I’ve written before about the books that I loved as a child and teenager but if I were asked what my favourite books are right now, as an adult, the following would be my answer.
NB Whenever I use the word ‘read’, I technically mean ‘listen’ because for all my adult life I’ve been too ill to read ebooks and physical books. Audiobooks are my only option.
I’m going to get my top three favourites out of the way quickly because not much more needs to be said about them. They’re obvious, well known and I’ve written plenty about my love for them in the past. They’re the only three books/series to which I regularly come back and re-listen. They are: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games trilogy and the Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass series. After these, the below books are my current favourites.
The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
A masterpiece. I thought that I enjoyed the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (and I do recommend that too) but then I listened to this series by the same author and WOW. It’s incredible. I tend to like plot-heavy books but this fantasy series has it all. Both masterful in its plotting and character development. The depth, scope and intricacy of the world, threads of stories and how it all comes together is awe-inspiring and thoroughly absorbing. Plenty of surprises and twists. Plus it leaves you with a good feeling inside at its sense of integrity, honour and goodness. Bridge Four for life!
The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
A beautiful, exciting and meaningful story of survival in the jungle after a plane crash.
The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
This story is told from the point of view of Mary (the middle of the five Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice). Brilliantly and satisfyingly done. It’s a faithful retelling in tone and spirit, yet it’s also refreshing and fascinating. You see events and characters from Pride and Prejudice in a new light and it makes you think twice. Mary Bennet may even become your new favourite Bennet sister, believe it or not. Thoroughly recommend this book. Delightful and engrossing. Didn’t want it to end.
Where the World Turns Wild by Nicola Penfold
In a sterile, walled city where all nature has been been banished, there are secrets and mysteries. Siblings Juniper and Bear find themselves in danger when they discover something (I’m trying to be vague to avoid spoilers) and have to flee into the unknown, wild world outside the city walls. Gripping story.
The Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson
The Wind Singer was my favourite book when I was 13/14years old and I was pleased to find that it was just as good as I remembered, which isn’t always the case when you rediscover something that you read at that age. Quality fantasy series.
Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger
There are lots of books in this series and still more to come. Barely noticed time passing while listening; the story just zips along. Very enjoyable. Noticeably for a younger audience though.
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
This series gets increasingly better as it goes along; the first book is actually my least favourite. I’m so glad that I read the rest of the series though. The author showed great restraint in barely letting the breadth or progression of what she planned be apparent in the first book at all. The series is so much more than what you think it is from the first book. The surprises and sudden reveals are joyful. By the last book, Kingdom of Ash, when all the threads and characters are coming together, I was loving it.
The Nyxia Triad by Scott Reintgen
I’ve actually only listened to the first two books of this trilogy because the third book isn’t available as an audiobook in the UK (*screams into void*). So I don’t know how the story ends but the first two books were so enjoyable that I had to include it. It has a competition-style element (I love this in plots; probably partly why I enjoy The Hunger Games so much) but set in space. There is a lot more to it than that but I don’t want to give away any spoilers. Tests, rivalry and a corporation that isn’t telling the truth.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
Arthurian legend (which I’ve always loved) but in a contemporary context and in a new way. Magic, secret societies, twists and wit. Deals with grief and trauma well.
Grishaverse: Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows duology, King of Scars duology by Leigh Bardugo
I slurped up these three series, all set in the same universe. My favourite was actually the King of Scars duology (but don’t start there; you need to read them in order and they’re all worth reading), probably because my favourite characters are Zoya and Nikolai. Got completely sucked into this fantasy world and didn’t want it to end.
Taken on trust by Terry Waite
I first read some of this book before I became ill but I didn’t finish it back then and I’d forgotten a lot of it. Listening to it afresh was a pleasure and of course it has much more significance to me now, given my situation. It’s interesting to see how Terry Waite deals with the isolation and constant danger; I can’t help but compare it (both similarities and differences) to the way that I deal with them.
I admire his integrity; even when he has a chance of potential escape when one of his captors leaves a gun in the bathroom, he doesn’t take that chance because he’s not willing to hurt or kill that captor. That really made me think and take pause. This book might now be in my top 10 books of all time.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s poem of the same name as this book title is my favourite poem of all time. I loved it ever since I was 10 when I was introduced to the poem in Choral Speaking club at school but it resonated even more powerfully when I became ill. However I didn’t read this autobiography until 2018. I definitely would recommend it. Stunning, compelling and powerful.
I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
This is one of the few audiobooks I’ve read that actually makes clever use of the medium, providing a unique experience, separate from any other form of the book. We get a little sung portion of text at one point, plus Rachel narrates the book herself in her unique voice and way of speaking. It feels completely natural, like she’s chatting to you personally. This is the autobiography of Rachel Bloom (the creator, writer and main character actor in the TV series ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’). Illuminating insight into her mental health and a revealing look into writers rooms, agents and the TV industry. Warning: contains a lot of swearing.
Steps out of time by Katharine B. Soper
One woman’s journey and experience of the Camino. Loved this. Thoughtful and engrossing.
Owls of the Eastern Ice: The Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan C. Slaght
Unexpectedly exhilarating and utterly fascinating. You’re transported to an isolated forested world blanketed in ice and snow, deposited in a different culture, meeting distinctive people and majestic animals along the way, and participate in his treacherous travels along melting ice rivers.