My Top 10 Favorite Books

Heather Tops 10 BooksI’m sure after posting this I will remember 10 more books that I love that should be on this list, but for now, here’s a list of 10 great books that come to mind. These are not necessarily new, and some may be obvious, but these are books that are unforgettable to me and that I would actually read again.

To_Kill_a_Mockingbird1. To Kill a Mocking Bird By Harper Lee
Even with all the controversy over Harper Lee’s follow-up book, Go Set a Watchman, this book will always have a place in my heart. Set in Alabama and told through the eyes of the young, endearing, Scout Finch, the book is honest, at times funny, and wise. It represents so many of the beliefs that my father, also an attorney with a kind and loving heart, instilled in me.

poisonwood bible2. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Set in Congo in 1959, this is the story of an arrogant missionary, Nathan Price, who drags his wife and four daughters out of Georgia to “save the souls” of Africa. I loved that this book not only showed me what life was like in Africa but what it would be like for someone like me to adjust to life there. A day-to-day struggle that is at times life threatening. Skillfully written in the voices of each of the characters, I became very attached to this family.

Art of Hearing Heartbeats3. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Set in Burma and spanning over a few decades beginning with the 1950s, this is one of the most beautiful, tender stories I’ve ever read. When my friend gave me this book to read, she told me, “This book changed my life.” Indeed it does. It makes you appreciate the small wonders in life that are often overlooked by those of us with many riches.

Sound-Fury-William-Faulkner4. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
There aren’t many books that I’ve read more than once but I’ve read The Sound and the Fury 3 times. If we encountered people like Faulkner’s characters out in the real world, we’d probably assume they were just shallow and ignorant.  But the depth and complexity of the Compson family is what has kept me coming back to this one. Obviously not a light read, every time I read this, I discover something new.

extremely loud and incredibly5. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I loved experiencing the world through the eyes of the precocious, 9 year old Oskar Schell. Although this book involves the tragic death of Oskar’s father during the 9/11 attacks, it wasn’t depressing. It was tender and at times touchingly funny. Besides being touched by Oskar’s journey to learn the truth about the mysterious key left by his father in an envelope labeled “Black,”  I also loved the sentimental love story between Oskar’s grandmother and grandfather and how it is revealed.

Unbroken6. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
When I started this book I thought if I were ever stranded in the middle of the ocean for 60 days with no food, I’d surely die. Or put me in a World War 2 Japanese prison camp, and I’d be a goner. But by the end of this book, after realizing how many men survived torture like Louis Zamperini endured and survived to tell their stories, I began to believe that I would be one of the ones who would fight until the end like they did. This book is about the strength and resilience of the human spirit.

I know this much is true7.  I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
I am a slow reader and this is a big book. But I picked it up one evening when I was staying with a friend and couldn’t put it down. In ways, it is an easy read. It keeps you on your toes and reads smoothly. It’s not for everyone: it covers mental illness, dysfunctional families, and abuse. But Lamb’s portrayal of family is realistic and will resonate with most people. At times, the two brothers, identical twins, are resentful and bitter about the past; at others, they are loving, fiercely loyal and struggling to understand themselves and each other.

Too Late The Phalarope8. Too Late the Phalorope by Alan Paton
Set in South Africa during the Apartheid, Too Late the Phalarope tells the story of Pieter, a white Arfikaner man who is a pillar in his community and tortured by his longing for the forbidden: Stephanie, a black Afrikaaner. Paton, author of Cry the Beloved Country, which focuses on the effects of the apartheid on black Afrikaaners, this book illustrates that the apartheid also had negative effects whites.  Filled with rich, beautiful language, the story is told by a third party, Pieter’s aunt. Paton focuses more on the intense moral struggles of Pieter and the emotional ramifications faced by his family than on the physical details of the affair. This is a book you read and want to discuss with someone.

God of Small Things9. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
I loved the simplicity, layering and imagery in this book. It takes place in Kerala, India during the time of the caste system and tells the story of a tragedy that pulls a family apart. This book tells a large complex story through beautifully-crafted, small details.

Prayer for Owen Meany10. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
11 year old Owen Meany is extremely small for is age–small enough to play the baby Jesus in a Christmas play. And he believes with all his heart that he is “God’s instrument.” In one tragic moment, this becomes true. In a rare moment of athletic triumph for Owen, he accidentally hits his best friend’s mother with a baseball and she dies instantly. We witness the boys’ close friendship as they grapple with life’s complexities: life, death, love and friendship. Like all of Irving’s books, this story is out of the ordinary and the characters are quirky and unique.

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Author: Heather Zachariah

Former Art Director for Home Magazine, Heather Leahy Zachariah, left her career in publishing after baby number number one. She now works from home as a freelance graphic designer and a chauffeur to her 3 busy kids. "Working on TipsFromTown has been a wonderful outlet for me. It renewed my love of publishing where I can design colorful, enticing pages online and allows me to share the things I love about being a mom." Heather grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, a place that still is near and dear to her. " After living in Brooklyn for 18 years and studying Graphic Design at Pratt Institute, she now lives in the Jersey burbs. "I love living so close to NYC, but in my heart, I'm an Ohio girl."


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