13 MEMORABLE READING EXPERIENCES I'VE HAD

I can't possibly pick 10 favorite books!
  1. 1.
    Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
    The most intense reading adventure I've ever embarked upon. I had a notebook and a highlighter, determined to figure out the big mystery. And then the end hit, and I was furiously heartbroken. But also completely taken with this twisty story. BONUS: When the movie came out, it lived up to the book.
  2. 2.
    The Lost Symbol
    I am a giant Dan Brown fan, and this book kept me sane on the choir tour from hell. Robert Langdon is beyond sexy, and watching him figure this one out was as big a turn on as ever. Not going to spoil anything, but the deal with the tank made this book more than a gal could take. My mind was blown, and then blown again.
  3. 3.
    Atonement by Ian McEwan
    If you've never read this book, you really should. I read it because I wasn't yet allowed to see an R-rated film when it came out, so I checked it out of the library. Beautifully written, with an ending that rips out your heart and tramples on it and makes you infuriated.
  4. 4.
    The Giver by Lois Lowry
    This was the first book I ever read that suddenly turned the entire world and my perception of it on its head, the first one that truly made me realize that the world within a book doesn't necessarily have the same rules as the one I live in. Who knew a red apple could change everything?
  5. 5.
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling
    All the Potter books were intense, but this one just did me in. All of those Ron+Hermione roller coaster exchanges were a literal roller coaster for my heart, and I still have the diary with a tear stained foresight into the fact that Dumbledore was bound to die. After it happened I quit reading, went into the living room, and my grandmother just held me while I cried. For a long time. And then everything was for a fake Horcrux?! Ugh.
  6. 6.
    A Medieval Romance by Mark Twain
    My favorite short story of all time. The ending really messed me up for a long time. In fact, when I think about it now--over a decade later--it still kind of freaks me out.
  7. 7.
    One Day by David Nicholls
    Just a sweet little modern romance book, right? And then BLAM! The most amazing ending one could imagine, proving that nothing in life is less predictable than life itself.
  8. 8.
    It by Stephen King
    This book has everything in it. Literally EVERYthing. It's overstimulation in a great way.
  9. 9.
    Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
    I read this in high school, and it was the first depiction of a less-than-ideal marriage that I'd ever read. After years of reading about marriage as the Final Solution, this book was a shot of reality, one that broke my heart but one for which I am very grateful. Over the years I think this book was a Big Moment for me, when I realized marriage doesn't magically fix all your problems. It seems ridiculous now that I ever believed that, but I truly did. This book woke me up.
  10. 10.
    The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
    When I was told our book club was reading this, I was hesitant: a looong nonfiction book? Uh oh. Not really my thing. But this book is a masterpiece. I learned things about Chicago, America's first serial killer, the World's Fair, and so much more.
  11. 11.
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
    I read this book before I went to China for a month. I couldn't believe the truth about the practices of foot binding; I'd heard of it before, of course, but I hadn't realized the true level of my ignorance. It sounds like a terrifyingly difficult practice. This book lays it out step by step, including side effects often seen, and let me tell you, it is UNBELIEVABLE. I remember liking this book, but to tell the truth the part I actually remember is the foot binding.
  12. 12.
    Night by Elie Wiesel
    This book was my first experience with hearing a true account of life as a Nazi prisoner, and it is horrific. I will never forget the moment the train pulls up to the concentration camp and the prisoners can smell the sickly sweet scent of burning human flesh.
  13. 13.
    Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
    I've loved Peter Pan for my entire life. According to my parents, Wendy was the character I most wanted to be when I was little (sometimes even more than Belle?!). When I was finally old enough to want to look into the book, I was fascinated to read of Peter Pan as a tragic figure. I'd lived my whole life seeing him as a boy who had the ultimate setup, but suddenly I learned he was someone to be pitied? That was a pretty big moment for me.