Dani is a Book & Wine Pairing Blogger from the mountains of West Virginia. She loves to read anything she can get her hands on while sipping on a glass of wine and snuggling with her fur-babies.

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My Top Five Favorite Books of All Time

My Top Five Favorite Books of All Time

My Top Five Favorite Books of All Time

Over the last 30 years I have read a small mountain of books. Classic works such at Dante’s Devine Comedy and Cervantes’ Don Quixote. Literature works by Jane Austen and Nikolai Gogol. To the modern day works of Stephen King and Patrick Rothfuss, Kristen Hannah and Sylvia Day, Stephenie Meyer and Rick Riordan. There are so many writers and stories out there to be told and experienced, it’s hard to pick just five that I love. But after considerable thought, I think I have if narrowed down…ish. So, in no particular order, the following are my top five favorite books of all time…for now at least.

1)      The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I first read The Great Gatsby in my high school AP English class. Unlike most of the student in class, I actually read it and fell in love with it immediately. I love the roaring 20s in America. I often tell myself I was born too late. I should have been born in the late 1800s so I could have enjoyed the ever-changing world at the turn of the century. I envy my grandparents who could remember the first time they ever saw a car. They started their family just after the Great Depression, and got to experience the 1920s all on their own! The music, the dress, the speakeasies. This was my era, and I missed it by almost 70 years.

The Great Gatsby has so many lessons in it, and the first one is found on the very first page:

“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

I think that’s the biggest reason why I love this book so much. What can I say, I’m an old soul. I like books that have a deeper meaning than what’s on the surface. I like books with moral lessons, and that ask the hard questions. And you get this with The Great Gatsby.

The writing style can be a bit dry at times, but that was also the style and language during the time in which it was written. If you can get past that part, you’ll thoroughly enjoy the book. It’s about glitz and glamor, extravagant parties, old and new money, adultery and car chases, and learning a lesson in the end.

2)      Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K Rowling

Of course, I loved the entire Harry Potter series, but I’m not going to cheat and say the entire series. I chose The Deathly Hallows because it amazes me how good of a job J. K. Rowling did with not only concluding the series, but how she began the series. Let me try to explain.

In the very first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Rowling introduces to you to the cloak of invisibility, one of the Deathly Hallows. Throughout the series Rowling continues to introduce you to the other Deathly Hallows. As you’re reading the series you don’t think twice about these object that she has made know to you. You just think, “Oh, that’s cool,” and move on. When the Deathly Hallows are introduces in The Deathly Hallows things start to click. You start to realize all the time and effort she put into planning this seven-book anthology. Years before, when she first thought of The Sorcerer’s Stone she already kind of knew the ending. She knew that she was going to have to bring these objects in throughout the series and make you understand how important they are, without giving the ending away, and she did an amazing job at it.

Another piece that she did this same thing with were the horcruxes. From the beginning, little do you know, the horcruxes are a part of your life and you don’t really begin learning about them until book six, Harry potter and the Half Blood Prince.

I understand that all authors must create this world of theirs before they can publish. They should come up with the history of each character and how each character’s life intertwines with the others throughout the story. There are authors out there who do this and do this well, but I firmly believe that Rowling is bar none the best. I don’t know how long she worked on this story in her head or on paper before finally going to a publisher with a rough draft, but I’m sure it took a long time. More that she probably gives credit for. The complexity of this series is on a whole other level, and yet it’s simple enough for it to be in the children’s section. The whole thing boggles my mind and inspires it all at the same time.

3)      Wizard’s First Rule (Book 1 of The Sword of Truth) by Terry Goodkind

It has been many years since I read Wizard’s First Rule, 15 at least. I hold this book in such high regard though because it is the book that opened the fantasy world to me. Before The Sword of Truth series, I only read Nicholas Sparks, Harry Potter (which I know is a form of fantasy, but in my mind, not the same thing), and classics that you read in school.  This is also probably the book that made my love of books flourish.

Wizard’s First Rule is a story of a mythical world that closely resembles our own. A world in which goodness and honesty are plagued by the forces of darkness and deception. It’s a tale of risk all for the sake of love, and a journey into the darkness of the human soul. Filled with magic, indigenous peoples, and far-off places, this is a great book to spark the love you’ll soon have for fantasy stories.

4)      The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook holds a special place in my heart because it makes me think of my early relationship with Jack, and so, I’m probably a little bias on this one due to this reason. I first read it right before the movie was to come out in 2004. Jack had graduated high school in 2003 and almost immediately went into the Navy. While he had been out of boot camp for some time, he had stayed in Chicago on the Naval base there for further schooling. I, on the other hand, was getting ready to start my senior year of high school and was missing him terribly.

One day, while on the phone, I convinced Jack to let me read The Notebook to him. He must have really loved me, because he said yes. It took the entire day, and looking back at the memory, I’m surprised my parents never caught us—after all this was before everyone had cell phones, and I had called him from the landline.

I love this book of Nicholas Sparks not only for that memory, but because the story reminds me so much of Jack and me. A young, unusual couple meet through the most unlikely of circumstances, and fall in love. With everything in the world against them, they somehow (eventually) make it and get to spend their lives together. The part that really gets me is the part the Jack and I have yet to experience: those golden years, of being old and still in love. Anytime we see an older couple together, hand in hand, I always ask him, reassuring myself, “That’s going to be us one day, right?” His response is always the same, “One day.”

I’m incredibly nervous for that day. First, to think that I will have spent most of my life with one person is awesome and scary. Second, I’m afraid that I, like Allie, will develop Alzheimer’s and not remember that I love him. My grandmother was one of the youngest cases of Alzheimer’s in the state of West Virginia, and while it’s still unknown if it’s a hereditary trait, anytime I find myself forgetting something, or not being able to remember my words, I freak out a little on the inside. It’s a scary and sad disease to watch someone you love slowly forget who you are. And I never want my family to have to experience this. The Notebook encapsulates all of this for me.

5)      The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 

The Little Prince is a book I plan on reading to my children from a very early age and multiple times over. It’s a book that I wish I had read at a younger age, but wasn’t introduced to it until Jack found it in his parents’ basement shortly after his mother had passed away. When he found out I had never read it, he handed it to me and told me that I must read it, and I couldn’t agree with him more. If you haven’t read it—or seen the Netflix Original—then you need to do so.

The Little Prince is loved by children and adults alike because of its view of what is important in the world. It opens with a pilot that is stranded in the desert who finds himself face to face with a young boy. The boy asks the pilot to, “Please, draw me a sheep.” After a while the pilot realizes that when life’s events are too difficult to understand there is no choice but to succumb to their mysteries. So, he pulls out a piece of paper and begins to draw. And this is where the wise and enchanting fable takes flight and teaches the secret of what is really important in life.

The Little Prince, like Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, is a book that every child needs to read to keep them young, and every adult needs to remind them to never grow up.

From one wine-loving bookaholic to another, I hope I’ve helped you find your next fix.

Start a conversation: What is your favorite book of all time, and why?

Have a book you’d like to suggest or one you’d like me to review? Please feel free to leave your comments down below.

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