Inspired by @maretorliss
  1. Tiny Beautiful Things by @CherylStrayed
    I never explain this one accurately to people. I tell them that it's the most beautiful life-advice you can imagine, and that Cheryl manages to somehow weave a story about her own life and experiences, so that you feel like you're connecting with a friend. Even if her story seemingly doesn't relate to the question at hand, you still finish feeling moved, safe in who you are, and miraculously, understand how to apply the advice to so many different circumstances. WWCSD, for reals.
  2. Fall On Your Knees by Anne-Marie Macdonald
    Exquisite characters, gorgeously written, compelling plot. Truly tragic and hilarious. I'll never get this one out of my head.
  3. The Republic of Love by Carol Shields
    The way she builds the feeling of Winnipeg, a small town within a city. The way she grows her characters, from apparent oddballs (a late night radio host who had dozens of surrogate mother figures growing up, to a folk-historian researching mermaid lore) into people that are relatable, and real, and who I want to know and become. (Another novel that did this for its characters is Late Nights on Air). The way she writes about ending a relationship. The way she writes about toast. Trust me.
  4. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
    Because it's perfect, but I think it can only punch you in the gut and show you the truth of your world once. Every other time it's beautiful, but doesn't have the same impact as it did the first time after my first huge breakup, riding a bus through northern India.
  5. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
    Beautiful perfection.
  6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
    Just so whimsical and engaging.
  7. The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (and all the others in the series)
    The movie is utter shit. But the books...the characters, the mythos surrounding old friends and community, the complete heartbreak of being human. Reading this as a 12-13 year old growing up in a household full of emotional turbulence was so validating for me.
  8. Margaret Atwood's Selected Poems 1966-1984 Anthology
    These poems changed poetry for me.
  9. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
    One of those I-wish-I-could-have-written-this books. Such a gorgeously written book, and it really does make you look at your world through new eyes.
  10. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
    You'd be surprised by the number of people I've met who haven't read these.
  11. Written on the Body and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
    I love her. I love the way she writes: sensually, darkly, with metaphor. It makes me feel like she would be a wonderfully torturous and confusing lover. And really, that's kind-of all I want in an author.
  12. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    I will love everything about this book, always and forever. Most have read it, but if someone hasn't, and is, I'm going to be hella jealous.
  13. The Birth House by Ami McKay
    My absolute fav birth book. Blends a bunch of things I love together: birth, feminism, witchiness, Canadian folky lit.
  14. French Milk or Relish by Lucy Knisley
    I really adore everything she does, but French Milk has a special place in my heart for its innocence and the illustration of the kiss marks all over Oscar Wilde's grave.
  15. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
    Sentimental in the most genuine and non-saccharine way.
  16. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
    So whip-smart. Again with the wonderfully tortured lover appeal.
  17. Angels in America by Tony Kushner
    No explanation needed. Smart, funny, beautiful, tragic, just the right amount of magical realism/mythology/hallucination. The best example of queer diaspora I've come across so far.
  18. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
    It's weird and beautiful, and I've never been able to get into it again, but the first time I read it it rocked my world. Best depiction of childhood I've ever read.
  19. Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
    Such an important work, and I actually think everyone should read it.
  20. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
    So gorgeous. I chose this one for the list over anything by Marquez, because even though I love his brand of magical-realism, Allende's has more power to it, somehow. Also, the way she describes people's spirits/auras/ways of being is so memorable. It's hard to describe characters in a truly memorable way, I feel.
  21. The Diviners by Margaret Lawrence
    My favorite of her Manawaka books, and again, with the most memorable female character.