television only by the sheer number of times I tend to quote or reference them in a day.