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1. The Harry Potter series. Maybe it’s always been like this, I don’t know, but it seems the “thing” these days is to write YA series(es?) rather than standalone novels. Which is fine, I have no beef with that. But with all these new trilogies coming out, please don’t forget about Harry Potter. You know he’s the best. Yes, I’m biased because I’m smack in the middle of the “Harry” generation—I was 10 or 11 when I first read Sorcerer’s Stone and was 17 the summer that Deathly Hallows came out—so I truly did grow up with Harry, but the series is just so wonderful. Long live Harry Potter!
2. Ender’s Game. This one has some emotional ties for me (it was recommended to me by an older cousin who is sort of my idol) but it’s also just a great book. In the wake of all the new fantasy stuff coming out, don’t forget about good old science fiction!
3. Pride and Prejudice. The ultimate romance novel (if just a little too perfect). Who wouldn’t want to have a Mr. Darcy in her life? Although, you know, the second-half-of-the-book Mr. Darcy, not the one who looks down his nose at you because you’re not pretty enough to “tempt” him. So, you know, when you’re heading out to buy that new Danielle Steel novel, just remember who was there first.
4. The Narnia series. What a great children’s series with great morals. I can’t wait to buy a set of these for my younger brother and sister (currently ages 3 and 4, so I’ll have to wait a few years) and eventually for my own kids! I didn’t actually read them until earlier this year, but I loved them and I’m so bummed I wasn’t interested when I was younger! If only I had known how much 22-year-old me would love a bunch of kids’ books!
5. The Little House series. Again, a series I loved growing up that had some great—if slightly outdated—morals. Another box set I can’t wait to buy for my little sister!
6. The Baby Sitters series. Yes, another series from my childhood. This is one I definitely couldn’t buy a boxed set of since there were hundreds of them, but how could anyone who grew up in my generation ever forget about Kristy, Mary Ann, Claudia, and Stacey? I totally miss reading these sometimes, and I hope no one ever forgets about them!
7. Nancy Drew. The original “I can do anything I put my mind to” girl! Geez, she really could do everything, couldn’t she? And she was instantly amazing at anything she tried, and all the boys loved her, PLUS she was a freakin’ genius. I totally wanted to be Nancy Drew when I was younger, even though I’m pretty sure I recognized even them just how unrealistic everything about her was. Occasionally I’ll forget about Nancy Drew just to be reminded again and wonder where I can re-purchase those books (since I think I gave mine away a long time ago).
8. The Elements of Style. Okay, this is kind of weird, yes, but as I’ve recently begun doing some informal copyediting for a friend’s tech blog, one piece of advice from The Elements of Style keeps clanging in my head: “Omit needless words.” I’m guilty of using needless words for sure, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to downsize crazy-long run-on sentences to literally one simple sentence. Makes me NUTS.
9. 1984. It’s not the first dystopian novel ever written and it won’t be the last, but it’s one of the best I’ve ever read. If you’ve never read it, you definitely should.
10. Any book that YOU love. I’m serious about this, guys. If you love a book, never let it go. Don’t let people shame you for finding that one (or two, or however many) book(s) that you love to reread and can always turn to when you need to escape or need to feel better or just need something to read on a train. Don’t forget about the books that meant so much to you when you were a kid, or a teenager, or even an adult. Different books speak to us at different points in our lives, and rereading them can sometimes catapult us back to when we were sixteen and first read that one book and were suddenly never the same. I don’t want you to forget those books because forgetting those books means forgetting why we read in the first place, and I don’t want anyone to ever forget that.