Ten Books That Have Stayed With Me

There are over a hundred million books out there – we can never hope to read even a fraction of them. Of that tiny percentage, we will enjoy many (if we choose well). However, there are an even smaller category of very special books that stay with us. In these books, there are characters as familiar and as loveable (or otherwise) as people we have known in real life. The stories are recalled as easily as events that happened to us. They might have a conclusion or message that makes us think; most likely, though, they are books that make us feel. These are ten books that have stayed with me.

1. Harry Potter – the whole series

I was one of the Harry Potter generation, and I am so grateful for that. I grew up with Harry and co. I unashamedly queued outside bookshops, waiting for midnight when the new book would be released. I could list quotations from the seven books until you got bored and asked me to stop – unless you’re a fellow Harry Potter fan, in which case you’d contribute the other half of the text. Harry Potter wasn’t just a book series, it was a phenomenon.

2. The Humans, Matt Haig

I had a serious book hangover for about a year after reading this because I loved it so much. Knowing the author suffers from depression, you can find other layers to it, but I love the book exactly as it is. To describe it simply – a book in which an alien comes to earth with a mission – does not do the heart of the story any justice. It made me laugh out loud and sob uncontrollably. Genius.

3. Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman

I think this was the first book to break my heart into tiny little pieces. It looks at the issue of racism in an original way, and the love story between Callum and Sephy is still one of the most epic I have ever read. You cannot forget this book.

4. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

This book! Harold receives a letter one day from someone in his past. He goes to the nearest letterbox to post a reply, and decides to go to the next letterbox instead, and the next, and the next. He decides he will walk from one side of England to the other to deliver his letter, and it just might save his friend’s life. I love this book for all the minor characters we meet along the way, and for Harold himself. Read it!

5. One Day, David Nicholls

I love a gimmick, and the fact that this novel revisits the characters on the same day of every year is a great one. We miss chunks of their story and have to catch up. We can be surprised by the changes that occur over the course of a single year (or the changes that don’t occur over many). I found myself willing them to speak their minds, to do something. In the end, you’re left with the desire to never leave things too late. And yet, with many things, we will.

6. The Gift, Cecelia Ahern

Another character who could use a little more time, Lou Suffern finds that there is a pill that will allow him to split in two. Great stuff, he can get double the work done! Then he starts to realise the other ways in which he could use his extra time – spending time with his wife and children, for example. Christmas is drawing closer, and commitments and pressures start to pile up. This is a book about what is important.

7. If I Stay, Gayle Forman

This was another YA book that broke my heart, and I don’t think I can ever forget this story. Mia has a wonderful life. And within a few pages, one of the worst things imaginable happens to her. This novel is about determining the things worth living for.

8. The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton

This is a complex, well-woven tale by Kate Morton, who is an expert at writing big books with a layered mystery. It doesn’t sound particularly interesting if you describe it as the story of a girl working out a family secret, but it’s all in how the secret unfolds. I am in awe of her storytelling.

9. The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

I am convinced that this book is why I so strongly feel the need to recycle. Dr. Seuss is a genius. I also have a soft spot for Oh, The Places You’ll Go. However, it is The Lorax that I read when I was a kid and have remembered ever since, for the fantastic rhymes and the message at its heart. The ending genuinely gives me goose bumps.

10. Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney

One of my absolute favourite children’s books! I found a French version of this in a little library just outside Paris, which made me realise that the best stories really are universal.

Once you start thinking about it, it’s so difficult to narrow it down to ten. Ultimately though, I tend to lean towards novels with a hopeful – if not happy – ending. Other truly memorable or moving books were My Sister’s Keeper, Me Before You, The Lovely Bones, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Before I Fall.

What are the ten books that have stayed with you?

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17 thoughts on “Ten Books That Have Stayed With Me

  1. I’ve read so many but immediately, Jane Austen’s Persuasion( I have read a hundred times and can read a thousand more), Catherine Cookson’s Tilly Trotter, Terry Pratchett’s Mort (my introduction to the author many years ago), Wilbur Smith’s Monsoon, Maya Angelou’s I know why the Caged Bird Sings and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird, both of which were setwork novels when I was studying 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting, Karen! It is so difficult to narrow it down. I have since read To Kill a Mockingbird, and it would be jostling for a place on the list. I need to read Persuasion, as I love what I have read of Jane Austen. And, shockingly, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and Terry Pratchett are still on the TBR list – I’ll pick them up next time I’m at Waterstones!

      • It is, isn’t it 😊 there really are so many. If you enjoy June Austen I definitely recommend Persuasion. It was the last Austen I read and immediately became my favourite, with Northanger Abbey a close second 😊 and Terry Pratchett’s discworld novels have been my fav for years, if you like fantasy, mixed with a bit of comedy and a load of sarcasm, you will like them 😊

  2. Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kundera), Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (Lam), The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (Bender), Wanderlust (Eaves), The Alchemist/The Zahir (Coelho), Bel Ami (Maupassant), Pride and Prejudice (Austen), L’Empire des Anges (Werber), Sophie’s World (Gaarder)

  3. What a brilliant list of books – I very much doubt that I could narrow my list down that far but I think Kate Morton would make mine although I think The Secret Keeper trumps The Forgotten Garden (maybe?) see it is really hard!

    • Ah, I forgot how much I loved The Secret Keeper. Brilliant, although it was the first where I managed to work out the mystery before it was revealed (I am terrible at mysteries). I think that made me love it more though! I think I opted for The Forgotten Garden because it was the first of hers I read, and it meant I always looked out for her other books.

    • I have been meaning to read Rebecca and The Color Purple for years now, but for some reason I haven’t started many classic novels. I think I get too caught up in new books coming out, which is why the oldest book on the list is The Lorax!

  4. Great list. Some of them I haven’t read. I’ll have to put them on my list. I think anyone who has read the Harry Potter series would put that on a list of Book Thats Stay With Them. I know it would be on my list. Two other books that pop into my head right away are The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

    • Yeah, Harry Potter was extra special! It’s terrible, but I still haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale. It is on the list though. I have read Still Alice and I probably won’t forget that one either. Really upsetting.

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