Well this is just mean. Choose your top ten favorite books of all time. Somehow. Working under the assumption that this is basically impossible, I am going to choose ten that are amazing and are way up there, but are in no particular order and is not meant to be definitive. These are books that I keep coming back to, am constantly recommending, and have moments of noticing them in everyday life.
Sherlock Holmes (The Canon)
It doesn’t matter how many times I read the stories, I always love them. Doyle’s writing seems ages ahead of its time, suspended between a gaslit London and a modern, clean style. Sherlock never gets old.
Though the book is a fun mystery in its own right, it also represents to me the first time I realized a detective novel could in fact be read for academic purposes. I have that professor to thank for showing me that anything can, and should, be studied if it interests you.
The Count of Monte Cristo
I read this over the course of one summer, and even after 1100 pages I still wanted more. I am in awe of the ability of any writer to pull that many strings at once.
The Erast Fandorin books
There is nothing else like the first of the Erast Fandorin books, The Winter Queen. It fulfills what is a gap in fictional literature from Russia. And the best part is, there are a total of thirteen of them.
The Inimitable Jeeves
I am a fan of just about anything P.G. Wodehouse ever did but I think this book was my favorite. I lost count of how many times I snorted reading this one.
This might be a perfect novel. It unwinds slowly, each reveal asking another question. Halfway through the book we find the answer to the “big mystery” and yet it pivots and keeps the reader riveted for another 150 pages. Masterful.
The Meaning of Night
This book is so pitch perfect I had to do research to figure out if it was actually an old sensation novel that Michael Cox edited. Nope. It was all him. Sadly Cox, a Victorian scholar, died far too soon and we only have this and a sequel of his fictional efforts.
The Devil in the White City
I’ve read it three times and it never fails to astonish me. It is so rich. I desperately wish I could have seen this fair in real life. (Also check out Issac’s Storm by Erik Larson. It scared me so bad I still have hurricane nightmares.)
For All The Tea in China
I am a theic already, so when I learned about the escapades of Robert Fortune, who stole the tea plant from China, I was smitten. I became an unofficial fan club of one and searched him out while in the UK at the Royal Edinburgh Botanical Gardens and the Chelsea Physic Garden in London.
The Chessmen of Doom
I read all the John Bellairs books when I was young. ALL OF THEM (though I think this was the first). Some of them several times over. Their adventures were weird and the characters were quirky. I think those books were one of the main reasons I wanted to become a writer.
Gillespie and I
It’s hard to explain this unusual thriller / sensation novel / mystery set in Victorian Scotland. Exhibitions, art, parlors, and missing persons all play a role. I can’t wait to read it again.